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As an update to this post, I thought I'd share my whole wheat variation, made so my diabetic dad could at least have *some* challah.

1 3/4 cups warm water
3 packets (2.25 tsp each) yeast
pinch sugar or drop honey
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
3 extra-large eggs
2 egg yolks (reserve the whites in the refrigerator for glazing)
3 cups whole wheat flour
2-3 cups bread flour

Whisk to combine water, yeast, and the pinch of sugar/drop of honey. Let sit for five minutes.

Whisk in about 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour, cover with a cloth, and let sit for 20-30 minutes; this forms a sponge, which helps deal with the fact that whole wheat has less gluten.

Whisk the sponge, then whisk in the sugar, honey, and salt. (I find it useful to measure the oil into the 1/3 cup measure, pour it into the 1/2 cup measure, and *then* measure out the honey, as it doesn't stick to the cup.)

Whisk in oil, eggs, and yolks.

Add the remaining flour slowly, graduating from whisk to wooden spoon to floured hand as necessary. Unlike the all-white version, this doesn't form a shaggy mass.

Keep pushing the stuff that sticks to the sides and bottom of the bowl back into the dough as it forms a ball. It will still be sticky (thanks to the eggs and honey) when it has enough flour in it, but it will feel springy and will form a ball.

Oil a large bowl and roll the ball of dough in it. Cover and let rise for 90 minutes. If you're so inspired, you can punch it down at 90 minutes and let it rise again for about an hour, or you can do an overnight rise in the refrigerator for the first rise (in which case, cover it with something that seals well, like the new sticky plastic wrap stuff, or a cover designed to fit the bowl) and do a second warm rise the next day. But only the first rise is actually necessary; the second just enriches flavor and texture.

Take that bowl of flour and put at least another half-cup of flour in it, and coat your hands with flour. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a scrupulously clean and floured table or countertop (I have a wonderful silicone mat that I use). Form a fattish snake and divide the dough into 2-4 sections (each will be its own loaf).

Work each section by itself, kneading briefly, then dividing into roughly equal sections in order to braid it (I did three six-strand braids today). The dough will be really sticky despite being floured and oiled, resist the urge to add more than a tiny bit of flour as you work it.

Take a baking sheet and cover it with parchment paper, and place your formed loaves onto it. Cover the whole thing with a clean dishtowel and let rise for ~40 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn on the oven to 400F. Then take your reserved egg whites and beat them lightly with a fork, then use a pastry brush to glaze the challah with the lightly-beaten egg whites reserved from earlier. (If you prefer a more yellow color, just use one whole egg instead.)

Bake at 400F for 7 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and bake for 20 minutes. (The original recipe called for 15 min/25 min and that just seemed to ruin the outer crust. It's quite definitely fully baked at our times.)

Remove promptly from the pan and cool on a cooling rack, covered by a clean dishtowel. Serve as you wish. :)

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