A traditionally braided challah bread, with a golden crust on the outside, and deliciously soft and fluffy on the inside with a touch of sweetness.
I have been on a mission to perfect a few different recipes using spelt flour instead of traditional wheat and bread flour. Some of these spelt recipes include Spelt Brioche Bread, Date, Walnut & Banana Loaf and Blueberry Spelt Muffins. I have been pleased with the results thus far and therefore I am moving full steam and adding some more recipes to my spelt flour compilation.
In South Africa, Challah bread is also known as Kitka bread. A traditionally braided bread, with a golden sesame crust on the outside, and deliciously soft and fluffy on the inside with a touch of sweetness. An added benefit is that it adds a special touch to a dinner table as it is very pretty looking bread. I recall a time when I was much younger, my mom would often purchase Kitka bread on a Friday evening and we would enjoy some delicious sandwiches with cold meats and gherkins as a family. It is still a fond memory and I can still recall the deliciousness of this bread and therefore I thought that it should be, without any hesitation, one of the bread recipes that gets added onto my list of spelt recipes. It is a bread that doesn’t require any major techniques and can be made with little fuss.
Background of Challah Bread
Challah is a biblical Hebrew word that means a kind of loaf or cake. It is known as a bread of Jewish origin that is made with eggs and is typically braided. This type of bread is generally eaten on ceremonial Jewish holidays such as Shabbat in the Jewish community although it has now become a standard product in many shops and bakeries and many, including myself, enjoy it for the wonderfully delightful bread product that it is.
If you have ever gone to a supermarket and spotted Challah bread and have been wondering about the pronunciation of this word then you are definitely not alone. In Hebrew, this bread is pronounced “haa-lah” as the “C” is silent and does not get pronounced.
Challah bread comes in many different shapes and sizes but it is the braiding that adds to this loaf’s charm. Challah bread can be braided using three-stranded, four-stranded or six-stranded braids. I used the basic three-stranded braid for this recipe. Divide the dough into three equal portions and then braid/plait the three strands together like you would hair. This video link is also a great help – How to braid a three-stranded challah bread.
Challah bread is best eaten on the day but any leftovers can be stored at room temperature for 1-2 days as it is a bread that is inclined to dry out upon storage. Ensure that the leftover loaf is tightly wrapped in foil or plastic as it will lock in moisture and prevent it from going stale. In my opinion, the best way to prevent the bread from staling is to slice any leftover bread and place it into a ziplock bag which you can pop straight into the freezer and will keep for 2-3 months. When ready to use, remove from the freezer and allow the bread to defrost or pop slices into the oven or toaster. This bread is delicious when toasted and can also be used to make french toast or toasted sandwiches.
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Spelt Challah Bread
- 1 Cup Lukewarm Water
- 10 grams Instant Yeast
- ⅓ cup Sugar
- 500 grams Spelt Flour Plus extra flour for dusting
- 1½ teaspoons Xanthan Gum
- 10 ml Salt
- 2 XL Eggs
- 1 XL Egg Yolk Reserve the egg white for the egg wash
- ¼ cup Vegetable Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Poppy Seeds / Sesame Seeds
- 1 XL Egg White
- 1 Tablespoon Water
- Into the bowl of your stand mixer, add the yeast, sugar, and lukewarm water. Allow the mix to stand for 5 minutes and you will notice the yeast begin to foam, and a frothy layer forms across the top.
- Add in the eggs, egg yolk, and oil and mix until well combind
- Add in the spelt flour, xanthan gum, and salt. Knead for 5 minutes on low speed and then increase the speed and mix for a further 6- 8 minutes or until you are left with a soft, smooth, and elastic dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface to bring everything together with your hands until it holds a ball shape – I prefer to include this step.(Please note that if the dough seems too sticky, add a little more flour at a time but do not add too much or you will be left with a dry finished product)
- Place the dough into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise in a warm spot for around 1½ – 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. This quantity of dough will give you one large loaf or 2 smaller loaves, depending on which you prefer.
- 1 Large Loaf – Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. (I prefer to use a scale as this ensures all 3 pieces are the same). Roll each piece of dough into a long rope of around 40cm in length.2 Smaller Loaves – Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope of around 20cm in length.
- The next step is braiding the dough. Braid the dough by gathering the 3 ropes of dough and squeezing them together at the top. Now you will loosely braid/plait the dough together. (Video attached in the blog under braiding)
- Place the braided bread onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Allow the bread to rise in a warm place for around 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size
- Preheat the oven to 175°C, do this about 15-20 minutes prior to baking the bread.
- When you are ready to bake the Challah, make the egg wash by whisking the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush it onto the bread ensuring that the entire loaf is evenly coated. Sprinkle evenly with the sesame seeds.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a deep golden brown. A loaf that is fully cooked will make a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.
- Remove from oven and serve immediately or allow to cool depending on your preference. Hint: This bread is DELICIOUS when eaten warm.
This website provides approximate nutritional information for convenience and as a courtesy only.