Two loaves of Sourdough Challah Bread

Sourdough Challah Bread

Challah is a classic Jewish bread enjoyed by many. This enriched bread relies on oil and eggs rather than butter for its richness, making it perfect fresh from the oven and fantastic for French toast the next day.

For this recipe, we used a stiff sweet starter. Adding sugar to the starter suppresses the growth of lactic acid bacteria and the production of acid, creating a less tangy-flavored dough perfect for challah. Despite the longer fermentation time, this 100% sourdough recipe is all hands-off, requiring no folds after the initial mix. So, you can easily mix the dough and then go about your day before popping it in the fridge to finish shaping and baking the bread the next day.

The shaping is the most complicated part of the whole process. We love how a six-strand braid looks, so while it is slightly more intricate, we chose this technique for its stunning presentation. But don't be intimidated. Follow along with the video for shaping, and you’ll be braiding like a pro in no time. If you want to do something more straightforward, a basic three-strand braid will work just as well.

Sourdough Challah Recipe


1 loaf


Day 1, evening: Mix the sweet starter & ferment overnight.
Day 2: Mix & bulk ferment the dough. Chill overnight.
Day 3: Shape, proof, and bake the challah.


Stiff sweet starter:

IngredientGramsU.S. Volume
Sourdough starter, 100% hydration151 TBSP
Water211 TBSP plus 2 tsp
Granulated sugar71 ½ tsp
Bread flour42⅓ C


IngredientGramsU.S. Volume
LevainAll of the aboveAll of the above
Water, 80°F127½ C plus 1 TBSP
Whole egg 501 each
Egg yolk151 each
Granulated sugar181 TBSP plus 1 ½ tsp
Honey221 TBSP
Oil (neutral-flavored such as grapeseed)453 TBSP
All-purpose flour1601 ⅓ C
Bread flour2402 C
Fine salt81 ½ tsp

Egg wash:

IngredientGramsU.S. Volume
Whole egg501 each
Water302 TBSP


  • Ruler
  • Silicone Baking Mat or parchment paper
  • Bench knife
  • Pastry brush
  • ½ sheet pan (13” x 18"/ 33 x 46 cm)
  • Thermometer (optional)
  • Cooling rack


Day 1 - Evening

Mix the Stiff Sweet Starter.
In the evening, or about 12 hours before you want to mix your dough, dissolve the sugar in water in a mixing bowl. Add the starter and mix well. Add the flour and mix until well combined and no dry flour remains. The mixture will be stiff and feel like dough. If it becomes difficult to stir, knead by hand. Place the starter in a clean container and place it in the Sourdough Home or Folding Proofer set to 72°F (22°C) for about 12 hours. The starter should triple in size and have visible bubbles on the top and sides.

Day 2

Set up the Proofer.
Set the Proofer to 78°F (25°C) and put the water tray in the middle of the warming plate. Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) of water into the tray and place the rack on top of it.

Mix the dough.
Add the water and stiff sweet starter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Use your hands to break up the starter into small pieces. Add the whole egg and yolk, sugar, honey, and oil. Stir to combine. Add the all-purpose flour, bread flour, and salt. Turn the mixer to low speed and mix on the lowest speed for 8 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and strong, and passes the windowpane test.

This dough may also be kneaded by hand.

Bulk ferment.
Form the dough into a ball, place it in a greased container, and put it in the Proofer. Let it rise for about 6 hours until close to doubles in size, and feels puffy to the touch.

Chill Overnight.
When you're done with the bulk fermentation, tightly wrap the bowl and put it in the refrigerator overnight.

Day 3

Divide & Preshape.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Divide it into six pieces, each weighing 126g. Shape each piece into a roughly 5” long cylinder. Cover with plastic or a damp towel and rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each piece into a roughly 15-inch (38 cm) long rope. Lightly dust the work surface with flour to prevent the dough from sticking but not so much that the dough slides around. You want the dough to grab onto the table a bit so it rolls out.

Braid the Challah.

It is best to view the video for the braiding instructions.
Lay the six strands parallel to each other and pinch the strands together at the top to join. Take the far left strand in your left hand and the far right stand in your right hand and cross them over so that they have now swapped places. Bring the far left strand strand down so that it is now the third strand from the left. Take the second strand in from the right and bring it all the way across so that it is now the far left strand.

Brind the far right strand down so that is now the third strand from the right. Take the second strand from the left and bring it all the way across so that it is now the far right strand. Bring the far left strand strand down so that it is now the third strand from the left. Take the second strand from the right and bring it all the way across so that it is now the far left strand. Brind the far right strand down so that is now the third strand from the right. Repeat this process until the entire loaf is braided. When you reach the end, pinch the ends together. Move the loaf to a piece of parchment paper or silicone mat.

Final Proof.
Set the Proofer to 78°F (25°C) and ensure the water tray has ¼ cup (60 ml) of water. Pick up the loaf using the parchments or silicone mat, and with the loaf still on the silicone mat, transfer both into the Folding Proofer. Lightly cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Proof for 4-5 hours until the dough has risen and feels puffy. During the last 30 minutes of proofing, preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).

Use the silicone mat to lift the dough from the Folding Proofer and transfer it to a half-sheet pan. Make the egg wash: Whisk together the egg and water. Brush the loaf with the egg wash. Place the loaf in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 28-30 minutes until golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the center reads 190°F (88°C). Remove the challah from the oven and transfer it to a rack to cool.

a slice of Sourdough Challah with honey
a loaf of Sourdough Challah bread and some slices.