This recipe is loosely based on Challah bread. I call it Amish because of the sourdough and the sorghum I use to sweeten it. We buy our sorghum from a Mennonite village, which is a branch of the Amish.
You can substitute honey for the sorghum if you like, or for a stronger flavor, use molasses.
For a good sorghum substitute, mix half molasses and half dark corn syrup.
1Make your sponge:
Stir together sourdough starter, water, sugar, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. I use the one with the KitchenAid stand mixer. Place the bowl in a little warm water, and let stand for 10 minutes.
2Remove bowl from water. Add in the sorghum, oil, eggs, and salt. Combine well. Stir in the 2 cups of whole wheat flour, then place bowl on stand mixer with dough hook. Sprinkle on 1/3 cup of the bread flour and start the mixer. Add remaining flour a little at a time as it kneads, until dough is smooth and elastic and pulls clean away from sides of bowl. Continue to knead about 3 minutes past this point. The amount of flour required will vary depending on the consistency of your sourdough starter and the humidity in the air.
3When kneading is complete, cover mixing bowl with a damp towel and place bowl in about 2 inches of hot tap water in your sink. This will provide the perfect 80° rising place. Allow to rise for 1 hour.
4After 1 hour, punch down dough in bowl. Oil your work surface (I use my countertop) and the surface of the dough. Work with oiled hands and divide dough into 3 equal pieces. I weighed my pieces to make sure they were the same, but you can eyeball it if you like.
5Pull and roll each piece into a long thin rope for braiding. Keep hands and surface oiled - I use oil in a spray bottle.
6Pinch together the 3 pieces of dough at one end, and braid. Pinch together the other end and tuck ends under slightly.
7Spray a baking sheet with oil and dust with cornmeal. Place braid on cornmeal, reshaping as necessary for a nice, pretty braid.
8Oil the top of the braid one more time, and cover it with the damp towel. Then put it in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes. I prop mine over my sink to which I have added about 4 inches of hot water.
9After 15 minutes, preheat oven to 325°. After 30 minutes, make an egg wash by stirring together 1 egg and a tablespoon of milk or cream. Brush top of loaf thoroughly. Bake loaf at 325° for 30 minutes. You may want to turn the pan around halfway through if your oven cooks unevenly. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
10Cool loaf on a wire rack for 30 minutes before slicing.
11Serve with butter, or slice and use for grilled sandwiches.