This recipe for gluten-free Challah has been in the works for (on and off) years now. Once I created the recipe(s) for my Everything Dough, I knew that a challah wasn’t far behind, but I wanted it even more like real bread- kneadable, perfect crumb, the perfect bite between soft and chewy. My original plan was to add this to the ebook, but there’s more involved with that than it appears, and I’m lazy. So you win!
You win a gluten-free challah!
For Rosh Hashanah last year, I played with the recipe a bit (a lot) until I got something close to what I wanted. I was able to proof the dough, knead the dough, and shape the dough into the traditional turban shape for the New Year. As soon as the holiday was over though, I abandoned the project and moved onto other things. Such is life!
When I saw how early Rosh Hashanah landed this year, I got to work and started experimenting again. And in what might be a Rosh Hashanah miracle, I believe I got it.
An important note: This recipe is made much like real bread, in that it is mixed, proofed, punched down, kneaded, shaped, and proofed again. It takes time, as does making most traditional bread. The time is one of the things that makes it good! If you can’t handle all of that, you can make my other challah recipe, which is more like cake in preparation.
But look at the crumb you’re rewarded when you make this one! Plus, it is extremely satisfying to make bread, especially if it’s been a while since you made it! Just make sure to start it the night before you’ll be serving it; it’s best when proofed overnight in the fridge.
The turban shaped challah is traditional for the Jewish New Year- it symbolizes the cyclical nature of life, so that’s what you see here. If you want to braid or otherwise shape your challah, Tori Avey has a great tutorial on her site!
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 60 minutes + time to proof
- Yield: 1 large challah
- Category: Baked Goods
gluten-free, grain-free and dairy-free challah, made like real bread and tastes like real bread!
- 1/2 cup warm water
- ¼ cup + 2 teaspoons honey, (divided)
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 4 eggs
- ¼ cup avocado oil ((or other neutral tasting oil))
- 1/2 cup (64 grams) potato starch
- 1/2 cup (64 grams) cassava flour, (plus more for dusting)
- ¼ cup (32 grams) ground psyllium husk
- 1/2 teaspoon finely ground salt
for the egg wash:
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon honey ((optional- for color))
- In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the 2 teaspoons of honey in the warm water. Whisk in the yeast. Set aside to bloom, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the potato starch, cassava flour, ground psyllium husk, and salt.
- Once the yeast is foamy and active, whisk in the eggs, followed by the ¼ cup honey, and avocado oil.
- Whisk in the dry mixture. (reserve the bowl the dry ingredients were in) It will be thin and the consistency of cake batter, but don’t worry- it will thicken up as the psyllium absorbs the excess moisture. Switch to a rubber spatula and mix for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is thickened and sticky. (it still won’t be quite like bread dough. Don’t worry)
- Wipe out the bowl you mixed the dry ingredients in, and lightly grease with oil. Scrape the dough into the greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge and allow to proof overnight, or at least 6 hours. *
- After the dough has proofed in the fridge, set it in a warm, draft-free place and allow to proof for 1-2 hours, or until it has come to room temperature is about 1.5 times the size it was when you took it out. Dust with flour and punch down. Cover again and set aside for 30-60 minutes, or until it has risen back to where it was.
- Time to knead! Liberally dust a clean surface with cassava flour. Scrape the dough onto the counter and dust it with more flour. Knead for 4-5 minutes, or until it’s smooth and pliable. Add more flour as needed; you want it to wind up just a tiny bit sticky, but easily handled.
- Add more flour to the surface and using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into about a 1/2-inch thick rectangle and then roll it up (as if you were making cinnamon rolls) Taper the ends of the log so it’s fatter in the middle, and then roll into a turban shape.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- To make the egg wash: Whisk together the egg, water and honey, if using.
- Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with the egg wash. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let it rise once more. You’ll know it’s ready to bake when you poke it with your finger and it doesn’t spring back.
- Bake for 25-32 minutes, or until deep golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped with a wooden spoon. Allow to cool before slicing.
*Proofing this type of dough overnight in the fridge yields the best results. If you aren’t able to do that, you can proof it at room temperature for about 90 minutes instead, but I can’t promise that the finished bread won’t sink.
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Wow! Can’t wait to try this! Any substitution for potato starch?
All flours act differently, so I can’t say for sure without trying them. You can try a different starch by weight.
For anyone else wondering, I use tapioca starch and it turns out great!
