Spelt Bread or Challah
Spelt flour is a very nice alternative for those who are wheat sensitive. It is healthy and quite tasty, so it can be enjoyed by just about anyone. Spelt flour can also be purchased as whole grain spelt flour – which is darker, or as white spelt flour – which is lighter. The challahs depicted here are made from a half-half mixture of both of these spelt flours.
For 6 large or 8 medium sized challahs:
65 grams / 2.4 ounces fresh yeast
820 ml / 5 and a bit more cups warm water
260 grams / 1¼ cups light brown sugar
5 lbs. / 2 ¼ kilo/ 17 cups spelt flour
35 grams / 1½ T. salt
230 ml / 1 cup canola oil
Crumble the yeast into the mixing bowl. Add 500 ml / 2 cups of warm water and ¼ cup of sugar on top of it. Cover the bowl and let it start to activate for 5–10 minutes.
Add half of the flour, all the salt, and the oil. Mix and knead with the dough hook until it resembles a thick batter. Let it rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
Knead again while adding in all the rest of the flour. Add the water a bit at a time until you have a smooth and pliable, slightly sticky dough.
Separate challah with a blessing.
Turn the dough out into a large, well-oiled bowl. Cover the dough with a sheet of plastic and then a large towel and allow it to rise for 40 minutes. If you will not have time to shape and bake right away, place the dough, covered well with plastic, in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
Spelt dough rises differently than wheat dough. It is lighter, and therefore should not be left to rise as long as wheat dough, especially once it has been shaped. Rise for only half the time instead. Best results are achieved by using loaf or ‘challah’ pans with sides to hold the challahs so that they will not flatten out or lose their shape while rising and baking.
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C while you are shaping the loaves. Add a tray of water to the bottom rack of the oven to add moisture during the baking process, since you won’t be using an egg glaze.
Punch down the dough and start to shape the loaves. When rolling out the strands, let them rest for only 2 minutes before rolling out and braiding them. Shape and allow the challahs to rise for 35 minutes. Do not let the dough rise too much or the bread/challah will fall flat when it is baked.
Spray the challahs with a thin film of clear water and sprinkle on seeds of your choice, if desired. Bake for 35–40 minutes, until dark golden brown on top. Place on a wire rack to cool. Freeze in good quality freezer bags until use.