Those of us whose parents lived through the Depression, have an aversion to throwing away food. That makes it difficult if you’re into making sourdough bread. In order to keep a sourdough starter going, you throw some out and feed only a small portion each week. Otherwise, it would grow enormous and you’d never use it all.
Lucky for me, and my lucky family, I discovered a way to use all that starter that would otherwise be discarded. I mix it into my regular active dry-yeasted challah dough for flavor. The result is light as a feather (hence the name) but still has that hearty sourdough flavor.
This challah keeps very well, and of course, can be frozen.
Light as a Feather Challah
Yield: 2 16-inch by 6-inch by 4-inch high, 4-braid loaves (or four smaller)
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup old stiff starter
- 6 cups flour
- 5 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon salt
- 5 large eggs
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 egg, pinch salt, for glaze
- Mix water and starter in large mixing bowl. Let sit 30 minutes.
- In separate bowl, mix flour and yeast, then stir in salt.
- Add eggs and honey to liquid ingredients, then add oil. Stir in flour. Mix with dough hook on low until moistened. Increase speed, knead 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and shiny. Add flour if necessary until the dough almost leaves the side of the bowl. Dough should be tacky.
- Place dough in large greased mixing bowl, grease top. Cover. Allow to double, 1 ½-2 hours.
- Push dough down to deflate, give two business letter turns, and let rise again, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Press dough gently to deflate. Give two business letter turns. Place in very large container and refrigerate covered, overnight.
- Divide dough into 4 pieces, let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, roll into logs with tapered ends.
- Braid dough
- Make glaze: mix 1 egg with pinch of salt using fork.
- Brush glaze over challah and let rise about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 325◦ F.
- Glaze challahs again, making more glaze if necessary to thoroughly coat challahs. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
- Bake 20 minutes. Turn and bake 10-15 minutes, tenting if tops brown too much. When done, skewer inserted in center of challah should come out clean. Cool on racks.