I love Maggie Glezer’s book A Blessing of Bread. Every recipe from it has been stellar. If I could change the book, I would add in more pictures, especially of the Sephardic bread. I know what Eastern European challah is supposed to taste and look like, but Yemenite Chubzeh? I am not so sure . . . .
That being said, the recipe for Chubzeh (p. 258) produced a wonderful loaf of bread.
The dough is lean–just water, flour, salt, yeast, and a tiny speck of sugar to aid browning. The dough is very well mixed to fully develop the gluten and baked at a very hot temperature. The result is a dark crusted bread with a large open crumb. It felt strange to serve this kind of bread as a challah, but Glezer explains that the heavily egg/oil/sugar enriched challot of Ashkenzi tradition is not always acceptable to non-Ashkenazi Jews because it is more like cake than bread.
I had problems with the recipe, which calls for making four loaves, letting them triple, and then gently flattening them to make 6″ rounds. My dough balls were about 6″ in diameter before proofing! So, I wasn’t sure how much to proof or flatten after proofing. My kitchen was cold, and I let the dough proof longer than suggested. Even so, I think the dough needed to rise more, and I needed to flatten the bread more before baking.
The resulting bread had an interesting interior: large holes on the sides and on top, but a denser crumb inside. Was the underproofing and wrong shaping the problem? I’m guessing so. The crust was supposed to soften after cooling and be thin, but my crust was thick and hard, even after cooling.
Also interesting: each loaf “blew out” in the same place and in the same way as they baked. Each loaf has a little bit of bread that has pushed out from the side:
Sending this over to YeastSpotting.