Growing up on New York’s Long Island, many of my closest childhood friends fell into one of two broad categories: Italian Catholic or Jewish. As a result, though raised in a Christian household I knew my Jewish prayers just as well as my Our Fathers and Hail Marys. I often spent Shabbat dinners at friends’ houses on Friday nights, celebrated holidays such as Rosh Hashanah with them, and as we all approached our early teenage years, attended more bar and bat mitzvahs than I could count.
A consistent theme weaving all those events together was challah, a traditional, braided, Jewish egg bread.
When this month’s Gluten-Free Ratio Rally tackled bread as its theme, I just knew we had to come up with our own version of challah. It’s been on our to-do list for much too long, and this was the perfect excuse.
Though we let our bread brown just a bit too much, that result was purely cosmetic. The bread otherwise turned out fantastic. It is moist, tender, slightly sweet, slightly eggy … just as good challah bread should be. It’s great on its own, or used for sandwiches, or for French toast, or whatever.
As for our final ratio, this one didn’t turn out nearly as cleanly as previous Ratio Rallies. Our challah ingredients by weight ended up with roughly 7.5 parts flour, 4.5 parts water, 4 parts eggs, 1.5 parts honey, and 1 part butter (plus a few additional items, such as yeast, salt, and xanthan gum). But that’s life.
And while you’re at it, be sure to check out Cooking Gluten-Free!, where Karen is this month’s Ratio Rally host. There you’ll find links to more than a dozen other beautiful breads, including sandwich bread, boule, naan, and more.
You can also check out past posts here on No Gluten, No Problem for other bread recipes, including pumpernickel bagels, Irish soda bread, sandwich bread, baguettes, and rosemary focaccia, to name a few.
Makes 1 large loaf
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp yeast
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup melted butter
200g (4 large) eggs
375g (3 cups) Artisan Gluten-Free Flour Blend
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1 egg + 1 tsp water (for an egg wash)
1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warm water, add the yeast, and let proof until the yeast is nice and active, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the honey, melted butter, and eggs.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, and salt.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well to form a smooth wet dough.
5. Brush a silicone challah mold with oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the dough.
6. Cover and let rise for one hour in a warm place, until the dough roughly doubles in size.
7. Toward the end of the rise, preheat your oven to 375 deg F.
8. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn out of the mold onto a baking sheet. Brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash, then return to the oven for an additional 15 to 18 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the internal temperature reaches about 190 deg F.
If your loaf begins to brown too quickly in the oven, you can always cover it with a piece of foil.
UPDATE: Since several folks have asked … We bought our silicone challah mold through Amazon. It works wonderfully! If you’re not committed to the braided shape for the bread, you could use a variety of other pans, such as bundt, tube (angel food cake), and similar. Just make sure you have enough room for the dough plus the doubling in size during the rise.
Degrees of Free-dom
This recipe is: gluten-free, peanut-free, tree-nut-free, fish-free, shellfish-free, soy-free.
This recipe is also effectively refined-sugar-free. To make it fully so, substitute honey or similar for the 1 tbsp sugar during the yeast proofing.
To make this recipe dairy/lactose/casein-free (important if you’re going to make your challah parve kosher): substitute canola oil or similar for the melted butter.