The most authentic loaf of challah this side of wheat. My new Grain Free Braided Challah is outrageously delicious and the crumb is beyond.
Over the holiday break, I spent lots of time in the kitchen of our cabin rental wanting to perfect this braided challah loaf. It was not enough to just have grain free bread for Jewish holidays, oh no. I wanted it to be real deal and dare I say, phenomenal.
As you know, baking in the paleo world is a little sketch. It’s hit or miss sometimes and the smallest variations can make quite the conundrum. That’s why it is often necessary to make and remake and rebake again in order to get things just right. I mean after all, I own a paleo bread company for crying out loud, I can’t just release ANY bread recipe. It’s got to be legit. <wink wink>
So after I finally nailed it in the Blue Ridge Mountains, all I had to do was come home and replicate it. And then real life happened. And then my camera broke. And then Stella’s birthday needed celebrating. Not to mention my budding (ok full blown) social calendar here. It’s just a lot sometimes.
But I’m back. Challah if you hear me. And today’s 2nd loaf was beyond. It was tender and delicious and with a little smear of vegan butter, it was downright heaven. So I’m posting the recipe but also, pay attention to the tips below. Braiding grain free challah is a finicky situation so I recommend working slowly and playing with the dough until it feels and looks right.
Grain Free Braided Challah
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 packets quick rise yeast
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons psyllium husk powder
- 1 cup potato starch
- 1.25 cups tapioca starch
- Spray ghee or coconut oil
- Flaky sea salt (to garnish)
- Start by combining the warm water and maple syrup. If your maple syrup is cold from the fridge, warm it just slightly.
- Stir in the active yeast into the maple/water mixture and set aside for at least 10 minutes or until it is activated and frothy
- While the yeast proofs, combine the flours, sea salt and psyllium husk powder in a separate bowl. Do not add any wet ingredients YET
- In a 3rd bowl, combine the eggs, apple cider vinegar, and oil
- Once the yeast has bloomed, combine the mixture with the egg/oil mixture
- Whisk them together thoroughly
- Then pour wet ingredients into the dry starch mixture and stir QUICKLY
- The starches will start absorbing the liquid quickly and there will be lumps so the quicker you stir the easier will be to smooth the dough
- Once smooth, cover the bowl and set aside in a warm spot to let the dough rise. You will let it rise twice.
- The first rise is 30 minutes. After 30 minutes has passed, “punch” the dough down in its bowl and cover it once more
- The 2nd rise is 1 hour. Make sure to cover your bowl as the dough can dry out (don’t worry there’s a remedy to this if it does)
- After the second rise, divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Spray each part with the oil spray or liberally oil your hands and coat the dough pieces manually
- Preheat your oven to 350F
- Roll each one out into a foot long “snake” shaped piece.
- If a piece starts to crack or isn’t smooth, use oil to piece it together and smooth the cracks. This will help the end result if you take the time to smooth the dough pieces
- On a large oiled cookie sheet, begin to assemble your braid. Do this by pressing together the ends of all 3 dough segments.
- Now begin your braid. If you need a tutorial, this will help. Work slowly, again, since the dough lacks gluten, it will not braid quickly and could break off if you move too quickly.
- Once you reach the end of the braid, pinch the ends together once more. If at any point you need more oil to “mend” the braid segments, use it.
- Now bake your loaf for 25 minutes, removing it from the oven and then topping it with flaky sea salt if desired.
- If your yeast does not bloom, toss it and start again. It should bubble and increase in volume significantly. If it doesn’t, the yeast is either dead or the water may be too hot
- Letting the dough rise twice helps to increase even more air within it. This will help the texture. It will work without the 2nd rise, but it’s even better with it.
- Proofing the dough (letting it rise) in a warm spot will help the yeast activate even more. In a cold area, it will be harder to get the same results.
- Use the ghee spray or oil your hands liberally when you divide the dough. The oil helps seal the outside of the each segment and improves the texture as well as prevents it from getting too crumbly
- Work with the dough slowly. It is not like gluten containing dough. It is slightly more fragile and will break if you rush the process
- You can also use an egg wash but I prefer the spray oil.
- Challah is best same day as made. It will harden quickly if you make it ahead. If you do make ahead the same day as needed, keep it wrapped air tight and warm before serving. It will work well for next day french toast but less well as regular challah.
- If your dough seems too wet to roll, sprinkle little bits of tapioca starch at a time until it becomes more workable
I am totally excited to try this recipe! I am allergic to potato starch. Any thoughts on substitutions? I would suggest maybe tapioca starch but it already utilizes that ingredient. Thoughts? Suggestions?
Hmmm, I’d probably go to your closest Asian market and get sweet potato starch.
I can’t have eggs at the moment. Can this be made with an egg substitute? Might you recommend a flax egg or applesauce or something else I dont know about?
I don’t think egg subs will work with this recipe. I suspect it will be a gummy mess, but if you try please let me know!
Will it hurt to use parchment paper on the pan? Could you use spray olive oil or avocado oil instead of spray ghee?
You can use parchment, no problem! Either oil spray will work.
