Sourdough Challa – A Miracle, Period!

I never did talk about the sourdough challah I tried (and miserably failed) to bake last summer. Blach! But onward and forward, I tried again yesterday, inspired by a fellow baker who opened a discussion on the topic in the ‘Northwest Sourdough Forum,’ which was inspired by another fellow baker who followed Maggie Glezer’s sourdough challah recipe and posted her most awesome results in ‘The Fresh Loaf.’

Needless to say, I would not have been surprised by a failure just as spectacular as my last, so imagine my surprise when I got a bouncing baby challah that had managed to rise and produce a lovely flavor and texture in spite of, well, me!

Click a pic to enlarge it.

In all her glory! Umm, its, I mean its, but really, to me, challah is always a girl! Okay, so not “all” her glory – I couldn’t stop myself, but there’s only a baker’s ‘couple’ of slices missing.. 🙂


What a lovely bottom! Check out the deep reddish blush and the blistering freckles – the hallmarks of a successful sourdough bread:

The crumb, pillowy, yet with body – nothing wonderbread-ish here!

The one imperfection – some splitting – minor issue, but a good enough reason to bake another one of these beauties soon – is tomorrow too soon?

The really tough part in all of this was not just eating the whole thing then and there. As it was first ready to eat around 2:30 in the a.m., I got first dibs. Slathered with butter, it was hands down better that any cake I’ve ever eaten. It’s sad that she won’t live long enough to bear little baby ‘French Toasts.’ Oh well, maybe next time? Heh, who am I kidding?!

Sourdough – A Miracle of Life?

Sourdough Starter and Bread

A basic sourdough bread requires very little: An active sourdough starter, flour, water, and salt. From this basic formula, many recipes can be derived, but in effect, we are looking at three ingredients (the starter is flour and water, so yes, three.)

It takes about two weeks of “feeding” the starter daily to get it to become active enough to raise an entire bread, but you can use it earlier to make things like pancakes, scones, etc. It takes a couple to several months for the starter to mature further (loose estimate as this subject is still under debate.)

The Starter

  • I begin with a few starters with, each with a different flour, one with "all-purpose-flour,", one with "bread-flour," "whole-wheat-flour," and "rye-flour."

    Early Days

  • Project Sourdough

    Coming Along

  • Project Sourdough

    The Conversion

  • Project Sourdough

    What a Beauty

For me, the novelty never wears off. Each loaf is a “fresh” experience. I am amazed anew at each “real” bread that comes out of my oven, I marvel at my sandwich as I’m eating it. I don’t know of too many endeavours more satisfying than baking bread at home, and baking sourdough bread is definitely at the top of my food pyramid!

The bread below is based on the “Basic Sourdough Bread” recipe from page 444 of Rose Levy Barenbaum’s “The Bread Bible.” The timeline of the recipe did not make sense to me and I am still tweaking it, but the bread rocks!

The Bread

  • The Bread

    The Bread

  • The "Crumb" is the texture of the bread inside

    The "Crumb"”

  • The crust of the sourdough is supposed to blister

    The Crust

  • The sandwich is why we do it!

    The Sandwich