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I am trying to make Challah using this recipe, and the bread tastes good, but the braids are melding together like this:

What is going on here? I am kneading using the slap-and-fold technique without adding any extra flour, and I am testing the gluten formation using the window pane test. I am a novice baker, so I cannot rule anything out though. I am withholding some flour to use while shaping, but I usually have about 1/4-1/2 cup left over. Is the dough too moist?

I have posted this gallery showing some of the process, so hopefully that is helpful. Thanks!

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  • nbren, welcome! Could we see a picture of the inside, please? Just kow the cut side looks? Thanks!
    – Stephie
    Jul 25 '16 at 10:42
  • Making sure you properly get a tight skin around the dough ball is important to get it to rise rather than spread ... I don't know if there might be a similar problem here. See cooking.stackexchange.com/q/64996/67
    – Joe
    Jul 25 '16 at 14:25
  • I am not sure if the skin is tight enough. Here is a picture of the cut loaf. i.imgur.com/yd0JyNgh.jpg
    – nbren12
    Jul 25 '16 at 18:36
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There's nothing wrong with your dough, it looks like you are getting a good rise out of it, which is what you want. I can't see you wanting to mess with success.

What you need to do is adjust your rolling and braiding technique to take into account how much rise you are going to get. Try rolling out your braids a bit thinner and braiding them much looser, this will give the bread more space to expand. If you need a shorter and wider end result try a 5 strand braid instead of a 3. It may take a few tries to get it right but practice in this case is perfect.

It looks like you've got a heat problem from your picture, one of your loaves is torched! If you are using a fan oven turn the fan off and use a non-fan mode, or if that's not possible try creating a wind-break with a piece of tin foil to keep your loaves out of the direct path.

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    The old-fashioned "rotate halfway through baking" (ie, open the door and swap loaf positions) may also help with evenness. As might the "question artisinal dogma" approach of lowering the temperature a tad if your bread is scorching. I find a fan (convection) more likely to help evenness rather than hurt it, but time may need to be reduced.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 25 '16 at 13:32
  • It depends on the fan I suppose. My oven has a fan burst mode, it comes on a few seconds a minute to keep the temps evened out. I also use a pizza stone which keeps things even, so I don't rotate and I get good results. If I use my oven's fan it will burn things crispy.
    – GdD
    Jul 25 '16 at 14:53
  • Yah. The loaf on the right did get torched. I'm cooking at my parents house, so I don't know if I'll have this problem in my own oven. Would tenting the load with aluminum foil help? I will try changing up my braiding technique for my next loaf.
    – nbren12
    Jul 25 '16 at 22:41
  • Changing my rolling technique helped a lot. For each braid, I formed the dough into a mini-loaf by folding/sealing the dough a couple of times. Then, I let it rest until the dough was more pliable (~5 minutes) and rolled it by hand to the desired length. I think the rest was key.
    – nbren12
    Aug 26 '16 at 21:47

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