Sourdough Challah

About 2 years ago I first managed to grow a sourdough starter using the very detailed and complete instructions from Sourdough Home. Once I saw that the starter was able to double itself, I tried to bake the sourdough challah from the same site. I mixed the dough as it appears in the recipe -- and waited. A few hours later, I gave up. The dough didn't rise and I thought that something had gone wrong. I threw the dough away and moved to other recipes.

Since then I've managed to bake a number of sourdough breads with the starter though I've never tried making sourdough challah again. I also lost my original batch of sourdough.

I marked the line after feeding -- the level here is after the yeast beasties expanded!
So after a number of attempts to grow a new one, I've finally succeeded in growing a great new batch of starter, dubbed Spongebob by my Son. Spongebob was given its first real test last Friday when I used it in a new attempt to bake sourdough challah.

As you can see, it came out really well!

Preparation times

Activate starter 3 hours
First rise (triple) 12 hours
Second rise (double) 3 hours
Baking time 30 minutes


233 grams (1 cup) active starter at 100% hydration
1/2 cup water
460 grams (3 2/3 cups) White Flour (all purpose or bread flour)
2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
Misc - another egg for egg wash, poppy or sesame seeds


  1. Mix the starter, water, egg, egg yolks, sugar, oil, 1/2 the flour, and the salt. Stir. Add more flour, a bit at a time, until the dough is too thick to stir.
  2. Pour out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough, adding more flour sparingly, until the dough is smooth, satiny, has lost most of its stickiness, and is fairly firm. You probably should not use all the flour called for above.
  3. Cover and allow to rise until tripled in volume.
  4. Punch down the dough, knead briefly, cut into four pieces of the same weight. Divide one piece into three pieces of the same weight. Form all the balls into strands of about 12 to 14 inches in length, tapered so the center of each piece is thicker than the ends. You should now have three thick and three thin strands. Braid the three thick strands into a loaf and set aside.
  5. Braid the three smaller strands into a smaller loaf. Lightly indent the top center of the larger loaf down its length. Wet it slightly with water. Put the smaller loaf on top of the indention.
  6. Beat another egg with a few tablespoons of water. Brush this egg wash all over the nested loaves and let them rise until doubled.
  7. Preheat your oven to 350F. With baking stones or tiles in your oven, this will probably take about 45 minutes to an hour.
  8. When the oven is ready, brush the loaves with the egg wash again. Sprinkle the loaves with poppy or sesame seeds. Slide into the oven, bake about 35 minutes. If there is a white line between the braids, continue baking until it disappears. Press lightly between the braids on the highest part of the bread. It should be firm.
  9. If your loaf is browning too much, cover it with baking parchment or a brown paper bag that has been cut open. Crease the parchment or bag to form a tent.

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