Whole-Wheat Challah

by V. DeLeeuw; Recipe may contain ads or affiliate links.

whole wheat challah

A fragrant, sweet Jewish egg bread, traditionally served at the Shabbat table but excellent every day of the week. Leftovers are delicious lightly toasted with a little butter. Many thanks to my friend I. who gave me the original challah recipe, which I adapted to include whole-wheat flour. A word on the egg wash: I use a yolk-only egg wash, because I don’t like the way the egg white tastes when baked on the challah. I also sweeten it slightly, so that it adds sweetness, not just color and shine.

Whole-Wheat Challah
Prep and Cool time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Bread
Yield: 12 thick slices
  • 1 cup reduced-fat milk, warmed 30 seconds in microwave
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups whole-wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 envelope rapid rise yeast
Egg wash:
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
  1. Place the milk, butter, egg, both flours, vital wheat gluten, salt, sugar and yeast in the pan of an electric bread machine. Select the dough cycle. Check on the dough after about 5 minutes. It should have formed into a smooth ball, slightly sticky but not very wet. If dough is too wet or too dry, add water or flour, 1 teaspoon at a time.
  2. When cycle is done, preheat oven to 100 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into three fairly-equal parts and roll each part into a 12-inch-long rope. Ropes should be about the same length, but don't stress about it too much - as you can see in the photo above, my own challah is uneven, but as always in cooking and baking, imperfections just prove that something is homemade. :)
  3. Braid the challah into the traditional shape - here's a video that shows how to do it:
  4. Place the shaped challah on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a clean towel and place in the 100-degrees oven. Allow it to rise 1½ hours. It will be noticeably puffier when done rising.
  5. minutes before you want to bake the challah, remove it from the oven, leaving it covered and next to the oven. Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Prepare the egg wash by whisking together the egg yolk, milk and powdered sugar in a small bowl.
  6. Gently brush the challah's top with the egg wash, using a pastry brush. You'll only use about half of the egg wash. If using, sprinkle the challah with sesame seeds. Place in the oven. Bake 25 minutes, until deep golden brown and delightfully fragrant.
  7. Place the baked challah on a cooling rack. Allow to cool 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
Nutrition Per Serving
Serving size: 1 thick slice; Calories: 200; Fat: 6g; Carbohydrates: 30g; Sugar: 7g; Sodium: 114mg; Fiber: 2g; Protein: 7g


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