Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bread - Number 46: Under construction

Tried this sourdough challah recipe three times with two complete strikeouts that were my fault and one mediocre result that caused the family to decry the challah series as a sin against the already perfect challah.

I feel I have sufficient experience now with this recipe and the adjustments it needs to try it one more time. Frankly, the biggest strike against it is that making this bread is very time consuming with many stages, none so far apart that one can go to work. More like having an infant that naps for an hour or so before requiring some attention, though not as cute. 

I will post after I try for the fourth time, which could be up to a couple of months, depending on how life goes in the interim.

Thank you to the lovely person who gave me this recipe as a comment to a previous blog post. If you have additional suggestions, feel free to share. Perhaps I am missing a key piece to success.

Ingredients and instructions

35g firm starter
80g water
140g bread flour

Knead until smooth. Put in a closed container with room for expansion. The dough should triple and start to flatten within 8-12 hours. Trust me that a winter-time kitchen will not work. The first time, nothing had happened by the next morning and a full day of a warm kitchen was required for results.

2 large eggs
55g olive oil
66g honey or sugar
60g water
400g bread flour

Mix with wooden spoon until there is a shaggy, sticky dough. My first try was more like a pie crust dough, not a good sign. I added 1.5 teaspoons of extra water. 

Knead for 10-15 minutes and cover with plastic. Place in a bowl with warm water. Leave for approximately two hours.

Separate into however many strands you wish and then braid. I usually make a small roll and a large challah. Set on parchment paper with oiled plastic wrap and leave for approximately five hours, until the dough has doubled in size. Do not do as I did, which was, failing to see what I thought were adequate results, I put the dough on top of the stove over a very warm oven heated up, only to find that the strands basically melted into one another. 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, according to the recipe, though I had better results at 325 degrees on one of my tries. Brush dough with egg wash and any seeds you prefer. Sesame or poppy are traditional. Leave in oven for 25 minutes; turn off heat and leave the bread in for another 10 minutes.

For the egg wash, I generally use just the yolk of an egg, sometimes the yolk with a bit of water. Most recipes differ.

On my best try thus far, the challah rose well, but still was not as light as the challah I make with bread machine dough and commercial yeast.

Update to come.


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