Gluten-free breads can be tricky to shape. Here is my recipe for a gluten-free Challah bread that can be braided. Another one you might try is the Round Challah Bread, Guten-Free recipe which is much simpler to make.
2 1/2 cups rice flour
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 1/2 cups All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour (we use Bob’s Redmill)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar (evaporated cane juice)
2 packages active dry yeast
3 Tablespoons of ground flax seeds
3 Tablespoons soy lecithin (non GMO)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 to 3 1/2 cups warm water (approximate, as needed)
2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
Preheat oven to 200oF.
In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour, potato starch, tapioca, xanthan gum, and salt.
In a medium size bowl mix 1/4 cup sugar with the yeast and pour in 1/3 cup of the warm water. The water should be lukewarm, not hot, or the yeast won’t work. Beat the mixture with a fork and let sit for about 5 minutes. The top should foam. If it doesn’t the yeast is no good and the dough won’t rise.
In another medium bowl beat flax seeds and lecithin with 1/3 cup water. Add the olive oil and beat until creamy. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour, followed by the flax mixture. Stir to incorporate. Add warm water, 1/3 cup at a time until a very thick batter is made. Place on the top of the oven and cover with a towel. I have a gas oven with the burners raised above the top surface of the oven so that the sheet is not directly touching the heat – it is just in a warm environment. If you have a flat surface cook top you many want to place the bread on a rack so it is not in direct contact with the heat. Allow the dough to rise and double in size for about 1 hour.
On a cutting board or work table sprinkle the surface with all-purpose-gf-flour. Add all-purpose-gf-flour, about 1/3 at a time to the batter. Add just enough to form a sticky wet dough, about 1 cup. Clean hands and rub with olive oil in order to handle sticky dpough Divide the dough into 3 uniform balls. Shape each dough into a long roll about 1 1/2 inches thick. Place the 3 rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Attached the 3 ends at the top and carefully braid them, attaching the ends at the bottom. If the dough cracks a little you can pinch it back together.
Brush the bread with water to smooth the dough and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Let rise for 30 minutes. The dough will spread. If you want the dough to stay in place, pull of the side of the parchment paper and staple the corners together, creating a cradle to keep the dough from spreading out.
Increase oven temperature to 375oF and bake bread for 35-45 minutes. If the top starts to get too brown, remove bread from the oven and cover with aluminum foil and return to the oven to continue baking. To determine if the bread is done, insert a toothpick to see if it comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.