It is no wonder the public often thinks there is no way to enjoy a delicious slice of spelt challah or bread, as it often comes brick-heavy in stores: Mine is light and delicious! It’s not so much in the recipe, no matter how good; it’s in the kneading!
Spelt is my flour of choice not only for baking bread but for all baked goods. I use whole grain spelt flour. If you would rather use wheat flour, all-purpose will do, as well as whole wheat pastry flour, ground much finer than whole wheat flour and yielding a much lighter dough.
Kneading spelt dough is somewhat different from kneading the regular wheat dough you might be used to, as the lower-gluten spelt dough behaves differently with the liquid absorption (it will be understandably slower). Be patient: Practice makes perfect!
No-Knead Spelt Challah Dough: Before I let go of the subject: Does kneading intimidate you? Read all about my No-Knead Challah Recipe with a tried and true method!
- 4 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 4 cups warm water
- 1/2 cup honey, sugar or sucanat
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 12 cups spelt flour, a little more only if needed
- 1 egg, beaten with 1/4 cup water
- Sesame or poppy seeds (optional)
Mix the yeast, water and honey or sugar in a big bowl, and let the mixture bubble for about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, oil and salt, and beat. Add the flour, and mix thoroughly. Transfer the mixture to a lightly-floured flat working surface, and knead for about 15 minutes, turning the dough a quarter of a turn every 2-3 minutes and punching it down often to eliminate any air pockets (or transfer the mixture to the bowl of a dough maker. Set for 10 minutes of kneading). Transfer the kneaded dough into a big mixing bowl (remember, it will expand). Sprinkle flour all around the dough. Let rise, covered with a cloth, in a warm draft-free area for 2 hours.
Shape the Challah: divide the dough into 4 pieces. Divide each piece into thirds and roll each third into a long thin rope. Pinch the 3 ropes together at one end to hold them in place. Braid, and place the braid on a foil-covered cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Place the loaves well apart in the pan (you might need more than a pan: Bake one at a time). Brush each loaf with the egg-and-water mixture, and top with seeds if desired. Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Raisin Challah: Served on Rosh Hashanah. Add two cups of raisins to the dough, shape it into 4 round loaves (for each loaf, make a long thin rope, and roll it into a coil)