Whole Wheat Vegan Challah

vegan challah
Challah is one of my favorite breads. A kind of butterless brioche, it has the same flaky texture and lightness as brioche minus the butter. It also has a gorgeous braided look that’s pretty easy to achieve with just a tiny bit more effort than is required to shape any old bread.For a vegan, the chief challenge in baking a perfect challah tends to be the eggs that are such a predominant part of any challah recipe. Tastewise, I had always detested the eggy smell. But the eggs also help form the bread’s delicate structure, which made it just a tad scary to contemplate baking a challah without them.By now, though, I’ve veganized enough baked goods to never say die. So onward I pressed with my most trusted egg substitute, flax seed powder, which I thought would perform well in this bread because it is rich in fats, like eggs, but also has a deep nuttiness that would go well with the whole wheat I was planning to use in place of all-purpose flour which, to me, tastes like chalk.I did use some bread flour, which is also refined, mainly because using only whole wheat would make the bread too dense and heavy, which, in a challah, would be self-defeating.The result was beyond my expectations. Not only was the challah extremely flaky and delicious, but it looked absolutely gorgeous with a golden-crisp crust.

In fact, it was a small miracle.
vegan challah

Whole-wheat Vegan Challah Bread: Eggless Bliss
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Whole-Wheat Vegan Challah Bread
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: Jewish
Ingredients
  • 2¼ tsp or 1 package active dry yeast
  • ½ 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:
  • ½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 4 tbsp ground flax seed
  • + 6 tbsp water, whisked together
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Mix on medium-low speed until blended. Add:
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1½ cup bread 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.
Instructions
  1. 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 2½ hours in a warm place.
  2. Punch down the dough, knead a bit, and then refrigerate for about 4-5 hours until the dough has doubled.
  3. Divide the dough into three balls and let them rest, covered with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, for about 15 minutes.
  4. Roll each ball into a rope about 12 inches in length. Dust with flour.
  5. Place the three ropes side-by-side. Now pinch together the top ends and carefully braid the three, like you'd braid your hair. For instance, pick the left rope and place it between the right and the middle rope, then pick the right rope and place it between the left and middle ropes, and so on.
  6. Pinch together the ends and tuck them under the bread.
  7. Transfer the loaf to a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal.
  8. Brush the top of the loaf with some olive oil which will give it a lovely glaze after baking.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Cool the loaf on a rack before cutting in.
  12. Enjoy!

I am sending this vegan challah recipe over to Mansi‘s Weekend Breakfast Blogging: Balanced Breakfast event. Thanks, Mansi, for hosting this!
***

For another great eggless, dairyless bread, try my Whole Wheat French Bread, which includes a step-by-step guide, or my butterless Avocado Brioche.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

44 thoughts on “Whole Wheat Vegan Challah

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    bee

    March 11, 2008 at 4:47am

    the eggs were what stopped me from trying challah so far. this is a great recipe.

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    remya

    March 11, 2008 at 7:02am

    cool recipe..bread looks simply elegant…

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    sunita

    March 11, 2008 at 10:07am

    Vaishali,that challah is bliss indeed…love your version…thanks for sharing :-)

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Richa

    March 11, 2008 at 1:46pm

    it sure looks good! raisin challah is my fav, bookmarked this one, thanks!

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Alpa

    March 11, 2008 at 3:41pm

    wow, challah without eggs… i hate that eggy smell too, ick… i bet this would make an awesome french toast – without the eggs & dipped in spiced soy milk! yummy, great picture.

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Mansi Desai

    March 11, 2008 at 7:25pm

    this looks awesome vaishali! and it’s wggless and whole-wheat! perfect:)

    btw, this would be a great addition to the WBB-Balanced Breakfast event on my blog…do check it out and send this in if you like!:)

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Miri

    March 12, 2008 at 9:15am

    Wow you are so innovative! and BRAVE! I think I will try to make this for my vegetarian Mom while she is here for the next two weeks. Thanks for the recipe…it looks beautiful!

