easy gluten free challah tutorial

I’ve been using a recipe from Chaviva Gordon-Bennett’s blog (“the best gluten free challah recipe you’ll find!“) since the beginning of 2015, and I’ve come up with a few ways to streamline and simplify it. If you thought gluten free challah was overwhelming, give this one a try! It’s easy enough that I’ve been able to make it every week, even with three little berries underfoot. =)

This recipe is designed to be baked in a silicone challah pan like this one or this one. If you’re interested in making gluten free challah, these pans are pretty essential! They give the loaves a beautiful “braided” look – a huge help since gluten free bread dough is a lot like cookie dough, almost impossible to braid by hand.

One of the things I love about this recipe is that the ingredients are super simple, and there’s very few of them! You’ll need active dry yeast, sugar, oats (or oat flour), a basic all purpose gluten free flour blend (preferably containing xanthan gum, otherwise add it separately), salt, honey, oileggs, and almond milk.

A note about the oats: I buy gluten free oats from Trader Joe’s, empty the whole bag into my food processor, grind it into oat flour, and then put it all back in the bag for storage. If you need to make your oat flour, go ahead and do that first. 

 

When you’re ready to get the bread started, set up your kitchen counter with three mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, a liquid measuring cup, and a hand mixer (with whisk attachment).

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

Put 2 cups of oat flour in your largest mixing bowl…

…and then another quarter cup.

You can see my oat flour isn’t perfectly smooth. The food processor definitely gives it a coarse grind. Running the oats through a high speed blender or buying oat flour from a place like Earth Fare or Whole Foods would be good options if you want yours to be more finely ground. I’m satisfied with this method for now, but I’ll probably keep experimenting with it.

Next, spoon your all purpose flour into a one cup measure and level it off with a knife.

Now add a teaspoon of salt to the bowl…

…and then another half teaspoon.

And we’re done with the first bowl! Set it aside for now.

Let’s move on to the middle mixing bowl. Put in a quarter cup of oil. Note: I’ve found that almost any oil will work pretty well here. I’ve used canola, olive, and grapeseed before. I think I liked the grapeseed best because it’s light. Olive oil gives the bread a lot more weight. The original recipe calls for canola oil, so if you have that on hand, go ahead and use it. 

And with the same measuring cup, add a quarter cup of honey.

Now use your liquid measure for half a cup of warm water…

…and half a cup of almond milk.

Last, add two eggs to the bowl.

Done with the second bowl! Set this one aside too.

In the smallest bowl, put two teaspoons of yeast…

…and another quarter teaspoon of yeast.

Now add a teaspoon of granulated sugar…

…and a quarter cup of warm water.

That’s it! Now we’re ready to move on. Using a whisk, mix everything in the smallest bowl together.

Do the same thing with the middle bowl…

…and the largest bowl.

Your three bowls should look like this:

Add the wet ingredients in the middle bowl to your largest bowl and stir together.

When you’ve combined the wet and dry bowls, add the smallest bowl. By now the yeast should have had a few minutes to start bubbling.

The bowls and utensils we used can be moved out of the way now.

Your bowl should look like this:

Take your hand mixer with the whisk attachment…

…and mix on a medium high speed for five minutes.

The dough will thicken as you mix it. After five minutes, scrape down the sides, cover it with parchment paper or a clean towel, and put it in the oven. IMPORTANT: turn the oven off!

Set your timer for an hour.

This challah recipe was the first time I heard about preheating the oven for a rise. In the past, I’ve set yeast breads in the (cold) oven or on the counter to rise, but gluten free flour is pretty heavy, and it was never very successful. Warming the oven up is such a clever idea!

After the first rise, your bowl should look like this:

Scrape down the sides again and stir it a bit.

Now take your challah mold, and spray it VERY thoroughly with cooking spray. This will make a big difference later! Divide the dough into four “challette” molds.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees again, let it warm up, and then put your challah back in the oven. I use a small sheet pan underneath.

IMPORTANT: turn the oven off! Set your timer for 30 minutes.

After the second rise, take your dough out of the oven. It should have risen to the top of the pan.

 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and bake the challah for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, it will look like this:

Now – this sounds tricky but it’s really not too hard – take your challah mold off the sheet pan, and flip the mold over.

The loaves should slide right out. (if they don’t, use a little more cooking spray next time.)

Next, there’s a totally optional step to glaze the loaves. I’ve made this bread plenty of times without glazing, so it’s not necessary but it makes the loaves toastier on top. If you want to try it, whisk an egg yolk in a small bowl.

Brush the beaten egg yolk on each loaf. Fingers work too if you don’t have a brush!

Return the pan to your oven for another 10 minutes.

Pull it out after 10 minutes, and you’re done! Move the loaves to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes.

Ready to serve!

I usually serve two loaves on our challah tray for dinner Friday night, and save the other two for breakfast the next morning. After a day or two the bread starts to dry out, but the loaves are small enough that we finish them before the weekend is over. =)

Hope this is helpful! Shabbat shalom!


 

Ingredients: 
  • 2¼ tsp dry yeast or 1 envelope
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 2 ¼ cups GF oat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose GF flour blend, with xanthan gum
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 large eggs
  • (optional) 1 egg yolk
Mixing:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°F.
  2. Dissolve the teaspoon of sugar in the ¼ cup warm water. Add the yeast, mix well with a fork for about 15 seconds, and set aside until frothy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Measure and combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, getting rid of clumps.
  4. Combine the honey, oil, milk, eggs, and warm water.
  5. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture slowly and mix to combine.
  6. Add the yeast mixture from the first step.
  7. Mix well for 3-5 minutes using a hand mixer with whisk attachment.
  8. Turn the oven off.
Rising: 
  1. Cover the dough bowl with parchment paper and leave in the warm (but off!) oven for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
  2. Take the bowl out and turn the oven back on to preheat to 200°F.
  3. Stir the dough down and spoon into your lightly greased challah pan or small loaf pans.
  4. Turn the oven off.
  5. Cover the pan, return back to the warm (but off) oven, and let rise again for another 30 minutes, until the dough reaches the top of your pan.
  6. Remove the rising challah from the oven.
Baking: 
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove pans from oven and invert half-baked loaves onto the cookie sheet. They should be solid at this point.
  4. Lightly glaze loaves with the egg yolk, then return to oven.
  5. Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes.
  6. Move to wire rack to cool.
// cookware sources: Williams Sonoma melamine mixing bowls, Williams Sonoma metal measuring cups, Pyrex liquid measuring cup, Breville hand mixer, OXO whisk, The Kosher Cook silicone baking pan,  nonstick baking sheet, Spode Judaica challah tray  

 

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