Martin Yaravitz says
Made it tonight. I did the 2 rises and then put it in a challah mold and gave it another 30 minute rise to fill the mold up. Baked it for 20 minutes, flipped it out of the mold, did an egg wash and baked it for another 20 minutes. It came out beautiful and tastes delicious. The crust is fantastic! I’m curious how well it would freeze. I am 100% sure this loaf will be long gone before it gets frozen.
Yum! Glad you enjoyed it
Kornelia Boros says
Hey this sounds amazing ? my only concern is
is it possible that 2.25 cups of starch would resulted this body? and if I’d does what size of a cake will it be? One person?…..
I would really love to try it but the potato starch is a rare ingredient where I live and I must use it sparklingly.
I would appreciate your help.
Thanks and stay safe❤️
That’s a good question, I am not sure the answer unfortunately.
I only have regular active dry yeast. What changes should I make for that?
I think it will work, might take longer?
I have used regular dry active yeast with excellent results following the recipe as written!
I was so excited to make this! But the dough ended up wicked dry and just crumbled when I tried to roll it and never really raised. I think I followed the recipe exactly… any insight to what may have happened and how to correct for the future??
Hmm, I’m not sure. Did your yeast bloom? Did you use really oily hands?
I think it did! When I combined the wet and dry ingredients I tried to mix quickly like you mentioned, but it was like there wasn’t enough liquid and I used my hands to try to work it all together. Is that normal?
I’m not sure why but you can definitely add a bit more water next time if it is not braidable. It should definitely be wet to start. Hope that helps!
Really yummy! My dough ended up really wet though I dont know what went wrong ??♀️ The only substitute I did was that I used fresh yeast instead of dry.. I ended up adding another cup of potato starch and baked it. Turned out great!
Did you add the ground psyllium husk, 3 tablespoons?
Really impressed with the texture of the finished product! Probably the airiest, springest bread I’ve had since going GF 12 years ago.
I’m curious what brand of psyllium husk powder you use? My powder was rather dense and my loaf came out very brown and the dough was alllmmooosssttt too wet to braid. I’m guessing not all brands are created equal after some quick Googling.
Thank you so much for this recipe! I’m going to try it as a regular loaf bread next.
I typically use Now brand but if your dough is really goopy you can either add LOTS of extra oil to your hands or a little extra flour to work with it. Not sure about how brown your loaf was, was it close to the heat element?
Finally! This is the best paleo bread I have made to date (and I have been experimenting with recipes for 6 or 7 years now). It actually has a true bread-like structure, rather than the typical cake-y structure of most grain-free breads. Not taking away from them – they have their place. But THIS! We had a chicken dinner that begged for bread to sop up the sauce and this delivered.
I made it exactly to your specifications and it was sublime. My son and I MAY have eaten the entire loaf in one sitting, since you said it doesn’t hold well to the next day 🙂
Thank you so much! I’m really glad you enjoyed it so much!!!!
Christine Smith says
I know this is an amazing recipe as I have made so many paleo breads. I was sooo excited to make this but mine turned out too dry and cracked alot. Couldn’t make challah with it at all even though I tried to fix the dryness and made a pizza with it instead. I followed the directions exactly. Do I need to use a certain brand of flours? I also live in Colorado so everything is dry here. Would love recommendations as I would love to try it until it turns out. Thank you so much for posting this recipe, I am so grateful and can’t wait until it turns out as you intend.
This came out phenomenal! I’m super impressed with how truly bread like this is. I followed the recipe exactly. I honestly don’t the dough surprisingly easy to work with which I was NOT expecting. The end result looked and tasted glorious and I got to enjoy challa along with my family this Shabbos! Thank you so much for putting time and energy into something so special.
I’m thinking this will do just fine made round with raisins for Rosh Hashanah!
Oy, so I would need need to get psyllium husk and potato starch in addition to all the other random ingredients I’ve acquired along the way? (I’m on AIP but thank goodness I’ve reintroduced eggs!) I’m too late for RH but could probably do this for Shabbat Shuvah and Sukkot. Thank you for sharing the recipe!
Really excited to try this out! Is the maple syrup used just to keep it paleo, or is it something about the consistency? (Meaning, if I don’t need it to be paleo, could I use honey?) Thanks!
Kalypso Rousso says
Not the author, but I’ve made this with honey with zero issue.
Kalypso Rousso says
I already left a five star review for this last year, but after making this bread again I have to leave another one. This is by far the easiest gluten free (nevermind grain free!) dough I’ve worked with. The dough is so springy and and holds together well when rolled, braided, whatever you want to do with it. I took a loaf to a Chanukah party this year and the non gf people were super impressed.
I added lemon zest the other night and then rolled it out and used it to make chocolate krantz cake. So good! Thanks again for this great recipe!
You are the best, thank you!
Wow wow wow!!! This recipe is a total game changer. Thank you SO much. This has revolutionized Shabbat for me!
I found I needed a bit more tapioca than called for in the recipe. I have made this both in the oven (sprinkled with everything bagel seasoning) and in the air fryer. Both were great but the air fryer was definitely my fave (350 for 11 mins for small buns).
Todah rabah and Shabbat Shalom!!!