Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gluten Free Round Challah

It's the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana) tonight, and round challah bread is a traditional holiday food. The roundness of the challah symbolizes the circular nature of time, the fact that one year ends and another begins.

Several years ago I was determined to serve a gluten free challah for Rosh Hashana. I tried five different recipes, all of which came out wrong. Some looked pretty but tasted awful, while others tasted reasonable but baked up completely flat and failed to resemble a challah at all. And then I found this recipe from Gluten Free Sox Fan. The dough it made was sufficiently workable that I could actually create a nice round shape and the resulting bread was a decent approximation of challah.
I won't lie to you - it's not as good as the real thing. The bread is denser and less fluffy than real challah bread. But, it was good enough that when I served it to a table full of non-GF people, they all ate it and asked for seconds. 

Shana Tova!

Gluten Free Round Challah 

Ingredients (for one medium sized challah): 

- 1 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
- 1 egg
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
- 3/4 cup brown rice flour
- 3/4 cup white rice flour
- 1/2 cup corn starch
- 1/2 cup tapioca starch
- 1/4 cup potato starch
- 1 tablespoon xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, beaten, for egg wash (I used egg yolk, just because I had some left over from another recipe)


1. Put the warm water, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and set aside until the yeast begins to rise and bubble (a few minutes).

2. In another small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, oil and vinegar (the egg may take on a strange consistency. This is fine).

3. In a large mixer bowl combine the brown rice flour, white rice flour, corn starch, tapioca starch, potato starch, xanthan gum and salt. Mix for a minute or so just to combine. Add the egg mixture and the yeast mixture, and knead using your mixer's dough hook until a dough is formed. (If you don't have a mixer, you can do this using a spoon/hands).

4. Lightly flour a piece of parchment paper with GF flour. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and turn into a ball. Oil a bowl (I used the used mixer bowl) and put the dough in it, rolling it in the oil to coat. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rise about 30 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.

5. Preheat oven to 350 F/175 C. Line a baking tin with parchment paper. Gently take the oily dough out of the bowl and form into a rough circle. I found the dough was slightly difficult to work with, but sufficiently handable that it was possible to create a round shape, albeit not a very perfect one. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise again for about 20 minutes. 

6. Brush the challah with egg wash, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the challah looks ready and makes a slightly hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.



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