Rising and Shaping

1. When time is an issue, you can stagger the preparation of the Hallah. Prepare the dough through instruction 2 on the box and place the bowl with the dough to rise in the refrigerator over night. When you are ready to proceed, take the dough out of the refrigerator, gently deflate the dough with palms of your hand – not punch—while it’s in the bowl, and let the bowl stand in a draft free, warm place for about 30 min. Than continue from instruction 3 on the box.

2. Oil or dust lightly with flour the counter or the board. For a wood board, use only flour.

3. Dividing the dough into equal parts will yield an nicely shaped loaf.

4. To rise nicely and gain bulk, yeast dough needs to rest in a draft-free area. On cold, dry days you may need to create such an environment. With the AC cranked up high, you many need to do so also in the summer. Here are few suggestions:

Place the dough or the shaped loaf in a cold microwave or oven with a cup of just-boiled-water next to it.

Place the dough to rise in a sunny spot in the kitchen.

If you have something baking or roasting in the oven, place the loaf on the stovetop. Do the same if your oven has a pilot light.

When you have something cooking on the stovetop, place the dough close by on the counter.

5. Check to see that the loaf is ready for baking by indenting it with two fingers. If the dents remain, the dough is ready for baking.

6. Even when dough does not double in size, it will continue to rise during the first several minutes baking in the oven, which is called oven spring. When the proofing periods are kept on the shorter side, it is more likely the still vigorous yeast will produce a better oven spring. I use the cold oven method to enhance oven spring, especially in winter. The cold oven method means you place the unbaked loaf in a cold oven and then set the temperature. This means you will have to bake it a bit longer than the instructions call for.

7. The loaf is baked if it emits a hollow sound when you tap on its bottom with your fingers. Or, if a tooth pick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out dry.

8. Let it cool on a wire rack till for at least ten minutes before breaking.

9. High altitude: Start with using ½ the amount of yeast. If it does not rise as it should, next time use ¾ the amount, till you find the right measure. Experiment!

10. Remember, practice makes perfect.

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