• Gluten-Free Challah To Write Home About

    by Ellen on October 5, 2006 · 20 comments

    At last, a respectable gluten-free challah! How can I even express my delight, my joy, my excitement! And it not only looks good, but it tastes good too. I found the recipe online and made some changes that I think improved it. I will stick with this recipe for awhile, but I plan on changing it even further, with an eye towards substituting some flours that have a higher protein content. But for now, I’m in challah heaven! Naturally, make sure all your ingredients are gluten-free.

    Challah
    Yield: one loaf

    1 package active dry yeast
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1 cup warm water (120 degrees)
    1 ½ cups cornstarch
    ¾ cup white rice flour
    ½ cup brown rice flour
    ¼ cup tapioca flour
    3 tablespoons almond meal
    1 tablespoon xanthan gum
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons dry potato flakes
    ¼ cup butter, melted
    ¼ cup honey
    4 eggs + 1 extra egg yolk (at room temperature)
    1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Optional extra ingredients:
    Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, raisins, chocolate chips

    1. Add yeast and sugar to warm water. Cover with plastic wrap. Put in oven with oven light on for about 10 minutes or until frothy. Oven should not be turned on yet!
    2. Mix cornstarch, white rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, almond meal, xanthun gum, salt, and potato flakes in a heavy duty mixer.
    3. With mixer running, add yeast mixture, then add melted butter and honey.
    4. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until blended.
    5. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. The batter will look like pudding.
    6. Spoon batter into greased 9″ spring form pan or 9×5 inch loaf pan.
    7. Smooth top surface of batter using WET hand.
    8. Cover pan with plastic wrap sprayed underneath with Pam type spray so it won’t stick to batter as it rises.
    9. Let rise in warm place for about 45 minutes or until it reaches the top of the pan. The rising will change depending on the humidity and temperature of your room.
    10. Using a fine serrated knife, cut 2 diagonal lines across top of bread about 1/8 inch deep (allows steam to escape).
    11. Sprinkle poppy or sesame seeds on top. I haven’t tried it with raisins or chocolate chips, but I imagine they could be added to the batter while it’s being mixed.
    12. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Cover with foil after first 20 minutes if top gets too brown.
    13. Transfer to wire cooling rack, rub top with butter while it’s still hot, if desired. First time I made it, I sprinkled poppy seeds over the top of the bread before baking. I didn’t rub top with butter when it was finished.

    Tips:
    1. To proof the yeast, empty the packet into the water. Add sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and put in your oven with the pilot light on. (The oven shouldn’t be on yet).
    2. If you don’t have time to allow the eggs to come to room temperature, put them in a small bowl filled with warm water. Allow to sit in the water for at least 5 minutes before cracking.
    3. Turn oven on for 30 – 60 seconds, then turn off and use it as a warm place for the dough to rise.

    { 19 comments… read them below or add one }

    Helen October 5, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Ellen,

    What a lovely challah! Your gluten-free baking class sounds great. How did you find a kitchen to rent?

    Cheers,
    -Helen

    Reply

    twostepsforward October 5, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    You are this gluten-intolerant Jew’s hero of the day!

    Reply

    mira October 5, 2006 at 9:05 pm

    That looks absolutely lovely. We are not GF but I have many friends who are and can’t wait to make this for them.

    Reply

    Ellen October 5, 2006 at 9:14 pm

    Helen,

    We asked the synagogue to which we belong – they allowed us to use their large kitchen that is used for functions. It was perfect! I wish I’d known you before – you might’ve wanted to attend – it was in Worcester, MA!

    Reply

    Ellen October 5, 2006 at 9:16 pm

    Dear twostepsforward,

    I am delighted to be your hero. Wait till you try the bread – you’ll plotz – it’s delicious! I’m going to make french toast with it this weekend, for Sukkot!!!

    Reply

    Anonymous October 5, 2006 at 11:25 pm

    hi ellen-
    that is my original recipe…first posted on celiac.com, then on the delphi forums celiac site.
    I have changed it a bit since then. (and I don’t use butter since we keep kosher, I need it to be parve)But, I recognize some of my wording from the instructions! I’m so glad you liked it….enjoy! Happy and healthy New Year.
    Sara Nussbaum

    Reply

    Ellen October 6, 2006 at 4:41 pm

    Hi Sara,

    Just goes to show how information gets passed around on the internet. I’m not sure where I found the challah recipe, but it definitely didn’t have your name on it (though it should have). I will post again to my blog and make sure it states that before I adapted and made some changes to it, the original source for the recipe came from you. Thank you for pointing it out to me. And thanks for creating the original recipe. Best, Ellen

    Reply

    Mike Eberhart October 16, 2006 at 10:01 pm

    That looks wonderful.
    I am going to have to try this one sometime (better yet, I have to convince my wife to try making it — she seems to be better at the bread kind of things).

