Oat Flour Challah
Whole wheat has a heavier flavor and feel; oat flour has a lighter texture that my husband, especially, liked. Also, the egg wash I brushed on top caused the challahs to not only brown nicely, but also have a really crusty texture. Crusty crunchy on the outside and really moist on the inside. How could that be bad???
Just a note about the ingredients: when I made this batch, I actually forgot to add the oil! The challah still came out great. So I will be outlandish and say that if you want to, you can skip the oil. But, of course, if you do use oil, it won't do any harm. You will also notice that I do not use eggs in the dough. If you have an egg allergy, feel free to skip the egg wash. Finally, contrary to popular belief, you do not need to proof the yeast before adding the other ingredients; just mix it in with everything else and the dough will rise just fine. Trust me, I have been making my challah like this for years.
It was very important to me that I be able to take challah from the dough. Oat flour is a grain which requires one to take challah and make the bracha.
By the way, oat flour is very easy to make yourself. You don't have to run out and buy it. For direction on how to make it, go this this link: www.healthybitezkosher.com/oat-flour.html
Oat Flour Challah
7 cups oat flour
7 cups bread flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup oil (optional--see above text)
1 1/2 Tbsp. dried yeast
4 cups warm water
Put all the dry ingredients in a very large mixing bowl. Add the oil and mix a bit. Little by little, add the water. Mix after every cup. You may need to add a littl more water. If you do, add 1 cup at a time. The dough should be well mixed but not too mushy. If the dough is too mushy, then add a little flour at a time until the dough is maleable but not too wet. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. The dough should be elasticy, springing back to form when lightly pressed. Pour a handful of oil onto the dough and grease on both sides so the dough doesn't dry out while rising. Cover with a cloth and let rise, preferably in a warmish area, until dough is doubled in size, about an hour.
While waiting, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 baking sheets and set aside.
When dough is ready, take a hunk off about 2" across and 3" long. Roll out the dough into a long string. Start from one end and roll the dough inward until it makes a circle. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat until you have 3 challahs on each baking sheet. Crack the egg, check it, then mix. Brush the egg onto the top and sides of the prepared dough, all the way to the bottom.
Bake challahs for 20 minutes then rotate trays. Bake for another 20 minutes. Challahs should be brown on top and nicely browned on the bottoms. Knock on the bottoms; if they have a hollow sound, they are ready. Remove from oven and let cool.
To store: wrap each challah in foil. You can easily freeze the extra challahs. Just put the foil wrapped challahs in a plastic bag and freeze for up to 3 months. If you don't want to make all the challahs in one shot, you can store the leftover dough by wrapping it in 2 freezer storage bags. It's important to double wrap so the dough doesn't get freezer burnt. The dough can be stored for up to 3 months.
IMPORTANT SPIRITUAL NOTE: It is a very auspicious time for women to daven when kneading challah. Make good use of the time and pour your heart out to Hashem!
Also, if you would like to learn more about the mitzvah of separating challah, go this this great link: www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/363331/jewish/6-Separating-Challah.htm