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The wait is over. If you love challah but have struggled to make it gluten-free, you are in for a real treat!
Let’s say “amen,” because I have figured out how to make a delicious gluten-free challah recipe that everyone will love … even your overly-critical gluten-eating friends.
This post includes my gluten-free challah recipe so you can finally say “Shabbat Shalom” with a hamotzi-worthy challah bread made without the gluten protein (and without the tummy aches and urgent bathroom runs too).
Please note that my gluten-free challah recipe is free from gluten, corn, dairy, soy and can be made egg-free too (which is my preferred method because it offers up the best result).
Oh, and if you’re not in the mood to make gluten-free challah from scratch, take a look at these gluten-free challah mixes. They’re AWESOME!
How My Gluten-Free Challah Recipe Came to Be
On my quest to find a good gluten-free challah recipe, I found an article on Kveller.com about how challah can only be “taken” if made with one of the five grains mentioned in the Torah. The five grains mentioned are barley, rye, wheat, oat, and spelt.
As you can see, the only gluten-free grain of the five is oat.
Apparently bread made from other gluten-free grains (like rice and buckwheat) can be Kosher, but you cannot say, “hamotzi” or call it a challah. I had no idea!
Verid Meir, the author of the article at Kveller.com, says she consulted with her rabbi who told her that the oat flour must be at minimum 51 percent of the total flour content in the bread in order for it to be considered a challah.
So that’s what Meir, and many Jews like me, have attempted to do. Make a challah that contains at least 51 percent oat flour.
Gluten-free flour isn’t always easy to find as not all mainstream grocery stores carry it. Thank goodness for Amazon! Here is the exact gluten-free oat flour I use.
I will discuss the other ingredients needed in a bit, but it’s important to note that this gluten-free challah recipe is sticky. Oh-so-sticky! You cannot braid it let alone handle it without it sticking to your fingers.
And that’s why you need a Challah Mold Pan…
I may not get to eat “real” challah, but I still want my challah to look like a challah! So I bought this awesome challah-shaped mold pan.
I simply put my dough into the pan after mixing it and allow the dough to rise inside the challah mold pan. Once the dough rises, I bake it. You can see my pan has been used a lot as it’s starting to show some wear and tear. It may look funky, but it still works like a charm!
Alternatively, I found this beautiful stainless steel challah mold pan. I recently purchased it to see how it works. I’ll report back to you after I’ve used it a few times. This challah mold pan is also beautiful and has the Hebrew letters for “Shabbat Shalom” imprinted on it. Lots of options – good luck deciding!
How to Make Gluten-Free Challah
You’ll see this recipe requires quite a few ingredients, but once you get the hang of making it, it’s really easy to do.
The first thing you’ll want to do is assemble all your ingredients. In addition to the challah-shaped mold pan, you’ll also need a few key flours. Remember, you cannot substitute any old rice flour for wheat flour, rather you need to combine a variety of starches and flours to get the just-right texture.
Also, in order for it to be hamotzi-worthy challah, you must use gluten-free oat flour vs. a 1-to-1 gluten-free flour blend.
Here are the flours you need to make this recipe:
- Gluten-Free Oat Flour – Make sure it’s gluten-free oat flour; regular oat flour is not safe.
- Tapioca Flour – This is super starchy, like potato starch, and will give the challah a chewy texture.
- Brown Rice Flour – Brown rice flour is readily available in most grocery stores.
- Xanthan Gum – This is required to help bind all the ingredients together. Don’t skip it!
- Flaxseed Meal – You’ll need flaxseed meal if you want to make this recipe egg-free, which is my preferred method.
As mentioned, you can make this gluten-free challah recipe with eggs or egg-free with flax eggs. I’ve made this recipe with eggs and personally I don’t think it’s as good as when I make it with the flax egg mixture. The flax egg mixture adds a nice chewy texture to the bread.
To make one flax egg, simply combine one tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal with three tablespoons of warm water. Let the mixture sit for five minutes. (Note: You’ll need two flax eggs for this recipe, so two tablespoons of flaxseed meal + six tablespoons of warm water.)
After five minutes, the flax will gel and voila, you have a flax egg to use in lieu of a regular egg.
