Gluten Free Challah Crown

Gluten Free Challah Crown

This gorgeous gluten free Challah Crown is definitely a show-stopper, and it’s not difficult to make! Really. Just make sure you’re not using a dry, gritty, rice-based flour — so it’ll hold together! It’s another recipe where my award-winning gfJules Gluten Free Flour really shines because it’s so fine and light, but it also adds stretch to doughs like this, allowing you to actually braid gluten free bread dough!

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.

soft gluten free challah - gfJules

This soft and moist bread is one that will be hard to resist!

 

We had friends over last weekend and I served these yummy round loaves because it’s one of our family’s favorite bread recipes, but it also happened to be the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah. They were blown away by my gluten free challah, having made their own GLUTEN-FULL challah the week before, and not loving the results. 

It’s true folks: gluten free bread can be better than gluten bread. It happens all the time.

round gluten free challah crown sliced

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.

To see this bread in braided loaf form, hop to this recipe.

Reader Barbara S. sent this photo of her gluten-free challah made with my recipe and gfJules Flour.

Reader Barbara S. sent this photo of her gluten-free challah made with my recipe and gfJules Flour.

 

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 gluten-free challah delicious and fast, it’s almost too beautiful to eat!

round gluten free challah crown with knife

Watch this quick video below to see just how easy it is to braid this gluten free dough with this recipe made with my gfJules Flour.

making gluten free challah

Click on photo to see a quick video on how to braid this gluten free bread.

 

No matter what your reason for making this delicious bread, celebrate that this impressive recipe is at your gluten-free fingertips any time you feel like having a sweeter day.

Gluten Free Challah Crown

Gluten Free Challah Crown

Yield: 2 crowns
Prep Time: 55 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbs. 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)*
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 5 large egg yolks at room temperature (slightly mixed)
  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil, non-GMO canola oil OR extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tbs. honey, agave nectar or molasses
  • 4 cups (540 grams) gfJules™ All Purpose Flour
  • 3 Tbs. + 2 tsp. granulated cane sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 large egg, mixed
  • poppy seeds, sesame seeds, raisins, or other topping or mix-in (optional)

Instructions

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 1/3 cup (5 Tbs) 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 (including 2 more tablespoons warm water) 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, adding more warm water by the tablespoon as needed to get the dough soft and so that the dough is not tight or stiff — you should be able to pull the dough gently without it feeling tight or like it would bounce back — if it’s stiff, then add more warm water then mix 1-2 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 (I like using a bench scraper like this oneto help me cut and roll the sticky dough).

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 a warm location for 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 or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out dry, or with some crumbs attached but no wet dough.

Remove to cool on a wire rack.

Notes

*If you don’t have yogurt on-hand, another good dairy-free substitute is 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (shake it well before measuring) + 1 tablespoon vinegar (not malt vinegar) or lemon juice.

I hope you love this recipe as much as we do!

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This gorgeous gluten free Challah Crown is definitely a show-stopper, and it’s not difficult to make!

Is there any bread more beautiful than challah? This gorgeous gluten free Challah Crown is definitely a show-stopper, and it's not difficult to make!
 
 
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Gluten Free Challah Crown
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160 thoughts on “Gluten Free Challah Crown

  1. I already have your “Bread” Mix Packet. Can I use it instead of your GF flour to make this Challah. IF so… would I simply substitute it for the flour? THanks.

  2. Hi Jules,
    I just broke down and bought your gluten free flour. I’m sure it will make all of the difference. I have been making challah for years and was so excited to see your recipe and the pictures. I followed everything but used my own blend of GF flour. The recipe was a big failure. The mixture was much more like a pancake batter, there was no way to shape it. It ended up down the drain and I was so sad after using all of those good ingredients. So, I decided to buy your flour. I can’t wait to get it and try the recipe again. I hope it makes the difference. Thanks! Julie

    • Hi Julie – unfortunately, gluten-free flour blends are ALL different! I hope you make the best challah of your life when you get my flour! :)

  3. Yikes Jules. I am not sure what I did wrong here. I followed the recipe but the dough is too sticky to braid. I ended up having to use my challah pans. I scooped the flour into the measuring cup instead of scooping the flour out of the bag with the measuring cup. I’m not sure if that made the difference but I floured my pastry board and it just wouldn’t move. There was dough stuck everywhere. I can say that it did go into my challah pans nicely, I’m just hoping that it will turn out well in the pans. We have yet to find a satisfying gluten free challah for Shabbos. We went gf after Passover so I’m really hoping this works for us since the High Holidays will be here in no time.

