This delicious braided egg bread is traditional for Shabbat. It goes well with soups, salads, and for sandwiches. My family thinks it makes awesome French Toast too. This recipe for Salem Whole Wheat Challah is our family’s favorite version.
Yield: 2 good sized loaves (approximately 16 to 18 slices each)
To bag the bread for storage, we use large size produce bags from the grocery store.
Note: This recipe is designed to use a combination of fresh milled whole wheat flour and unbleached regular flour but you can substitute soft white whole wheat flour for the commercial bread flour.
We grind our flour fresh from whole wheat berries purchased from Wheat Montana. Typically, I use 1/2 Praire Gold and 1/2 Soft White Wheat. The Praire Gold has more gluten which is what helps the bread to rise and have elasticity.
5-6 cups of flour (½ whole wheat, ½ bread flour)
2 tablespoon Vital Wheat Gluten
5 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup of milk or buttermike or kefir whey
5 tablespoons raw sugar
¼ cup raw sugar
½ cup honey
4 tablespoons butter
2 whole eggs + 3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
Optional: 5-6 Saffron Threads or ¼ tsp Saffron Powder ~ Added to warm water
Olive oil for greasing the dough bowl
1 egg yolk & 2 teaspoons water beaten
2+ teaspoons of sesame, chia, or poppy seeds
Instructions for making our Whole Wheat Challah:
- Mill the whole wheat flour and measure
- Place 1 cup of whole wheat flour & 1 cup of unbleached bread flour in mixer, add vital wheat gluten and ½ cup of sugar and mix together
- Add the yeast to a small bowl
- In a small pan over med heat, blend the water, 5 tablespoons of sugar until the temperature is 112-115°
- Add water mixture to the yeast, stir and allow yeast to proof for 5 minutes or so (foamy, frothy.)
Mixing the Dough
- Warm the milk and honey in small pan and add the butter and allow to melt (no more than 100 degrees)
- When yeast is frothy and puffy pour into flour mix, add the milk and butter and mix on low, then add the eggs and beat for 3 minutes
- Mix in 2 more cups of flour (add 1 cup at a time) while continuing to process the dough. Continue in this way until ready to add the 5th cup of flour.
- Add this cup of flour and the salt and mix until the dough has formed. Add additional flour if needed until you have a moderately soft dough that is slightly sticky but smooth.
- Beat or knead dough for 5-7 minutes to allow the gluten to form (this is the time for an electric mixer – kneading by hand may take up to 10 minutes)
- Shape into a ball and place in a large bowl that has been coated with olive oil. Turn dough to coat both sides.
Raising the Dough
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a clean warm towel. Set in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 – 1 ½ hours TIP: I use my dehydrator as my proofing oven with the racks removed and the temperature set to dough or 105 degrees with a damp dish towel over top of the plastic wrap – this works really well. Heating pads or blankets work too.
- When dough is doubled, remove towel and plastic wrap, and punch down.
- Turn out onto lightly floured surface and cover with plastic and towel. Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes.
Braiding the Challah
- Knead dough for 1 minute then cut dough into 2 halves. Then cut each half in three equal pieces for a 3-Strand Braid or 6 equal pieces for a 6-Strand Braid.
- Roll each piece into a rope that is slightly more than an inch thick and about 13 inches long. Using the ropes braid the dough and pinch the ends together then tuck them under the braid.
- Place the two finished braids on a greased baking sheet ( we use the baking stones available through Pampered Chef)
- Lightly cover with plastic wrap and a clean warm towel. Set in a warm place and allow them to rise until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.
- While the braids are rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Egg Wash and Seeds
- Remove the plastic wrap and towel then brush the braids with the egg/water wash and sprinkle with the seeds of your choice if desired.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cover loosely with foil to keep the bread from browning too much.
- Remove the braided loaves from the baking sheet and allow them to cool on a wire rack.
Video for how to make a 6 stand braided challah loaf from Chai Time blog.
We use a Nutrimill electric grain mill to grind our wheat berries and we have a non-electric manual grind Wonder Junior mill as well. We also use the Bosch Universal Plus mixer all are available from Dixie at Nutrition Lifestyles. Links for each are below: