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How do I make my braided egg bread more moist?

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I made a braided challah that came out reasonably overall but tastes a little dry. I'm not sure which parameters I need to adjust.

The recipe I followed specifies the following ingredients:

  • 3/4 C water
  • 4 C flour[1]
  • 2 eggs (I used large)
  • 1/3 C oil (I used vegetable oil)
  • 4 T sugar (plus 1 t for proofing the yeast)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T active dry yeast (proofed with a little sugar in some of the water)
  • egg wash and toppings (I assume not relevant here)

Per the recipe, I kneaded the dough, let it rise, punched it down, let it rise a second time, punched it down again, and at that point divided it and formed the braid. I then left it to rise again before baking.

The dough (and final loaf) rose an amount I expected and the taste overall was fine. The inside of the loaf tastes a bit dry to me, though, and I'd like to improve that for next time.

I would normally assume that I have a problem with the balance of ingredients -- with the question of whether to increase oil, eggs, water, or some combination. However, this is also a shaped bread, and I don't know if the extra "agitation" of the dough to make the braids is a factor. Finally, perhaps I need to adjust my cooking time or temperature (400 F for 30 minutes, until thumping the bottom made the right sound).

To make the strands of the braid, I used a plastic dough-cutting tool to divide the dough and then used my hands to roll and stretch the pieces until I had strands, which I then braided. I'm not sure if that was the correct way to turn "quadrants" of a ball of dough into strands.

Is my problem the extra "wear and tear" on the dough from shaping, or from needing more moisture from the ingredients? If the latter, which ingredients should I adjust?


  1. I usually measure by weight, not volume, but this recipe only gave volumes so I went with that. The stickiness of the dough after kneading was within the bounds of what I usually expect, and the day did not have extremes of temperature or humidity. ↩︎

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1 answer

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Here's a fun and relevant fact: the "dryness" of a bread is influenced more by the amount of fat in it and the details of baking than by the original water content.

In this case, I recommend the following experiments to see what works best for you:

  • Try 3 eggs instead of 2. Eggs contain fat (in the yolk), protein (in the white and yolk, split about equally), water, and most importantly here, has lecithin to encourage emulsification.

  • Add a little lecithin directly. Lecithin (usually from soybeans) is reasonably widely available.

  • Increase the oil slightly. I would start by changing from 1/3 C to 1/2 C. You may need to knead even longer to get the right feel.

The time and temperature and test that you cite all seem right to me.

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2 comment threads

Works for me (1 comment)
Thank you! I was guessing that, if I needed to adjust an ingredient proportion, water would be the l... (1 comment)

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