A Vegan Eggless Sourdough Challah with the perfect crust and crumb. Aquafaba stands in for the eggs. Eat it by itself, or use for French toast or pudding.
If you have a pot of sourdough starter sitting around, here’s a great way to have it and eat it too: my Vegan Eggless Sourdough Challah.
Just like its French cousin, the brioche, the challah has always fascinated me. It’s an extraordinary bread: delicate, tender, delicious, but it also relies quite heavily on eggs for flavor and texture, making it a bit of a challenge for the vegan baker.
I have a whole wheat vegan challah on this blog that I shared with you years ago, when this blog was in its early days. This week, Holy Cow! completes 10 years of being online, and no one’s more surprised than I am. Over the years I’ve shared many stories with you, as my own life has been through countless ups and downs. I’ve shared with you tales of my furry family that took me on the vegan path.: my dogs Opie, Lucy, Freddie, and my cats, Pubm and Pie, all of whom have now passed on. My new furry family, Lily, Leo, and Billy, who remind me every day how special animals are, and why they deserve all of our love and respect. My human son Jay who came to us three years ago, and whose love for animals reaffirms my hope that the future is bright.
During these 10 years I also went through many uncertainties that at times took me away from the blog, but never for long because this is an outlet for three things I love: animals, food, and writing. Its what keeps me up late at nights, trying out new recipes after a long day at work, or writing after Jay has gone to bed.
But what makes me happiest is when I have a really great recipe I can share with you.
I know many of my readers share my passion for sourdough, not only for the wonderful flavor it imparts to breads, but also for its great probiotic benefits.
It is especially wonderful in this challah, where it imparts depth of flavor without adding any sourness. The challah is an elegantly sweet bread, and the flavor in these loaves is just as it should be. I went through a couple of trials with this recipe, producing bread that was delicious, but either didn’t hold its shape very well after baking, or didn’t have that great color. With this recipe, everything turned out just perfect (although my challah shaping skills do need more work).
The bread rises quite a bit in the oven, thanks to the sourdough, so as always while baking with sourdough, be prepared for a pleasant surprise when you pull it out of the oven.
Vegan Eggless Sourdough Challah
- In a stand mixer or a large bowl, mix the sourdough starter with 1 cup bread flour and water. Cover the bowl tightly and let it stand overnight. If it is very warm where you are, leave it in the refrigerator overnight and let it stand on the countertop for another hour before proceeding.
- To the bowl, add the remaining 1 cup of bread flour and 1 cup of all purpose flour. Add the aquafaba, maple syrup and olive oil and knead until the dough comes together in a ball. Continue to knead at medium-low speed for 10 minutes in the stand mixer, or knead by hand. If the dough feels tacky, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time. You want a firm but smooth and elastic dough. A soft dough will not hold its shape after rising, so this is important.
- Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning over once to coat the top with oil. Cover with cling wrap and place in a warm spot, like the oven with the pilot light turned on, for two hours or until the dough has doubled.
- Remove the dough to the countertop and knead it briefly. Divide it into eight balls and roll each out into a long strand. You can braid these to either form long loaves or round loaves like I did. I used the four-braid method to shape my two challah loaves (see recipe notes for the video I watched to shape these).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the shaped challah loaves on the sheet, at least five inches apart. Cover loosely with cling wrap and let them rise in a warm spot for an hour.
- About half an hour before baking, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the challah loaves in the hot oven and bake 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and continue cooling on a rack.
- To get a really great color on your challah loaves, mix 1 tsp of olive oil with 1 tbsp of maple syrup and 1 tbsp of aquafaba to make a wash. Brush this on the top of the loaves, once as soon as you've shaped them and placed them on the baking sheet, and once again just before baking.
- See my sourdough starter recipe here.
- This is the technique I used to shape my challah.
- There is no salt added to this recipe because I used chickpea brine from a can of chickpeas, which is already salted. If making your aquafaba at home, add 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste) after the first rise, along with the aquafaba. Don't add it before the first rise because salt interferes with yeast development.