Friday, May 6, 2011

Spelt Challah

spelt2Today, we tried a regular challah and a spelt challah. The more I read about spelt, the more I'm fascinated by it. It's actually mentioned in the Bible (Exodus 9:30, Isaiah 28:25, and Ezekiel 4:9) and is a very, very ancient grain.

That said, boy I found it really hard to work with! I had read online that since spelt lacks the elasticity of wheat flour (something about the proteins breaking down... I think...?), not to knead it very much and to cut down the water used. I did both of these things, but my dough was almost polenta and certainly not elastic or stretchy at all. SUPER DENSE. Here's what I did.

spelt71/2 c water
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp honey
2 eggs
1/4 c vegetable oil
3 c flour
1 1/4 tsp salt

Proof yeast in hot water with honey. Add oil and eggs. Mix in spelt with spatula and knead by hand, adding more spelt if super sticky. I basically just kneaded until combined and then gave it a few good turns. While I usually use my Kitchen Aid, most of what I read said not to, so I kneaded everything by hand.

Let rise LESS TIME than you would regular dough. I let it rise about two hours, until it had gotten larger, but not really doubled yet. This is where mine got weird. While I trust not to let it rise very much, my dough had no elasticity. Braid in your desired style. Let rise an additional 30 minutes. Bake 30-35 minutes (it was longer than wheat dough) at 350.
The verdict. We like it. I made a couple rolls so that we could sample it before Shabbat (shhh...). It's definitely a little flakier that regular dough, but we really don't like all whole wheat challah. I think this would be a good substitute. So, I give it an A-. Weird to work with, but it's got a lovely nutty flavor.


  1. Thanks, it tastes great! It's definitely dense, but soo good :)

  2. Wow, way to be! It looks incredible.

    When it gets colder out (may it be a long long time from now) we should do a mail challah swap.


  3. I make a spelt challah using my bread machine. I adapted my regular recipe, using the same amount of flour, but it takes more water to make it so I can shape it. It works really well and comes out delicious!

    1. Please Can I have the recepie for bread machine spelt

    2. Please Can I have the recepie for bread machine spelt

  4. @Lesley, thanks for the comment. I'll have to try it again with less water. I think that could have been the loaf's downfall. It was delicious but sooo hard to shape.

  5. i'm making spelt challah this week for the first time, for a large crowd! eek! hoping it works. yours looks good.

  6. Thank you so much for this recipe! I have a wheat intolerance, so I have not been able to enjoy challah for quite some time. I have started baking my own bread, and am thrilled that a few new challah recipes appear to have popped up on the Internet over the summer. I've tried a few in the past and this is by far the best.

    A general note about spelt... It is denser than AP wheat flour, but also has a strange property in which it hydrates much quicker. So even if it is stiff before the first rise, it could be wet after! I have found, though, that there are substantial differences between different brands of spelt flour, likely due to the differences in the milling. For this recipe, I used VitaSpelt white spelt flour (much less dense than whole grain spelt), and found that the measurements you posted were perfect! Although I actually halved the recipe and baked for 20 minutes on a baking stone.

    Also, I only let it rise for about 90 minutes the first time, and 20 minutes the second. When I do my usual spelt sandwich loaf, I only do about 60 and 20.

    I look forward to using this recipe many times, and experimenting with it using the other many great ideas on your site!

  7. This is a wonderful recipe! I was amazed that the spelt was braid-able :) I tweaked it a tad and blogged the results on my blog :) I also linked back to your site to give credit where it is most certainly due!

    Thanks again!

  8. Would love to see a gluten-free challah or an ancient grain mixture like kamut/spelt/eikorn. And maybe even a bread machine version?

  9. Okay, I through all this in my bread machine and it turned our prefect! My family loved it. Very tasty!!