The Ultimate Gluten-Free Oat Challah

September 1, 2014

I can’t believe that it has been almost a month since I posted anything here! Between the end of camp, which meant all the kids were home, and going away on vacation that last month just flew by! Now that the kids are back in school I hope I will be able to post a bit more frequently.

The recipe that I want to share today has been a long time in the making. My oldest son stopped eating gluten in February. Since I don’t want him to feel left out I have been doing a lot of gluten-free baking to make sure that he can have whatever treats the other kids are having at school or synagogue (you may have noticed there have been more gluten-free recipes lately). I have been making gluten free oat challah almost every week since then, each time tinkering with the recipe a bit more, and I finally think I have gotten it right.

The thing about most gluten-free baking is that it does not use any of the grains that can be used in making a bread that requires the blessing hamotzi. Most of the time that is fine for us, but for shabbat I wanted to make sure that my son would be able to say hamotzi over his challah just like everyone else. So I made oat challah.

I started out by making the gluten-free oat challah that is posted on Joy of Kosher. It was fine when freshly baked but by the next day I found it was incredibly dry and crumbly. This was not ideal for serving on a Saturday for lunch! Also, it did not freeze all that well, and I wanted to be able to make a batch of challah rolls for my son to have at school and keep them in the freezer so I don’t have to make them fresh every week in time for him to take them to school.

Each time I have made this challah I have changed it just a bit more, until I have a final version that I adore. I kept the basic blend of flours the same as that original recipe but I have changed the ratio of pretty much everything else. More honey to give it extra sweetness, an extra egg yolk for added moisture, even a bit of gelatin to give it a bit more of that chew that I want in my challah. The end result does not taste exactly like traditional challah, but it is sweet and delicious in that special shabbat way. And it makes my son very happy to have his challah like everyone else.

Gluten-free challah dough is much stickier than traditional challah dough. In fact, it is more like a thick cake batter which makes it absolutely impossible to braid. That is why I absolutely adore my silicone challah baking pans. They are silicon pans shaped like a loaf of braided challah. Simply put the dough in the pan, let it rise, and it bakes up into a perfectly “braided” challah. There is also a roll pan which is what I tend to use. The rolls come out quite large, more like mini challahs rather than individual rolls, so I also bake some challah rolls in standard muffin tins for my son to take to school.

Since I make this almost every week I wanted a way to streamline the procedure so it didn’t take me so long to put it together. I now combine many batches of the dry ingredients at once and keep it in a bag in the freezer. Each recipe is 449 grams of the dry mix so all I have to do is put the wet ingredients in my mixing bowl, add the right amount of dry mix, and let the mixer run for a little while. Ten minutes of prep, a little bit of rising, and we have fresh, homemade, delicious, gluten-free challah every Shabbat. And that is a wonderful thing.

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Ingredients & Quantities

  • 2/3 cup (148g) water
  • 1/3 cup (112g) honey
  • 1/4 cup (56g) neutral vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs plus one egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (35g) brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup (45g) potato flour (not potato starch)
  • 1/4 cup (30g) tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup (34g) sorghum flour
  • 1 1/2 cup (240g) gluten-free oat flour
  • 1 tablespoon (11g) instant yeast*
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) salt
  • 1 teaspoon psyllium husk
  • 1 tablespoon (7g) gelatin
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (35g) dark brown sugar

Preparation Instructions

Place the water, honey, oil, eggs, and vinegar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until well mixed. Combine all the remaining ingredients in another bowl. Whisk well to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture in the mixer. Beat on medium speed for five minutes.

Grease the silicon challah pan or a 12 well muffin in. Scoop the dough into the prepared pan. Fill each cavity about 2/3 full. Cover with a towel and let rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The dough will not look much more risen, but will puff up in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350. Bake until a tester poked into the middle comes out clean. This will take about 40 minutes for the large pan, 30-40 for the challah roll pan, and 20-25 for the muffin tin.

Let challah cool and serve.

*Note: If using standard active dry yeast instead of the instant yeast the challah needs to be made slightly differently. Start by combining the yeast, brown sugar, and 2/3 cup of warm water. Let stand for 10 minutes until frothy. Then add the remaining liquid ingredients and proceed with the recipe as written.

22 Comments

    • It is my understanding (through extensive conversation with other rabbis) that the amount of oat flour in this challah is sufficient to deem it hamotzi, especially if it is being used for that purpose. The rules of what makes something hamotzi or mezonot are quite complicated, but this is similar in composition to a standard challah recipe in terms of ratio of eggs:honey:flour. Feel free to check with your own rabbi if you would like to be sure.

  1. Hi, I know this recipe has been here for awhile but I have a question on it..I was measuring the ingredients and weighing them to make sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong, but when I weighed the 1 1/2 cups of oat flour, I got 150gr, not 240! Which is the correct measurement? Thanks!!

    • I went by the weight listed per cup on the side of the bag of Bob’s Red Mill gluten free oat flour which is 240. I haven’t tried measuring it out myself so I don’t know if that is incorrect, but it always works when I make it by weight. How do you measure? Do you spoon the flour in or dump? Hope that helps.

    • Sorry it didn’t show up. I am in the process of updating the site to a whole new look and it looks like that recipe didn’t transfer over properly. I will work on fixing it, but in the meantime I emailed you the recipe as a PDF. Let me know if you don’t get it.

  2. Hi, can this be made without gelatin? My kids are vegetarian? Can it be made with less sugar for those who prefer less sweet challah?

    Also, how does it taste different from regular challah?

    • Hi,
      Yes, it can be made without the gelatin, it just won’t have quite as much chew. The sweetness can be reduced, but I find that it tastes better as a sweeter challah because the gluten free challah is different than regular challah. It is much denser and not as soft but still delicious in its own right. I hope you enjoy!

      • That is actually not entirely true. There are vegan kosher gelatin products, but they are not true gelatin. I use a kosher gelatin that is animal based, which is why I mentioned that the challah isn’t vegetarian with it.

  3. I made this recipe with an extra egg yolk and a bit less sugar and honey. I used SAF instant gold yeast on recommendation from a foodie friend. Contrary to the warning in the recipe, the dough actually doubled in volume in under 2 hours. I highly recommend SAF instant gold yeast for challah; it’s specially formulated for high sugar doughs.

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