Whole Wheat Blackberry Challah

New York’s Jewish population isn’t kidding around. I’d never had school off during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur before, so to celebrate this first-ever occurrence and repay my roommates for buying all the toilet paper, I baked a loaf of challah.

Whole Wheat Blackberry Challah

Given that summer has been clinging on with every last drop of humidity and the misleadingly chilly mornings lead only to sweaty afternoons, I had to unorthodoxly braid in some fast-vanishing blackberries—the ephemera of summertime.

Whole Wheat Blackberry Challah

And given that I’m the carbohydrate nut I am, I like to make sure every last gram of it is derived from a wholemeal source. None of that 50:50 white flour booster business here, and I promise that the quality of this loaf doesn’t suffer a single bit. I’ll be the first to admit that using 100% whole wheat can all too often be detrimental to the texture of baked goods, but here the egg, honey, and oil contribute to an unbelievably tender and dense crumb while maintaining a chewy and egg-washed golden crust. It’s a healthy twist on an enriched bread, but even traditional recipes omit butter or milk, adhering to the Jewish dietary laws of Kashrut (כַּשְׁרוּת).

Whole Wheat Blackberry Challah

For the sake of time, groceries, and the fear of finishing two loaves in a sitting, I cheated a bit on Jewish procedure; traditionally, two challot are baked to begin the three Sabbath meals and represent the double-dose of biblical miracle bread called manna, a reminder that God will provide for their needs even when they take time to rest on the Sabbath. Each is braided in 6 strands, symbolising in total the 12 tribes of Israel.

Whole Wheat Blackberry Challah

For Rosh Hashanah it can be baked into a braided circle that represents continuity, on Yom Kippur it often involves birds, and the symbolism of each shape on each holiday is an inexhaustible list. The distinct braiding of challah has made it memorable and recognisable to those outside of the Jewish faith, and for a good reason. It’s a beautiful way to prepare a loaf of bread, and something about the tearability of each honeyed segment makes it all the more appetising when warm out of the oven and no suitable bread knives are within reach.

Whole Wheat Blackberry Challah

Whole Wheat Blackberry Challah
(1 loaf)

  • 1 t active dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • ½ t salt
  • 3 T honey
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 T greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs (1 whole, 1 yolk)
  • blackberries
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 T poppy or sesame seeds
  • 1 egg, beaten to glaze

Proof yeast in the bowl of warm water with a drizzle of honey.
Mix together dry ingredients. Once the yeast mixture is bubbly, combine it with the other liquid ingredients in a separate bowl and then stir into the dry mixture until a dough forms.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic—about 10 minutes. Form into a round ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl. Tuck in with a damp cloth and allow to rise for 1 hour in a warm place.
While the dough rises, combine the crushed blackberries with a dash of honey to taste.
Punch down, separate into six strands, and braid. Stuff in the blackberry filling along the way, preparing for your workspace and hands to get saturated in blackberry juices.
To avoid confusion by verbally describing the process, I’ll leave this link instead. It’s a lot less intimidating than it seems, and if you mess up the first time you can always ball up your dough and start over, not unlike ceramics class or the good ol’ play-doh days.
Let rise for about 30 minutes longer in a warm place.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF / 175ºC.
Brush the loaf generously with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds before baking in the oven until golden brown and puffed up, 20-30 minutes.


Whole Wheat Blackberry Challah

Whole Wheat Blackberry Challah

Whole Wheat Blackberry Challah

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This entry was posted in America, Baked Goods, Breakfast, Israel, Jewish, Sweets and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

90 Responses to Whole Wheat Blackberry Challah

  1. Caz says:

    This Challah looks amazing, so beautiful and I love the idea of using blackberries! They’ve all but disappeared here in the UK too.

  2. Wonderful looking challah! I don’t believe I’ve ever had a blackberry one – love the idea. Great job with this, terrific recipe. Thanks.

  3. This is gorgeous! And looks so amazing. I am a sucker for all breads and putting blackberries in challah was just genius. Pinning!

  4. I would never have said that this bread was 100% whole wheat. It looks super soft and fluffy! What a perfect texture, I’m dying to try this loaf :-*

    • wandercrush says:

      None of my roommates guessed it, either! It’s really indulgent and impossibly tender despite the whole wheat and lack of refined sugars. I hope you like it, Consuelo!

  5. How sweet of you to bake a challah for the Jewish holidays and for your roomies! Your photos look amazing! I had a vegan challah at Whole Foods in Chicago – and it wasn’t as great as yours look!

