Sourdough Starter and Loaves
This recipe comes from Eliza Hertzmark, a farmer’s wife, civil engineer and mother of three, who is a talented baker and makes sourdough challah loaves for the families’ Shabbat table every week.
- Oats (for pan)
- To make the sourdough starter: In a glass jar with a lid, put 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons water. Cover with cloth and let sit on counter (somewhere with consistent room temperature) for 12 hours.
- Remove half of mixture and add another 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon water. Cover with cloth and let sit on counter for 12 hours. Repeat every day for 5 days or until mixture is bubbly and has a pleasant sour smell. Then place lid on jar and store in the fridge.
- To make the sourdough sponge: Remove starter jar from fridge. Add 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons water. Let jar sit on counter for a few hours.
- In a large bowl, mix 2 cups flour with 2 cups water. Mix in sourdough starter from jar. Put ¼ cup of mixture from bowl back into starter jar, let sit on counter for an hour and then place back in fridge. Cover bowl with cloth or lid (not airtight—it needs to breathe) and let sit on counter for several hours until bubbly. Then cover with lid and store in the fridge.
- To make sourdough loaves: Add 3 cups of water and 3 cups of flour to the sponge. Cover and let sit on counter until bubbly. Add 1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons salt. Mix well. Add 5 cups flour. Mix, cover and let sit on counter until bubbly.
- Prepare 4 loaf pans. If using glass loaf pans, grease the sides with oil and cover the bottom with rolled oats. This makes it easy to remove the loaf once it is baked. (If using a silicone or nonstick loaf pans, this step may not be necessary.)
- Add more flour as needed until dough is neither sticky nor too firm. Dough is ready when you can touch it briefly with your finger without any dough sticking, and if you poke your finger into it, an indentation remains. Cover with plastic and let sit on counter in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size or more.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Score top of loaves lengthwise. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Turn heat down to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes (baking time may vary if using silicone or nonstick pans). Remove from pans and transfer to cooling rack.
- To make more bread with your starter, repeat steps from sourdough sponge on. When making the sponge always remember to replenish your starter so that you can continue using it!