Oats and Honey Gluten Free Challah Recipe that you can take challah, wash and Bentch

Halacha guided by R’ Tuvia Rosen

I remember when I first washed for hamotzi (said the blessing on bread) and bentched (said the after-blessing on bread made from one of the five grains) for the first time in months after learning that I had Celiac disease. It was Pesach, 2015, and we had obtained oat matzah (made from gluten free oats) to do the mitzvah of eating matzah on the night of the sedarim.  Maybe it was just that batch (??) but I could barely get it down.  As I bentched the words; “He Who gives bread to all flesh because forever is His kindness” a wave of sadness come over me.  Living with gluten restrictions and all that comes with that is hard enough… but if G-d expressed His love through filling and nutritious bread, what did that mean for me vis a vis G-d’s Love? (And the thousands of other Jews who can’t perform this mitzvah due to gluten intolerance?)  It is moments like these that we draw on faith alone to get us through.

Yesterday, I spent hours in the kitchen… measuring, calculating, checking (eggs and flour), mixing, and preparing my dough.  Today was a happy day when I tasted the fruits of my labor – bread so sweet and hearty that whatever sadness that still lingered lifted and I felt the joy of bread again. 

The tricky part was getting enough gluten free oat flour into the dough that challah could be separated.  This was tricky because the oat flour content is roughly only half of the total flour content.  Baking with oat flour exclusively would yield a hard and dense end-product (if you like your bread like a personal weapon, go right ahead…) On the other hand, the other flours (rice, potato and tapioca) are not from the five grains and therefore do not count for the mitzvah of taking challah (removing a portion of the dough according to Jewish Law).  So this recipe was created to taste like challah as well as to allow you to take challah (albeit without a blessing).  It is a huge recipe – which is GREAT news because it freezes beautifully and you will want to have these in your freezer!  

One more note on the halachos/ laws surrounding this recipe; you must wash and say the blessing “על נטילת ידים”, “al netilas yadayim”, and then Hamotzi when you eat it.  However, because the oat content is only half of the total flour content, you need to eat 2 k’zaisim instead of the usual one k’zayis (a k’zayis amount is around the size of a match-box – so that would mean you need to eat the size of 2 match-boxes) of challah within 4 minutes in order to qualify you for bentching.  If you do not eat 2 k’sazim within the given time frame (and you only have at least one k’zayis of food) then a “borei nefashos” blessing is said instead of the “birzkas hamazon“. (If you ate less than a k’zayis, not after brocha at all is said.)

So… here’s the recipe!  It’s a lot of work – but worth the effort, so that we can say with a full heart, “He who gives bread to all his creations because forever is His Kindness.”  Baruch Hashem for this recipe.

Ingredients:

4 1/4 TB active dry yeast

8 cups water (if needed, you’ll let the dough guide you)

2 t sugar for proofing the yeast

1 1/4 cups honey (I like raw)

1/4 cup agave syrup (or substitute more honey)

12 extra large eggs (or 15 small eggs – plus one for painting the rolls at the end)

1 3/4 cups canola oil (you can use melted coconut oil for some of this quantity if you want)

9 t apple-cider vinegar

12 teaspoons salt

4 T xanthan gum

4 cups tapioca flour

4 cups potato flour

14 1/2 cups oat flour (gluten free) (this needs to be checked before using.  I place a heap on a heated surface to check for infestation)

5 1/2 cups white rice flour 

Method:

Take the yeast and proof in 2 cups of warm water with the sugar (you can also use honey to proof)

let the yeast rise.  (If it doesn’t become activated, i.e. bubbly and growing, start repeat this step with new yeast.) Meanwhile…

mix together the eggs, honey, agave if you are using, oil, vinegar, salt, and yeast mixture. 

In a separate bowl, combine all flours; gluten free oat, tapioca, potato and rice with the xanthan gum. 

Slowly start adding your flour to your wet mixture.  As the flours and wet ingredients incorporate start adding the water (I use warm water from the kettle.) 

In total, you will use an additional 6-8 cups of water.  Let the challah dough guide you as you keep adding the flour how much water it needs, and allow everything to mix really well.  Remember, the end result is very different from wheat dough, it will be much more moist and will not allow you to braid it.  This is a good consistency as the end product will be lighter this way.

Your mixer may well not be big enough to handle this quantity.  Advice: once you have incorporated most of the ingredients, spoon some out into another bowl and continue adding the rest.  Then combine both bowls.

Now it is time to decant the dough.  We love roll/ muffin shapes but loaf tins should work as well. 

(If you are set on having a braided challah, you can buy a nifty challah mold on amazon to get the traditional challah shape.) Let it rise for about an hour until it looks ready to bake.  Paint with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. 

Bake in a 160c oven for about 40mins (longer for bigger loaves).  

Enjoy! 

Good Shabbos