Whole Wheat Challah

A traditional four strand braided challah bread enriched with whole wheat flour and oats made me feel better about eating half a loaf of this rich, delicious, beautiful braided bread. 

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

Challah is a bread of celebration in Jewish tradition. At a time when white flour was considered a luxury, its use was reserved for either the wealthy or for festive events. In Judaism, the Sabbath is a weekly holiday, and these fancy shaped loaves made with white flour were seen as a fitting way to honor the Sabbath.

I hadn’t made challah before or done a four strand braid, so the video Ruth provided helped to easily explain the braiding technique. The dough was easy to work with and the braid came together quiet easily.

The whole wheat flour and oats added a nice texture without weighing down the bread. I’m fairly sure I ate more than my fair share of one loaf of this beautiful bread.

The second loaf I made shorter and fatter so it would fit perfectly on my pretty new Cook for the Cure Pass the Plate plate. Pass the Plate is part of the KitchenAid and Susan G. Komen Cook for the Cure program. You just purchase and register a Cook for the Cure Villeroy & Boch plate. Make a favorite recipe, put it on the plate and pass it to a friend. Each time the plate is passed and registered, KitchenAid makes a $5 donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.

Such a fun and easy way to make a difference. I’m looking forward to checking out my plate’s registration and seeing how many times the plate I bought has been passed and where it ends up.

Visit the Daring Kitchen to see all the fabulous challah breads the Daring Bakers baked up this month. Thanks Ruth for the great recipes, instructions and videos. I’m sure this won’t be the last challah bread I bake.

Whole Wheat Challah


  • 2 packages (4½ teaspoons) dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (100°F)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2  - 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water for glaze


In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Allow to stand about 5 minutes until foamy.

With paddle attachment beat eggs, sugar, butter, whole wheat flour, 2 cups all purpose flour, oats, and salt into the yeast mixture.

Once combined, switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding additional flour a little at a time if needed.

Form dough into a round, compact ball. Turn in oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm area until doubled, approximately 2 hours.

Once dough has doubled, punch down. Cover and allow to rise again for an hour.

Punch the dough down again, divide in two.

Shape each half as desired (3, 4 or 6 strand braid, rolls, etc.). Place shaped loaves onto parchment covered baking trays. Cover with the towel and allow to rise another hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brush loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with vanilla sugar/sesame seeds/poppy seeds/other topping here if desired)

Bake 20 to 30 min. until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool before serving.



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    Leave a Comment:

  1. says

    I have been making this wonderful recipe for challah for several weeks now. Dare I admit it – the last time – I omitted doing the plaits for the sake of speed (not a corner I recommend that you cut). Not that the plaiting takes long, I mean the rolling out of the plaits! I made two oval unplaited loaves and baked them side by side as usual.
    To my surprise, the loaves were much dryer and usually they’re beautifully doughy. It made me wonder if the plait structure actually has an effect on the bake as until now, I thought it was simply aesthetic. They did ‘spread out more’ which made me think that the plaiting also effects loaf height (never thought would be talking about such things) and maybe strengthens the loaf, just as a thread has more strength when plaited too… Any enlightenment appreciated and thank you for a great recipe!

  2. Fe says

    just made this! it’s delicious. one thing, though, in the directions section there isn’t a step that tells you to add salt, so i forgot it and it definitely needed the salt.

  3. Gail says

    Yay, for me! I just received your Pass the Plate from our mutual friend, Debbie. She had a loaf of Nutella Banana Bread on it. I was going to wait until breakfast to have a slice but….
    I hope “our” plate circles the globe and raises oodles of money so we can find a cure for breast cancer soon. (Until a cure is found, early detection is the key to surviving. So ladies, get your mammograms and feel your boobies!)
    I’m making the Challah soon!

  4. says

    Wow! This is a stunning, perfect Challah! Wow! I am definitely bookmarking and making this recipe. Love the whole wheat twist (no pun intended)! Beautiful, Barbara!

  5. says

    Your challah turned out beautifully! I’ve only tried my hand at braiding once and it didn’t turn out nearly as well as yours so I’m happy to visit Ruth’s video. It’s cool and rainy here so I just may bake bread :)

  6. says

    Beautiful bread Barbara. I’ve been wanting to try whole wheat challah for some time now. I think you’ve just inspired me!

  7. Linda says

    This is a recipe I’ve been waiting for! I stopped eating white bread a year ago and I was looking forward to wheat challah. My only question is why so much sugar? I thought you only need a teaspoon to start the yeast. Do you really need 1/2 cup? Thanks, Linda

    • says

      Hi Linda – the recipe makes two loaves, so that’s only 4 tablespoons of sugar per loaf of bread, which I don’t think is that high, but you could certainly reduce the sugar if you wanted. I think the brown sugar added a nice flavor along with the whole wheat and oats, but I imagine you could also substitute honey. Thanks for the great question.

  8. says

    Your challot look amazing, and I am so glad that I could sort-of/in some way/not-really-but-kinda participate in the pass the plate program with you. Iam so glad you were able to bake with me this month, and that your results were so beautiful and tasty!

  9. says

    don’t you just have to love the looks of braided breads? I have made many braided challahs, including cinnamon raisin and chocolate variations. But have not tried whole wheat. (duh!) Must try soon, this weekend. I saw how to braid a 4 strand on a youtube video. I wonder if it was Ruth.

  10. Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels says

    Wow your challah is beautiful! Challah is one of my absolute favorites. Can’t wait to try your recipe for whole wheat challah, yum! :)

  11. says

    Absolutely gorgeous, Barbara! I love challah bread and this whole wheat version looks just as delicious as the traditional challah bread. Beautiful!

  12. Deb says

    Your challah is downright beautiful! Incorporating whole wheat and oats is an appealing addition to this classic bread. A scrumptious post!

  13. says

    This looks delicious and beautiful. I love the challah braid. Love it. I’ve been dying to make challah, but I seem to always forget about it. Pinning this!

  14. says

    Your bread looks amazing and the braiding is done perfectly. Love the plate idea. Pretty cool you can track it to see it’s progress!

  15. says

    That is absolutely beautiful bread. The shaping is perfect – 4 strands is quite lovely. (I usually do three and have occasionally tried six) What I really like about your challah is that you added whole wheat flour AND rolled oats to the dough.

    Very well baked indeed.

  16. says

    Barbara..I cannot stop gawkig the photos of your whole wheat challah..they’re so beautiful. It’s so hard to make bread look beautiful, but you’ve got mad photo skills, everything you make always looks beautiful. Your braid is absolutely perfect. I just had this thought that would make a thousand rabbi’s shun me forever. I want a few slices of that delicious looking pork tenderloin below, on your challah! (Nope, lightning did not strike lol)

  17. says

    What a gorgeous challah! This was my first time making challah, but I’m anxious to try whole wheat challah. I can only hope it will turn out as beautiful as yours!

  18. says

    Your bread turned out so beautifully! And your pictures make me wish my monitor was scratch and sniff. Sadly, I can only imagine how delicious your bread smelled and tasted. Yummmm.

  19. says

    I love challah! It’s great that you used partly whole wheat. I’ve tried making challah many many times but never have I had such a beautiful braid. And the Pass the Plate program sounds like something I’d love to participate in so it’s too bad that it’s not available internationally. It’s a great cause and whoever gets the loaf is a lucky person!

  20. says

    Your challah looks amazing – you did a great job braiding it! And I love that pass the plate program – I am definitely going to look into it! Wonderful work on the challenge :)