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Recipe by Miriam Spitzer

Basic Sourdough Loaf + Braiding Directions for Challah

Basic Sourdough Loaf + Braiding Directions for Challah add or remove this to/from your favorites
Parve Parve
Medium Medium
12 Servings
Allergens

Contains

- Gluten - Wheat

This recipe is a large recipe. It yields four round sourdoughs or four braided Challahs + two Bilkelech.

Ingredients

Sourdough Loaf

  • 6 pounds quality sifted flour, such as Glicks High Gluten Flour

  • 1,512 grams warm water

  • 650 grams bubbly and active starter

Directions

Starter

1.

Every baker has their own method, and with practice you’ll eventually develop your own routine. Start with a small amount of sourdough starter. (They can be made from scratch, purchased, or if you’re lucky, someone will share a portion of their starter with you.) Starters are meant to be shared, so find someone with an existing one who’s ready to share a small amount (approximately 25 to 50 grams).

2.

Store the starter in your fridge in a plastic container or jar. Two nights before making your dough, take it out of your fridge and place it on your counter.

Feeding 1

1.

(I like to start the first feeding Tuesday night, in order to have them fresh for Shabbos.) Remove the jar from your fridge and discard about half of your starter. Replenish what’s left in your jar with 30 grams flour and 30 grams warm water.

2.

Mix it gently with a fork and cover it loosely with lid slightly opened. Wrap it with a cloth or dish towel (so it has the air to rise).

3.

Let it rise at room temperature. (I place it near the percolator) until bubbly and double the amount.

Feeding 2

1.

(Approximately eight to 10 hours after your first feeding. I do it the following morning/ Wednesday morning.) Repeat the same feeding as above. Let it rise until the next feeding.

Feeding 3

1.

(At night/Wednesday night) Repeat the same feeding as above. Let it rise until the next feeding.

Feeding 4

1.

(The following morning/ Thursday morning.) Transfer your starter to a larger container or jar. (I use an 86-ounce container.) Now you can feed it with 350 grams high quality flour and 350 grams warm water. (If you have extra starter, you can keep it for future use.)

2.

Mix it very well with a fork or spatula Cover the jar/container with its lid slightly opened and wrap it with a cloth or dish towel.

3.

Let it rise (in a warm place) until the culture is full of bubbles and its consistency resembles a spongy and fluffy texture (approximately six hours).

4.

I recommend using the starter at its peak, before it falls back down.

Mixing the Dough

1.

Place six pounds flour and 55 grams salt in the Bosch mixer (with the dough hook) and mix it.

2.

Measure on a kitchen scale 1,512 grams of warm water and add it to the mixer.

3.

Now add 650 grams bubbly, active starter and mix the dough well.

4.

The texture of the dough will feel rough and shaggy, which is normal.

Rest and Rise

1.

After the dough is mixed, it’ll need to rest. Resting is a repeated step throughout sourdough baking. Each rest serves a significant purpose. The flour needs time to absorb the water, which jump-starts the gluten development without kneading. It also makes the dough more soft and manageable.

2.

Leave the dough in the mixer covered and let the dough rest for approximately a half hour.

3.

In the meantime, take the extra portion of starter and store it in the fridge for future use (approximately 50 grams).

Kneading

1.

Once the dough has completed the first rest, turn the mixer on for one more quick mix.

Dividing the Dough

1.

When done kneading, divide the dough in four portions of 1,050 grams for large Challah or sourdough. The rest of the dough you can use for bilkelech (rolls).

2.

Stretch and fold each dough separately (see below) and place each dough in a slightly oiled bowl. (I use the silver metal bowl.)

3.

Cover each with a plastic and a towel. Place the dough in a warm spot in the kitchen.

4.

Let it rise for another half hour and do another stretch and fold.

Stretch and Fold

1.

How to stretch and fold: Grab a portion of the dough, stretch it upward and fold it inwards towards the center. Turn the bowl clockwise and repeat stretching and folding until you feel the dough has stiffened.

2.

Flip the dough over, cover and let it rest until the next stretch and fold.

3.

Repeat this process approximately three times, every half hour.

4.