Arrowroot works as a substitute for the potato starch in this recipe. This is incredible, Simone! Thank you for coming up with the recipe that has allowed me to eat bread that my body tolerates that tastes incredible!
that’s great to know, thanks for reporting back!
I’m surprised you redid the challah recipe since I liked the previous one & there was nothing wrong with it I’ll give this one a go too as there’s nothing tastier than Challah! Thanks as always, Simone! Hope you have a good new year!
Thanks, Dina! Happy New Year! This isn’t a redo, just another option! The other challah has nut flour, which a lot of people can’t have, and isn’t a kneadable dough, which a lot of people enjoy 🙂
I have successfully perfected the other challah recipe using sunflower seed flour (need to avoid nuts). It’s fantastic but looking forward to trying this more traditional bread!
This looks amazing – thank you!!! My family is nut-free, so I really appreciate the extra effort you put into making this without almond flour. (I also ADORE your Everything Dough ebook!!)
Thank you, Melissa! I’m so glad to hear that. I hope your family loves this one!
Donna in Inwood says
There’s a batch of this dough in my fridge, having lived there overnight. The dough is REALLY different now — springy and much bigger.
So now comes the fun part 😉 I’ve never made a yeast bread that had to be punched down before. I gather this is done so that the bread can have a second rise? We shall see…
Hi Donna! Yay! Yes- I’m not super well versed on the science of it, but when you punch it down it releases the air and the dough rises again. I believe it’s part of what gives the finished product the springiness, and keeps it from rising and falling right away after it comes out of the oven.
Donna in Inwood says
Cool, that makes sense. This bread is really beautiful — I think it came out super-well. It’s all golden-brown and smells incredible. The most fun was kneading the dough — I thought it was going to be a drag but it was actually fun. Your “turban” shape in the photo looks better than mine, but that’s okay 😉 Thanks for another great recipe!
Oh yay I’m glad it was fun and came out beautiful! I’ve made this once of twice, so have had a little practice turban making 😉
Would tapioca starch work instead of potato?
Would tapioca starch work instead of potato?
Possibly! It’s tough to say without testing it, and there’s a chance it could be gummy with tapioca but it’s worth a shot if you can’t do potato.
Brianna Solomin says
Hi, I love this recipe but thought I saw on social media something about the type of psyllium husk used and that it made a difference. I cannot find this post now. Could you please provide what product you use or have had the best success with. I am so excited to bring back the tradition of braiding challah into my house again. Thank you
Hi Brianna! The main thing that was probably being discussed was ground vs whole husk. This recipe calls for ground, which you can purchase already ground https://amzn.to/2RK07yS – which tends to change the color of the bread to be a bit darker – or purchase it whole https://amzn.to/2RPLoCT and grind it in a coffee or spice grinder to get it to be a powder. That will have a better result on the color but either will work.
This looks amazing! Have you tried doubling or tripling this recipe? I bake for a lot of people and I’m wondering if it would have any ill effect on the end result…
You should definitely be able to double or triple the recipe! I hope everyone loves it 🙂
Roberta Steiner says
What a thrill to be able to knead bread again. And the texture is amazing. The bread tastes fantastic without toasting of butter. Of course we ate it warm. Oh so good. Can this recipe be made using a bread pan? I am grateful to my daughter who sent the recipe to me
Isn’t it so fun?! I love it. And yes, you can definitely make it a loaf in a bread pan!
M moon says
This bread is awesome. I added 1 1/2 TSP cardamom and 1/4 cup raisins to make it into pulla. It worked great. Thanks
This looks amazing but it takes more time, probably had to try in evening. Thanks for the recipe.
It definitely takes some time, since it’s made like regular bread! I hope you love it when you try it.
Hi Simone! Can’t wait to try this out – can this be braided like a traditional loaf as well? SO excited to find a nut free gluten free challah recipe!
Hi Diana, hope you love it! I linked to Tory Avey’s braiding tutorial, right above the last image in the post.
Emma Frieze says
Mine is quite runny is that ok this is before proofing it
It should be sticky / tacky but still somewhat like a dough. Did you use the right amount of psyllium?
Shelly Gilad says
Your total time is totally wrong! You need to include proofing time. I just started and realized that it needs to proof for 6 hours. You should mention it if you include times in the recipe.
Sorry about that Shelly. I edited accordingly. It’s always recommended that you read through the entire recipe before starting it, to avoid this type of thing. Thanks for the heads up.
What can you instead of Cassava Flour?
I don’t have an answer to that, I’m sorry. All grain-free flours are completely different and this recipe is a result of many, many tests using the ingredients listed to achieve perfect results. I would have to develop an entirely new recipe with different ingredients to answer this question.
