Gluten-free challah represents a bit of a ‘Holy Grail’ for #GF Jews. There’s no obvious substitute for tearing apart and sharing bread with your friends and family, and for many who are gluten intolerant, it becomes painfully obvious each Friday at sundown when they must hover for Shabbat prayers around a cutting board bearing a hot, delicious braided challah.
One writer stated, “The first time I had to sing the hamotzi over a rice cracker while everyone else ripped apart the bread, I cried.”
Edited to add: I was recently ‘schooled’ on my #GF flours – and spelt is a TYPE OF WHEAT!!! Leave it to the non-GF girlfriend to blow it! So it is NOT GF! Further… my Tom Sawyer Flour is made of RICE flour (I suppose that’s sort of an ancient grain) not spelt, at all. And while I could simply change all the text to reflect my new found information, I’d rather remain transparent and let you all know, I’ve learned from my mistakes! So while my friends won’t be crying over their rice buns they may be breaking their rice flour challah if they follow my recipe!
And I know there are a good many others who’d enjoy a yummy Challah or brioche that is GLUTEN FREE! There is such a deep and abiding cultural importance to baking bread, steeped in rich traditions for our family and we longed to find a bread we could share with every family member during the holiday. Challah is a very specific style and type of bread – and one I feared would not translate to ancient grains. But the more I speculated, the more excited I became at the concept. Hello? Ancient Grains. Ancient recipes. Duh. Spelt! BUT – :::screeching brakes sound::: what about that innate ‘rippability’ that only the best challah embodies? Would spelt flour give me that? I have Tom Sawyer’s GF flour that is made entirely with spelt! *edited above now that we have learned first our flour is not made from spelt but rice and second that SPELT is NOT Gluten Free
The result? My gluten-eating husband and our entire gluten-eating family here at home, have declared it ‘delicious’ and even used some for french toast the following morning. But the most important thing, the best part is: You can rip it apart with your hands! So my Celiac, #GF pals – don’t spend another Shabbat breaking rice buns apart! Here’s a recipe everyone can love and embrace for the approaching holiday season.
♦♦ 2 and ¼ cups warm water
♦♦ 1/3 cup organic honey
♦♦ Tablespoon Dry Active Yeast
♦♦ 3 organic eggs, whisked
♦♦ 1 organic egg, whisked (for brushing)
♦♦ ¼ tsp Kosher salt
♦♦ A little over ¼ cup extra virgin coconut oil (We like Tropical Traditions)
♦♦ 7 ½ cups organic GF flour (We like Tom’s)
In mixing bowl (we use our Kitchenaid stand mixer), mix warm water, yeast and honey together and set aside. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam. Mix 3 eggs, salt and oil into the yeast.
Stir in the flour. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth.
Lightly grease a large bowl with butter or oil. Add the dough and turn to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. (Longer if the weather is cooler, less time if it is warmer.)
Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl with a fork or whisk.
Punch down the dough. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll each into a 12-inch rope. Place 3 ropes side-by-side on a greased baking sheet. Begin to braid in the middle of the ropes and braid to one end. Turn the baking sheet around and braid from the middle to the other end. Repeat with the remaining ropes. Brush the loaves with the egg. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until the loaves are doubled in size.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 30 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown. Remove the loaves from the baking sheets and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Serve. (This recipe can make up to 4 loaves)