I have tried so many bread recipes, and none of them worked out so perfectly that I just knew that it would be my go-to bread recipe. Well, this bread recipe I am sharing today turned out great, and I am pretty sure it will be my go-to bread recipe. I want to give it a few more tries to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. I hope you have the same success that I did on my first try. I have made Challah more times than I can count, but it never turned out this great!
I have hopelessly tried to make standard loaf bread recipes on many occasions. They just never seem to turn out quite right, but challah…..I can make challah! I just gave up on the loaves, and I use challah for everything. I actually prefer the smaller size of the sliced bread when I use it for sandwiches. It also makes excellent french toast. When using it for sandwiches, as long as you don’t mind the shape on the top of the bread when you slice it (from the braid), you will be fine! I make a three-braided challah loaf because it is the one that makes the top of the bread the least odd-shaped. It turns out with a little downward indentation, kind of like the top of a heart. I accidentally slightly modified this Allrecipes recipe, but it worked out well. I use a Kitchen Aid mixer, so I can only attest to its accuracy with this method. I have never used a bread machine or kneaded by hand. Here is my version below:
Whole Wheat Challah
- 2 1/2 C. warm water (110 degrees F, 45 degrees C)
- 1 tbsp. active dry yeast
- 1/2 C. honey
- 4 tbsp. sunflower seed oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 8 C. white whole wheat flour
- Use a cooking thermometer to make sure your water is at the exact temperature for the recipe. I heat my water in the electric kettle and then pour 2 1/2 cups into a measuring cup, stick my thermometer in, and wait until it cools down to 110 F. Whisk in the yeast and let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast.
- Meanwhile, in your Kitchen Aid mixing bowl, whisk together the honey, oil, eggs and salt. Add in yeast mixture and whisk until blended.
- Add 4 cups of the flour and mix in the Kitchen Aid using the dough hook on setting 1 until most of the flour is incorporated, then increase the setting to 2 and continue mixing for a few minutes. Continue adding 3 more cups of flour, one cup at a time and mix using the same method; setting 1 until flour is incorporated then setting 2 for a few minutes. At this point, you will add small amounts of the last cup of flour (you may not need the whole cup) and mix after each addition using the same method above until the dough is the right consistency. You want the dough to be a tad bit sticky but still pull off of the dough hook fairly easily when you lift the handle. I add approximately a few tablespoons of flour at a time. Also, toward the end when your dough is almost complete, mix on setting 4 for a few minutes (even though the Kitchen Aid says not to mix bread above setting 2). I don’t know why, but my bread turns out better when I do this.
- Cover with a cloth and place in a draft free area to rise for at least 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size. I use the microwave above my oven.
- Spray 2 rectangular baking sheets with cooking spray.
- Punch down dough and divide into 4 sections. Divide each of these four sections into 3 for a total of 12 balls of dough, You will use 3 for each challah, for a total of 4 small loaves. There is no need to use flour on the surface for this step! Working one loaf at a time, take 3 balls, and roll each out into a snake, about 18 inches long. Pinch the 3 snakes together on one end, then braid them loosely, pinch together at other end when finished, and push braids together by placing one hand on each end of the loaf and gently push toward each other. Place this loaf on the baking sheet at an angle.
- Repeat step 6 again and place on same baking sheet with first loaf. Place them as far apart as you can because they will come close together as they rise, and ideally you don’t want them to touch. I do it this way so that I can cook all 4 loaves at one time. (The picture below only shows one loaf because that is all I have as I am writing this post. Also, it is already cooked; I just wanted you to have a visual for placement on the baking sheet).
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 to make the 3rd and 4th loaves.
9. Cover the baking sheets with towels and leave on the counter top to rise for about an hour, or until they are the size you want them.
10. Preheat the oven to 375. Bake on middle two racks for 10 minutes. Swap baking sheets on the racks and bake for 10 more minutes. Yours may take a little longer. You know they are finished baking when the top is golden brown and you hear a hollow sound when you tap the top with your knuckles.
Here is what I do with my four loaves for my family of 6:
- Slice 1 1/2 loaves and put in a sealed container in the pantry. This will be eaten in about 2 days!
- Put a whole loaf in a large Ziploc bag in the freezer.
- Slice a loaf and place it in a large Ziploc bag in the freezer.
This recipe may seem complicated, especially if you have never made challah, but it is simple once you get the hang of it. It is a great one to involve children with; my kids LOVE to roll out the snakes, and they can even braid their own 3 and 4-braided challah! You can do little challah rolls, round loaves, the possibilities are endless. I plan to do another post for this challah, including lots of pictures and videos to help you get a visual of the process.