Challah bread is the perfect breakfast bread. It is a tender egg bread that is perfect for celebrating holidays, Shabbat, or any other special occasion. Just place the whole loaf on the table and allow everyone to help themselves. This version is made gluten-free, so more people can enjoy it!
The dough to make challah is very soft and elastic. It takes a few rises to get the right texture, but the time and energy are worth it. You will need at least two hours of rising time to get this challah texture perfectly right. You would never know that was gluten-free bread by the look or taste!
Most of the gluten-free challah varieties at the store (and store-bought GF bread in general) are usually pretty dry. All gluten-free folks will tell you that homemade GF bread will always be tastier and fluffier than store-bought. This is partly because of moisture evaporation between baking time and shipping time. Moisture-loss is not an issue with homemade GF bread, as you will be consuming it almost immediately.
A fun and welcome addition to this gluten-free bread recipe is apples! Freshly sliced apples, along with a homemade cinnamon-sugar mix, are what sets this challah bread apart from the rest. Apple cider is used to bloom the yeast, adding extra apple flavor to the bread.
Once the dough has risen, that’s what the fun begins. Sliced apples are laid out along with lots of cinnamon and raw sugar. The dough is rolled up and sliced, exposing the apples inside and allowing them to caramelize in the oven. The challah is brushed with egg wash before baking to get the glossy sheen associated with challah bread.
Bake the challah until it has that traditional golden sheen or about 40 minutes. The challah may stick to the pan the longer you let it cool due to the sugars in the dough. Be sure you allow the bread to cool slightly before turning it out, but do not let it cool all the way. The sugars will harden and it will become very difficult to remove the challah from the pan. Don’t waste all your hard work!
You can serve this bread in slices with softened butter or honey and everyone will devour it. If you do happen to have leftovers, this challah bread makes for fabulous bread pudding or french toast the next morning. It also reheats well in the microwave for 10 seconds or in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.
In a bowl, combine the apple cider, yeast, and sugar. Stir to combine and set aside.
Add 2 of the eggs, the oil, and the salt. Gradually add the flour until a soft dough forms.
Sprinkle the flour onto a surface and knead the dough for 5 minutes. Place in a clean bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise for an hour in a warm place.
Punch the dough down after an hour and cover and allow to rise again for another hour.
After 1 hour, combine the additional raw sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
Slice an apple into ⅛-inch slices. Toss with lemon juice to avoid browning.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Transfer dough to a clean, floured surface and knead until the dough becomes elastic or about 2-5 minutes.
Roll out with a rolling pin into a rectangular shape.
On the side closest to you, lay out a thin row of apples. Top with some of the cinnamon sugar. Roll the dough over the apples so that they are covered in dough. Lay out another thin row of apples on top of your last folded layer, top with cinnamon sugar, and roll the dough over once again. Continue making rows of apples, topping with cinnamon sugar, and rolling until the entire challah has been rolled into a log.
Cut the dough into 1 to 2-inch slices and lay cut-side-down around a buttered-cake pan. Lay an apple slice in between each slice. Brush with egg wash and top with the remaining cinnamon sugar.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Allow it to cool before removing the challah from the pan.