Sunday, October 2, 2011

Gluten Free Oat Challah

It's Gluten-Free!
Perfect for the GFE ...

and everyone else too!!!
I just don’t want to be eating different things than everyone else” is one of the most frequently heard comments that I hear from people who eat gluten-free.  They don’t want to stand out or be different from everyone at the table.  A child that is at a birthday party or has friends over doesn’t want to be singled out as “the kid that can’t eat what all the other kids are eating.”  One of the bigger challenges is Shabbat or Yom Tov, when meals are the focal point.  After Kiddush, when Hamotzi is said over the challah, the GFE (Gluten-Free Eater) either can’t eat the challah or has to pull out something home made that doesn’t even come close to what everyone else is eating.  The Challah is passed around and the GFE has to say “no thanks”.  To some GFE’s it’s like wearing a sign that says “look at me…I’m a GFE!” When developing gluten-free recipes, I have found it’s important that the result is something that everyone will eat and doesn’t scream “gluten-free”.  This is especially important for challah!

Now according to many poskim (Rabbinic authorities), in order to say a Hamotzi bracha on challah it has to have a significant amount of flour made from one of the following five types of grains: wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt.  Oats are considered a gluten free grain, which makes oat flour a good choice for gluten-free challah**.  The key is getting the oat flour challah to be light, fluffy, and to taste like the challah most people eat every Shabbat.  What makes baked goods light and fluffy?  Air…little pockets of air in the baked bread.  Some of the ways to get air into a recipe is to beat air into it, add a carbonated liquid, or add some sort of leavener such as yeast.  When dealing with a heavy flour, such as oat flour, we need all the help we can get.  I’ve added tapioca and potato starch to take the place of some of the oat flour in order to lighten the recipe.  Yeast and carbonated liquid will help with the leavening, but the beating option is out – beating will thicken the starches and be counterproductive. 

In a “gluten flour” bread recipe, the gluten acts as a binder and gives you the elasticity that you want in a good quality bread dough.  Since there is no gluten in oat flour we need something to actually bind the whole recipe together, which is why we add xanthan gum and starch.

Finally, there is the issue of the challah shape.  Many people resort to making little challah muffins because gluten-free challah dough is notoriously loose and sticky.  There are two easy ways to remedy this.  The first is to buy one of the cool braided challah shaped pans.  You can spoon the dough into the pan, let it rise and bake in the pan, and it comes out challah shaped!  Excellent!  The second alternative is to separate the dough into sticky dough balls, place them in a loaf pan and let them rise.  When the dough bakes it gives the appearance of being braided…just like a “normal” challah!  With this challah recipe, a GFE can become just an E (eater!)….exactly like everyone else!

Hey everyone!  My version of this recipe just appeared in the 2011 Rosh Hashana edition of Mishpacha Magazines "Kosher Inspired" (Hooray!!)!  If you didn't get the actual magazine (with my article inside!) I hope you enjoyed it here!!


2                      tablespoons      yeast
1                      tablespoon        sugar
½                     cup                   warm water

4 – 4 ½            cups                 certified gluten free oat flour (whisk to remove lumps)
2/3                   cup                   tapioca flour (starch)
1 1/3                cup                   potato starch
1                      tablespoon        xanthan gum
¾                     cup                   sugar
1                      teaspoon          salt

4                      large                 eggs    
½                     cup                   canola oil
1                      cup                   seltzer

1                      large                 egg
1                      tablespoon        warm water
                                                sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion (optional)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a small bowl combine the yeast, tablespoon of sugar, and warm water.  Allow the yeast to proof for 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together 4 cups oat flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, xanthan gum, sugar and salt.   Make a small well in the center of the dry ingredients.  Add the eggs, canola oil, seltzer and yeast into the well in the dry ingredients.  Mix until the ingredients are just smooth and combined.  Allow the dough to rest for 2 minutes.  If the dough is particularly sticky or loose add the remaining ½ cup of oat flour and mix until the dough is smooth.  Spoon into braided loaf pan, or form small dough balls and place into standard loaf pan to form braids.  Cover the loaf and let rise for one hour.  If baking in a standard loaf pan, combine the large egg and warm water and brush over the risen loaf.  Top with sesame or poppy seeds if desired.  Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.

**As with any food, please consult your physician to verify that the ingredients in this recipe are appropriate for your particular dietary needs.

Here are some helpful links:
  1. Braided Challah Loaf Pan:
  2. A great place to order super inspected gluten-free oat flour:
All the ingredients...
ready for the recipe!
Yeast, water and sugar ingredients....
Yeast combined with
water and sugar...not
ready yet!!
See how foamy it is...
now it's ready!
 Make sure to remove the
lumps from the oat flour...
 Combine all the ingredients
in a large mixing bowl...
 Sticky challah dough!
 It's a pan that looks like a
braided challah!!!
Dough in the pan...
rise dough...rise!!!
 It listened!  
(and rose!)
 Pop it in the oven...
and out it comes!
Make sure to cool before removing from
the pan....
 Can you believe it's Gluten Free!
Perfect for the GFE...
and everyone else too!!  

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These recipes are for sole, personal use of visitors to Sharon Matten -Edible Experience Kosher Everyday. Edible Experience Kosher Everyday recipes are for your enjoyment but are not to be posted or reprinted without express permission from Sharon Matten. Thank you!!


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  1. Rising now....can't wait to eat some decent gf challah! Thanks for the recipe and shabbat shalom!

  2. Thanks so much for posting this recipe... have been looking for a GF Challah!!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment (and complement)! I hope yours turn out great and enhance your Shabbat table!


  3. I made this with a little variance using a gluten-free flour mix since I didn't have the individual flours. I made two smaller challot and was able to braid them before I let them rise. They were amazing. Thanks so much for the recipe!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment!!! I'm SO impressed that you were able to actually BRAID them! I'd love to see a photo the next time you make them.

      Thanks again for your can find more gluten free recipes under the gluten free tab or by searching for GFE (gluten free eater).


  4. Hello there! This is a good read. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about kosher bread. I am glad to stop by your site and know more about kosher bread. Keep it up!
    In addition to meat, all other produce of ritually unclean animals, as well as from unhealthy animals, were banned by the Talmudic writers. This included eggs (including fish roe) and milk, as well as derived products such as cheese and jelly, but did not include materials merely "manufactured" or "gathered" by animals, such as honey (although, in the case of honey from animals other than bees, there was a difference of opinion among the ancient writers). According to the rabbinical writers, eggs from ritually pure animals would always be prolate ("pointy") at one end and oblate ("rounded") at the other, helping to reduce uncertainty about whether consumption was permitted or not.
    Gluten Free Kosher Bread – For An Authentic And Healthy Choice.

  5. This recipe looks great, can't wait to try it! Can I substitute corn starch for potato starch? or any other starch which isn't potato, as i will be making this for a diabetic who cannot eat any potato products....