Vegan sourdough challah

Yes, such a beast exists.

I have been fascinated by challah for a long, long time. It has to be one of the most beautiful breads out there, and most bread baking books are full of praises for the rich festival bread.

Or it could just be that I wanted to braid dough. πŸ™‚

I found Maggie Glezer's sourdough challah recipe at The Fresh Loaf. It is a comprehensive recipe with detailed instructions, which makes it so much easier to follow.

To make it vegan, I replaced the eggs with a flax seed emulsion and the honey with agave nectar.  Here is the recipe with my modifications.

For the starter:

2 tablespoons (1.2 ounces) active firm sourdough starter

1/3 cup (2.8 ounces) warm water

1 cup (4.8 ounces) bread flour

For final dough:

1/4 cup warm water

3 large eggs, plus 1 for glazing I replaced the three eggs with 3 tbsp of powdered flax seed plus 9 tbsp water. For the glaze, I used 1/4 tsp cornstarch and 1/4 cup water.

1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons agave nectar

About 3 cups (14 ounces) bread flour

Fully fermented sourdough starter

Evening before baking:

Knead starter into water until it is partially dissolved, then stir in the flour. Knead this firm dough until it is smooth.  Let the starter ferment until it has tripled in volume, 8 to 12 hours.

Baking day:

In a large bowl, beat together the water, powdered flax seeds plus the additional water, salt, oil, and nectar until well combined. With your hands or a wooden spoon, mix in the bread flour. When the mixture is a shaggy ball, scrape it out onto your work surface, add the starter, and knead until the dough is smooth, no more than 10 minutes. If the dough is too firm to knead easily, add a tablespoon or two of water to it; if it seems too wet, add a few tablespoons flour.

The dough should feel smooth and very firm but be easy to knead.

Fermenting the dough:

Place the dough in the warm cleaned bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough ferment for about 2 hours. It will probably not rise much.

Shaping and proofing the dough:

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Braid the dough as desired, position the loaf on the prepared sheet, and cover with plastic wrap. Let proof until tripled in size, about 5 hours.

30 minutes before baking, arrange one rack in the upper third position . Preheat the oven to 350Β°F. Prepare the glaze for the loaf. (Vegan glazes- soymilk, cornstarch and water, baking soda and water.) I microwaved 1/2 tsp cornstarch with 1/4 cup water for three minutes. Online forums suggested that it would give the bread that eggy shine. Unfortunately it did not quite work out that way. πŸ™‚

Baking the loaves:

When the loaf has tripled and does not push back when gently pressed with your finger, brush with the glaze. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until very well browned. If the loaf is browning too quickly, tent it with foil. When done, remove the loaf from the oven and let cool on a rack.

I have not had regular challah, but this version was delightful. Not very soft, but a rich, sweet flavor- the crust was especially delicious. The crumb is light, soft and moist. I will be making this challah again.

The vegan sourdough challah goes to the weekly Yeastspotting over at the Wild Yeast blog.

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About purplesque

Psychiatrist, cook, bookworm, photographer. Not necessarily in that order.
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26 Responses to Vegan sourdough challah

  1. woooooohoooo first comment!!!Hee…Flax seed emulsion to replace egg? WOW!!! That sounds fascinating. I'm going to look it up. Your picture at the top is EXQUISITE!!!!! I'm imaging it plowing through the monitor onto my keyboard, ready to be devoured. *sigh*The second one is super too. You're a good braider! I've braided hair and cloth and yarn and clay and licorice (yes…….) but never dough. It seems like it would be tricky to do.Now I need to eat lunch.*grabs the bread and runs*

  2. Nancy says:

    It looks beautiful. I always wanted to be a great bread baker but I never seem to find the time to practice. This one looks so wonderful, I'll have to try it.

  3. that looks really yummy…..

  4. faithy says:

    Looks good!! i didn't know that eggs can be replaced by powdered flex seed & water! I learnt something new today! πŸ™‚ I've never heard of agave nectar – so i am gonna look up to see if our supermarkets here sells it.

  5. Waterbaby says:

    As you know, I'm not a bread eater but can appreciate the beauty and appeal of certain breads and the braided one has always been among them. There's something about the shape that's grounding and earthy.

  6. Brown Suga' says:

    That looks glorious. I'm favouriting this!

