Honey Whole-Wheat Challah
Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
Prep Time: 30 minutes Resting and Rising Time: 2 hours 30 minutes Cook Time: 35 minutes
Not too dense, not too flimsy, this challah would please even Goldilocks at her pickiest.
2 packages (4½ teaspoons/14 grams) active dry yeast
2 cups warm water, divided (see Kitchen Tip)
½ cup mild honey, divided
1 cup (137 grams) bread flour
2 cups (288 grams) whole-wheat flour
3 cups (390 grams) unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 large eggs, divided
3 egg yolks
½ cup mild olive oil
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the yeast, 1 cup of the warm water, and 2 tablespoons of the honey and stir gently until the honey dissolves. Let stand for about 5 minutes, until the yeast foams and bubbles.
- Combine the bread flour, whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and salt in a mixing bowl and mix well to combine.
- Add the remaining cup of warm water, the remaining honey, 3 of the eggs, the egg yolks, and oil to the yeast mixture, and mix until fully combined. Add the flour mixture, about ¾ cup to 1 cup at a time, switching to the machine’s dough hook when it becomes hard to mix. Knead for 8 minutes at medium speed. This is a tacky dough. It will not completely pull away from the bowl.
- Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set aside for about 2 hours until doubled in size. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Dust a work surface with all-purpose flour. Place the dough on it and knead for 3 to 5 minutes, until the dough begins to resist kneading. Separate the dough into 2 portions and place one on each of the prepared baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towels. Allow to rest for about 5 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF, positioning two racks inside (one in the top slot and the other in the bottom slot) so there is space for both loaves to bake and rise.
- Place one of the portions of dough on the floured surface. Cut it into 3 equal pieces. (It’s a good idea to weigh each one to make sure they are equivalent until you get comfortable with the amounts—then you can wing it). Roll each piece into a long tube shape with ends that are thicker than the center. Lay them out, parallel to one another, on the floured surface and bring one set of ends together, pressing on them very lightly. Braid the dough, starting with the middle piece and working outward to the ends. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place a new sheet of parchment paper on each of the rimmed baking sheets and place a braided loaf on each. Cover both with kitchen towels and set aside to rise for 30 minutes.
- Make an egg wash by mixing the remaining egg and water in a small bowl or cup. With a pastry brush, slather the egg wash on the braided loaves, making sure to get into all of the groovers. Sprinkle the loaves with the Then mix together the egg and water and slather on the challahs. Sprinkle with the coarse salt.
- Bake for about 17 minutes; then swap the challahs, still on their baking sheets, between the top and bottom racks, and turn the baking sheets by 180° (front to back), to ensure even baking. Bake for another 18 minutes or so, until the crust is a warm chestnut brown. Remove the challahs from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.
The water for your yeast mixture should be between 85°F and 100°F. Yeast is a little living creature, and it needs special handling. You need warm water to activate it and get it started eating and bubbling, but if the water is too warm, you’ll kill it and it simply won’t work at all.