The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My Failed Attempt at Peter Reinhart's Whole Wheat Challah

bakingbadly's picture

My Failed Attempt at Peter Reinhart's Whole Wheat Challah

I'm a novice weekend baker who's been, of course, baking for about two (frustrating) months... Having said that, prior to my not-so-successful challah, I had never handled whole wheat flour, used a soaker or preferment (and thus the "delayed fermentation method"), or even braided dough strands. So, it was reasonable to expect that I'd encounter a few problems during the bread making process...


Pictured above is the semi-soft crumb of the whole wheat challah. Yes, I know, I know, challah isn't traditionally made with whole wheat flour, but I had both the flour and Peter Reinhart's book (Whole Grain Breads) on hand. I simply couldn't resist!

Truth be told, I was shocked that my challah was packed full of flavour! Well, not to the extent that I anticipated. Wafting a strong wheaty aroma, the crumb had a mild and pleasant tang, which complemented the faint buttery taste. Although, I may be confusing egginess with butteriness.

You see, until recently I had not ingested and indulged in any whole wheat breads that weren't mass produced and commercially packaged. Never will I purchase such an inferior loaf again!


I was too ambitious, perhaps too foolish as well. I wanted to transform my dough strands into a six-braided challah. But as soon as I arrived to the braiding, my mind had succumbed to a deep void, which quickly filled with a combination of confusion and self-pity.

So, I did what I had to do. I developed and implemented my own braiding technique on spot, as depicted above. 


Now how did this happen? Well, I'll tell you how... utter cluelessness. I had forgotton to factor in the dough's expansion into my calculations and, well... the consequences are quite clear, haha. 

Reluctantly, I crammed my poor innocent loaf into the sheet pan. If you're curious or wondering, I bake with a microwave convection oven, which by the way won't fit in any pans larger than 9 x 11.5 in.


After being baked at 150C / 302F for a total duration of 55 minutes, what emerged from the oven was a slightly arched, matte brown challah.

I tell ya', my emotions fluctuated between joyful and upset, like a roller coaster ride, throughout this baking incident.

If you're interested in further details about my challah (doesn't contain baker's percentages, unfortunately), please visit my blog: There, I document nearly all of my baking "experiments", many of which are considered failures--personally speaking. Also, I'd appreciate any feedback about my blog, whether negative or positive. (Is the font too small? Color scheme too attrocious? Photography too dim? Any comments will help, really.) Thank you kindly in advance!

On a further note, critiques pertinent to my baking techniques and methods are also welcomed. I've had individuals tell me that I'm not a good baker, plus other nasty comments, so I'm well adapted to harsh criticism.

Anyway, thank you all for taking the time to read about my... baking misfortunes, haha.

:) Stay well and happy baking! 



Mebake's picture

A lovely ww challah, baking badly! Nothing to regret in my opinion. True, the buttery egginess Is prevalent in this particular loaf, but if you ignore the undertone flavors, this bread is very delicious!

A very nice bake!

bakingbadly's picture

Thank you for your kinds words! Very much flattered! :)

dabrownman's picture

your own twisted braid!  Way to go.  There is no reason to feel bad about your challah.  I am not going to be doing any 6 strand braids and usually bake multigrain challah in a loaf pan :-)  It, thankfully, doesn't seem to care - or even notice. 

Challah has come along way in the past 20 years and you can now get in any flavor you want - I prefer spinach and cheese - like these flavors in bagels too.  Some think it isn't challah but I'm not a putist about bread - more of a libertarian.

We too bake in a mini covesction oven and just turn longer loaves diagonally to get the most flat space we can.  We also don't use the botom of the pan but use the top vented part of the broiler pan to bake on.  Do you steam in your mini?  

You might try baking at 400 F (no convection) with Sylvia's steam for 10 minutes and then take out the steam and bake at 325 F convection this time and riatate the bread every 10 minutes until done.  I think you will be please with the difference.

You are getting very close to some fine challah inside and out.  For more  detailed info you can check my blog on the various ways you might try baking in your mini oven.

Happy baking.


bakingbadly's picture

Unfortunately, no, I don't use steam. But I would if I could. Considering that my microwave convection oven is not suited to handle steam, I avoid such usage. Additionally, my microwave convection oven is unable to reach temperatures above 200C / 392F without encountering issues. In other words, I cannot bake crusty breads. :(

As of now, I've been saving up to purchase either a new toaster or countertop oven. However, living in Cambodia, finding one that's large enough to prevent scorching, amongst other features, is proving to be difficult for me. Nonetheless, I shall continue my search.

Thank you for your suggestions! I'll check out your blog as well.