    • wandercrush says:

      Aw thanks, Rika! Oops, I guess this definitely isn’t vegan friendly with 3 eggs involved, but I’m sure it wouldn’t suffer too much without them…maybe just adding some milk or more greek yogurt to balance the moisture. How do you find working with flax eggs? I used to use them a lot, but the results were very irregular for me.

  6. Absolutely stunning, the challah looks wonderful. I have never eaten one and soon I will be picking blueberries so I might just have to give it a whirl myself.

  7. Vivienne says:

    Far too often I see wholemeal recipes only to find that the proportion of white flour is far more than the wholemeal! Excited to see you using 100% and the outcome looking sooo delicious and fluffy! Looking fwd to give it a try – great that it doesnt require bread machine!

    • wandercrush says:

      Thank you, Vivienne! I couldn’t agree more—just like I’m always disappointed when I read the ingredients list on an item marketed as “whole wheat” and find “enriched wheat flour” as the very first item. Please do let me know how this works for you if you try it! This dough is surprisingly cooperative and the easiest I’ve ever kneaded, so definitely no worries about not having a bread machine :)

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  9. Your Challah is beautiful!!! You got the braid down perfectly. And I completely love the addition of blackberry- definitely not traditional, but completely delicious :) But it a way it looks a lot like a traditional raisin challah. Anyway, great job…i’m super impressed!

  10. Tamar Genger says:

    I would never have thought to put blackberries in a challah, I love that it is all whole wheat and have yet to find one that satisfies my family, will give this a try.

    • wandercrush says:

      Many thanks, Tamar! I’m glad you enjoy the berry twist…please do let me know if your family approves :) Fingers crossed that this recipe will convert them to whole wheat lovers.

  11. I’ve never made challah bread before but it’s been on my radar. Yours looks so perfect! Love the addition of the blackberries.

    • wandercrush says:

      Thanks so much, Ashley! Challah is such a delicious bread, and once you make the loaf you can use it for amazing paninis, french toasts, and even bread pudding if it gets stale (if it lasts that long without disappearing!) Time to address the blip on your radar ;)

  12. Erika says:

    Ooh la la. I ADORE challah and I’ve been meaning to try a whole wheat version…but I’ve never thought about adding berries! What a picturesque loaf! Also: mad braiding skills. Also also! You should make French toast with this! I think I’m going to make a loaf soon specifically for the purposes of French toast haha. It’s just the best.

    • wandercrush says:

      Hahah many thanks, Erika! Isn’t it such a divine bread? I was FULLY intending on making french toast the next morning, but there were only crumbs left by the time I got home from class! At least my roommates approved of the unorthodox recipe. But man, could you imagine this as french toast with a blackberry compote and a little caramelised crust of honey…?

  13. Trisha says:

    This looks so so so so divine. I love when berries are cooked and burst and make cakes and bread all moist.

    Gonna give this a go. The plaiting looks awesomely professional! x

    • wandercrush says:

      Thank you so much, Trisha! Berries are just perfect for baking, aren’t they? Colour, moisture, texture, taste, ah I’m looking forward to next year’s berry season already…

  14. This is beautiful. So wonderfully braided and the berries are very original and creative. What a kind way to repay your roomies for the toiletries.

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  16. liz says:

    The challah looks amazing and it’s healthy too, with wholemeal bread and berries. I would love to eat this anytime anyway. Thanks so much for sharing this. Have a fabulous week!

  17. Katrine says:

    Just made this bread the other night (sans blackberries because I could not wait to try this bread, not even to make a late night run to the store for berries) but I had some issues. Maybe you can advise?
    When I first mixed the dough, it was more the consistency of a thick batter than a kneadable dough. I added about a half cup more flour as I went, but only kneaded for about 5 minutes because it was turning very sticky. After an hour, it hadn’t risen very much so I ended up leaving it in the fridge until the next day (about 18 hours), braided it (let it rise for about another 4 hours) and then baked it. Shockingly, the bread turned out GREAT despite my crazy schedule that doesn’t allow me to follow a recipe beginning to end.
    I want to try this bread again, but I’m not sure my added-flour, less-kneaded dough would rise properly following your prescribed times. Do you think it’s just an issue of humidity that my dough was so sticky? Or is it supposed to be a wetter dough? I don’t have a stand mixer, or else I would try just using a dough hook in there to knead for the full 10 minutes.

