Wholemeal Spelt Bread: Challah

Is there anything more wonderful than hot, homemade bread, fresh out of the oven? This wholemeal spelt challah recipe is an old favourite of mine – it looks beautiful and tastes even better . . . crusty on the outside, soft on the inside. Challah is a traditional Jewish braided bread, but you can make the dough into loaves or bread rolls if you like. I use this basic recipe for all sorts of breads.  Sometimes I leave out the egg and increase the water a little, but I do find the texture is softer with the egg, especially when using wholemeal flour.
I use my Thermomix for making bread, as you can grind the grain, add all the other ingredients, mix for a few seconds, knead for 2 mins, and the hard work’s done!  If you don’t have a Thermomix, use wholemeal flour that’s as fresh as possible, and mix the dough in a powerful food processor or a bread machine. (Or you can mix by hand, but you’ll have to knead the dough for 10 to 15 minutes.)
If you want to make a double batch – two loaves – grind 250g of grain then set it aside and make two batches of dough using the recipe below, but use approx. 120g ground grain + 380g plain unbleached white spelt flour per batch.
You can of course change the grain to flour ratio depending on how heavy you like your bread.
Note: You can find Fine sea salt for this recipe in my online store here!
Poppy rolls made with this recipe – see how to make them in the above video.
1. Weigh into Thermomix bowl and grind on speed 9 for 1 minute:
– 150g spelt grain2. Add to Thermomix bowl:
– 350g unbleached plain spelt flour
– 2 teaspoons dry yeast
– 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
– 1 Tablespoon honey (optional)
– 40g melted butter/ghee or macadamia oil or olive oil
– 1 large (50g) egg (optional – makes a softer loaf)
– 210g lukewarm water ** (Note: if leaving out egg, add 50g more water. If using a smaller or larger egg, adjust water accordingly, so that there is 260g of liquid altogether, with egg & water combined. )

3. Mix on speed 6 (medium speed) for 6 seconds, or until combined. Check dough – it should be soft and a little sticky. If your dough isn’t a little bit sticky when making wholemeal bread, you’ll end up with dry, crumbly bread.  If necessary, add a little more flour and re-mix. Knead for 2 to 3 minutes in Thermomix on interval speed, until soft and stretchy.

[Note: If you are going to braid this bread, the dough will need a bit more flour – it won’t keep it’s shape if it’s sticky.]

4. Wrap dough in silicon bread mat (or lightly oil large bowl, roll dough in oil, cover bowl with plastic bag) and leave to rise until doubled in size. (I place it in a cold oven, with a pan of hot water on the bottom shelf, and the warm, moist environment helps it rise. This way it only takes 15-20 minutes to rise.)

5. Punch down and shape dough. Dough will be quite sticky – add a handful or two of flour if you need to, but only add enough to be able to handle it – don’t dry it out with too much flour.

For a braid: divide dough in three, and roll into equal length ropes, 2 to 3 cms thick. Pinch one end together, braid tightly, pinch other end together, tuck ends under and place on greased or papered tray. Repeat with other ball of dough. Once risen, brush with a mixture of:
– 1 egg & 1 Tablespoon water, beaten.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

For a regular loaf or rolls: Roll dough into a neat log and place in a bread tin, or shape into bread rolls. Brush bread (or rolls) with water, sprinkle with sesame seeds (opt).

6. Rise bread or rolls in a cold oven with the pan of hot water on the shelf underneath, for about 10 minutes for loaves, or 5 minutes for rolls. (Bread will finish rising during cooking time.)

7. After bread has risen a little, turn on oven to 200º C (180º fan-forced) and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until browned on top and slightly browned underneath. Bread should sound hollow when you turn it upside down and knock on it with your knuckles. If the top is brown but the bottom isn’t, you can put it back in the oven upside down (on the oven rack) and give it 5 more minutes.

Note: Homemade bread is best eaten on the day it is made – the second day it is best toasted.
Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside!

38 thoughts on “Wholemeal Spelt Bread: Challah

  1. globechic says:

    I’m making steak sangas for dinner and needed bread. Thought I’d check out the blog and…….Voila!! Wholemeal Spelt Challah pops up….Cheers Jo

    • Sandy Furtado says:

      Jo, I was under the impression that GAPS didnt allow for grin and gluten. Am I wrong in believing that Spelt is both a grain and contains gluten. It will be a wonderful find if I can put Spelt back into our diet plan. Thanks

  2. Wanda says:

    HI Jo ,
    Yum this bread looks beautiful !!! I couldnt get the spelt grain so I purchased some Farro from the deli and they assured me that it is the same as spelt … do you know if that is correct
    Taa honey

