My son is in the Waldorf 3rd grade and his class is studying the Old Testament and Judaism. To celebrate Rosh Hashanah this week, the class is making challah bread to eat on Friday. Since my son can’t eat gluten and dairy, his teacher asked me if I could provide him with a substitute bread to eat. It reminds me of when my son was in our Waldorf Kindergarten and I would make gluten and dairy free bread for him each week to eat with his class. I started looking around for recipes on how to make gluten free vegan challah bread.
Gluten is what makes most bread doughs stretchy and able to be kneaded and shaped. A standard gluten free dough however is more like a thick batter that is almost impossible to make into any shape. Looking online, I saw that most gluten free challah bread batter was put into regular loaf pans or even piped (using pastry bags) into the braided shape. The only “braidable” gluten free challah recipe that I found used A LOT of eggs to bind the dough–and although my son can eat a small amount of egg, he can’t tolerate a lot of eggs.
That’s when it finally dawned on me that I didn’t need to look outside, but instead turn to my own recipe (inspired by a recipe at the Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen) for kneadable whole grain gluten free rolls that uses psyllium husks and chia seeds to bind the dough. I started to play around and adapted it to be a lighter, slightly more sweet bread. I made it several times and threw in a couple handfuls of raisins in one batch–which the kids loved. (my daughter said, “Mom, this doesn’t taste gluten free!) Although it’s not a “traditional” challah, it’s a decent gluten free version with a lot of whole grains. What matters most however is that my son really thinks his gluten free vegan challah is delicious…
And now he can enjoy his challah with his friends in class as they celebrate Rosh Hashanah. Happy New Year Everyone!
GLUTEN FREE VEGAN CHALLAH BREAD
* 1 package active dry yeast
* 2 1/2 cups warm water (105-110 degrees)
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 1 cup superfine brown rice flour
* 1 cup sorghum flour (or millet, or GF oat)
* 1 cup tapioca starch (or potato, or sweet rice)
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 3 tablespoons honey
* 1/3 cup finely ground chia seeds
* 1/4 cup psyllium husks**
1) Start your liquid ingredients by dissolving yeast and one tablespoon of honey into warm water that is 105-110 degrees. (I use a thermometer to make sure) Set aside for ten minutes until bubbly. if it doesn’t become bubbly your yeast is dead and you need to do this step again.
2) While waiting for yeast to activate, combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
3) Stir olive oil and additional 3 tablespoons of honey into the yeast liquid.
4) Stir chia seeds and psyllium husks into yeast liquid and whisk. Wait 1-2 minutes (NO LONGER) and whisk again.
5) Immediately pour liquid mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir and incorporate well. Dough will be sticky.
6) Turn dough onto a floured board and begin to knead. If your dough is too sticky to handle, add up to 1/2 cup of brown rice or sorghum flour to get to a kneadable, but still slightly sticky dough.
7) Form dough into a ball and place in a large bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour.
8) Line baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
9) After one hour, cut the dough to create equal portions. For rolls, divide the dough in half, roll each into a log shape, and cut each log into 8 equal pieces. For a braided challah bread, cut the dough into equal portions that you desire. (e.g. 3 equal pieces for a simple braid, 4-6 for more intricate braids)
10) Rolls: Roll out sixteen 1/2 inch thick tubes and spiral the dough to form a roll. (see above) Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Braided bread: Roll each portion into a tube about 1 1/2 inches thick. Place the tubes onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Pinch the tubes together at the top and start braiding. Braid as far as you can and then tuck under any excess. (see above) Let both rolls and braided bread rise for an additional 30 minutes.
11) Brush with a little olive oil or melted non dairy butter (if desired )and start baking. Rolls need to bake for 20 minutes and braided loaf needs to bake 35-40 minutes. Both rolls and bread should be medium brown in color.
12) LET COOL SLIGHTLY. This is very important because the bread needs to “rest” to lose any stickiness. For rolls, please wait at least 10 minutes and for the bread, please wait 30 minutes. (And don’t worry, the bread will warm enough for non dairy butter to melt on it…Yum!)