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Dhivya

    March 12, 2008 at 9:49pm

    lovely bread…with out eggs sounds great dear

  9. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Vaishali

    March 13, 2008 at 1:24am

    Bee, Suganya, Miri- Hope you ladies do try it.

    Remya, Sunita, Richa,Happy Cook, Trupti, Sagari, Chocolatecoveredvegan, Sandhya, Dhivya: Thanks for your kind words.

    Alpa, I agree it would make great French toast.

    A cook@heart: Just try it- I know you’ll enjoy baking.

    Mansi- thanks for reminding! I have emailed you already!

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Coffee

    March 13, 2008 at 3:34am

    I so want to try this! Will be coming back to stop by and look at it when I lay my hands on it. :)

  11. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Anke

    March 13, 2008 at 4:29pm

    this crust really looks perfect – as does the entire bread. hmmm :-)

  12. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Nick

    March 27, 2008 at 3:02am

    I recently got in to challah as well. My girlfriend used to work as a nanny for a Jewish family and the mother always made fresh challah bread. I would always hear about this fresh, chewy bread that you just tore chunks from and snacked on. Well just a few days ago I found a frozen Whole Wheat Challah bread in Fairway, a large gourmet/health/regular grocery store and it is delicious! This one has eggs in it, but I’m not a vegan. I like this recipe though, I may have to make this! By the way, challah is great with a schmear of peanut butter on it! Thanks for sharing!

    - The Peanut Butter Boy

  13. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Sunshinemom

    June 6, 2008 at 2:20am

    Thanks for the eggless version. I was wondering whether I could use flax seed powder in place of eggs in cheesecakes. Any idea?

  14. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Divya

    September 10, 2008 at 8:49pm

    You must be wondering why a comment for an older post… I just love this recipe. I use flax seeds a lot too, and this looks like something I would totally enjoy.
    Am making it today. Will let you know how it goes…
    Man, it does take a while to make it, does’nt it? :)

  15. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Vaishali

    September 10, 2008 at 9:12pm

    Hi Divya: So glad to hear you’re trying it. Will wait to hear how it goes. Good luck! And you’re right: it does take some time :)

  16. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Anonymous

    October 2, 2008 at 7:08pm

    Thanks so much for this receipe. I made it yesterday and it “kinda” came out fine. It tasted very good but didn’t rise as much as I thought it should, and in the 2nd & 3rd kneading the dough sorta split into sections, as if someone had cut slits in it, and I had a hard time kneading it all together. I kneaded by hand; would that have been the cause? Also, couldn’t find flax seed powder at Whole Foods, only flax seed meal which I used. Maybe next time I will pulvarize it into powder. Anyway my vegan company was thrilled with it.

  17. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Kulfi

    October 17, 2008 at 8:21pm

    Thanks!! I made this recipe and it was great- I’m certainly going to make it again. The only thing I didn’t like was the crust (too dry to my taste).
    One simplification: I used a bread machine for the kneading and first rising; and then I had to punch it down again an hour after putting it in the fridge. I then left it there to rise again overnight (about 7 hours).
    I posted my modified version (in Hebrew) on my blog (with a link here of course!):
    http://letofu.blogspot.com/2008/10/blog-post_17.html

  18. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    VegSpinz

    December 30, 2008 at 5:05am

    Hi, Vaishali- Saw the challah that veggie girl made on her blog- I tried to use whole wheat flour in another recipe but it turned out a bit dense. This looks amazing- thanks for the recipe!!

  19. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    ttfn300

    March 13, 2009 at 2:41pm

    Great recipe :) Made it yesterday, and it came out great!

  20. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Dazy

    August 6, 2009 at 10:09am

    I’m making this today. I think I’ll try to shoot it, but I don’t think it will be as pretty as your picture!

  21. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Steph

    September 30, 2009 at 5:47am

    This bread is what convinced me to go vegan…I knew if I could make an eggless challah, I could make anything vegan. This bread always brings compliments…my Jewish friends are delightfully surprised (and confused!) that the bread has no eggs. Thank you.

