Challah is a traditional holiday bread in the Jewish community. My entire family was either Methodist or Episcopalian, but we had several Jewish friends and co-workers over the years, and I grew up with Challah as a regular addition to our meals, whether our Jewish friends were with us at the table or not. This gluten-free version is very close to the original, and you really don’t have to wait for any kind of a holiday to make up a loaf for your family!
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp yeast
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup melted butter
4 large eggs
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. (We cut the dough in half, roll it out into two “ropes” about 12 inches long, and then braid it.) Add the dough to the mold or baking vessel.
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.
If you don’t have a silicond mold, and 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.