    • We found our go to gluten free challah!! WOW both loaves are gone. I loved it, my husband loved it and the kids loved it! Thank you. I just need to figure out why it was so sticky that I couldn’t braid.

    • You’re right, Andrea – High Holidays are around the corner! Time is flying too fast, but you are on top of it, experimenting with Challah in the summer! :) I saw the pictures you sent our customer service department of your challah in the pans! Gorgeous!! So glad your family loved it and you’ve finally found great GF Challah! Regarding the stickiness if you wanted to braid it in the future, I would say your guess about scooping the flour out with the measuring cups was probably the culprit. That method can wildly skew the amount of flour you wind up with for your recipe. I always recommend spooning the flour into the cups and making sure they are nice and full, then slide a knife across the top to make it even. One cup of my Jules Flour should weigh 135grams (the most accurate way to measure). If your dough was that sticky, there just must not have been enough flour because it is very easy to braid this dough. Either way though – you made the best of it and wound up with beautiful Challah in your pans this time – congratulations!

      • Thank you so much. I actually have a food scale that I would measure my ingredients in a bowl when I was baking a lot before the gluten free. This actually helps me out knowing how much a cup of your flour weights. I can now just use it on the scale. I’m excited to see if I can braid it on Friday. My family loved the challah so much for the first time since going gluten free BOTH loaves were eaten. Would you suggest any changes around Rosh Hashanah when I need to add the raisins?

        • Andrea- that’s wonderful that the loaves were so well-loved! :) Happy that the food scale will help you get the measurements just right, too. I’ve added raisins with no adjustments to the recipe, so you should be fine for Rosh Hashanah. Enjoy!

          • I ended up being sick for two Shabbats and was out of town for one so this is the first time I’ve been able to do it again. Should I be using Greek Yogurt maybe? It is still way too sticky to braid and I measured using my scale. I’m not sure what in the world I’m doing wrong but I’m doing something wrong. :(

          • Andrea – why don’t you email us at [email protected] to walk through the recipe so you’re sure to get it right this time. It could be something as simple as using more flour to dust the counter or pastry mat when rolling out, but there could be an issue with the yogurt, or something else, so email and we’ll walk through it with you to help!

  4. I love Challah, but am not overly found of matzos. Needing GF matzo posed even a greater problem. I checked all over, and finely foung Yehuda GF matzos at Whole Foods.

  5. I had a chance to try this recipe a couple of weeks ago, and it was amazing! It was a delight to actually be able to braid challah again. It had been 6.5 years, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until now. I almost cried while I was making them. They tasted delicious, too. Something weird happened while it was baking, though. The braids kind-of opened up as they baked, so they ended up looking like claws, or teeth, not exactly the best image for a peaceful Shabbat meal, lol. Any idea why this happened? Maybe I didn’t let it rise enough, or I let it rise too much? Also, it wasn’t close to done after 20 min, so I baked it another 20, which ended up being too much. I’ll try 30 min. next time. Two questions: If I was to double the recipe to make larger loaves, how long should I bake them? Will they freeze well? I am looking forward to trying it with dairy-free yoghurt so I can pass the recipe on to my mom and sister, who are also gluten free and keep kosher. To make this truly “rabbinically kosher” I’d have to use 1/2 plus a little oat flour, so I’m going to try that at some point too. Thank you so much for this recipe! Now I can teach my daughters how to make challah.

