Sprouted Whole Wheat Challah

Sprouted Whole Wheat Challah

The traditional challah bread begins our Shabbat and holiday meals, as has been done in Jewish homes throughout the world for thousands of years. It is full of symbolic meaning dating to the Exodus from Egypt.

Most challah recipes today are loaded with white sugar and refined flour. But it is possible to make a healthy and tasty challah. I have tweaked Susie Fishbein’s Bread Machine Challah recipe from Kosher by Design by replacing the white flour and sugar for whole grain and honey, using coconut oil, and adding herbs and seeds for extra flavor.  Fishbein’s recipe uses only the egg yolk- a perfect foundation for converting a recipe to wholegrain. The lecithin in the yolk helps to tenderize the dough; a technique used by Peter Reinhart in his whole grain Challah as well. 

I like to use a six stranded braid  to shape the dough, even when baking in a loaf pan. I learned this technique from Maggie Glezer’s book,  A Blessing of Bread, where she explores a variety of Jewish breads from around the world and the rituals surrounding them. (You can also see her demonstrating the six stranded braid in this video.) I recommend this book for any home baker for the photos of the braiding and shaping variations for breads. 
It is also one of the few places I have seen a recipe for sourdough challah, which I have yet to master. I have been kneading my sourdough “discards” (about 1/2 cup) into the dough improving both flavor and texture.

To learn more about soaking, sprouting, and sourdough breads, check out this excellent Healthy Whole Grains online cooking class with over 50 video tutorials and over 100 recipes.

This recipe works with any kind of flour; white, whole wheat, sprouted grain, and spelt. You may need to adjust the liquid and/or flour quantities as you knead. Spelt flour always requires less water. The bread machine takes care of the initial kneading and first rise but is not necessary; a stand mixer or your hands work just as well.

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    • lisa says

      I use Le Creuset loaf pans for the larger loaves and a stoneware mini loaf pan from The Pampered Chef for the small loaves. They also carry a stoneware muffin pan and other bakeware if you want an alternative to metal pans. I have never tried a Pyrex loaf dish for breads. I would be curious to know if anyone has had success with that.

  1. Alexis says

    I was googling grain free granola and stumbled across your website so for the last couple minutes I’ve just been jumping around from page to page and am so glad I found it! I do WW Sourdough Challah for every Shabbat and I actually use Maggie Glezer’s “My Sourdough Challah” recipe exactly, except that I use 100% whole wheat and coconut oil. I’ve found that it works but it just needs a REALLY long rising time (much longer than in the recipe) or a very warm place. I don’t think they look as beautiful as yours do…but they’re pretty delicious nonetheless :)

    • lisa says

      Hi Alexis,
      I’m so glad you are enjoying my blog!
      Lately I’ve been doing no-knead sourdough bread for Shabbat – I haven’t done this sprouted challah in a while. Glezer’s sourdough challah didn’t come out very well last time I tried it, but I feel more comfortable working with sourdough now and may try it with this recipe soon.
      If you do decide to make the “Nutty Granola” I would love your feedback on it!

  2. ela says

    dont think i can find the sprouted flour.
    what about sprouting the wheat berries myself and blending them in a vitamix as they are….
    anyone tried something like this

  3. Anna@GreenTalk says

    Just stumbled upon your blog and love reading it. Do you think I could sub a Chia seed gel for the eggs? Also, I couldn’t find a gluten free challah. I made one once but it turned out okay.

    I couldn’t find subscribe to comments so I won’t know when you reply.

    • lisa says

      Thanks Anna, glad you like the blog.
      I’ve never experimented with Chia seed – but if you do please write back and let us know how that worked – many people have egg allergies and would find that helpful. But there are many recipes for egg-free challah. Here is one from Creative Jewish Mom; http://www.creativejewishmom.com/2011/05/the-cjm-guide-to-baking-delicious-challah.html.

      I make no-knead bread when I need an egg free bread for shabbat; http://www.realfooddigest.com/lahey-my-bread/.

      Gluten free challah is tricky, I played around with it a few years ago but haven’t made any recently. Experimenting with gluten-free baking takes up so much time (and ingredients) and I haven’t been able to perfect one I like yet. Keep us posted if you find one you like!

    • says

      Hi Thanks .. Never made bread b4 either!!! I made olive and sunelowfr today, with olive oil But a bit doey at the bottom.I have a gas oven, so maybe a bit hot actually Cooking on gas mark 6 But I reckon thats too high I’ll try different Gas mark, but thanks for the video it was an inspiration! Im on my 4th loaf since watching your vid..

  4. says

    I know Pesach is around the corner and there is no challah but, are you saying that making this challah with sprouted grains fits into paleo and I dont have to eat just one little bit of it at each meal?

    • Lisa says

      Faigie – this is NOT paleo. All grains, even sprouted, soaked, fermented, etc… are eliminated on a paleo type diet.

      Some people do fine on some properly prepared grains but that is very individual.

      I personally have not done well on sprouted grains and do not make challah very often anymore. I will do it for holidays and shabbat when we have guests (most of the time I don’t eat it), but I feel much better without it.

      When I do prepare challah, I’ve been making no-knead breads more often than this sprouted challah (http://www.realfooddigest.com/lahey-my-bread/). It’s a very wet dough that is left to rise overnight- and if you can use a sourdough starter it’s a more traditional preparation that some do better on.

      Any of these methods will be better than the typical refined flour/sugar challah, but if you are dealing with any health issues you still need to be careful with properly prepared grains.

      • Naomi says

        Lisa, since the dough IS so wet, how do you manage to shape it into challah braids? I’d love to try this with my einkorn berries. Have you ever used einkorn? I make challah for my congregation’s Shabbat onegs and other events, but I usually don’t ever eat it. I’d love to try challah with sprouted einkorn flour and see how it affects me. I hear that einkorn’s gluten is tolerable for many gluten-intolerants.

        • lisa says

          What kind of flour are you using? Your dough shouldn’t be that wet that you can’t shape it. You may need to cut back on the liquids or add more flour until you get a consistency that is shapeable. I know using different flours yields different results, for example when using spelt flour I always cut back on the water. But you will need to adjust this recipe if you are not using sprouted whole wheat flour.


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