So far I've done good old fluffy plain challah, whole wheat challah, gluten free challah, and sweet raisin challah, but this is the one I've been really holding out for: whole spelt challah which happens to also be egg free and therefore suitable for vegans.

The thing to be aware of with spelt is that the dough is much softer, and it doesn't hold the shape as well. For that reason, I like to do a round challah and bake it in a round pan, which seems to hold shape best. It can be braided, but it does spread, so I'd then bake it in a loaf pan to help keep the shape. I've done one of each here, so you can see the outcome.

For a firmer dough, which will hold its shape better, you can replace some of the spelt flour with white bread flour (details below). But then it will not be fully spelt of course...

Keep in mind that to do the mitzvah of separating challah, you need to use a significant amount of flour. This recipe only makes two loaves, so it is not enough. You can multiply this recipe by three, and then you will be able to make the blessing and do the mitzvah.

Step 1:

  • 2 tbsp. (20 grams) dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp. (12 grams) sugar
  • 1 cup (200 grams) warm water

Place the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a small bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes. Mixture should swell and thicken. If it does not, try again with new yeast.

Step 2:

  • ½ cup (110 grams) sugar
  • ½ cup (85 grams) oil
  • ½ tbsp. (5 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 cup (200 grams) warm water
  • 5 cups (600 grams) whole spelt flour
  1. Pour the oil, sugar, salt, and warm water into a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture and whisk gently. Add the first three cups of flour. Mix until a loose batter forms. Add the remaining flour one cup at a time until dough comes together in a soft, but not too sticky ball.
  2. Tip the dough out onto a tabletop or kitchen counter and knead for 5-10 minutes. Return to bowl, cover with a damp cloth or saran wrap, and put in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
  3. [If you want to do the mitzvah of separating challah, you will need to multiply this recipe by three. This would be the point at which you would separate a piece and say the blessing.]
  4. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Each piece will become one challah. You can braid the challah, but dough made from whole spelt flour is quite soft and doesn't hold the shape as well, so make sure to bake it in a loaf pan which will prevent it from spreading too much. You can also make it round, and bake in a round pan, which tends to hold the shape better.
  5. Optional: If you're not vegan, beat one egg and brush over the challahs. Use the topping of your choice (sesame, poppy, garlic, onion) or leave plain.
  6. Otherwise, just leave the tops plain, or for a sweeter finish, brush with a mixture of maple syrup and vanilla (1 tbsp. maple syrup to 1 tbsp. vanilla).
  7. Bake at 375°F (190°C) for 30 minutes. Cool fully before cutting. Freezes well.

NOTE: spelt flour makes for a softer dough. For a firmer dough (easier for braiding) you can replace two cups of the spelt flour with 2 cups (290 grams) of white bread flour.

Yields: 2 loaves