Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Whole Grain Challah with Cranberries and Orange Zest

Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg have graciously shared yet another bonus recipe from their new book Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day! This time it's Whole Grain Challah with Cranberries and Orange Zest.

I had never made challah bread before so this was a fun challenge for me. Be sure to read my notes below.

I decided to add a handful of walnuts to my dough and I'm so glad I did. I found the challah to be delicious with the trio of cranberry, orange and walnuts.

Today, I toasted a few slices for breakfast and it was wonderful with butter!

My Notes:

*I halved the recipe for the first time making it as the recipe states that it can be easily halved or doubled.

*I added about 3/4 of a cup of whole walnuts to my halved recipe.

*The dough should really be prepared a day ahead since working with the cold dough was so much easier and the loaf turned out much better. I speak from experience since I tried both ways.

Whole Grain Challah Bread

from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

5 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries (“craisins”)
3/4 cup walnuts (optional)
Zest from 1 orange (I used my microplane zester)
3 cups lukewarm water
1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil, melted butter, or melted zero trans fat, zero hydrogenated oil margarine
1/2 cup honey
3 large eggs
Egg wash (1 egg lightly blended with 1 tablespoon water)
Coarse sugar to sprinkle over the top if desired

Whisk together the flours, wheat germ, yeast, salt, vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight food container.  Drop in the cranberries and orange zest.  Add the liquid ingredients and stir them together with a spoon, or use a 14-cup food processor or heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Allow the dough to rest and rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, until it slows down its rising or begins to collapse.  You can use the dough at this point but it's easier to refrigerate the dough, covered, until the next day.

When read to shape, take a grapefruit-sized ball from the dough and cut it into thirds with a knife or dough scraper. Gently roll and stretch each piece, dusting your hands with flour, until it’s about an inch thick.  Let the dough relax for five minutes if it doesn't want to stretch. 

When you’re done, lay them straight on a lightly floured work surface: The key to braiding is to start from the middle of the loaf, not from one of the endsPull the strand farthest from you over the middle strand and lay it in the middle. You will always pull outside strands into the middle, and you never move the middle strand: Now pull the closer strand over to the middle. Keep pulling alternating outer strands into the middle. When you get to the end, pinch the strands together. Now, flip the whole thing over so the loose strands fan away from you.  Start braiding again by pulling an outside strand to the middle, but this time start with the strand closer to you. Don’t worry if things look a little lopsided, you can nudge it back into shape at the end.  Braid to the end again, and pinch together, lay it on a cookie sheet prepared with shortening, parchment, or a silicone mat, and paint it with egg wash. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. Nudge into a more uniform shape, if necessary.

Allow the loaf to rest for an hour and 20 minutes, then bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

This recipe makes five pounds of dough; make tonight’s loaf a one-pounder and store the rest for up to five days in the fridge, using pieces of dough as needed.  Or, store up to 2 weeks in the freezer— freeze in one-pound portions.


  1. Your bread looks wonderful! I am making mine this weekend, thanks for the helpful tips!

  2. It looks sinfully delicious..I should get that book:)

    Thank you!

  3. Oh, oh...anything with orange, then add cranberries and walnuts has to be delicious. Your challah looks wonderful, Susan.

  4. Susan, your challah looks fantastic, and I'm not surprised that it made wonderful buttered toast. I love the combination of walnuts, cranberries, and oranges. ... I would think that IF there were any left over, it would make a wonderful bread pudding.

    Emeril's Cranberry bread pudding

  5. I bet it was wonderful toasted!! It would be breakfst all on its own!

    I know I have to take the plunge and make some of the breads you have posted...I jut have never sone it vefore and a little scared!! Go figure!

  6. Gorgeous braid and I love your topping and addition of nuts.

    Sorry about the eggs wash missing step. Jeff sent it to me as an update and I missed his email. I just updated the recipe on my blog. Again my apologies.


  7. Looks good, but I really stopped by to ask about the weather. How are you making out?

  8. I am making mine this weekend and am SO excited. I have always loved challah bread. I really should have been born Jewish (latkes, jelly donuts, Hamentaschen). Love your walnut addition and the bread looks super good. Such a good braid you've got there!

  9. Gorgeous bread, Susan! Perfect combination for the season, too. It looks chock full of goodies- my kind of bread!

  10. Thank you, all for the comments. It really is a wonderful bread recipe that I will make again!

    Cynthia, thank you for the link to the bread pudding! What a great idea.

    Cindy, just trying to stay warm here. The snow didn't amount to much in our area.

  11. It sounds great with the addition of the walnuts. I can just imagine a nice, toasty piece slathered with butter...mmmmmm.

  12. Your braid looks wonderful, and I bet the walnuts added nice crunch and once toasted much fragrance! Thanks for sharing :)

  13. The addition of walnuts sounds like a perfect blend. The picture is beautiful- what kind of sugar did you use on top?

  14. Beautiful braid and lovely photos! I love the falling snow on your blog. Just beautiful!

  15. Love your pics and explanations! Great job!

  16. Bread looks great, but I really love the snowflakes.

  17. Your pictures are amazing and I'm drooling at the thought of adding walnuts. Why didn't I think of that :D

  18. I'm a chocoholic but also a carb addict and I NEED to try this one :) It looks wonderful and is photographed so beautifully!

  19. I like the idea of the nuts. I will put a note in my book to try that, maybe pecans.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Judy L, TN

  20. Walnuts sound like a tasty addition. I see several people added nuts and I never even thought about that, and I wish I had now.

  21. The walnut addition is a genius idea! I think I'm going to have to do that with my next batch of dough. I love the photos. The bread looks great.


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