We eat traditional foods on Rosh Hashanah – challah dipped in honey (symbolizing the hope for a sweet new year) and desserts made with honey and fruit, like apples and pomegranates. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year begins at the end of this month.
When I was a kid, Rosh Hashanah food shopping was like a treasure hunt. My favorite adventure was going to Snowflake Bakery to collect a holiday challah and honey cake. The line went out the door and down the sidewalk. The entire east side of the city came to get their holiday challah – baked in a circle rather than the traditional braided loaf. The circle, an important symbol for the holiday represents the cycle of life. Read more about that here.
It is tough being a Celiac or gluten intolerant on such a significant holiday. There are few resources for gluten-free baked goods that are made for Rosh Hashanah. Luckily it is easy to make these goodies at home.
These next few weeks the GF Canteen will bring you recipes for GF Challah, Honey Cake, Apple Honey Upside Down Cake, Kichel and Pomegranate Apple Fig Tart. Each recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free and easy to prepare.
Of course, you don’t need to save the recipes for a Jewish Holiday. Challah is a wonderful egg bread, like brioche and can be used for making fabulous GF french toast or bread pudding. The honey cake is a change from other quick breads, and it makes fantastic GF Madeleine cookies. Apple Honey Upside Down Cake and Apple Fig Tart are great autumn desserts. Because we bake by weight, you can make them just as easily with AP flour. There’s something for everyone.
Our challah recipe is adapted from Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook here. If you are not familiar with Joan’s work, you should be. Her books are an important part of our cooking library. On Facebook there is a group led by Joan called Jewish Cooking – a very useful resource. The method for preparing the challah is similar to the one we used for making the GF Canteen English Muffins here.
There are some things you will encounter when making the challah. Like most GF bread the dough is more like a batter, a very sticky, tacky and slightly annoying batter because it will not just slide off the sides of bowl without help, nor will it pour into the baking pan. Smooth it out using a spatula coated in cooking spray when pushing it into the baking pan.
Coating it with the egg wash during the final rise helps create the familiar challah crust which is neither crusty, nor thick. Challah has a thin, mostly shiny egg crust. You can abbreviate the recipe and bake it after only one rise by starting it out in the bread pan, but it won’t have that fully developed yeast flavor that you want in the final product. It is worth the time to do the two-rise method for this bread – GF bread needs all the help it can get.
Happy baking and L’shana tova!
|Challah, Gluten Free||
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) warm water
- 1 heaping tablespoon yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 454 grams GF flour (this is the best mix for this recipe: 151 grams superfine brown rice flour, 101 grams superfine white rice flour, 202 grams tapioca flour) (about 3.5 cups total) (1.25 cups brown, .75 cup white rice, 1.5 cups tapioca)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- scant 1.5 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 4 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks, room temperature plus 1 whole egg for brushing before baking
- 60 grams (1/3 cup) vegetable oil
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- white sesame seeds or poppy seeds for the topping
- Mix yeast with the warm water and sugar and proof about 5-10 minutes until really foamy. Add honey to the (foamy) yeast mixture and stir thoroughly. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, weigh the flours together. Add the salt and xanthan gum and mix on low for about 15 seconds.
- Mix 4 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks with the oil in a small container. Add both the yeast mixture and egg mixture to the large bowl with the flour. Mix on low until the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Mix on medium high for 2 minutes. Scrape down sides – mix another minute. The batter will be very sticky at this point. Scrape the dough/batter into the center and place a greased (use spray or oil) parchment pape directly on the dough to cover during the first rise. Let the dough/batter rise for about two hours in a warm spot or until doubled. Punch down and mix again on medium speed for another two minutes.
- Place dough/batter in a well sprayed or oiled 9 inch round cake pan or tube cake pan (for this holiday, a round pan is important). Mix 1 egg with a splash of water and brush on the dough liberally. Let dough/batter rise uncovered until doubled.
- Preheat oven to 375. Brush dough/batter (gently – you don’t want to deflate it) liberally with egg wash and cover with your choice of seeds. Bake 30 minutes until bread sounds hollow and top is golden brown. The internal temperature should be about 200F degrees.
- Remove bread from the pan – place on a rack and cool completely.