I experimented with a couple of challah recipes a few months ago (well, maybe it was last winter), but this time went to Beranbaum's The Bread Bible since I've been using it lately. I decided to try her traditional challah (the dairy dinner challah is a straight brioche recipe...must try that one someday too) and started on the recipe this morning. Then the adventure began.
I made the sponge, then started mixing the flour blend that gets put on the sponge while the sponge 'works'. But I wanted to verify the amount of salt, so I went to Beranbaum's Web site to check the errata sheet. (You may ask, why hadn't I just made all the corrections in my copy of the book? Good question. I don't know.) And the tablespoon of salt was correct (it's a huge challah), but there was another error...in the sponge, which I'd already made. All of the yeast should have gone into it, instead of putting some in the flour blend. So I tried to compensate by beating the flour into the sponge immediately, but there wasn't enough moisture to do that so I ended up with some little "chips" of flour/water paste in the bowl.
I then proceeded with the recipe, but the little chips never melded into the dough. And perhaps I over kneaded it trying to get them to go away (or maybe the dough structure wasn't quite right as a result), as the texture stayed rather rough and the resulting loaf is a little ragged looking. A few of the chips survived even into the baked loaf, though they are not very noticeable. The last problem was with the baking technique--I ended up with an almost-burned bottom crust. Will have to adjust the baking instructions if I try this one again.
In my Web searching this morning, I also spotted a revised challah recipe that Beranbaum had posted, using a sourdough starter and a simpler mixing technique. Maybe I'll do that one next week. Moral: go read Real Baking with Rose before starting to bake from her books. There might be an improved version on the blog...