  22. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Gaby

    October 9, 2009 at 3:53pm

    Hi! This looks so great, I love challah but have never had a whole wheat version though I always prefer whole grain breads. I’m not really a practicing Jew but my friend and I are doing a relaxed shabbat dinner tonight so I’m making this right now. I ended up using quinoa flour instead of bread flour because it’s all I had so I hope that doesn’t mess it up. I’ll let you know how it goes out!

    ps. I love your blog!

  23. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Margot

    December 20, 2009 at 6:54am

    I just took this out of the oven and popped a little piece in my mouth… AMAZING! I’ll be making French toast with this for breakfast.

  24. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Anonymous

    June 15, 2010 at 6:22pm

    Dear Vaishali

    Is there any substitute for bread flour?
    Thanks

  25. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Vaishali

    June 15, 2010 at 6:31pm

    Anonymous, I would reduce the whole wheat flour to half a cup and substitute the bread flour for 2 cups of all-purpose flour.
    This is because all-purpose flour has more gluten than whole-wheat, but less than bread flour, so reducing the amount of whole wheat and increasing the amount of all-purpose flour balances out the gluten content. (Gluten is what gives your bread its structure). Does that make sense?

  26. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Anonymous

    September 7, 2010 at 10:06pm

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I am new to being a vegan and am starting a new chapter in my life, in general. I appreciate you having created this recipe and sharing it. I will try it tomorrow.

    -Karen

  27. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Martha

    December 29, 2010 at 4:39am

    SO DELICIOUS, but so much flour is unnecessary. With my last (big) loaf, I doubled it, but with the same amount of yeast, 4 TB oil, 4 TB sugar, and leaving out almost 2 cups of flour. Beware of dough that is too dry, it will not rise!

  28. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Scgilles

    December 30, 2010 at 8:52am

    I just found your blog tonight and I am so excited about trying a bunch of your recipes! I was thinking about trying the Challah bread but I needed to know if you thought I could replace or omit the oil. Thanks!

  29. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Vaishali

    December 30, 2010 at 2:58pm

    Scgilles, welcome! The oil is rather important for the texture, so I wouldn’t recommend replacing it. You might try reducing it by a tablespoon or so, but if possible I’d still just go with the recommended amount– it’s not a lot considering it’s a whole, rather big loaf of bread.

  30. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    AikoVenus

    January 16, 2011 at 4:18am

    Thank you so much! I thought that I would never be able to make something like this because challah is such an eggy bread.

  31. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Mar'ah

    July 28, 2011 at 10:38pm

    I only just found your blog by doing a Google Search for Vegan Challah. I *heart* you so much for this! :)

  32. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Sarah

    May 18, 2012 at 9:01am

    I am a observant Jew and have been eating challah my whole life. I have been trying to go vegan for a while and this recipe has brought me one step closer. I have made this a few times and it has come out great each time! Thank you so much for sharing this.

  33. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Anonymous

    September 16, 2012 at 2:02pm

    Can this dough be refrigerated overnight after the first rising? Should anything be modified in the recipe in order to do so? Thanks.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Vaishali

      October 12, 2012 at 8:46pm

      Yes, you can, and then thaw it completely, shape, and let it rise again before baking.

  34. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Anonymous

    October 20, 2013 at 2:00pm

    This is my favorite bread! I have made it many times. Thank you for sharing!

  35. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Priya

    February 5, 2014 at 8:44am

    Hi Vaishali,
    I was searching for vegan whole wheat challah and this recipe was on top of google search results. :-) Have one question, can I substitute flaxseed with applesauce or is there any other substitute for flaxseed? please let me know.
    Thanks,Priya

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Vaishali

      February 5, 2014 at 7:08pm

      Hi Priya, yes, add 1/2 cup of applesauce. That should work just fine. Let me know how it turns out! :)

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