Knotted Challah


2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast

1 cup (8 ounces) lukewarm water

4 to 4 1/2 cups (20 to 22 ounces) whole wheat flour (or half whole wheat half plain)

1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) light brown muscovado sugar

2 teaspoons sea salt

3 flax eggs (three tablespoons milled flax seeds, nine tablespoons water)

1/4 cup (2 ounces) rapeseed oil

Agave nectar (for glazing)

Handful mixed seeds


Dissolve the Yeast:

Sprinkle the yeast over the water in a small bowl, and add a healthy pinch of sugar. Stir to dissolve the yeast and let stand until you see a thin frothy layer across the top. This means that the yeast is active and ready to use. (If you do not see this or if your yeast won't dissolve, it has likely expired and you'll need to purchase new yeast.)

Mix the dry ingredients:

Whisk together 4 cups of the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large mixing bowl if kneading by hand).

Add the flax eggs and oil:

Mix to form a shaggy dough:

Pour the yeast mixture over the flax egg slurry. Mix the yeast, flax eggs, and flour with a long-handled spoon until you form a shaggy dough that is difficult to mix.

Knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes:

With a dough hook attachment, knead the dough on low speed for 6 to 8 minutes. (Alternatively, turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes.) If the dough seems very sticky, add flour a teaspoon at a time until it feels tacky, but no longer like bubblegum. The dough has finished kneading when it is soft, smooth, and holds a ball-shape.

Let the dough rise until doubled:

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place somewhere warm. Let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

This is where we take an olive-size piece of dough and separate it while reciting a blessing.

Separate the dough and roll into three ropes:

Separate the dough into three equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope. If the ropes shrink as you try to roll them, let them rest for 5 minutes to relax the gluten and then try again.

Braid the three ropes, pinching the ends.

Then, holding the long braid, knot it into a circle and bring the end up and through the hole of the circle. Leave it to rise. It looks elegant and beautiful when baked and is quite unique.

Let the challah rise:

Line a baking sheet with parchment and lift the loaf on top. Sprinkle the loaf with a little flour and drape it with a clean dishcloth or wrap loosely with clingfilm. Place the pan somewhere warm and away from drafts and let it rise until puffed and pillowy, about an hour.

Brush the challah with agave nectar:

About 20 minutes before baking, heat the oven to 350°F. When ready to bake, brush the nectar all over the challah. Be sure to get in the cracks and down the sides of the loaf.

Sprinkle with a handful of mixed seeds

Bake the challah:

Slide the challah on its baking sheet into the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking. The challah is done when it is deeply browned and registers 190°F in the very middle with an instant-read thermometer.

Cool the challah:

Let the challah cool on a cooling rack until just barely warm. Ready to serve on the Shabbos table!

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