Sunday, February 10, 2013

GFDF Challah, Take 1

A couple of people have asked me over the years if I knew a decent recipe for challah. I kept promising I'd work on something, but the recipes were always so daunting. Eventually I just forgot about it. But this week Eric decided that he wanted me to take the risk and make gluten-free, dairy-free challah. I'd tried challah a few times before I gave up gluten, but it was so long ago that I have no idea what it's supposed to look, feel, or taste like.

This weekend I decided to give it a go. I found four different recipes on the web and chose the one that looked the prettiest and most like challah from Living Without (If anyone wants the recipe, just ask and I'll email it to you). 

Right from the start, things went wrong. Even though it was right on my shopping list, I'd managed to forget to buy rice flour. Luckily, Eric was on his way back from the gym and picked some up for me. He called me from the store to see if there was anything else I needed, which was just about the time that I noticed that the packet of yeast I found in the cupboard had expired in 2008. I don't bake a lot. While I was waiting, I spilled potato starch all over the floor and the dog tried to eat it while I was sweeping it and I had to threaten him with the broom before he backed off. Who knew dogs liked potato flour?

As soon as Eric got back, I was ready to begin. Sort of. It was only after I got all the ingredients together that I realized why I hadn't tried to bake bread for years. Making GF bread is complicated and confusing. Sometimes it's just easier to bite the bullet and spend the extra money to buy it at the store. Let the professionals deal with complicated mixes of expensive, hard-to-find ingredients. But I'd promised Eric I'd try, so I did. I'd already bought rice flour, tapioca flour, chickpea flour, Dari-free powder and potato starch just to make this thing. No point in wasting it.

Then I realized that Eric hid my mixer. He has a habit of putting things away, which is nice, until you realize that what he really does is hide them somewhere in the basement, which involves washing the cobwebs out. I was in no mood to deal with cobwebs. Out came the hand mixer, which worked for five whole minutes until the thick sticky mass that was trying to become bread broke one of my beaters in half. Luckily the dough was so sticky that it didn't fly off and hurt anyone, although it did take a couple of minutes to extricate the half-beater from it. I bet regular challah with gluten in it never broke a beater.

I soldiered on. Out came the plastic wrap and olive oil for the dough-rolling, which felt like making one of those slippery water snake toys. It was too sticky for braiding easily, so I took the tubes that I'd made and wound them around the springform pan, twisting them a bit.

Not counting all the waiting time, it took at least an hour just to prepare the dough, then another 30-40 minutes to wait for the yeast to rise, then another hour to bake the thing. I'm ready for a nap.

End result? Eric said, "it tastes just like challah, but well, you know, it's still gluten-free." I'll admit it was pretty dense. He still ate two slices of it, so I know he appoved.

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