Easy Sourdough Challah

Making bread, especially sourdough, can be intimidating, but this recipe simplifies it. Sourdough starter, time, and ingredients—most of which you probably already have—are all you need.  

Start your dough the night before for an 8–12-hour overnight rise (or 24 if refrigerated). Allow four to six hours for shaping, rising, and baking the next day.  

I offer timing guidelines, but bread dough is best worked by sight and feel. The dough should be tacky, not sticky.   

Add water if too dry, flour if too moist. Bread may rise slower in a chilly, humid kitchen.  

– 1/3 cup warm water – 5 tablespoons olive oil – 3 tablespoons maple syrup – 2 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided – 2 large egg – 3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for surface


– 1/3 cup sourdough starter (100% hydration) – Cooking spray – 1 large egg yolk – 1 to 2 tablespoons sesame seed

Combine 1/3 cup warm water, 5 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons maple syrup, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 2 big eggs in a stand mixer and beat with a fork. Add 3 1/2 cups bread flour and 1/3 cup sourdough starter. Knead the dough hook on medium-low speed (setting 3) for 2 minutes to make shaggy dough.  


Scrape dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead by hand for 6–10 minutes until dough smooths and becomes sticky. When the dough is too firm, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until it kneads easily. If the dough is too wet, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time.  

Spray a big bowl lightly with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl and wrap with plastic. Leave the dough in a warm location (like a turned-off microwave) for 8–12 hours to nearly double in size.  

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it comes together. Divide dough into 6 pieces. Form a 16-inch rope by hand rolling each piece from the center outward. First braid 3 ropes, then 3 more. Connect the braids and tuck the ends beneath the loaf.  

Put the bread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place it over the bread. Let rise 3–4 hours in a warm place until puffy and jiggly.  

Set a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350℉. In a small bowl, mix 1 big egg yolk, 1 tablespoon water, and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt with a fork. After egg washing, add 1–2 teaspoons sesame seeds on the bread.  

Bake 35–45 minutes until challah is golden brown. Tent challah with aluminum foil if it's getting dark. Slice after cooling on a wire rack at room temperature.  

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