Some time ago, I started to look for a challah recipe that would be healthy (100% whole wheat if possible) and simple to make. Still haven’t found it, but on the way I am slowly learning how to make bread in general, and whole wheat bread in particular. (It is both harder and less well described in the literature comparing to the “white” bread.)
The main problem with making bread by hand is how long it takes. Even though the most of the time the dough is just seating there and rising all by itself, it is still very hard to fit into one’s schedule.
Because of this, I am even more impressed by this recipe, for 100% whole wheat bread, which doesn’t even require kneading, and uses only one short rising. (By way of comparison, most recipes in the excellent book The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking use three risings!)
This recipe is originally taken from a rather old book Beard on Bread by James Beard (long out of print, but available at your local library), and described in great details here. Here is just a quick summary:
3¾ cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp salt
4 tsp of active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
2 tbsp molasses
The recipe, as given, is designed for one 9×5″ loaf pan. I usually split it to two 8×4″ pans, or multiply by 2-2.5 to get three 8×4” pans. I sometimes sprinkle the pans with sesame seeds for a little bit extra flavor.
Algorithm: Combine flour, salt and yeast in a bowl. Separately, mix water and molasses. Pour to the flour bowl, mix well. Put to pan(s), cover, let rise for 1½ hours. Preheat oven to 450°F, bake 40-50 minutes “until ready” (brown crust, hollow sound, 205°F internal temperature). Take out of the oven and of the pans, and let cool before slicing.
Result: Not a great bread (no surprises here, the recipe is just too simple), but quite good, and, to my surprise, well liked by other people. I’ve already baked quite a few loaves, and will continue to bake them until I master more involved recipes.