Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Best Gluten-Free Challah Recipe You'll Find

Best-Ever Gluten-Free HaMotzi Challah Recipe

Nearly two years ago I posted up a few of the recipes I was relying on for making gluten-free hamotzi challah (meaning bread that I could wash and say a blessing on for Shabbat). I don't make or eat this bread during the week, because it'd be too expensive and time consuming, but for Shabbat it's important to have bread you can make a bracha (blessing) on. I've gone through a dozen different recipes, flour mixes, even trying Bob's Red Mill's new 1-for-1 gluten-free mix, all with terrible luck.

The facts:
  • For challah (or matzah for that matter) to be hamotzi, it needs to include at least 51 percent of one of the following grains: barley, wheat, oats, spelt, or rye. (See this article for their take on oat matzah.)
  • Gluten-free oats are those that are grown in dedicated fields and produced in dedicated facilities. (Traditionally, oats are grown in fields surrounded by wheat, creating cross contamination.)
  • Many people can't eat even gluten-free oats, despite the fact that it has been proven time and time again that the gluten in oats is not like that of barley, wheat, spelt (a type of wheat), and rye. 
  • Spelt is not gluten free. It is in the wheat family.
  • Gluten-free challah is, in my experience, unbraidable because the consistency of the dough is akin to cake batter, not traditional bread dough. For this reason, I recommend getting a mold you love, like the Kosher Cook's "challet" silicone pan, which is what I used for this recipe. 
And now, with our further ado, the recipe that I have been perfecting in my kitchen, that Asher prefers to regular challah and that was recently a hit at a friend's conference.

I've separated the recipe out in a way that makes sense to me. I like to see everything in parts -- ingredients (wet and dry), mixing, rising, and baking. It just makes more sense to me because then I can plan out how long things will take and what kind of attention I need. Ultimately, this recipe is very low fuss.

The Only Gluten-free Challah Recipe You'll Ever Need
Makes 4 challets

Ingredients: Get everything measured and mixed beforehand, lest your yeast/sugar mixture go crazy. 

For the Rise
  • 2¼ tsp dry yeast or 1 envelope
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
Dry Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups GF oat flour (I grind my own)
  • ½ cup GF rice flour
  • ¼ cup GF potato starch
  • ¼ cup GF tapioca flour
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
Wet Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 large eggs
For Baking
  • 1 egg yolk
Mixing (10 minutes)
  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 (I do it all by hand, folks, but feel free to use your mixer). The mixture will be a little runny, but shouldn't be too runny. UPDATE: I found that using my KitchenAid and having it run with the whisk attachment for about five minutes got a lot of air in the dough, which made it rise better and it turned out to be much lighter and tastier as a result. 
  8. Turn the oven off. 
Rising (~ 2 hours)
  1. First Rise: 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 pans -- small loaf pans work, but I use the challet pan, and this recipe makes 4 challets.
  4. Turn the oven off.
  5. Second Rise: Cover the pan(s), return back to the warm (but off) oven, and let rise again for another 40 minutes or so, until the dough has doubled.
  6. Remove the rising challah from the oven. 
Baking (~ 30-35 minutes)
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. 
  2. Part One: Bake uncovered at 375°F for 15 minutes.
  3. Line a cookie sheet with the parchment paper you used to cover the dough. 
  4. Remove pans from oven and invert half-baked loaves onto the cookie sheet. They should be solid at this point. 
  5. Lightly glaze loaves with the egg yolk, then return to oven.
  6. Part Two: Bake uncovered at 375°F for 15-20 minutes. You'll want the tops to have a nice, golden brown coloring. 
  7. Move to wire rack to cool.
Enjoy! Let me know if you have any trouble with this recipe. I edited it a million times to get it here.