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Rosh Hashanah is one of my favorite Jewish holidays for many reasons.
First, it’s the New Year, so it offers up the time and space for reflection. Unlike the calendar New Year, which comes after the December holiday rush, the Jewish New Year is typically in September or October. The timing offers a quieter, less busy time to really reflect on the past year and think about what I want to do for the year ahead.
I also love Rosh Hashanah because everything tastes sweet. I have a royal sweet tooth, so this holiday is right up my alley! Everything Jews eat on Rosh Hashanah should include a touch of sweetness… including the challah.
Challah is a very important food in the Jewish culture. It is traditionally served every Shabbat, and our Jewish ancestors have been eating challah literally for for centuries.
One of the difficult parts of being gluten-free is not being able to enjoy the mitzvah of challah. That’s because challah is typically full of gluten. In order for a challah to be used at a meal, it must contain one of the five grains mentioned in the Torah. These grains include wheat (gluten), barley (gluten), rye (gluten), spelt (gluten) and oat (gluten-free, but only if certified GF).
When you make gluten-free challah, it must therefore contain 51 percent certified gluten-free oat flour in order for it to be “hamotzi approved” challah.
I use Bob’s Red Mill’s certified gluten-free oat flour, which you can find on Amazon, to make my gluten-free sweet raisin challah recipe. You’ll also need gluten-free tapioca flour, gluten-free brown rice flour, and xanthan gum. I buy all of these gluten-free flours from Bob’s Red Mill because it’s easy to find and I trust the brand.
Read more about what makes a gluten-free challah approved for the mitzvah of taking challah here.
During Rosh Hashanah, I make my wonderful gluten-free challah recipe so I can enjoy the mitzvah of challah. It’s definitely a labor of love.
In addition to following my normal gluten-free challah recipe, I add in a few sweet twists to make the holiday a little more more festive… and sweet.
For starters, I add applesauce to the recipe. When I make the two flax eggs, which are made by combining 2 tablespoons of warm water + 6 tablespoons of water, I swap out water and use applesauce instead. The flax-applesauce egg is a little thicker, but it definitely adds that wonderful touch of sweetness to the challah. (If you feel like it’s just too thick, add a little water – it won’t hurt the recipe at all.)
I prefer using flax eggs over regular eggs anyway. Several of my friends are egg-free, many people in the allergy community are egg-free, and well, I’ve made this recipe both ways and I promise you, the challah is way more doughy with the flax egg vs. egg.
Additionally, for Rosh Hashanah, I add 1/2 cup of raisins. Raisins are sweet so they elevate this gluten-free sweet raisin challah recipe. You can add as many raisins as you want (go for it!), but I have found 1/2 cup of raisins works well in the recipe.
Furthermore, I like to make my Rosh Hashanah challah round vs. in a long braid shape. The reason for this is simple: The round shape is symbolic of a year that has come full circle – a full year. Another thought is that it looks like a crown for crowning G-d as king on Rosh Hashanah according to this article in NPR.
My gluten-free challah recipe is too sticky to shape yourself, so I recommend you use a round mold pan. My friend Shayna has this wonderful round mold pan I like to borrow (right Shayna?), however, I have not found this pan myself. So if you want a round challah, simply use a bundt pan. Add the sticky dough to a lightly greased bundt pan, allow it time to rise, and bake it directly in the pan to maintain the round shape.
In order to fill up an entire bundt, double the recipe (plus, you’ll want a larger loaf because everyone will want to eat your gluten-free challah, I guarantee it!).
Regardless, if you’re gluten-free, you DO NOT have to miss out on the mitzvah of taking challah. Instead, you can make this delicious, doughy and totally Kosher gluten-free sweet raisin challah recipe and be a part of the fun and sweet celebration of the day. L’shana Tova!
Gluten-Free Sweet Raisin Challah Recipe:
Gluten-Free Sweet Raisin Challah
- 1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 Tbsp flaxseed meal
- 6 Tbsp applesauce
- 1/4 cup avocado or vegetable oil of choice
- 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
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Add yeast, warm water and honey in the bowl of your standing mixer. Whisk together and allow the mixture to bubble for a few minutes.
- Combine flax and applesauce in a separate, small bowl. Mix well and allow mixture to rest for 3-4 minutes.
- Add oil, sweet flax eggs and apple cider vinegar and mix together until incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, combine oat flour, tapioca flour, brown rice flour, xanthan gum and salt. Mix together.
- Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until well incorporated.
- Add raisins to dough and mix by hand until well incorporated. (You can add more raisins to the dough if you like.)
- Add dough to a lightly greased loaf pan (or even better, use a challah mold pan, which you can find on Amazon).
- Cover dough with a clean dishtowel and let it rise for at least two hours.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake challah for about 40-45 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack. L'Shana Tova!