While your flaxseed egg is gelling, combine warm water, yeast and honey in the bowl of your standing mixer. Allow it to sit and bubble for about five minutes.
Combine all your dry ingredients in a separate bowl in the meantime.
Once the yeast mixture is a bit bubbly, add all the wet ingredients – oil, flaxseed egg, and apple cider vinegar – to the yeast mixture, then, very slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients while mixing on low until everything is well combined. Mixture will be ultra-sticky!
Add your dough to your challah mold pan (or any bread pan will work), cover it with a dishtowel, and let it rise for 90 minutes to two hours (longer okay too). Warm conditions will allow the bread to rise more quickly.
Then bake the bread for about 40 minutes until slightly brown and solid. Leave it in your pan for 10 minutes to cool before putting it on a wire rack to fully cool.
I’ve been gluten-free for so long that I’ve lost the taste of real challah; however, to me, this challah is quite tasty. It’s doughy on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside. I love the spongy texture personally – it’s got GREAT mouthfeel.
What do you think? Please leave a comment below.
Gluten-Free Challah Options and Tips
Here are a few tips to make your gluten-free challah making a success.
Tip #1: I realize that not everyone is in the challah-making mood, but many of you sure would love a gluten-free challah on your Shabbos table. Take a look at these awesome gluten-free challah mixes by Blends by Orly. (Please note some of the mixes come in a box and others come in the pouch packaging.)
I made the Blends By Orly gluten-free challah mix and loved how they turned out. The challah tastes like delicious challah to me! Please note that the Blends By Orly does not contain enough oat flour to be hamotzi-worthy. That said, it gives you that flavor and look of challah you might be going for. PLUS, Blends By Orly is braidable (whereas my gluten-free challah recipe is not).
Tip #2: If you want to make a sweet gluten-free challah (let’s say, for Rosh Hashanah), I suggest adding about 1/2 cup of applesauce to the mixture as well as 1 cup of raisins. You can bake the challah in your mold pan, or in a round bundt pan for a more festive feel. I suggest doubling the recipe if you’re cooking it in a bundt pan.
Related Article: Gluten-Free Sweet Raisin Challah Recipe
Tip #3: The dry ingredients can be a pain to assemble each week, so I measure out all the dry ingredients and put them into zip top bags. Then, when I’m ready to make challah, all the measuring is done. I just empty the bag into the wet ingredients and am set! I usually make 8-10 bags every few months, enough to last me for several months of Shabbats!
Tip #4: Finally, my last tip is if you’re making gluten-free challah just for you (not to share with others), divide the dough into mini loaves. You can use this mini loaf pan to do it. Let the dough rise in the pan, then bake it up and freeze each mini challah. please note you’ll need to adjust your baking time. Check it after 15-20 minutes for doneness. Come Shabbat, take one out of the freezer just for you!
However you “slice” it, I hope you enjoy this gluten-free challah recipe as much as me. It truly is my go-to challah recipe and is beloved by so many of my friends and family.
Enjoy and Shabbat Shalom!
Gluten-Free Challah Recipe
- Challah mold pan
- 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 Tbsp flaxseed meal
- 6 Tbsp warm water
- 1/4 cup avocado or vegetable oil of choice
- 1/4 cup applesauce optional, but recommended (see notes)
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free oat flour 200 grams
- 1 cup tapioca starch/flour 140 grams
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour 40 grams
- 1 Tbsp xanthan gum
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- Add yeast, 1 1/4 cup of warm water and honey to the bowl of your standing mixer. Whisk together by hand and allow the mixture to bubble for a few minutes to activate the yeast.
- While the yeast is activating, in a small bowl, combine flaxseed meal with six tablespoons of warm water to make your flaxseed eggs. Mix and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine the oat flour, tapioca flour, brown rice flour, xanthan gum and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
- Add oil, flax eggs, applesauce and apple cider vinegar to the yeast/water mixture.
- With your mixer running on low, slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until well combined.
- Add dough to a lightly greased challah mold pan (or any loaf pan will work). Cover dough with a clean dish towel and let it rise for at least two hours.
- Preheat oven to 375º F and bake for about 40 minutes until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack. Shabbat Shalom!