It seemed almost silly to try to make vegan Challah bread. The whole point of the bread is that it’s egg bread, right? I’m always craving it though, that fluffy pull-apart braided deliciousness that I grew up eating and loving. I made it once before, substituting bananas for the eggs, and it had the perfect texture down pat. However, while you couldn’t actually taste the bananas very clearly, their sweetness carried over through baking and made the bread much sweeter than traditional Challah. It would have been perfect Challah to make into French Toast.
This time, I wanted a more savory Challah flavor, so I found a new recipe that used Flax Seeds instead of eggs, and I subbed olive oil in place of the usual canola oil; This way, it was much less of a dessert bread! The ground flax left beautiful brown flecks all over, and the olive oil made lovely little golden specks throughout the bread. This recipe was very simple, with few ingredients and the only trick was that I needed to have the time at home to do it. You can find the original recipe here on the “Holy Cow!” blog.
The fresh-baked aroma was enticing, and we gobbled this loaf up in mere minutes, as soon as I took the bread out of the oven! My brother claims he ate over half of it by himself in 3 minutes, but as a witness and participant, I know that he definitely had some help. It was good with melted vegan butter spread on it, and would have been great with some avocado slices (but we ate the bread too fast to remember that we had avocado in the house…).
I’m planning on making this recipe again and again, and I’m really into variations; For instance, I could have added a bit of crushed roasted garlic into the dough and it would definitely have tasted great! Next time, I’m looking forward to making this recipe with canola oil instead of olive, and rolling the dough out, sprinkling cinnamon and sugar over it, and then rolling it up and baking it in a loaf pan, to get fluffy cinnamon bread (like the kind that Semifreddi’s makes). Doesn’t that sound delicious?
2 1/4 tsp. or 1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
Mix the yeast and the warm water in a mixing bowl and leave alone for five minutes to ensure the yeast is alive. If it froths and bubbles, it is!
Add to the bowl:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 Tblsp. ground flax seed meal + 6 Tblsp. water, whisked together to form a jelly
3 Tblsp. olive oil
3 Tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
Mix on medium-low speed until blended. Add:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Knead on medium low speed in a stand mixer for about 5 minutes or about 10 minutes by hand. The dough should be elastic and smooth.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, turn it once to coat the top with oil, then cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 2 1/2 hours in a warm place (I used a slightly preheated oven, which then I turned off and just let the bowl with dough sit in there).
Punch down the dough, knead a bit, and then place back into your bowl in a warm place, covered with your plastic wrap, until the dough has doubled (mine took about 30 minutes).
Divide the dough into three balls. Roll each ball into a rope about 12 inches in length. Dust with flour.
Braid the strands, and pinch together the ends and tuck them under the bread.
Transfer the loaf to a baking sheet.
Brush the top of the loaf with some olive oil which will give it a lovely glaze after baking.
Cover the loaf with oiled plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to rise. In about an hour, it would have nearly doubled in size.
Brush the loaf again with olive oil, sprinkle some sesame seeds over it, then place it in a preheated 375-degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Cool the loaf on a rack before cutting in…Or just dig in and tear madly, and then stuff your face, like we did.
It even had that perfect, stretchy, pull-apart consistency: