It seems like the Daring Kitchen wants me to be a better bread maker. We’ve had quite a few bread challenges as of late, which is not my area of expertise. So when the challenge of making Challah came up, I decided to twist it (literally and figuratively) with a sour version using my starter Paddy.
Paddy’s been in the fridge for quite some time. And he’s never been very good to me. But I’ve been better about feeding him, making sure to weigh him and give him the same amount of weight in equal parts water and flour. It was a feeding frenzy and he seemed to be ready to go, so I figured he’d be up for the challenge.
Challah dough differs from many other bread doughs I’ve made because it contains quite a bit of butter and eggs. The recipe provided for the challenge used active dry yeast so since I was making a sourdough version, I had to do a bit of research. I had no idea how much of Paddy to use.
I found the rule of 1-2-3. The dough should be made up of approximately 1 part starter, 2 parts wet ingredients, and 3 parts dry ingredients. When using 100% starter (equal parts water and flour), then the amount of starter in the dough should be 1/6 of the amount of the flours and liquids added together. The liquids amount for 2/6 of the total weight of the dough, and the dry (flours) would be 3/6 of the total weight. Good thing I like math.
After the dough was made (thank God for my Kitchenaid mixer’s dough hook), I let it rest in the oven overnight (turned off, of course). Sourdough starter takes a lot longer to rise dough than active dry yeast. 12 hours later, I awoke to see a brilliantly risen blob. You can’t imagine how thrilled I was. Given my past experiences with Paddy, I was so excited to see that he did his job.
I punched down the dough and got braiding. The large loaf was just going to be a normal sourdough Challah. I filled the braids in the 2nd loaf with chopped apples and cinnamon. Then the leftover dough was used to make little rolls. Thanks to YouTube for showing me how to braid a 4 and 6 strand Challah.
After braiding, it was time for the 2nd rise, which is usually half the time of the first rise. So another 6 hours later, the dough was finally ready to be baked. I was nervous, I must admit. But when the timer went off and I saw the beautiful loaves, I did a little happy dance.
My condo smelled amazing and the bread tasted equally as amazing. I put that bread to good use and made grilled cheese sandwiches, mini buffalo chicken sandwiches, and french toast with the apple cinnamon one. Maybe the fact that the bread was a success made it taste even better, but everything I used it for was absolutely delicious.
Coming down from that success, I had confidence that Paddy was finally up to making real sourdough bread. So I halved a recipe and left the dough covered overnight to find in the morning that nothing much had happened. It seems more spread out, but not necessarily risen. I gave it a 2nd knead, mainly because the top had hardened so I wanted to remove the crust that formed, but found most of the dough stuck to my fingers. Another 7 hours to rise didn’t produce the results I wanted, but I baked it in the oven anyways. It wasn’t quite as flat and dense as my previous two attempts, but it still wasn’t something I wanted to eat. So in the garbage it went and back in the fridge for Paddy. I still have hope that someday, he’ll produce a great sourdough.
Ruth’s “Go-To” Whole Wheat Challah
w/ my adaption for using sourdough starter
(adapted from D’s Whole Wheat Challah)
172 g starter
2/3 cup warm water (100°F/38°C)
½ cup (120 ml) (100 g) brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup (one stick) (115 g) margarine or unsalted butter – room temperature
2 tsp. (15 g) salt
3 large eggs
240 g bread flour
235 g all-purpose flour
½ cup (50 gm) rolled oats
Additional flour for kneading (70 to 140 gm)
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water for glaze
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine yeast with warm water.
2. With paddle attachment beat eggs, sugar, butter, bread flour, all purpose flour, and oats into the yeast mixture.
3. Once combined, switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding flour as/if needed. If kneading by hand, this should take about 10-12 minutes.
4. Form dough into a round, compact ball. Turn in oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen/tea towel. Let rise in warm area until doubled, approx. 12 hours.
5. Once dough has doubled, punch down. Divide and form strands, then braid.
6. Cover and let rise another 6 hours.
7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
8. Brush loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with vanilla sugar/sesame seeds/poppy seeds/other topping here if desired)
9. Bake 30 to 40 min. until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
10. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool before serving.