    • Laurie – that’s so fantastic! I’m so glad to hear that you have challah back in your life again! About the rising, it sounds like they rose a bit too much – you can play with it, but maybe even cut back on the yeast a bit next time; if you’re using oat flour in it as well though, you might not need to do that, since it’s heavier. As for freezing, I have frozen it after baking and cooling and it thaws beautifully, so no worries there. Just keep a close eye on them to determine bake time — everyone’s oven cooks a bit differently, but if the loaves are larger, 30 minutes might be the right answer. You definitely don’t want to over cook them. Enjoy passing along to your dairy-free family too – recipes like this can become family treasures! :)

  6. This looks delicious! My only issue for making this myself is that I keep kosher, so when I need Challah for Shabbat dinners (that are typically meat meals), I wouldn’t be able to make this because of the yogurt (even the coconut yogurt is marked, at least on the website, as kosher dairy probably because it’s processed with the same machines that process dairy products).

    Do you have suggestions for making this without yogurt?? I’m new to gluten free cooking, was just diagnosed with Celiac, so I’m looking for all the help I can get!!

  7. Hi Jules,

    I finally got around to making your challah. The taste was incredible, but it did not rise more than 2 inches. I followed the recipe but did substitute olive oil for canola. Could that be the reason it didn’t rise?

    Thanks,
    Maureen

    • Maureen – that’s odd that the challah didn’t rise much. Was your yeast fresh? Next time proof a bit of yeast in warm water with some sugar to make sure it’s active. Another culprit could be that it was not warm enough where you proofed it – it should be covered and in a warm place to rise. You can always let it rise longer next time before baking too, just to give it more time to rise. I also use instant/quick rise yeast. If you used regular yeast, it needs more time to rise. Let me know how it goes next time. Glad it still tasted yummy for you!

  8. I have tried this Challah recipe exactly as stated, but it had a cake batter-like consistency that was too sticky for braiding. What am I doing wrong?

    • Dana – I’m not sure what would have went wrong, because it’s definitely not a cake batter consistency. Why don’t you email [email protected] and they’ll walk through it with you to see if they can help figure out what might have happened! I want you to get to enjoy this great recipe!!!

  9. Jules-
    Help! I’m at my parents in Virginia, we’ve been to 8 stores and no one here sells so delicious yogurt and we are CF. What can I use as a replacement? Applesauce? Thanks!

    • Crystal – if you are GFCF and can tolerate soy, that is the best, most readily-available option. Almond or even rice yogurt will work as well. Sometimes you can find soy sour cream even in regular grocery stores and that is also an acceptable substitute. Hope you can find any of those!

  10. This sounds so good that I’trying this for x-mas but have two questions:
    I use yeast in a jar, how much is one packet ?
    and what is •1 cup vanilla dairy or non-dairy (yoghurt or milk) My family is GF but not CF

    • Hi Jacqueline, yeast in a jar (if it’s rapid rise/quick rise/or bread machine) is fine to use. One packet equals 2 1/4 tsp. from the jar. If your family can eat casein and dairy, simply use your favorite vanilla flavored yogurt, but don’t use non-fat. Even Greek yogurt works fine. Enjoy!

  11. This Challah recipe looks really good. I’m looking forward to trying it for our special Chanukah Shabbat dinner this week. I’ve tried other gf challah recipes and they were virtually impossible to braid, so I’m a little skeptical, but we’ll see! Just one question: the 4th ingredient says, “•1 cup vanilla dairy or non-dairy, at room temperature (So Delicious® Vanilla Coconut Yogurt)” 1 cup of what, exactly? I’m assuming it’s vanilla yogurt, but I just wanted to be sure.

    • Laurie – if you’re using my flour, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to braid this challah! Sorry about the missing ingredient name – it is yogurt and I’ve fixed it now! Thanks!

  12. Nott sure what you mean in Challah recipe by Vanilla Dairy or non-Dairry. Is this yoghurt? What would be a good subastitute if non-dairy yoghurt is not available. Live in Toronto, ON, Canada.

    • Ruthann – yes, it is yogurt. If you can do dairy, simply use the yogurt of your choice, but I wouldn’t recommend non-fat. Even Greek yogurt works well. If you can’t tolerate dairy, I use coconut, soy or almond yogurt. If you cannot find those, dairy-free sour cream might be available nearby and that would work well. Vegan mayo is another option if you cannot find the others. Enjoy!