After repeating the stretch and fold process, let each dough rise (covered) for four hours.

Bulk Rise

1.

The dough is ready when it’s increased in size, puffy, and no longer dense, with plenty of bubbles to show aeration.

2.

After the bulk rise you should take challah. Gather all the bowls, cover with a towel and do hafrashat challah (read more on hafrashat challah here).

Shaping and Scoring

1.

After the bulk rise, the dough is ready to be shaped on your work surface! Gently coax each dough out of the bowl onto a slightly floured surface.

2.

Shape the dough by pinching all sides into the center.

3.

Flip the dough over and gently cup the dough to tighten the circle shape.

4.

The goal is to redistribute the weight of the dough to all sides and create a tight skin on the surface for a more uniformed rise.

Final Rise

1.

Once shaped, the dough should be placed in a lined proofing basket, seam side up. (Sprinkle a small amount of flour on the basket before placing the dough).

2.

Cover with a plastic shower cap or food plastic wrap. Let it rise for another two to three hours.

3.

Place it in the fridge overnight.

Tips:

You can use a bench scraper for easing transfer.

Scoring

1.

(The following morning/ Friday morning.) Scoring the dough creates a beautiful design. You can score your dough according to your liking. Sprinkle some corn meal on the top of the dough and invert the dough onto a piece of Gefen Parchment Paper.

2.

Now, score the dough. Scoring or slashing the dough (with a sharp knife or razor blade) prior to baking, allows steam to escape and controls the direction in which the bread opens up. It also enhances the beauty of the bread.

Baking

1.

Transfer the dough with the parchment paper into a five-quart Dutch oven.

2.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

3.

Bake for 20 minutes with cover.

4.

Lower the temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

5.

Bake for another 15 minutes.

6.

Remove the cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

7.

Remove the dough from the Dutch oven. You can crisp it in the oven for another few minutes (according to your preference).

Notes:

To turn this basic sourdough into Challah, follow the directions below.

Challah Size: 1,150 grams for each 12-inch bekelah
Dough:

Two tips to make your sourdough Challah even better: 1 tablespoon organic sugar: In order for the braided Challah to rise even more, I add organic sugar to the starter before kneading. This will give a greater boost to the rising.) OR 1/2 teaspoon baking soda: I add baking soda to the flour and mix it. This will also help with the rising and, in fact, it’ll take away some of the classic sour taste of sourdough Challah, which is useful if you dislike the sour taste.)

Hafrashos Hachallah:

After the bulk rise, you should take challah. Gather all the bowls, cover with a towel and take challah. Read more on hasfrashat challah here.

Braiding:

– Gently remove each of the doughs from its bowl onto a floured surface.
– Cut each dough into six long strands.
– Roll it gently and softly; do not press too hard while rolling!
– Pinch all strands on top and braid as usual.
– Pinch ends together on bottom and tuck the ends in.
– Sprinkle Challah with some flour on top and allow to rise for several minutes.
– Tighten the braided dough with your hands gently.
– Gently place Challahs in non-stick (non-disposable) bekelahs.
The bekelahs should be lightly oiled. (You can sprinkle some corn meal on the bottom of the bekelahs. It adds great texture and taste.)

Rising:

– Cover top tightly with plastic food wrap or shower cap. Cover with a dish towel.
– Let rise at a warm temperature for two to three hours or until it has risen a bit above the rim of the pan.
– Place pans in fridge overnight (still covered with plastic or shower cap).

Preparing for Baking:

– Optional: In the morning, brush the challah with an egg wash. (It beautifies the challah with a glossy finish)
– Sprinkle sesame seeds (optional).
– Use another pan upside down over the bekelah to cover challah while in the oven.
– Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Baking:

– Bake on 500 degrees Fahrenheit covered for 20 minutes.
– Lower to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and bake covered for another 15 minutes.
– Remove the top pan and bake additional 10 minutes.
– Remove Challah from pan and place in oven for several minutes for a crispy crust.

About

This recipe originally appeared in Balebusta. See more at https://balebusta.nyc/
Recipe Development by Miriam Spitzer. Food Styling by F. Smilowitz.

Basic Sourdough Loaf + Braiding Directions for Challah

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