- 2 TBSP (35 grams) very active, fully fermented sourdough starter, 50% hydration
- 1/3 cup (80 grams) warm water
- 1 cup (135 grams) bread flour
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) warm water
- 3 large eggs, plus 1 for glazing
- 1 1/2 tsp (8 grams) salt
- 1/4 cup (55 grams) vegetable oil
- 3 TBSP (65 grams) mild honey OR 1/3 cup (60 grams) sugar
- about 3 cups (400 grams) bread flour
- fully fermented sourdough starter
The night before baking:
- Mix the starter into the water until it is partially dissolved, then stir in the flour.
- Knead this firm dough until it is smooth.
- Remove 1 cup (200 grams) of the starter to use in the final dough and place in a sealed container at least four times its volume.
- Let the starter ferment until it has tripled in size, about 8-12 hours.
- In a large bowl, beat together the water, 3 eggs, salt, oil, and honey (or sugar) until the salt had dissolved and the mixture if fairly well combined.
- With your hands or a wooden spoon, mix the bread flour in all at once.
- When the mixture is a shaggy ball, scrape it out onto your work surface, add the starter, and knead until the dough is smooth (no more than ten minutes). The dough will be very firm and should feel almost like modeling clay. If the dough is too firm to knead easily, add a TBSP or two of water to it, if it seems too wet, add a few TBSP of flour.
- Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
- Let the dough ferment for about 2 hours – it will probably rise not much, if at all.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Divide the dough into four even balls.
- Roll each ball out into a long thin strip (the dough is very elastic, I found it best to roll it out, fold in half, roll it out, and repeat until I got the length I wanted).
- Place the strips on the baking sheet and braid as desired.
- Cover well with plastic wrap and let it proof until tripled in size, about 5 hours.
- Meanwhile, 30 minutes before baking time, arrange the oven racks in the upper third position and remove any racks above it.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Beat the remaining egg with a pinch of salt for glazing the bread.
- Brush the loaf with the egg glaze.
- Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until well browned.
- After the first 20 minutes of baking, rotate the loaf around so it bakes evenly. IF the loaf is browning too fast, tent with foil.
- When bread is done, remove from pan and let it cool on a rack.