I want to make this for my sister who is GF, but I have some questions! Would Xanthan work in place of the psyllium husk? The store is all out unfortunately. Also, is there a significant difference between proofing six hours or overnight?
I’m not sure if xanthan gum would work, psyllium is kind of the magic ingredient here, so I would be hesitant to try replacing it. And not much of a difference proofoing one way or the other.
i never leave comments but I had to leave one on this recipe. I have your books, and had purchased your grain free everything dough recipe and have throughly enjoyed both. I made this bread on a bit of a whim, and it turned out absoluteley beautifully. Thank you so much for the work you put into developing and testing recipes, I have always had success with your work. I am hoping to make the recipe again this weekend for guests, I am wondering if you think doing it in another shape would be successful? Thanks again!
This felt like alchemy! I made this for the high holidays, and it was incredible – the first time I have tasted anything with the texture and taste of a real challah in ten years. Thank you for sharing this recipe.
Note – to the person above who asked about a cassava flour substitute, I have made this twice. The first time I did not have cassava flour. I substituted 1/4 cup tapioca flour and 1/4 cup sorghum flour. It worked and was delicious, but it required a lot of additional sorghum flour when I kneaded it, and the ‘turban’ was no longer visible once baked (it lost its shape). It was dry by day 2, although still yummy when toasted. I made the recipe a second time without substitutions, and it looked exactly like the picture above, and tasted (if possible) even better, plus it was still soft and delicious on day 2.
Hi! Do you think a stand mixer would work for the whisking and mixing (steps 3 and 4)?
Definitely! I just want people without a stand mixer to be able to make this, so offer hand mixing instructions. But use that stand mixer if you got it for sure 🙂
Thank you for this recipe! Quick question: is it possible to braid this dough?
It is! the dough is less stretchy than gluten containing dough, but it’s totally braid-able if you’re gentle with it.
Erin Killorn says
I am on my 3rd time making this recipe and I absolutely love it SO much! Just for your info, I must live in a far more humid climate than you (or something like that, maybe distance from sea level?), because I have to drop the liquid in all of your bread recipes (Everything Dough and this one) by at least 2 Tbsp to make it turn out. When I do that is just perfect, otherwise it rises but deflates. So glad I figured out the trick because your bread is my go to when I want to make something special!!!
hm interesting and good to know! Are you measuring by volume or weight? Grain-free flours can vary a lot in absorbency, so sometimes that’s a factor too. I’m glad you found the trick to make them work for you!
Erin Killorn says
Measured by weight and tried several times with the challah, cinnamon rolls and plain rolls before realizing I needed to edit somehow! I live on the East Coast of Canada, humid climate and right at sea level so I assume that’s a factor? Anyway, so happy I’ve found the secret because I absolutely love your bread!!!
hm I’m not sure because I’m right about at sea level as well, on the other coast… Whether you’re measuring by weight or volume could be a factor though. I’m glad you figured out what works.
Erin Killorn says
The brands of flour vertically could contribute, I always use Otto’s for the cassava and Bob’s for the potato.
ANNE MORRIS PRICE says
I want to try your challah recipe. Would Saf Instant yeast work—do I still need to soak it to let it blossom? Should I use 1 tablespoon of the Saf instant, or adjust the amount? Thank you–recipe sounds great!
I really can’t say with any confidence until I test it myself!
Just made a double batch of this, and holy moly it turned out *phenomenal*. The texture is freaking amazing. Something didn’t go right though, and the dough was insanely sticky. I probably ended up adding an extra cup of flour in total (to a DBL batch), and finally realized if I just kept it lightly coated I could handle it very lightly, and was able to roll it into the turban. It looked pretty sad, and definitely drooped, but I cannot believe how good it turned out despite this!!! I have no idea where I went wrong (as far as I know, I followed the recipe, but it is likely my screw up somewhere)! But even with all this, id totally make it again. Seriously, so freaking good!!!
Hello, I am eager to try this challah recipe! Thank you for sharing! Unfortunately I’m not able to have honey for medical reasons. Is there an appropriate substitute I could try, like caster sugar or maybe corn syrup?
Thank you for sharing the recipes you’ve worked so hard on!
I can never say for certain when an ingredient is swapped but any other liquid sweetener should work alright. Please report back if you make it!
Lorka Birn says
Can i braid this dough?
Technically yes, but it’s softer than a traditional dough, so you’ll have to be very gentle with it.