Whole Wheat Challah

When I am stressed or a bit anxious, I turn to bread-baking to calm me down. This explains my cran-apple swirl bread during finals week and pulla when I had to work on a midterm paper I was dreading. Making bread calms me down and focuses me onto a simpler chore; kneading is a repetitive act that guarantees a beautiful and delicious bread at the end.

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So what is the root of this baby? Job-searching, the bane of every college senior’s existence. Needless to say, having worked on cover letters and resumes for several hours every day is starting to get me anxious about post-graduation prospects. Thank goodness for Camille being here so we can both stare at our cover letters, making little tweaks here and there to postpone actually submitting them.

Anyways, back to the actual bread. This bread has become a mild obsession of mine, proven by the fact that I have made it three times since Christmas. The softness of the bread and the versatility makes it good for both a treat and an everyday eats. I can only make it last enough as toasts (or, honestly, scarfed down without anything on it) but I know that it makes good french toasts because it will soak up all the french toast batter.

The beauty of this bread is that it only rises twice, once after kneading and the second after shaping the bread. If you want to have this for breakfast, you can totally knead it the night before and store it in the fridge for a cold and slower fermentation. It will actually develop even deeper flavors that way! You can finish the bread in the morning and there’s your freshly baked bread!

Note: I used to do a three-strand braid but now I do a four-strand braid because I found this really easy way of doing it. I promise you I’ll post a link to the video I found it a few weeks back or, if I can’t find it, I’ll do a post on how.

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Whole Wheat Challah

makes 1 loaf

adapted from thekitchn and Warm Vanilla Sugar

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 pack) active yeast
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk (reserve the white for the egg wash)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Mix water and sugar together. Sprinkle the yeast over it and let it proof for about 5-10 minutes or until bubbly.

Meanwhile, mix the flour and salt together, making sure it is well-mixed. After the yeast proofed, stir in the eggs and oil with a wooden spoon making sure to hydrate all the dry ingredients evenly. Turn over the dough onto a floured surface. Knead the dough until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes by hand (I tend to go over this since it is nearly impossible to over-knead and very likely to under-knead when done by hand).

Transfer the dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or cloth. Let it rise for about 1-2 hour or until doubled. Alternatively, you can also throw the dough in the fridge and let there for about 8 hours and up to 2 days. When ready to continue, just take out the dough and leave it for about 1 hour to let it come to room temperature and rise a little bit more.

After doubled, move the dough onto a floured surface again for shaping. Shape the challah into the desired form (I usually do a four-strand braid) and cover again to let it rise for about 30 minutes-1 hour.

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Preheat oven to 375F. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and devouring the bread.

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