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Jewish holidays have wonderful traditions, many involving food. One of my favorites to make is gluten free challah, a yeasted egg bread that is served on religious occasions and at ceremonies, although not typically gluten free. Challah is not just reserved for these special meals, though. It’s a wonderful treat for anyone at any time of year, especially now that you have this wonderful gluten free version to make and enjoy!
In fact, it’s not only a truly delicious bread, it’s also one that will impress any guest or crowd. The braids merely look like it took a skillful baker to weave, but that can be our little secret. When made with my gfJules™ flour, these braids will be such a nice surprise to work with! The dough will be unlike any gluten free dough you’ve worked with before — soft and pliable, not brittle. You’ll be making beautiful gluten- and dairy-free challah that will have everyone marveling at your baking prowess! See how flexible this dough is in this quick time lapse how-to video on braiding bread.
Feel free to skip the apples and raisins, or add your own toppings like sesame seeds and sea salt (as pictured below). Or braid into a crown! The eggs in this bread help to keep it moist and fresh for days, thus, on the off-chance there are any leftovers, enjoy it with hummus, peanut butter, honey, or plain (or make French Toast!). Fitting that it is the manna that just keeps giving!
*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.
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 (start with 1/3 cup), 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, 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 equal-sized balls (6 balls total). Roll each ball out into an 18-inch coil or log on a clean, flat surface very dusted lightly with gfJules™ All Purpose 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 long braid.
Gently transfer braid to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat for the second set of three balls. You may divide the dough into as many balls as you like, counting on at least 3 balls per loaf. Roll each to equal lengths of coil and braid into 1, 2, or 4 loaves.
In a small bowl, mix the extra egg together with a splash of water and brush over each loaf well, coating the entire top surface. Sprinkle the fruit 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 at least 20 – 30 minutes.
Once risen at least slightly, place the uncovered tray in an oven preheated to 350º F (static) or 325º F (convection) for 20 minutes (less time for smaller loaves). Remove to cool on a wire rack.
This gluten free recipe and 149 more can be found in my newest book, Free for All Cooking: 150 Easy Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Recipes the Whole Family Can Enjoy.
Find more gluten free Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur recipes here on gfJules.com!