  7. Vijay says:

    I'll stick to my usual comment…:P~

  8. Purplesque says:

    πŸ™‚ The fax sees emulsion thingie does well in breads and muffins and that sort of thing..I should use it more often.Braiding licorice! That must have been fun..how did it come about? When I had hair long enough to braid, it took me a long long time to learn to relax the strands..my braids were always tight and uneven! πŸ˜€

  9. Purplesque says:

    Thank you..you are right, bread does take a lot of time. Most of it is waiting time, though- I just plan my weekends around the bread. lol

  10. Purplesque says:

    Thank you! Agave nectar comes from the agave plant (mostly cultivated in desert areas, I believe.) It is usually available in health food stores and online on Amazon. It is suppose to be a slow-breaking sugar, healthier than plain sugar..I just use it because it has a cleaner taste than honey.

  11. Purplesque says:

    Thanking you kindly, Suga! We need to get together over tea and fresh challah with butter..

  12. Purplesque says:

    Um..is that you drooling or is that just your new beard? πŸ˜€

  13. Waterbaby says:

    nah, not all breads will take to or respond well to braiding.

  14. Andrew says:

    Ever try to make challah with soy milk?Vegan Challah (soy milk)

  15. Mary says:

    I've never heard of using flax seed emulsion as an egg substitute. I have some research to do!. Your bread, by-the-way, is beautiful.

  16. Excellent! Vegan challah! I have been wanting to make this for ages now. Though hubby doesn't like challah. Just for the sheer experience of making it once, I gotta try your recipe. Thanks for sharing it!

  17. I wonder how that flax works. I keep forgettting to look it up. The chemical who-ha must be similar.Licorice!!!!! *deep sigh of longing* i love [black] licorice (the real one, not the silly stuff that's sold most often now) with a love that knows no bounds. I also like the strawberry kind when it's well made, even though it's not licorice at all. When I was a kid we used to go to a store that sold red and black (REAL licorice in it!!) strings, about 3 ft long, in clumps. I had long braids at the time (long enough to sit on and have them tickle the backs of my knees) and I was learning how to braid them myself, so my Mom would help me knot the ends of three strands (or 6 or 9) and then I'd practice braiding my licorice. When the braid was done I'd tie it off and then start eating. WOWEEEEEE! The 9 strand ones were huge mouthfuls (even when I took short bites) and I think I loosened some fillings on them, but how wonderful it was. One time I braided all the fringe around the bottom of the living room sofa.I still braid anything I can get my hands on, that's in strings or coils.Gosh now I want some licorice. But that real black kind is tough to find, and when I do, it's $$$. And I eat it too fast!

  18. Purplesque says:

    That's a great idea! Thank you for the link..your challah looks a lot softer than mine.

  19. Purplesque says:

    Thank you. I have used milled flax seeds instead of eggs before..mostly in things like cake and muffins. They seem to work pretty well.

  20. Purplesque says:

    πŸ™‚ Thank you. Flavor-wise, this bread was awesome. The crust tasted..almost of caramelized milk. I hope you like it!

  21. Purplesque says:

    I don't know either..what I do know if flax seed has a lot of 'good fat' and fiber- and when you whisk it with water it changes into the kind of emulsion you get with beaten eggs- gooey stuff that makes things bind.How scientific was that? lolLicorice! I remember we had a licorice discussion before- I finally found a packet of just one strand in the health food store- it wasn't very expensive, and now I doubt if it was real. It had the picture of a bear or a panda on top. That strand had an interesting taste- I've eaten something like that in India, but couldn't pinpoint it. Not something I would try again- unless I find the real kind you mentioned.lol@ braiding the sofa fringe! I used to love braiding streamers- even though it wasn't a proper braid.

  22. Was it Panda ? That's real — deelish! — not as bite-y as I like , thoughKookaburra is also good.gooey stuff that makes things bind. *giggles* Makes perfect sense to me!

  23. Purplesque says:

    Ah…found it!! Licorice is called mulaithi in India. It is quite a good expectorant. I remember the flavor fondly because whenever we had coughs, mom would allow us to eat a special 'mulaithi paan' from the corner tobacco shops. Paan is a kind of mouth freshener, made of rolled up betel leaves stuffed with cardamom, rose petal jam, areca nuts, cloves, dried cherries, (tobacco for those who use it), and so on. We were not normally allowed to eat paan (it was considered an adult thing, plus it made your mouth turn red), but a bad cough would allow us to bypass that rule!Oh, now I miss paan.

  24. Purplesque says:

    Hmm..odd. It was panda, but I sure didn't pay 20 bucks for it. Might have to go back and check..

  25. 20 bucks for it. Those are shipping containers, I think – multiples, 36 count, etc. A small box here costs about $3.50. Used to be $2.50 last year! I don't buy it anymore… Paan sounds good (not the tobacco one) — and I'm sure it was a bit healthier than what we got when we had coughs: Elixir Terpin Hydrate w/Codeine.

  26. Emjay says:

    Wow! Plaited bread! You are my hero! πŸ™‚

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