Poppy Seed Challah for Rosh Hashanah - gluten free, dairy free, soy free, nut free
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A slightly sweet brioche-type challah that is sure to please without any fussy techniques. No need to pass on having challah anymore!
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: Jewish
Serves: serves 12-14
  • Makes 1 round 9-inch challah
  • You will need a 9-inch round springform pan, greased. Round challah is traditional for Rosh Hashanah, a.k.a Jewish New Year.
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) warm water - should be at 110 degrees F
  • 1 heaping tablespoon GF yeast (quick-rising)-I use yeast labeled gluten free
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 454 grams GF flour (this is the total for the four right below)-see note under ingredients
  • 151 grams fine brown rice flour
  • 103 grams tapioca flour
  • 101 grams white rice flour
  • 100 grams sorghum flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 4 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks, room temperature (Egg free option in notes)
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • poppy seeds for the topping (or sesame seeds)
  • 1 whole egg, whisked, for brushing on before baking
  • * To yield best results I weigh each flour. If using your own GF All Purpose flour mix, use total weight. Also, if your flour blend contains gums omit from the recipe.
  1. ** Prep Time includes proofing **
  2. Combine yeast with the warm water and sugar, gently mix up by hand, and proof about 5-10 minutes until really foamy. Add honey when yeast mixture is foamy, and stir. Set aside.
  3. Dry blend the flours, gum, and salt VERY well, for 2 minutes in the mixer.
  4. Meanwhile, boil water 2-3 cups in a saucepan (just eyeball this), then transfer the saucepan into the oven on the lower rack (no heat) to prepare for proofing. The moist, warm environment will help proof the dough and prevent it from drying. This technique has been the most effective.
  5. Weigh the flours one at a time and transfer to a stand mixer bowl. Once all flours have been weighed and added the the stand mixer bowl, then add the salt and xanthan gum. Mix on medium for a minute.
  6. Meanwhile, whisk 4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks with oil in a small bowl. Add the yeast mixture and then egg mixture to the bowl. Mix on medium-low until the flour has incorporated into the wet ingredients, 1-2 minutes. Scrape down sides and mix another 10 seconds or so.
  7. Gently rub some oil on the exposed areas of the dough then let it proof on the upper rack of the oven you have prepared with. It should feel warm and moist when you open the oven door.
  8. Proof for 1½ hours, or until double in size. Transfer into greased 9-inch round springform pan.
  9. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (20-30 minutes before proofing is done).
  10. Whisk the egg reserved and brush liberally on the challah. Sprinkle on poppy then bake 30-35 minutes until bread sounds hollow and top is golden brown. My wall oven took 30 minutes exactly. Let it sit in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then rub a dull butter knife along the edges to catch any stuck-on areas. Remove challah bread from the pan. Let it cool 10 minutes on a cooling rack. Serve warm or room temperature. Wrap any leftover bread in a cotton towel; plastic wrap will make it soggy.
  11. For storing:
  12. Make sure you cool the challah on a rack completely before storing in the freezer. I plastic wrap my cooled challah (after a couple of hours) two layers then insert into a gallon sized freezer bag. It can stay in the freezer for two months. Before serving, warm the bread in a 300 degree F oven for 5-7 minutes before serving.
  13. If you want to bake the bread as loaves during the year, oil (generously) two standard sized loaf pans. Let rise until they are almost to the top and bake. Note: I have not baked it as a loaf yet, adjust baking time accordingly to the time needed for a loaf. I’d say 45-55 minutes but have not done so yet; if you do, let me know how it came out-round challah bread or loaf!
  15. All ingredients should be room temperature. Chilled ingredients inhibit the yeast from colonizing, which will prevent your dough from rising resulting in stale tasting challah bread.
  16. Sometimes, one half cup differs from another persons half cup, even grains have different weights so I took note to weigh everything for consistently results. Scales these days are less than $40 and can be bought online, a great investment when baking!
  17. Over mixing the dough will make this gummy and chewy due to the gum. I know some are opposed to using gums; I have tested this recipe without xanthan gum (my preferred way to bake) and found it to be too crumbly, if you do not mind that then leave it out.
  18. I have tried to braid it then make it round and found that I was worked the dough too much trying to shape it without much binder in it that it resulted in less-than-moist results. If you feel you must have it braided, and want to go the extra mile here, may I suggest making extra dough to set aside and then add more flour to that so you can braid a small portion then top the challah with it. Email me and I will explain further.
  19. Don’t press the dough into the pan like you would a pizza crust, rather more of a gentle hand to prevent the dough from becoming dense.
  20. Gently brush egg (optional) on the challah without added pressure to prevent deflation. Sesame seeds, the traditional option, is a nice alternative.
  21. EGG FREE OPTION: My oldest son cannot tolerate egg since last year so I cut the recipe in half and omit the egg. Instead, I use a ⅛ cup of applesauce (chunky) and 2 tablespoons of BPA Free canned chickpea liquid. It binds well when making a smaller challah. Use a 6-inch springform pan and adjust baking time to 25-30 minutes. Ovens do vary so keep an eye on it and check for doneness with a toothpick.
  22. This is gluten free and dairy free, so it will not result in a traditional “ball of dough”, that’s okay, it will be delicious and like challah. What you should have is a very sticky dough that is shapeless. I found that the bread doughs I have made in the past, that did take shape, were dry and more like stale bread.
  23. You will need to plop (yes plop) the dough into the springform not scrape it out (again, this will add pressure to the dough thus deflating it) then scrape what sticks to the bowl with a non-stick spatula. Forget the wooden spoon, it will stick too much unless you choose to dip your spoon in oil first.
  24. Best made on the same day as serving.
Recipe by From Jessica's Kitchen at http://fromjessicaskitchen.com/poppy-seed-challah-for-rosh-hashanah/