    In any case, the bread is SO delicious, the texture is amazing, and your photos are beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    • wandercrush says:

      Hey Katrine! Hmmm, that’s very strange to hear about your dough, but I’m glad it miraculously worked out in the end.
      If you started with the same measurements of dry to wet ingredients, the only issues I can troubleshoot would be the egg sizes (the liquid volume does very quite a bit from egg to egg) or the flour type (whole wheat is usually significantly more absorbent than white). The dough should be extremely smooth, elastic, and easy to work with—not sticking to your fingers at all during the 10 minutes of kneading. If anything, try activating the yeast in only 1/4 cup of water first, continuing on with mixing the dough, and only add the remaining 1/4 cup as needed to make the dough come together. Mine actually didn’t rise too visibly high initially, even though I let it do its thing in a warm, cosy oven. I was trying to finish the recipe and photoshoot before my class started at 2pm, so I put it in the oven anyway and it turned out great. Struggles of the food blogger! Haha.
      Anyway, thanks for this message and I really hope it helps in case of a second trial. This is the first recipe execution advice message I’ve gotten since starting the blog this year, so it’s quite exciting ;)

  18. Monica says:

    That’s just stunning. Great, great job!

  19. Shashi says:

    This challah looks delish! Wow!

  20. Oh goodness, the addition of the blackberries are blowing my mind. Beautiful challah!

  21. julia says:

    This looks so insane!! YUM! I need to make this ASAP! What a fabulous idea!

  22. Blackberries are my fave! This bread looks absolutely wonderful! I wish you could send me a slice :)

  23. Norma Chang says:

    I too have never put blackberries in my challah. Good to know the all whole wheat flour dough worked out well. Have not baked bread in a long time, need to get started again.

  24. Monet says:

    This is gorgeous. I love challah bread and make it often…I have yet to try it with fruit though. What an inspired idea! And one I will be trying very very soon.

  25. Love how you call out 50:50 loaves, but also make a point to make sure this 100% ww loaf kills it. Sounds and looks amazing – and I’m sure worth every last toilet paper roll your roommates happened to buy.

  26. Joanne says:

    Haha yes we do not skimp on our Jewish holidays here!! Your challah is GORGEOUS. ANd I love the unorthodox blackberries. The perfect remnant of summer in every bite!

  27. Looks totally delicious as usual! So nice to see recipes using wholemeal sources.

    Side note, you need to start cooking in my kitchen!


  28. Hey girl! Just wanted to let you know I got your email and I’ll respond soon! :) Have a great weekend!

  29. This bread looks sooo beautiful. I will give it a go.

  30. Beautiful photos and the recipe sounds insanely delicious. Look at that purple spread, mmm!

  31. This sounds SO delicious. I can only imagine how amazing french toast made from this tasty bread would be (challah french toast is one of my current food obsessions). Beautiful photos, too. Such a lovely color!

  32. This is so gorgeous!! I have been meaning to make a challah for the longest time. Now I found this delicious recipe, I have no excuse not to make it!

  33. What gorgeous looking bread! Love the blackberry addition. I really need to get over my fear of bread baking and make some challah. It’s hard to find down here.

  34. This is the most exciting challah I’ve ever seen, hands down!

  35. Gorgeous gorgeous challah — i’d happily be your roommate to be compensated with a beautiful yummy loaf of challah!!

    ps: you are so right about us baking breads together — great minds think alike ;)

  36. Irina, what a gorgeous loaf! Truly beautiful! I am definitely pinning this and hope to make it soon!

  37. Gorgeous! Next time, I will try this lovely challah! I can smell it from here!

  38. That is a gorgeous challah loaf Irina! And you certainly don’t see blackberry challah everyday. Looks delicious! :)

  39. Sissi says:

    Irina, I am impressed by your culinary skills. I tried making challah several times and it was a disaster every time (each time a different recipe…). I love challah so much, but somehow this feelling isn’t mutual ;-) The blackberry touch sounds like an excellent idea.

    • wandercrush says:

      Ah nonsense, Sissi! You make the craziest complex desserts all the time. Well, if you ever work up the energy to tackle it again, give this recipe a go. I’d never made it before but for some reason I didn’t have any trouble here. I have faith in ya ;)

  40. Kimberley says:

    Things like this are when I miss wheat the most. Also, that fork! It’s the most adorable thing ever.

    • wandercrush says:

      Thank you, Kimberley! I’m a huge fan of your work, so my heart skipped a beat upon seeing your sweet comment. The fork was a impulse buy at some market in Taipei, and it proves to be a nice little prop time and time again.

  41. What a beautiful challah, the blackberries are a wonderful idea!

  42. That looks so good! Seriously! I just remembered that once in Italy one French lady was making similar briosche just without blackberries and it turned out to be amazing thing! She promised me a recipe, but later I forgot to remind her that… Now I found this one, haha, thank’s!

  43. The colours and braiding are so beautiful I want to weeeep in envy :D

  44. Wow, that is one gorgeous loaf of challah! I bet the bold blackberry flavors taste amazing with the eggy bread.

  45. Nanette says:


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