  3. Jo Whitton says:

    Hi Danielle, Spelt grain’s been a bit hard to find the last few months, as we ran out in Australia (too much getting sent overseas I think!), but it’s recently been harvested and should be easy to find again. I buy mine through a local co-op that buys from Demeter Farm Mill, but the easiest way for people not in co-ops to get it is probably online. The Good Food Warehouse is one option – price includes freight (click on the Demeter Farm Mill logo): http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodfoodwarehouse.com.au%2Fdefault.aspx&h=ccde0
    But do ask at your local health food shop, they may be able to get it bulk for you at okay prices. 🙂

  4. Carmella says:

    Mine didn’t work 🙁 I followed the recipe and made bread rolls, they turned out like rock cakes, any tips??

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi Jo,
    I don’t have spelt grain, but I do have wholemeal spelt flour, plain spelt flour, and also kamut flour. Do you know how much I can use to substitute the grain in this receipe? Thanks heaps for this blog, I love it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi Jo,
    Love reading your recipes! Just wanted to know if you kept the spelt grain going longer, would it turn it into flour? Would like to mill my own flour if possible :o)
    Merry Christmas!

  7. Jo Whitton says:

    You’re welcome! Glad you like it 🙂 It’s best to cut each piece as you need it, and keep it wrapped tight in a plastic bag to keep it from drying out. Or if you want to freeze it, slice it first then double wrap it (two plastic bags). It’s best to use it within two days – the first day, bread; the second day, toast. No preservatives to keep it moist, so needs to be eaten pretty quickly, or frozen. 🙂

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hi jo
    I tried this today but the bread turned out quite dense still and noticed it was darker than your picture .. Wonder if you might have any tips of making it rise more?

  9. Jo Whitton says:

    Hi, some tips for a higher rise – make sure you’re rising it in a warm, moist spot, and make sure the dough isn’t too dry. If it’s TOO wet it will be too dense too. You could also cut down on the amount of grain and use more white flour if you like, which will make it lighter. And try rising it until nearly full size, then popping into a really hot oven (220C) for 5 mins, then turn down to 200. That can help it ‘pop up’.
    Jo 🙂

  10. Anonymous says:

    I baked this bread yesterday and the family yummed it up with butter and honey. I ground biodynamic spelt grains and decorated the bread with a mixture of seeds and the result was beautiful. Thankyou for sharing your lovely recipes. Sarah

  11. Anonymous says:


    You didn’t answer a comment asked in regards to not having spelt grain at all. Can you just use normal spelt flour, wholemeal or white?


  12. Jo Whitton says:

    Hi, sorry, must have missed that question! You can use the same weight in flour as the grain – eg. instead of 150g grain, use 150g wholemeal flour. The grain ground up makes wholemeal flour, and you add the white to make it lighter.

    Glad you liked it, Sarah!!

  13. Alison says:

    Just wanted to let you know I made this with Farro and it turned out fantastic. I always substitute Spelt for Farro as It agrees with my kids and my tummy so much better.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hi Jo
    I made this today & it looks half the height of your picture :(( Not really sure what I did wrong as I thought I followed the steps… any tips for a super high loaf like in your pic?

  15. Trisha says:

    Hi I made this today. Yum. Didn’t have spelt grain so used pearled barley (found in back of cupboard) with wholemeal spelt flour. Didn’t rise as much as breads with bakers flour seem to but tastes great! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • Jo Whitton says:

      It’s 500g altogether, once you add the white spelt flour to the Wholemeal flour made from the grain being milled. 🙂 You can use less grain more white or all white if you want – just make sure it’s 500g altogether.

  16. Caren says:

    Hi Jo

    My daughter is vegan and I want to make challah for her (and other vegan bread you can recommend). What can I replace the egg with? Chia? I still want a soft fluffy loaf please…?

  17. Naomi Dessauer says:

    Thanks for a great recipe! I found this looking for a less sweet challah to make and we all love it. I make it every Friday for Shabbat. I often sprinkle dukkah on top before I bake it – very yummy!

  18. Kel says:

    Omgosh, this bread is simply amazing. Thankyou for teaching me.
    I had to add a bit more water but it turned it sooooo good. I didn’t have the grain to grind either, so I just used 500 grams of wholemeal organic spelt flour.
    Wonderful Bread, made my daughter say, I love you mum….

  19. Carmen says:

    I will try this recipe soon . I am just wondering what kind of loaf tin you use or how you get the loaf in such lovely sizes . I have a thermomix loaf tin which is great but the slices are always quite small .

    Also does the loaf tin always need a lid when baking ?

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