Whole Wheat Challah Bread {Living Simply: Unplugged}

by simplylife on February 1, 2013

{Living Simply 2013}


At the start of this year, I asked what you have done, are doing and/or hope to do to live more simply in 2013.  I will be featuring a different response in the upcoming weeks/months so we can all learn from each other.  Feel free to email me at simplylife1@gmail.com or leave a comment on this post with your response to be featured (you don’t need a blog to participate)!  Here are the previous posts: 1234 and 5.


The next response is from Colleen from What’s Baking in the Barbershop, who said:  I have been working on trying to be more “unplugged” and spend less time on my phone, computer, etc.


This was definitely a repeated theme in the comments and it’s so true.  So much of our days are linked to technology, whether it’s for work, personal enjoyment or just managing your day-to-day responsibilities.  What I always find most shocking is how after a week vacation, when I haven’t checked my email or read the news, I can “catch-up” from a entire week’s worth of “technology” in usually only an hour or two.  Whereas if I were checking those same things daily, the time spent would far exceed that.  It’s in these moments that I typically see how much excess “screen” time I spend.


Buuuut yes, I know that a week on vacation also don’t require checking email and responding promptly to phone calls and messages (I hope!).  While I love my “unplugged” time completely away from all electronics, I also know living this way just isn’t realistic today.  It’s a tricky balance to find and looks different for everyone.


My husband and I have found one of the best ways to ensure we’re at least “unplugged” in small moments throughout the day, is to not even give ourselves the option.  We both still don’t have smartphones and we don’t own a T.V.  While this may be crazy to some, to us, it’s a great way to force us to be at least slightly more mindful of our “screen time.”  Don’t get me wrong, I still sit in front of a computer most of the day (and I don’t even want to think about how many hours I’ve spent on this blog!), but I find that simply not giving myself the option is sometimes the best way to continue being intentional about having “unplugged” time.


One other way that I find the forces me to be more in the moment, and completely unplugged, is when my hands are full of flour and dough! 🙂  Seriously though, there is just something so soothing about braiding a loaf of fresh dough and seeing what a few simple ingredients like flour and water can produce.  It’s the perfect way to unwind, unplug from all electronics for a moment and create the perfect food to share.


Whole Wheat Challah Bread

by Simply Life

Adapted from Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

Keywords: bake bread

Ingredients (2 loaves)

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tbs. yeast (1 packet)
  • 1/2 tbs. salt
  • 1/8 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/8 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs (1 egg with the white and yolk separated)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Sesame seeds, optional (you could also use poppy seeds)


1. Whisk together flours, yeast, salt and vital wheat gluten. Add in liquid ingredients (using 1 full egg and ONLY egg yoke from other egg) and mix together without kneading (using a spoon or paddle attachment for a stand-mixer).

2. Cover with a cloth and allow dough to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours.

3. Separate dough into two equal pieces. You can use the dough immediately or refrigerate and use up to 5 days.

4. Shape dough into a ball. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece out until it makes a long rope, about 3/4 inch thick. Repeat with remaining two pieces.

5. Braid the dough by taking left strand and placing over center piece, then taking right strand and folding over center piece. Repeat until loaf is braided. Pinch ends together.

6. Place dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or cooking spray, or on a silicone mat. Cover loosely with cloth or plastic wrap and all dough to rest for 40 minutes (or 90 minutes if using refrigerated dough).

7. Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat oven to 350 degrees with cooking stone in the oven, if using.

8. Just before baking, brush reserved egg white over top of dough. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

9. Bake on cookie sheet or cooking stone for about 30-35 minutes, until golden brown. Serve and enjoy!

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~How do you “unplug”?

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  • http://whatisbakinginthebarbershop.blogspot.com/ Colleen

    Okay, first of all, your bread looks amazing! I am so impressed!
    And secondly, thanks for sharing my comment! I am improving so far in my attempts to be more unplugged. 🙂 Happy Friday!

    • http://www.simplylifeblog.com/ Simply Life

      Oh that’s great- well, thank YOU for sharing! 🙂

  • Andrea@WellnessNotes

    Amazing job on the bread!

    I designated my evenings technology free a few months ago, and I really like it. I spend some time reading every evening and go to bed earlier. I really like it. And, yes, spending time in the kitchen is a great way to unplug.

    • http://www.simplylifeblog.com/ Simply Life

      I love that you do this! What a great idea to have certain evening technology free- I bet it makes a big difference!

  • Megan Gundy

    This bread looks incredible. And great thoughts on unplugging. I need to do a better job of that. It’s hard with a blog though, don’t you think? I feel guilty if I don’t respond to comments right away…

    • http://www.simplylifeblog.com/ Simply Life

      Yes, It is hard to “unplug” with a blog- there’s always so much to do! I usually try and give myself a certain amount of time like “I’ll work on it for an hour and whatever’s done is done…” sometimes that helps 🙂 I’m definitely a work in progress!

  • a farmer in the dell

    I need to unplug more as well. This bread sounds awesome!

    • http://www.simplylifeblog.com/ Simply Life

      I bet you’re able to with your job during the day!

  • http://www.facebook.com/urvashi.agarwal.9465 Urvashi Agarwal

    Your bread looks absolutely stunning!
    And I agree with how unplugging cooking is!


    • http://www.simplylifeblog.com/ Simply Life


  • http://www.culinarycolleen.com/ Colleen

    Your challah looks beautiful! My boyfriend and I at the very least try to unplug at dinner time. It’s tough, though!

    • http://www.simplylifeblog.com/ Simply Life

      Agreed! We also do that at dinner but yes, when you hear the phone ringing, it’s hard not to pick-up!

  • itzyskitchen

    Homemade bread is seriously amazing. The smell, the taste! LOVE LOVE LOVE! To unplug, I go get coffee or bake!

    • http://www.simplylifeblog.com/ Simply Life

      Ah, great ideas!

  • yummychunklet

    What a great braided loaf!

  • http://bite-sized-thoughts.blogspot.com/ Kari

    What gorgeous plaiting! I must admit this looks complicated rather than simple to my novice bread maker eyes, but it is beautiful whatever you call it 🙂

    • http://www.simplylifeblog.com/ Simply Life

      Haha, it’s not! I swear! if you can braid and mix together flour and water- you CAN make this!

  • Jan

    This bread looks GREAT!

  • http://megan-deliciousdishings.blogspot.com/ Megan

    I definitely use baking as a way to unplug. That bread looks phenomenal.

  • http://www.acambridgestory.com Emily

    Great idea to make wheat challah!! Cooking is such a fantastic way to unplug… I need to do more of it these days!

  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca)

    I am terrible at staying unplugged … but I suppose the best way that I stay unplugged is by not having a smart phone. I can’t tweet or go on facebook or email or anything like that unless I am sitting at home on my computer or at my work computer. I don’t think I want to be able to check facebook while I’m in my car or the grocery store, etc..

  • awgianti

    Recently I was really, really low on money and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money on the internet. I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills!! I’m so glad, I did this!!! With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – fsWn

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