A love affair with bread: whole wheat pull apart challah rolls

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So I really have to get something off my chest. I love bread! I am part Italian so I blame my obsession with pasta and bread on the fact that I am Italian. But I think I’m just kidding myself. I didn’t grow up in Italy and I wasn’t bombarded with Italian food. I just love me some carbs I guess. Bear in mind, carbs are not a bad thing. I think one of my biggest pet peeves is when a person says they are going on a low carb or no carb diet. I want to just punch them in the face. Well, ok maybe not really. I guess the more appropriate response would be to sit them down and explain that fruits, veggies, and grains are all carbs. Your body needs them because it gets it’s sole form of energy (glucose) from these foods. Cutting them out is just plain bad. And why would you want to deprive yourself of anything? A healthy diet is one that contains all the foods groups. Not just some of them. I really wish chocolate was a food group.

Okay getting off track lol. Back to carbs. There is definitely a healthier way of going about eating carbs though. Such as swapping out enriched or white flours and using whole wheat flour (or other flours even. There are lots of different types of flour out there like oat flour, for example). Be bold, experiment! My current flour of choice is wheat flour though because you still get the health and nutrient benefits (such as fiber and use of the whole grain) while still being cost effective. When you start straying from the norm, it can get pretty expensive pretty quickly. Oat flour is super easy to make though. Pop some oats in a blender and voila! you’ve got yourself some oat flour. If you are going to use it though, make sure you know how to use it. I made the mistake of just using it in a recipe willy nilly and let’s just say, the end product ended up in the trash. Anyway, like I said, I love bread. And I was really in the mood for some bread the other day. So I found a recipe for challah. I am going to post the original recipe and note the changes I made.

So here are the ingredients for the challah:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons honey, as desired
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour (instead of using 2 separate flours, I decided to be brave and use 3 cups of whole wheat flour)
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Sesame seeds, for sprinkling (I used almonds)
  • flax seed (optional)
  • 1 cup oats (optional)

So for the most part I followed the recipe. Like I mentioned above, I wanted a completely whole wheat roll so I used all whole wheat flour instead of using 2 separate flours. I also love adding oats to everything so on a whim I added a little over a cup of oats (you don’t even know they’re there in the final product). I also love adding flax seed to everything so I added about 1 tbsp flax seed.

Directions:

1) First, you want to activate the yeast so it actually does its job. In a separate bowl, mix together the warm water (not too hot otherwise it kills the yeast), the honey, and the yeast. Make sure to leave it alone for a good 5 minutes until it gets nice and frothy. Do not forget the honey (or whatever form of sugar you are using; be it milk, regular sugar, whatever). The yeast needs something to snack on. In the meantime, you can mix together the flour (and oats if using, adds extra fiber 😉 ) and salt (I didn’t use any salt). Once your yeast is ready, you can add that mixture plus the oil and eggs to the flour mixture. This is when a bread machine comes in handy. I set mine to the dough cycle and let the bread machine do the hard work. If you don’t have a bread machine then you have to do the kneading the old fashioned way. Make sure to work the dough really well. I made sure the bread machine kneaded the dough for a good 8 minutes before taking it out.

2) Once the dough is ready, lightly oil a large bowl then place the dough in the bowl making sure to cover all sides of the dough with the oil. Cover with a light towel and place near a warm area. I just turned the oven on and placed the bowl on top of the oven. Let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours until about double in size.

3) If you haven’t already turned the oven on, then now is a good time to preheat it at 375 degrees F. Grease a 10 inch pan then knead your dough a bit and start pulling off bits and forming into loose balls. Place the dough balls into the 10 inch pan. I don’t remember how many I got exactly but I want to say I got at least 12 rolls. Cover again with a light towel and let rise for about 15 more minutes.

4) Mix together 1 egg with 1 tbsp water for the egg wash. Just before you put the rolls in the oven, brush the egg wash on the rolls. Sprinkle your sesame seeds (or in my case, almonds) on top of the rolls then pop them in the oven for about 30 minutes. Enjoy 🙂

I was a little apprehensive because I have experimented with whole wheat flour a lot in the past and have not always had the best luck using it. Wheat flour typically makes a denser product than white flour so a lot of times you have to use vital gluten which basically just gives the wheat flour something to bind to as well as improve the texture and elasticity of your dough, meaning you will get a “fluffier” product rather than hard as a rock. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of vital gluten until recently and just used wheat flour willy nilly and then wondered why my breads came out like bricks. But I got lucky with this recipe. I can’t say this tastes like authentic challah because honestly, I don’t know. I have never had challah before. I am sure challah made with white flour is going to be even fluffier and softer but I was very happy with my end product. It was nice and crunchy on the outside but relatively soft on the inside. Plus, I feel better about eating it because it has oats, whole wheat flour, and flax seed – a win, win, win in my book. But if you are not used to eating wheat flour, then I would suggest doing half wheat, half white flour before splurging and using all wheat flour. I have been eating wheat flour for quite some time so I know what to expect.

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7 thoughts on “A love affair with bread: whole wheat pull apart challah rolls

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