    I also see you have a link to my blog here. Thank you. I will reciprocate the favor. Keep up the wonderful blogging.

    Reply

    Becky August 6, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Hi Ellen,

    Your challah recipe was a good one for me, a novice gluten-free baker to start off with. The first time I tried it, I followed your recipe exactly. I found that it was a bit too dense for my liking, and so I changed things around a bit so that the bread would feel and taste more like the usual standard Jewish fare.

    I cut out 1/4 cup of the cornstarch (using only 1 1/4 cups) and 1/4 cup of the brown rice flour (using only 1/2 cup). I used 2 tbsp mashed potatoes instead of the potato flakes (because I ran out), used 1 tbsp of sugar instead of 1 tsp, and added 1/3 cup of honey instead of 1/4 cup. I also let the dough rise two times, once for 1 hour in the mixing bowl, and then after beating it down, again for about 1 hour in TWO loaf pans. Finally, I put an eggwash on the tops of the challahs before adding my seeds. The resulting challah was a lot lighter, and tasted more like the real thing. I think next time, I will put even less flour (I’m thinking of taking out about 1 1/2 tbsp of the tapioca) to see if it’s even lighter and fluffier than my last. Thanks again for the recipe which has started my gluten-free baking adventures.

    Reply

    marika September 11, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    hi Ellen, thank you so much for the challah recipe:) my question is how important it is to use a mixer, can I mix by hand? From here a second question:) Is there a gluten free bread recipe where I get a pleasure to knead by hand? I’m new to GF cooking – thank you again!

    Reply

    Anonymous November 11, 2007 at 11:16 am

    This looks yummy…won’t you Pleeease post a pic of the inside the next time you bake this?!

    I am dying to know what the inside looks like!

    Reply

    jordynn March 23, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    I’m a Russian Mennonite and we make a similar kind of bread for Easter called paska. (Which I think came from the Ukrainian bread with the same name). I adapted your recipe and it turned out wonderfully for paska purposes. (You can see my blog post about it here: http://canadianbaconbarbie.com/2008/03/gluten-free-mennonite-paska-version-10/)

    Thanks for the great recipe!

    Reply

    Lady Cardamom April 7, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Not sure if you are still writing this blog, but have you tried braiding this challah?

    I have a friend who has challenged me to throw her a gluten-free bread braiding party, and I need some help!

    Reply

    Ellen April 7, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Hi Lady Cardamom,

    I haven’t tried braiding it, but the next time I make it, I’m going to try forming balls from some of the dough and sort of placing them on top of each other. I’ve seen that done with other GF challah recipes.

    Reply

    secretnatasha December 12, 2009 at 6:04 am

    Thanks for this recipe – I made it tonight for Hanukkah, and I and all my (gluten-eating) friends and family loved it. It was so, so wonderful to be able to break bread with everybody on this special day.

    I used sorghum flour instead of rice flour, omitted the vanilla, and added a couple extra tablespoons of potato starch since I didn't have potato flakes, and it turned out just great.

    Reply

    I Am Gluten Free December 12, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    So glad Secret Natasha – it's a very forgiving recipe and it's kind of cool to be able to make substitutions and have it come out great. Congrats! So glad you had success with it!

    Reply

    Heather September 8, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    spectacular recipe! I've fiddled too (out of necessity) and added ground flax seed (same proportion) for the potato flakes. It looks like a whole-wheat challah. I've also upped the honey and added brandy, trying to get that Zarro's flavor.
    You are heroic!
    Thank you
    Heather
    Craftlit.com

    Reply

    Esther October 28, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    What role does the Xanthum Gum play?

    Reply

    I Am Gluten Free October 28, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Esther – xanthan gum is necessary in most gluten free baking. Because there is no gluten to hold the baked goods together, the xanthan gum does the job.

    Reply

    Leave a Comment

    Previous post:

    Next post: