|Last year's Shlissel Challah expedition!|
There is a special segulah (auspicious action) among many Ashkenazi families before the first Shabbos after Pesach each year to bake fresh challah. The custom among some is to bake challah in the shape of a key or with a key inside of it for parnasah (livelihood/good fortune) in the year ahead. This custom represents the idea of the Jewish people asking G-d for manna during their trek through the desert and the miraculous fact that G-d provided and continues to do so generation after generationthis post, and this year, I am finally sharing my no-longer-top-secret recipe for gluten-free oat challah. For those who are intolerant or sensitive to gluten and/or wheat, this recipe is a tasty, tried and true alternative to be able to partake of the mitzvah of washing the hands and bentsching over challah on Shabbos and yom tov. Although in the photo above I used mini-loaf pans, I often bake rolls in a muffin tin. The recipe freezes quite nicely. It does not require time to rise and is more of a quick-bread in nature. It is not so easy to handle (the dough is quite sticky) so I do not recommend attempting to shape and braid it by hand. There are, however, a variety of challah shaped baking pans available for those who wish venture that way. And, without further ado, here is the coveted recipe (per a dear friend of mine in Spokane, WA who was brave enough to work all of the kinks and mishaps out of it long before I ever was brave enough to try baking it myself!):
Gluten-free Oat Challah
- 1 2/3 cups warm water
- 1 TBSP active dry yeast
- 10 "squirts" agave syrup or honey
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 eggs (you can divide the last one and leave the egg-white to use as a glaze if you wish, but I am not so fancy about things--I plunk them all on in there)
- 3/4 cup rice flour (white or brown work fine)
- 3 cups gluten-free oat flour*
- 3 tsp xanthan gum
*I use Bob's Red Mill brand flours as they are kosher and certified gluten free. Not all oat flour is gluten free and for those who are extremely sensitive, it is imperative to make sure you are using gluten free oats.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare your baking pans of choice. I usually use muffin tins and paper liners for challah rolls but you can use a loaf pan or challah shaped pan and plan to adjust baking time accordingly. I do recommend with metal or glass bakeware that you spray non-stick oil on ahead of time just in case.
2. Add yeast to warm water as well as sugar and honey/agave. Allow mixture to stand and activate (about 10 minutes) until bubbly.
3. Meanwhile, mix your dry ingredients (flours and xanthan gum) in a large mixing bowl. Add the water, sugars and yeast mixture, the oil and salt and check and add the 5 eggs to bowl. Mix very well. I use an electric hand mixer but you can mix by hand as well if you wish keeping in mind that the act of mixing replaces kneading and will allow for a better texture when the proper amount of time and strength is devoted to it.
4. Spoon dough into prepared pan(s) and for muffin-tin rolls, bake for about 20 minutes--or until the tops are lightly golden-brown. Allow to cool completely before freezing any. They defrost quite well in the refrigerator overnight as well.
Wishing all a good Shabbos and that we should all be blessed in the following year with parnasah and hatzlacha in all we do. I'm off to go locate a key I can part with for the next day or two and to procure the numbers of some local dentists in case I forget which roll I bake it into...