Q. I’d love to have my family get used to whole wheat challahs but they won’t even look at anything that’s not pure white. Any ideas?
A. Easy does it! Start by substituting only 1 cup of flour with whole wheat and see how your family “swallows” it. If they don’t notice, gradually continue adding more whole wheat flour until slowly but surely you’ll be making 100% whole wheat challahs! Just remember to increase the amount of water in proportion to the whole wheat flour.
Mix together all ingredients until a cohesive dough is formed. If you’re using a mixer, the initial mixing time for ingredients should be seven minutes. Allow to “rest” five minutes, then mix again five minutes. Mix and rest one more time.
Leave the dough to rise in a covered bowl for one to two hours in a warm place or overnight in the back of the fridge.
When the dough has risen, it’s time to braid. Divide the dough into three balls, and then divide each third into six balls. The secret to making airy challahs? Fill ‘em up with air! Instead of simply making ropes out of balls of dough before braiding challahs, roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin. Then roll up jelly roll style. When you have six “rolls,” start braiding. You won’t believe the difference this makes!
After braiding your challahs, let them rise for about half an hour. The exact amount of time really depends on the weather so you might need to leave them for longer if they’re “winter challahs.” If so, you can speed up this stage by warming up the oven for a few minutes and then turning it off. Put the tray of braided challahs in the oven and leave the door open. Excess heat kills yeast so beware not to overdo it. You’ll know you did if the inflated forms suddenly deflate…
Another way to ensure a good and even rise for your braided challahs: Instead of preheating the oven, turn it on just when you put the challahs in to bake. This way, the formed loaves will rise slowly as the heat gradually rises in the oven.
For an extra-special-shiny-finish, brush with egg wash twice, allowing a 10 minute interval between them. Be sure to brush on v-e-r-y gently, again to avoid deflation of your beautiful challah forms. Top with sesame seeds and/or sunflower and pumpkin seeds as desired.
Bake in a preheated 400 degree Fahrenheit oven until golden.
Dough too dry? There are a few factors that can cause this problem even if you’re sure you’ve done exactly what the recipe instructs. The solution? It’s still not too late to add some moisture to the dough. After rolling out each ball of dough as instructed above, dip an egg brush in water and brush the dough, then roll up. Be careful not to add too much water as it will make the dough mushy.
Those who prefer white challahs can switch the whole wheat flour to white and add only 1 liter water.