    • As I’m sure you noticed Jodi, this recipe relies very heavily on egg yolks. You could certainly try some egg yolk subs (I think I would try 3 Tbs. vegan mayo per yolk subbed) but it will turn out somewhat differently. I wish I could say I had tried a yolk sub in this recipe yet, but I haven’t. You could be the first and let us all know how it turns out! :)

  13. I need to register a complaint! This challah is SO GOOD it has completely thrown me off my diet. If I can’t fit into the dress I’m wearing for my son’s bar mitzvah, I will blame Jules Gluten Free!!! I’d post a picture but it didn’t last long enough to get a pic.

    ;-)

    Seriously, this is amazing. I have so missed challah; it’s a part of our every week sabbath table and I have been searching for a GF replacement. I have found it!!!! I really don’t like baking, but this is worth the time and expense. It will be on our table every week.

    I’ve always said my last meal on earth, should I get to choose, will be the bottom of the roast chicken pan. Not the chicken itself, but the bottom of the pan with all the caramelized juices, onions, roasted garlic and carrots, and the only utensil I would use is a loaf of challah.

    This challah is bottom-of-the-chicken-pan worthy.

    • Leah – you’re cracking me up! So glad you’re loving the challah recipe. I know how you feel though, it’s too delicious! I’m honored that you think it’s “bottom-of-the-chicken-pan worthy,” though … that’s really saying something!! : )

    • Leah is a woman after my own heart. That would be an awesome last meal. The chicken schmootz juice and veggies with challah.

    • Sure! Just use my regular challah recipe by adding the liquids first in the breadmaker then adding whisked dry ingredients next – let the bread maker mix the dough for you and bake as a regular loaf, or take out the mixed dough and shape per the recipe and bake in the oven. So yum!

      • how long does this keep tasting good once its baked, and what’s the best way to keep it fresh.
        I need to bake it on friday but want to eat it on saturday.

        • The absolute best way to keep bread fresh is to vacu-seal it, but short of that, wait for it to cool completely, then seal in a zip-top bag, squeezing to remove as much air as possible without squishing the bread too! It will be fine the next day – this recipe is really moist and the yolks help to keep it that way. Enjoy!

  14. Hi,

    Do you think this recipe would work as cinnamon rolls? Or, if you’ve figured out a cinnamon roll recipe, I’d love to try it! I just tried adapting one, but it didn’t rise well…and have noticed you seem to add baking powder and baking soda along with yeast, and fast rising yeast at that. Love your flour though!

    • It makes a delicious dough, so it probably could work for cinnamon rolls (love how creative that is!) but I already have an amazing cinnamon roll recipe – it’s in my new book Free for All Cooking and it’s also in my 2010 Holiday E-book. It’s amazing! Some folks on Facebook have been making it lately with great success too – you should see their pictures!

    • I haven’t tried it, but if you cover it well and give it extra time to rise before baking the next day, it ought to work. Let me know!

      • To follow up. I made the 2 loaves, baked one and made it into a bread pudding the next day. I formed the second loaf, put it on parchment paper and wrapped it well with plastic wrap. I left it in the refrigerater for 24 hours. I took it out, let it come to room temperature, then proceeded with the recipe as if I had just formed the loaf and it came out perfect.

        • Diana – thanks for following up! I also made challah on Friday for Christmas dinner, but formed the second loaf, wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap on top of a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerated it overnight. Yesterday around noon, I took it out and uncovered it, let it rise in my warming drawer for about 1 1/2 hours, then baked it as normal and it was heavenly!

  15. Wow, this looks amazing! Somewhere along the way, I stopped craving bread, but this picture? Just brought back all those old memories!

  16. While I love to bake, making challah was always my husband’s domain. I tried a few GF challah recipes and they just didn’t cut it. I’ve been buying sliced challah from Katz Gluten Free, but I miss the smell of baking bread….

    Sue

    • Sue, you’ve got to try this recipe! I’ve even taught it at gf cooking classes -it’s not hard, I promise!
      It’s so totally yummy and will fill your home with that amazing yeast bread smell … I’m making it this week again and so excited to do it! I think I may even add some diced apples … ok, I’m really getting hungry now! : )