We hosted a potluck for Sukkot this year and told everyone we would provide the challah. The last shabbus potluck we went to had regular challah and Miriam ended up with some symptoms due to cross-contamination from the eggs (part of the ritual is breaking the bread with your hands; while we don’t do that of course, others we ate with did and, despite their trying to avoid it, the crumbs spread).
At our last time hosting a Jewish potluck with these friends, we made a great challah from a Pamela’s bread mix. It came out great and worked well with a braid too. But Miriam had her first life-threatening allergic reaction in August and our top suspect is tapioca (negative in the allergy testing but we’re not letting her have it until we can do it in a controlled manner with medical backup). As anyone gluten-free for a while knows, pretty much every gluten-free bread mix or product on the market contains tapioca. It’s a great flour, but Pamela’s has it too and we just can’t take the chance.
First I took the fresh masa, scooped some chucks out of the bag with a spoon, evened them out, and rolled them into 3 balls.
Then, I rolled each ball into a log.
And braided it, crimping the ends well and pushing down on the dough so it wouldn’t come apart.
Then it went for a roll (all sides) in a plate of sesame seeds. I added some oatmeal so it would be “bread” we could say Hamotzi over. This is completely optional if you don’t need it for religious purposes. The oats didn’t change the taste or texture at all. If you react to the wheat contamination in most oats, use ones certified gluten-free. The sesame, on the other hand, was delicious and added a nice crunch.
I carefully moved each loaf to a baking pan generously coated with olive oil.
I baked them at 325*F for about 35 minutes, turning once halfway through (use two spatulas so they don’t break apart). I left them in the oven with the heat off for another 10 minutes or so.
Miriam ate about half of what was there and the rest of us made sure the plate was empty. Even the nonallergic folks thought it was fabulous. It came out dense and chewy, almost like a bagel (hmmm…) but still light enough to have the mouthfeel of bread.
I’ll have to experiment a little. The oil kept it from sticking and also made it richer, which was what I was going for. Without the oil, it might taste more like a tortilla. But, overall, I’m very happy with how it came out.
Happiness is a little girl jumping for joy singing “it’s challah that doesn’t make me sick!!!”