Whole Wheat Challahs

two whole-wheat challahs made in 12-inch loaf pans

© 2011 by KV5R — Rev. April 25, 2011.

Meanwhile, I made several breads that were not entirely successful, so I skipped the articles. Tonight, however, I went back to what works well, and made two big challahs (braided bread) with one-third whole-wheat, honey, almonds, egg, butter, and topped with egg wash and poppy seeds. These were once-risen in two 12-inch Norpro bread pans.

This will be a 750 gram (6 cup) batch to make two loaves. As it turned out, it should have been a little more (maybe 825) because the big loaf pans didn’t quite fill after two hours of rising. I used the baker’s percentage of 65% for the liquids, as I find that usually makes perfect dough without additions of flour or water.


487 gm    liquids: 4 Tbsp honey, 1 egg, and warm water
3   tsp   bread-machine yeast
250 gm    whole flour (Montana hard red, home-milled)
500 gm    bread flour
3   tsp   salt
4   Tbsp  Country Crock margarine (non-hydrogenated, no cholesterol)
½ to 1 cup ground nuts and/or small fruit, as desired
1 egg + 1 Tbsp water
Sprinkle Poppy Seeds

Weigh 1 egg, 4 Tbsp honey, and warm water to total 487 grams.
Add yeast, mix well, and let stand until foamy on top (10 minutes or so).
Weigh flour(s) into a large mixing bowl to total 750 grams.
Add salt and nuts and mix dry ingredients well.
Pour the mixed liquids into the flour.
Melt the margarine (if using whipped, boil the water out of it).
Cool the margarine and add to mixing bowl.
Mix all with large spoon, then hands, until smooth.
Autolyse about 10 minutes, while cleaning up bowl and utensils.
Knead the dough 10-15 minutes or until smooth elastic.
Use rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle.
Cut dough into 6 equal strips.
Roll the strips into ropes about 16 inches long.
For each loaf, pinch 3 ropes at one end, braid, and pinch other end.
Tuck ends under and place each braided dough into loaf pans.
Mix 1 egg and 1 Tbsp water and brush all of it onto the loaves.
Sprinkle on poppy seeds.
Cover and rise in a warm place 1-2 hours or until risen above pans.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Put in loaves and reduce to 375°F.
Bake for 40 minutes at 375°F.
Remove and place on rack to cool.

Makes two 1½ lb. Challahs, 12 inches long.


Weigh egg, honey, and water,

Add yeast and mix well. Meanwhile,

Grind some nuts,

Weight the flours,

Add salt and mix dry ingredients well.

Melt some margarine,

Mix all.

When it gets too stiff to mix, use fists and save wrists!
Let it rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile,

Use a plastic bowl scraper for cleaning up—never use a sponge or wash rag for dough!

Knead for 10 minutes. If it tears when stretched, knead some more.

Make a rectangle. Notice that the weighed baker’s percentage of 65% for the liquids
worked out perfectly—there’s not a speck of dusting flour needed on the table!

Cut into 6 pieces. Make the two outer ones wider because they are shorter and thinner.

Hand-roll them into six ropes. Now you can make baguettes or braid challahs.

Take three and pinch ends together.

Braid. Use a wide angle for a short pitch. Be careful to not stretch the dough while braiding.

Pinch the other end.

Adjust the length to fit the pan.

Tuck ends and put in loaf pan.

Make egg wash (1 egg, 1 Tbsp water).

Keep brushing it on the loaves until all is used.

Sprinkle on desired topping.

Cover loosely and…

Rise in a warm place (95°F works well).

After the rise, spray with butter-flavored spray, if desired.

Bake and cool.

Cut and inspect.

Serve and enjoy!
The tea, by the way, is Earl Grey, hot…


  1. I always seem to have trouble with braided breads rising unevenly. The tops would have been prettier (more bulbous) if I had used more dough in these large pans.
  2. The crumb came out smooth, like store-bought bread. I was expecting a coarser texture since this was a single-rise batch. It proves that the traditional punch-down and second rise isn’t always necessary.
  3. The crust was perfect—thin and soft, and a bit crispy on top.
  4. The taste and texture is excellent, but just a bit too sweet. I’ll cut back to 3 Tbsp honey next time.
  5. I can’t tell if the 1 egg in the dough made any difference. Maybe just added cholesterol?
  6. The new 12-inch non-stick Norpro pans worked well.
  7. Weighing the flour and liquids, using flour weight × .65 for the liquids, worked so well (this time) that I didn’t need any extra water or dusting flour. Made for a very clean batch!
  8. Usually, put the egg wash and topping on after the rise. I decided to put them on beforehand, because (1) I could coat more of the dough than just the top, and (2) I didn’t disturb the dough after the rise. For a long-rise bread (like sourdough or no-knead), that would be a bad idea, as the raw egg might spoil before baking.

So there you have it! Two big whole-wheat Challahs! Please stay tuned for more bread baking adventures in the coming weeks.

Thanks for stopping by! —kv5r

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