Monday, April 2, 2012

Vegan Challah

Oh, my.  Has it really been a month since my last post?  Yikes!  Let me also apologize for my negligence responding to your questions in the comment section of the blog.  If you have an outstanding question on an old post, just fire me an email (see the sidebar on the right).

Today's post is this delicious vegan challah.  I've never had non-vegan challah, so I am blissfully unaware if this measures up to its egg-filled counterpart.  I do know, though, that this is a remarkably tender and delicious (and beautiful) loaf.  According to my Jewish friend, the recipient of one of the loaves, "you'd never know there were no eggs in this!"  Basically, the eggs in challah work to enrich the dough.  The yeast and flour provide rise and structure, so replacing the eggs is not a big deal.  I went with Tofutti cream cheese, because that is what I had on hand, but you could also use soy yogurt or whizzed silken tofu.  As per usual, this is a veganized Peter Reinhart recipe.  Just a word of warning: this makes 2 substantial loaves.  Cut in half if you don't have the fridge space for a huge bowl of dough (or if you don't want that much challah).  You don't have to refrigerate it, of course, but it makes for a much tastier dough and makes the dough easier to work with.

- 18 oz (510g/2.25 cups) lukewarm water
- 1.5 tbsp instant yeast
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed
- 2 oz (56.5g/1/4 cup) warm water
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- 4 oz (113g/1/2 cup) vegan cream cheese, or soy yogurt, or whizzed silken tofu
- 2.5 oz (71g/5 tbsp) oil
- 3 oz (85g/6 tbsp) sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 34 oz (964g/7.5 cups) white bread flour
- 2.5 tsp salt
- plain soy milk, for brushing
- poppy and sesame seeds, for garnish

1. Pour water into a mixing bowl, then sprinkle yeast over top.  Whisk to dissolve.
2. Whisk the flax seed, the 1/2 cup of water, and turmeric in a medium separate bowl.  Let sit for a few mins to thicken, then whisk again. Add cream cheese (or whatever you are using) and whisk until smooth.  Then add oil and whisk until smooth.
3. Add flax mixture to the yeast/water mixture.  Add sugar, extract, flour, and salt then bring together into a rough dough.  Let sit for 5 mins to let the flour absorb the liquid.
4. Mix with a dough hook on med-lo speed for 4 minutes, or with by hand with a large, wet, spoon.  Transfer to a floured surface and knead for 1 to 2 mins, until you get a very soft and tacky (but not sticky) dough.  Add flour sparingly as needed.  Place dough into a very large, oiled bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.  The dough will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge and will rise like crazy.
5. On baking day, remove the dough from the fridge and immediately divide into 10 equal pieces on a lightly floured surface (i.e. 5 pieces for each loaf).  Roll each piece into a 14 inch rope with tapered ends.  Braid 5 ropes into a loaf, as per this video.  Repeat with remaining 5 ropes.
6.  Place loaves on a baking tray (or two smaller trays if they can both fit on one shelf in your oven) lined with parchment.  Brush loaves with soy milk (I actually mist them with a spray bottle filled with soy milk).  Let sit for 2 mins, then brush again.  Top with seeds.  Let sit, uncovered, for 1 hour (or until risen about 1.5 times in size).
7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  When loaves have risen, bake on the middle shelf for 20 mins.  Rotate the pan, then bake for another 15-20 mins (or until loaves are golden brown and register at least 190 degrees in the middle.
8.  Cool on a wire rack for 45 mins before slicing.  Enjoy!


Whole Foods Vegan Momma said...

Do you think this would work with GF flour and some xantham gum? I'm dying to make some bread, now that I'm GF I'm tired of storebought stuff.

CautiouslyAudacious said...

Perfect timing I just came from WF's wishing I could buy a loaf now I can just make it myself, thanks!

Chaya Phally said...

they look so beautiful!

mollyjade said...

I've been searching for a good vegan challah recipe, and I'm excited to try this! But you HAD to post it just before Passover?! :)

Heather D-H said...

What a triumphant return! I am super excited to try this out, I desperately miss challah bread french toast...

Maggie Muggins said...

Wow, beautiful loaves! Challah is something I never actually tried before, but I've always wanted to veganize it, same with babka. You really can't go wrong with a Peter Reinhart recipe.

Jaime said...

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I used to eat challah on a fairly regular basis (I worked in a bakery) and it was delicious. I haven't had it since going vegan and have been too intimidated to approach making it myself. Thanks again!

kzcakes said...

Cant wait to make this, ill have it for easter brunch!! Thanks so much for posting!

jenny said...

Hey Vegan Dad! I have a question about these, but can't find your email address on the right?

Heather D-H said...

These are in the oven right now and smell amazingly just like challah bread... excited to see how they taste when they come out!

Madison @Veggieful said...

I LOVE your photos. To be honest, I am actually in love with your whole blog!

Tom Riles said...

wow...that looks awesome. Can't wait to try it.

Rachel said...

Can you try a recipe like this with whole wheat flour? I am kosher AND vegan and I make a challah every week for shabbat. I prefer to use only whole wheat. What I've been doing is using a regular recipe and subbing ground flax for the eggs, but I am interested in trying something new!

colormehappygrrl said...

Just wanted to let you know that I made this for Easter and it was awesome! Your instructions were easy to follow even though I am not an experienced bread maker! :) Thank you!

sarah said...

This looks so good! I have tried vegan challah with commercial egg replacer, but and very excited to try it with the soy yogurt/tofu instead.

Annie Hall said...

oH my god!! it look sooo good!!
Thank you for the recipe

Ms. Margol said...

Tried this recipe and OMG, it takes so close to real challah! The texture is absolutely perfect. It's so easy to make, I love that you refrigerate the dough then you can braid and bake when you need it!

Just wondered, is there such a thing as a bread thermometer? My candy thermometer worked but left a huge hole!


laura said...

I made this today for Rosh Hashanah and it was AMAZING!! I wisked the Trader Joe's vegan cream cheese, water, flax, vanilla, yeast, and oil together then put it in the bread maker with the flour and walked away. When the dough cycle was over I shaped it and let it rise for half an hour. From there I baked it for 36 minutes and it was PERFECT! This was my first vegan challah and I plan on making this regularly. Thank you so much!!

Esther said...

Quick post to say THANK YOU and that these are totally Jewish vegan approved! Made these yesterday and all the non-vegans at my Rosh Hashanah dinner loved them. Absolutely perfect challah. Love! Thank you!!

Leah said...

Thanks for the solid vegan Challah recipe. I tried the tofutti version and it turned out great. Great texture and looks beautiful!