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.
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 with my gfJules Flour. I have a whole tab of recipes dedicated to homemade gluten free bread recipes that are arguably better than — or at least as good as! — their gluten counterparts and are certainly quicker and easier to make!
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.
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!
The secret is that compared to making gluten breads, 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!
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.
Click on photo to see a quick video on how to braid this gluten free bread.
If you’re looking to make this gluten free challah crown hamotzi (made from the five species of grains — wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oat — oat being the only one that is gluten free) by using 51% oat flour, I would recommend using a molded challah pan since it will be more difficult to braid without using all gfJules Flour. I have heard from readers that even at only 49% gfJules Flour though, they have been able to braid this dough, just not quite as easily.
1) fill challah molds only 1/2 way to 2/3 with dough 2) rise in pan 3) bake 15 minutes in pan then turn out to bake 5 minutes on baking sheet
If you do choose to use a molded challah pan, you may have too much dough for the pan, so plan to put the extra dough in a loaf pan or even in muffin pans to make extra rolls with it.
poppy seeds, sesame seeds, raisins, diced apples or other toppings or mix-ins (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 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 (remaining 5 Tbs water, yogurt, cider vinegar, egg yolks, oil, honey) and mix until combined.
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl (gfJules Flour; 3Tbs + 2 tsp. sugar; salt, baking soda, baking powder).
After 5 minutes of proofing, stir in the bubbling 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 the dry ingredients into the wet until fully integrated, adding more warm water by the tablespoon only 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, add more warm water then mix 1-2 minutes more on medium speed to integrate the additional water. The dough should be workable; keep in mind you will be braiding it, so it can't be too loose or too tight (think of Goldilocks dough!)
Once the dough is combined, divide it in half and divide each half into three equal-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 one to 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. If you have trouble rolling because you've used too much flour, dab a bit of water onto the counter or mat.
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 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 the coil 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 (at room temperature) together and brush over each loaf, coating the entire 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.
*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.
**for a vegan egg-substitute, check my comprehensive vegan substitutes article for ideas. I have not tried anything in this recipe yet myself, but I would lean toward aquafaba or a combination that would include vegan mayo and commercial egg substitutes.
***Another option I've been playing with in this recipe to reduce unsightly pocking from the yeast is to add 1 Tbs psyllium husk + 2 Tbs water and to use regular yeast, not quick rise yeast. I will continue to add notes from my experiments; please add yours in the comments!