It’s traditional to use round challahs for Rosh Hashanah, to represent the cycle of life. It’s also customary to eat sweet foods at this time, to symbolize our desire for a sweet year ahead, hence the sweet cinnamon-sugar topping.

The thing to be aware of with spelt is that the dough is much softer, and it doesn't hold the shape as well. Here's I've used some white bread flour in addition, to give it more body, but you can definitely use all spelt. Just bake it in a round pan, which holds the shape well. You can also braid it and put it in a loaf pan. I've done one of each here, so you can see the outcome.

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. (18 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
  • 3 cups (360 grams) whole spelt flour
  • 2 cups (290 grams) bread flour

Note: For whole spelt challah, replace the bread flour with more spelt flour. The dough will be softer and slightly harder to braid, but the taste and texture will be good.

  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.]

Step 3:

  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  1. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Each piece will become one challah.
  2. You can braid the challah, but dough made with spelt is quite soft and doesn't hold the shape as well, and for Rosh Hashanah round challahs are traditional anyway.
  3. Roll each piece of challah into a long "snake" shape.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon. Generously coat the rolled piece of dough in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, then roll up from one end, into a round challah.
  5. Place in a round pan and brush with a mixture of maple syrup and vanilla extract. Let rise 20-30 minutes.
  6. Bake at 375°F (190°C) for 30 minutes. Cool fully before cutting. Freezes well.

Yields: 2 loaves