Thursday, October 2, 2008

Honey Whole Wheat Challah

I can't believe Rosh HaShana is over! I'm sorry I didn't have the chance to post before the holidays to wish everyone a happy and healthy new year but I was just too busy preparing! The holiday was lovely and loud as usual, as all my siblings who live in America joined us. I was so excited! I love having family time and I love holidays, so the two together was great. Exhausting but great. For Rosh HaShana, it is customary to have apples and honey, as I'm sure you've heard by now. (Sound of the old familiar, dip the apple in the honey grating on yours ears yet?) So it was a no brainer that the Challah that would accompany our four meals would involve honey. I've long used this Honey Whole Wheat Challah recipe. In fact, it is the recipe that I first learned to make challah with. It is remarkable to mark that journey; my first loaves were hard and dry, which only encouraged my father to start swinging them like baseball bats at the table. Now, my challot are light and airy and easily sliceable. Those were good times. This recipe makes alot of dough- it's about a five pound batch. I used 1 kilo of whole wheat flour and the rest regular all purpose flour, which makes dense, but still moist loaves. Play around with the proportions to suit your liking. I made the dough and allowed it to rise once at room temperature. I deflated it and let it rise overnight until I was ready to bake. I was nervous throughout that the resulting would be heavy and dry, but it was surprisingly moist and delicious. Also adding to the fun and pleasure of this baking was my five year old niece helping me roll out the "snakes" that we were going to coil into the customary rounds. Baking in itself is sweet, but baking with those you love makes it more so. Check out Susan's weekly Yeastspotting roundup and best wishes to you and your families!

Honey Whole Wheat Challah
(Recipe can be easily halved)

4 cups water
1 tbsp instant yeast
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
4 eggs, plus 1-2 for glazing
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 kg whole wheat flour
All purpose flour, as needed

Place the sweeteners, yeast, eggs, and oil in a large bowl,

add the water,
and whisk well to combine.
Add the kg of whole wheat flour at one time,
stir well with a whisk to combine. If the mixture gets too thick to handle with a whisk, switch to a wooden spoon.

Begin adding the all purpose flour slowly until the mixture forms a shaggy ball. Allow it to autolyse about 20 minutes before proceeding.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. This is a large batch to knead. You may want to divide it in half and only knead one portion at a time.

Here's what the dough looks like almost completely kneaded and taking another rest.
The dough is now completely kneaded and ready to rise.

The dough after its first rise.
Deflate the dough gently but thorougly- I gave it a fold to compact it nicely. Allow to rise again at room temperature if you plan to bake immediately or retard it overnight in the refrigerator and wake up to...
an enormous, amorphous blob of dough :)

Shape the breads as desired. Some I simply coiled, while others I made a long three stranded braid and connected the ends. Let your imagination run wild!
Allow them to proof. Towards the end of their proofing time, preheat the oven to 350.

Generously glaze the proofed breads with beaten egg.

Bake them until a deep golden brown. The honey lends itself to intense coloration and an intoxicating scent. Separate the breads and remove to a rack to cool so that they don't steam themselves.


Susan said...

This is the best kind of baking there is -- with and for loved ones, in honor of a lovely and loud holiday. Your shapes and the color of that crust are gorgeous!

Susan said...

PS Happy new year!

Maggie said...

Beautiful loaves!
I've been making the King Arthur Whole Grain challah but it still is only 1/2 whole wheat. I can't wait to give this a try. Happy New Year!

Jude said...

Such beautiful shapes... that browning is amazing and the fact that it's whole wheat makes it even better