Millie's Whole Wheat Challah

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Millie's Whole Wheat Challah

star rating (19) rate this recipe »
Published prior to 2008

This recipe for high-rising challah comes from Lora Brody, author and long-time King Arthur friend. The loaf was inspired by Lora’s mother, Millie, who long ago discovered the virtue of using whole-wheat pastry flour to make this light-textured golden braid, traditionally served on the Jewish Sabbath and other holidays. Whole wheat gives the challah deeper color and more complex flavor; and using whole wheat pastry flour, ground from softer wheat than traditional whole wheat flour, allows it to retain its feather-light texture.

Yield: One 15- to 16-inch braid, 16 servings
Baking temperature: 375°F
Baking time: 30 minutes

1/2 cup (4 ounces) lukewarm water
6 tablespoons (2 5/8 ounces) vegetable oil
1/4 cup (3 ounces) honey
2 large eggs
2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

Combine all of the ingredients and mix and knead them—by hand, mixer, or bread machine—until you have a soft, smooth dough. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 2 hours, or until it’s puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.

Lightly grease (or line with parchment) a baking sheet.

Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into three equal pieces, shape each piece into a rough log, cover the pieces, and let them rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each piece of dough into an 18-inch rope. Place the three pieces of dough side by side on the prepared pan, and braid them, squeezing the ends together, then tucking them neatly underneath. Cover the braid gently with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow it to rise for about 1 hour, until it’s puffy, but not doubled in bulk. Near the end of the bread’s rise, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Uncover and bake the bread for 20 minutes, tent it with foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until it’s a deep, golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F. Remove it from the oven, and after a minute or so carefully transfer it to a rack. Cool the bread to lukewarm before cutting it.

Variation: For sesame seed challah, reserve about 2 teaspoons egg white from the eggs in the dough. Combine it with 2 teaspoons water, and whisk until smooth. Gently brush this mixture on the risen challah just before baking, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Nutrition information per serving (1 slice, 52g): 12g whole grains, 165 cal, 6g fat, 4g protein, 20g complex carbohydrates, 4g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 26mg cholesterol, 210mg sodium, 84mg potassium, 9RE vitamin A, 1mg iron, 7mg calcium, 79mg phosphorus.


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  • star rating 12/29/2013
  • Chanie from Brooklyn, NY
  • The Challah came out nice looking, airy, tasty. but in some places it is bitter. Can you advise us what we are doing wrong.
    Check the freshness of your flour. Rancid or old, expired wheat flour will have that bitter flavor. You might also consider adding a tablespoon of orange juice to the recipe to prevent bitter flavor. Happy baking - Irene@KAF
  • star rating 05/05/2013
  • Rachel from Oberlin, OH
  • This is a really lovely challah recipe. I only had regular whole wheat flour on hand, so I used that in place of the whole wheat pastry flour. It still came out light and delicious! I would also recommend an egg wash made of a whole egg plus a bit of water; it gives the golden shine that I associate with challah. For those who had trouble with dryness, try starting with two cups of whole wheat flour and one cup of white flour, mixing in everything else but the salt, covering it with a damp towel, and walking away for twenty minutes. Give the whole wheat a chance to hydrate a bit. (This is a similar idea to a traditional autolyse, but since so much of the liquid in this recipe comes from the eggs, honey, and oil, there's not enough liquid to do a proper autolyse without adding any gluten-inhibiting fat to the dough.) When you come back, mix in the salt. Turn out the dough on a floured surface and dust the top with a bit more flour. As you knead, you can add a little bit more flour until the dough is just the tiniest bit tacky. I ended up needing only about 80% of the flour called for in the recipe, and the bread came out perfectly!
    Your rest that lets the whole wheat soften in the liquid is the prefect way to make a nice, soft wheat loaf. Great tip for others to use for this recipe and other WW recipes. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF
  • star rating 04/27/2013
  • Tatiana from Providence, RI
  • This was a relatively fast challah recipe with an excellent result! No overpowering flavor but just a great, hearty bread. Since its a whole wheat bread it is dense and nutty, but, it still feels like a challah to me. Amazing and I will definitely be making it again.
  • star rating 01/27/2013
  • Mindy from Lewiston, NY
  • This was my first time baking challah, and it will most certainly not be my last! I have been baking yeast breads for years, but this is by far one of the best. I noticed that a lot of comments stated that they had to add water, so instead of having to add water at the end and risking a gooey mess I just added the flour gradually until it felt right. I only ended up having to use 2 cups of KAF white whole wheat (I didn't have pastry flour) and 1 1/3 cups of the KAF unbleached all purpose. It still rose beautifully and turned out HUGE, bakery quality, and delicious!
  • star rating 12/19/2011
  • efk26 from KAF Community
  • I've made this three times, and it was delicious...but nothing like challah. Heavy and dense. What did I do wrong? I followed the recipe to a t (except for the one time I tried substituting regular yeast, and activating it first, just in case the flaw was my instant yeast -- nope, just the same). The only thing I did differently is that my eggs were extra large, as that is what I keep on hand. Any advice?
    Changing the size of the eggs will definitely affect the outcome of the bread. Try it with the large eggs and you should get the intended results. MJR @ KAF
  • star rating 12/15/2011
  • from
  • 07/30/2011
  • Jennifer75 from KAF Community
  • I did not make this exact recipe; I made a 100% whole wheat challah that was extremely similar to this, and I thought I would share the ingredients, in case anyone is interested. I used 4 C white whole wheat flour (from KAF) in place of the two listed flours, and I added 2 Tbsp vital wheat gluten and 1 C warm water rather than 1/2 C warm water. All the other ingredients were the same, and it turned out fabulous- and healthier!
  • star rating 07/27/2011
  • Janet from Tallahassee
  • A delicious and beautiful bread! A divine baking and eating experience. From the reviews, I added more water - and made it by hand according to my basic bread baking technique (proof yeast, mix liquids, add flours). I was looking for a bread recipe that used WW pastry flour. This braid rose and baked perfectly. My family loved it.
  • star rating 03/04/2011
  • TenThousandThings from KAF Community
  • I have been test-driving challah recipes for years, and actually stuck with the Joy of Cooking recipe for the past 3 years or so (substituting 1/2 of the bread flour with KAF White Whole Wheat). Though delicious, that recipe takes FOREVER . . . I would have to mix/knead/do a first rise Thursday night in order to do a 2nd cold rise overnight before braiding/rising/baking the challah to be ready for Friday night Shabbat dinner. However, I have to say: Millie's Whole Wheat Challah recipe beats any other recipe I've tried, hands down! Not only is it a faster prep time, it comes out absolutely tender and delicious. The only reason I can't give the recipe 5 stars is because I've had to triple the water content every time (I know we're having a bad winter, but it can't be that dry!) because the flour won't absorb, and the dough is still so tacky/tough that it makes my stand mixer go into overdrive. The results are worth it, though! Happy baking!
  • 12/24/2010
  • DP2341 from KAF Community
  • While baking the bread, it seemed to expand and broke many of my braids. Is this because I didn't let it rise long enough after braiding and before putting it in the oven?
    I am sorry to hear of your difficulty. Yes, you intuition is correct, the loaf was under risen. The second rise needs to last long enough for the loaf to hold a dimple pressed into the end with your finger. Frank @ KAF.
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