Vegan Challah #Aquafaba
Despite my Jewish-sounding last name, my people come from a corner of Britain probably known more for its coal than for its latkes.
Having said that, I have a strong affinity for Jewish culture, and I have many good Jewish friends. And beyond that, I’m always interested in learning about any culture through its food, and Jewish food is pretty wonderful.
Think bagels and lox, rugelach, and the matzoh ball soup. Comforting, tasty, steeped in tradition, and made for generations with love. Oh–and latkes. My very non-Jewish child always gets really excited when I make those.
Hanukkah is coming soon, and some of you out there may be, or have vegans coming to your holiday feasts. If that’s the case, I would like to present to you a recipe for vegan challah.
But first; what the heck is challah? The symbolism, like many Jewish traditions, goes deep. Remember in Biblical times when the Jews were wandering through the desert for 40 years, after being released from slavery in Egypt? Well, every morning, they’d wake up to manna, which was a kind of bread, which had fallen from heaven. It was God’s way of feeding them. But because the Sabbath was a day of rest, the day before, they would get two loaves of bread, one for that day, and a second one to tide them over during the Sabbath.
Traditional challah recipes make two loaves.
Additionally, the loaf, which is a yeast-based dough enriched with eggs, is normally braided before it’s baked. You can do a braid of 3 or 6–the idea of the 6-braided strand is that there are 6 days in the week, and the 7th, the Sabbath, is represented by the whole loaf.
Whether you’re Jewish or not, challah is pretty darn tasty. It’s a little sweet, and it has a beautiful, glossy, glazed top. You can also accent it with different flavors; kosher salt, poppy seeds and sesame seeds are all popular ways to stud the top of your loaf.
The base for this recipe comes from Mayim Bialik’s cookbook, Mayim’s Vegan Table. I added my own touches, including aquafaba, which, of course, just made it better, and well, aquafabulous (sorry. Shameless plug. A girl must sell cookbooks).
Shalom and Happy Hanukkah!
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup water, divided
- 1/4 cup aquafaba
- 6 tsp sugar, divided
- ¾ tsp kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tbsp vegan milk
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- In a small bowl, place 1/4 cup warm tapwater, and stir in 1 1/2 tsp of sugar. Then sprinkle the yeast over top and allow to sit for about 5-10 minutes. The yeast will become cloudy and dissolve.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, add 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup aquafaba, 2 tablespoons oil, 3/4 tsp salt, and the remaining sugar. Whisk well to combine.
- Add the yeast.
- Attach the dough hook to your stand mixer, and put the bowl in place. Turn on at a low speed, and start to add the flour, a little at a time, until it is all incorporated. The dough should be smooth and not tacky. You can also do this step by hand, but it’s a lot more work!
- Form the dough into a ball and rub it all over with about a tablespoon of oil. Place it back into the bowl, cover with a clean cloth, and allow to rise in a warm spot for about 90 minutes.
- Pull the dough out of the bowl, and punch it down. Divide it into 6 equal balls. Roll each ball out to a rope, about 12″ long. Mush three strands together at the top, then braid them, mushing them together at the end as well. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, then repeat with the other loaf.
- In a small bowl, mix together the vegan milk and the maple syrup, then brush it all over the tops of both loaves. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt, or seeds of your choice.
- Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes, until the tops are golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to slice. Best eaten warm.