Swiss challa bread with lievito madre

The idea behind this bread was born thanks to a mistake in feeding my pasta madre for panettone. Due to a miscalculated amount of dough, I produced more sourdough than needed. Enriched dough braided loaves are my favorite, so I fed the sourdough leftover one more time to reach the required amount for the recipe and got to work.

There are two key moments in the recipe – the firmness of the dough and determining the moment in the final proof when the bread is ready for baking. The variables to be also considered, respectively, are flour quality and proofing temperature.
The flour should have at least 12% protein content. The state of sourdough, of course, is also of great importance, because industrial yeast is not present in the dough. The times indicated in the recipe are determined by the high activity of my pasta madre. With a less active sourdough, fermentation times would possibly be longer.

The recipe is for two loaves of 505 grams each (weight of the shaped loaves before baking)

Overall formula

585 flour (100%)
35 gr.water (in the sourdough)
230 gr.milk (39,5%)
50 gr.eggs (8,5%)
100 gr.butter (17%)
10 gr.salt (1,8%)
1010 yield

Sourdough (lievito madre)

50 gr.starter
50 gr.flour
20 грамаwater

Fermentation time – 3-3,5 hours at 26-28°C

Main dough

500 gr.bread flour
120 gr.lievito madre
230 gr.milk
50 gr.eggs
100 gr.butter
10 gr.salt
1010 yield



Mixing in this recipe is quite simple. The method used here is All-in – all the products put together in the mixer. Mix for 4-6 minutes at slow speed then switch to fast speed for another 6 minutes at least. The criterion is the development of a good gluten structure. The dough temperature should not exceed 26°C.

Bulk fermentation

The bulk fermentation continues until the dough doubles in volume. The proofing can be conducted at room temperature, in a proofer or in a cool place.
I almost always prefer the last method, because that way the dough is tight and comfortable to braid. Here is the time it took me:

  • 9 hours at 18 °C,
  • 6 hours at 6°C.


For the shaping, I chose a braid with six strands (see the video link at the bottom).
Divide the dough into twelve pieces of 85 grams each. Form strands with a length of 45 cm and braid the challas.
After braiding egg wash the breads.

Final proof

It lasts approximately 1,5 – 2 hours at room temperature of about 23-34°C.


Before baking, egg wash the breads once again. Bake them in preheated oven at 200 °C until reaching internal temperature of at least 96°C (around 25 minutes). 


(times are approximate)

First day

17:50 – sourdough preparation
21:30 – mixing
21:45 – start of bulk fermentation at 18°C

Second day

10:30 – dividing, shaping the strands and braiding
11:00 – start of the final proof at room temperature
13:30 – egg washing and baking

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *