Fluffy Whole Wheat Challah
- 5 tsp. dry yeast
- ½ cup sugar + 2 tbsp. sugar
- 4 ½ cups warm water
- 5 eggs
- 1 ½ cups oil
- ½ cup honey
- 5 tsp. salt
- 2½ lbs. whole wheat flour
- 2½ lbs. white bread flour
- optional: 2 sautéed onions, and/or 1 egg, beaten
- Pour ½ cup warm water, 2 tbsp. sugar and the yeast into a large bowl. Set aside for 10-15 minutes until thick and bubbled. (If the mixture does not bubble, it means your yeast is probably dead and your challah will not rise, so you'll need to start over.)
- After the mixture has bubbled, add the eggs, oil, honey, salt and the rest of the sugar and warm water. Mix until just combined.
- Add the whole wheat flour first and mix well. Add the bread flour a few cups at a time and keep mixing until you have a soft ball of dough.
- The more you knead the dough, the better. If you're using a mixer, the machine can do the kneading for you. Just leave it turning on a low speed for 5+ minutes. If you're kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto a table to counter and knead for a good 10 minutes.
- Put the dough in a bowl, cover tightly with saran wrap and leave to rise. You can put it in a warm place to rise for 2-2½ hours, or in the fridge overnight for a slow rise.
- When the dough has finished rising, do the mitzvah of separating challah. Then tip it out and divide into 5-6 pieces. Each of the pieces will become 1 challah. If the dough feels a little sticky, dust your hands with flour so you can work with it easily.
- Divide each piece of dough into either 3 or 6 strands (depending on whether you want to do a traditional 3-braid challah or a more complex 6-braid.) If you want to make an onion challah, rub each strand with the onion mixture before braiding. Then smear more onion mixture over the top when done. To make a plain challah, brush the top with beaten egg.
- Place the challahs on a pan. Use 11x17 cookie sheets (2 challahs per pan), or put them in loaf pans. Let the loaves rise for 15-20 minutes after braiding, then bake on 350°F for 45 minutes.