Although associated with important Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, challah is not only a culturally significant bread at these times of year, but is also a delicious and impressive bread to serve at your table any time.
At Rosh Hashanah, challah takes on symbolic importance for those of the Jewish faith who partake of this honey bread as a representation of the sweet new year we all hope for. Add in the extra sweetness of raisins, and dip a piece of the braided bread in honey, and it is even more fun to wish for sweet things in the coming year. The challah is formed into a round shape at this time of year to symbolize the circle of life and the cyclical pattern of the seasons that shape a year. At Hanukkah (the Festival of Lights), challah feeds the body and the soul, as families gather over the course of 8 days to light the Menorah, savor wonderful meals together, and to exchange gifts in celebration.
No matter what your reason for making this delicious bread, celebrate that this quick, easy (yes, I said easy!) and very impressive recipe is at your gluten-free fingertips any time you feel like looking forward to a sweeter day.
All of you who have seen me at gluten-free cooking classes or demonstrations making yeast breads already know the dirty little secret about gluten-free bread. Shhhh…. don’t tell the gluten-eaters! Seriously! It is super quick and shockingly easy to make homemade gluten-free bread! Impress your friends and shock the neighbors with this recipe too: not only is GF challah delicious and super fast, it’s almost too beautiful to eat!
Gluten-Free Challah (Braided Egg-Bread)
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 package rapid rise gf yeast (Red Star®)
- 1 tsp. granulated cane sugar
- 1 cup vanilla dairy or non-dairy yogurt, at room temperature (So Delicious® Vanilla Coconut Yogurt)
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 5 large egg yolks at room temperature (slightly mixed)
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 4 Tbs. honey, agave nectar or molasses
- 4 cups gfJules™ All Purpose Flour
- 3 Tbs. + 2 tsp. granulated cane sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
- 1 large egg, mixed
- poppy seeds, sesame seeds, raisins, or other topping or mix-in (optional)
Preheat your oven to 200º F, then turn it off; if you have a warming drawer, you may set that to low/moist setting instead. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, mix together the warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar to proof the yeast; set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the remaining wet ingredients and mix until combined. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. After 5 minutes of proofing, stir in the yeast-water mixture into the wet ingredients (note: if your yeast isn’t bubbling at this point, throw it out and start again with fresh yeast). Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until fully integrated, then mix 2 minutes more on medium speed.
Using either method, once the dough is combined, divide it in half and divide each half into three equally-sized balls. The dough will be sticky, so use extra gfJules™ flour on your hands and rolling surface. Roll each ball out into an 18-inch coil or log on a clean, flat surface dusted lightly with gfJules™ Flour. Pinch together one end of each coil, wetting them slightly with water to help them join together at the top, then braid them, finishing by connecting them to the top of the other end in order to form a crown, or circular shape, or simply leave as a long braid.
Gently transfer it to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat for the second set of three balls. In the alternative, you can simply divide the dough in half, roll out into a flattened coil, then twist upon itself and join at the ends to form a circular loaf; repeat with the other half of the dough ball.
In a small bowl, mix the extra egg together and brush over each loaf well, coating the entire top surface. Sprinkle the seeds or any toppings at this point, then place the tray (covering the loaves with wax paper sprayed with cooking oil) in a warming drawer set to low heat, or into the preheated oven for approximately 20 – 30 minutes. (Don’t expect the bread to rise much at this stage).
Once risen slightly, place the uncovered tray in an oven preheated to 350º F (static) or 325º F (convection) for 20 minutes. Remove to cool on a wire rack.
This recipe and 149 more great gluten-free recipes can be found in my newest book, Free for All Cooking: 150 Easy Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Recipes the Whole Family Can Enjoy.