Vegan, Gluten Free Challah

Vegan challah is sort of a misnomer, as challah is egg-bread. Vegan, gluten free challah is a difficult thing to make as it requires a lot of substitutions. This recipe doesn't really replace normal "gluten-full" challah, but provides a nice bread for Friday night. The next day it toasts really well too with some Earth Balance butter on top.
Note: this bread is really best straight out of the oven, but that is not really feasible for most on a Friday afternoon. If you bake it say, on Thursday night, just warm it in the oven Friday evening (set at 200 degrees or so for 5-10 minutes). This recipe makes enough dough for one pan/mold. Because the dough is really sticky, it is not suitable to braid like traditional challah, so I use a pan that mimics the braids or a round pan to make a round loaf for Rosh Hashana.

1 teaspoon egg replacer + 3 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon ground flax (or ground chia) + 3 tablespoons warm water
1/3 cup warm water + 1 teaspoon sugar + 2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (1 packet worth)
2 1/8 cups gluten-free flour (again, Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 tablespoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons vegan mayonnaise
olive oil spray
chia seeds

In a small bowl, combine the egg replacer with warm water. Stir really well so the powder is dissolved and let sit for 5 minutes. In another small bowl, combine the flax (or chia) and warm water. Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes until it becomes a thick gel. In yet another bowl, combine the warm water with the sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the yeast to the sugar water, mix and let sit for 5-10 minutes until it proofs and becomes very frothy.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, xanthan gum, salt and turmeric. Mix well with a whisk so everything is well combined. Push the dry ingredients to the sides of the bowl to form a well.

In another medium bowl, mix the warm water, oil, and vinegar.  Add these wet ingredients to the well of the dry ingredients but don’t mix yet.

In the well, add the egg replacer, the flax gel and the vegan mayonnaise. Using a whisk, mix these wet ingredients in the well a bit. Lastly, add the yeast mixture to the well. Using a spatula, mix the ingredients in the well, incorporating the flour more and more until all the flour has been mixed with the wet ingredients. It will resemble a thick batter, and not really a dough.

When the batter is thoroughly mixed, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Put the bowl in a warm area and allow it to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. While you’re waiting, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and oil the challah mold or baking pan.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. After the dough has doubled in size (about an hour), wet your hand and mix the batter again for a moment--it will deflate. Fill the mold or pan with the batter between 1/2 and 2/3 full.  Don't overfill the pan as it will rise again now, and then in the oven.  If you have extra batter, put it in another pan to make another small loaf. Cover the mold with plastic wrap and the damp towel and allow it to rise another 30 minutes or until it almost reaches the top of the mold. If you let it rise to the very top of the mold, it may overflow in the oven.

Remove the towel and plastic wrap and place the mold on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until the top (which is really the bottom) is browned. Take the baking sheet out of the oven. Using potholders (the mold will be hot!), carefully turn the mold over so the challah releases and is on the parchment paper.

Spray the top of the loaf with the olive oil spray, and sprinkle some chia seeds on top. Return the challah to the oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes or until the challah is golden brown and has a hollow sound when you thump on it. The time may vary depending on your oven and the size loaves you are making.

Allow to cool completely before saying the motzi!