In this delicious, tender vegan olive oil brioche, aquafaba stands in for the eggs. The texture is light, feathery, and with a tight crumb, exactly the way a brioche is meant to be.
There is something rather addictive about a brioche: a goodness so subtle, it makes me wonder if the guy or gal who uttered the phrase “je ne sais quoi” for the first time ever was tucking into a brioche at the time.
This rather hallowed French bread has a light but close-knit, almost feathery, crumb, an elegant, barely-there sweetness, and a flaky, golden crust that melts in your mouth. To say that to eat a brioche is to fall in love with this bread would be understating it, but I am going to say it anyway.
I have baked many a brioche in my day, and the traditional recipe uses a ton of butter and eggs to get that incredible texture and flavor. A few years back, I shared with you on this blog my recipe for an Avocado Brioche: a healthier way to have your brioche and eat it too. It’s a fantastic bread that I make over and over.
But this time I wanted to try out something a little less green 😉 and more authentic (that is if the French would ever consider olive oil and aquafaba an “authentic” replacement for butter and eggs — jamais?)
My Vegan Olive Oil Brioche with Aquafaba is a must-try if you love baking, but I’ll warn you at the start that it is a labor of love.
The bread needs two rises, as all brioches do, and the process of kneading the olive oil into the flour is a pain royale. But how else are you going to feel like the accomplished, get-your-hands-dirty-and-flour-all-over-your-hair baker that you really are?
While making a brioche, you beat in the fat after the dough has been mixed, and when you’re mixing in butter, which is semi-solid at room temperature, the process goes by quite smoothly. But when I dumped in the olive oil, my dough just flapped around in a pool of oil for a long time, giving me the jitters. Was my brioche doomed? Would I have to dump all that oil and make do with an unsatisfactory loaf, if it was edible at all?
But I soldiered on and although it took all of 25 minutes in my KitchenAid on medium speed, the dough did, in the end, incorporate all of the oil. Ouf!
Lesson? Patience. (Of which you need oodles, or you wouldn’t be making bread anyway.)
I baked my brioche in a sectioned loaf, made by shaping the dough into four even balls and stacking them side by side in the loaf pan. But you have some liberty with the design of it. You can make smaller balls and put them in the pan, which would make a rater cute loaf, or you could simply bake the bread into a single loaf without sectioning anything.
If you have brioche molds, use them to make 12 cute little brioche rolls with this recipe, but cut baking time down to about 12-15 minutes.
I have been experimenting with aquafaba in my breads, and you might remember the recipe for my Chocolate Vegan Babka where I used aquafaba or chickpea brine (the stuff left behind in the can after you’ve taken out the chickpeas) in lieu of eggs with great success. The aquafaba worked great in this brioche recipe too. In fact, I couldn’t have been happier with my decision.
Here’s the recipe for my divine Vegan Olive Oil Brioche with Aquafaba. Hope you try, and bon appetit!
- 2 1/4 tsp or 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp nondairy milk
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cup bread flour
- 3/4 cup aquafaba
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I don't mean to sound like Ina Garten, but it's important you use a good olive oil for this recipe.)
Place the yeast and 1/3rd cup of warm, nondairy milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and let the yeast bloom, about five minutes.
Add the all-purpose flour, aquafaba, sugar, and salt to the yeast mixture. Mix well on medium speed until everything is incorporated.
Add the bread flour and knead for five minutes on medium speed or until the dough comes off the sides of the bowl and clumps around the dough hook.
Add the olive oil and knead. It will look like there is too much oil in the beginning, but don't worry. Be patient and the dough will eventually begin to absorb the oil. It took me about 25 minutes on medium-high speed for all of the oil to incorporate.
When all of the oil is gone and the dough looks smooth again, scrape it out of the bowl and onto a lightly floured board. Form into a smooth ball.
Place the dough into a large, oiled bowl (or back in the bowl of the mixer after oiling) and cover with cling wrap. Place in a warm place to rise for 90 minutes.
After 90 minutes, the dough should have doubled. Punch it down and once again form the dough into a smooth ball. Place it back in the bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight or for 8-12 hours.
In the morning the dough should have risen again. If it's not doubled at least, let it stand outside in a warm place until it doubles. Otherwise, punch the dough down and shape into four even balls.
Let the balls stand on the countertop, covered with a kitchen towel, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, oil a standard eight-inch loaf pan. Place the four balls side by side in the pan so they are touching each other.
If you want a shiny top, mix a tablespoon of aquafaba with some salt and apply to the top of the brioche. Do this once more just before putting the loaf in the oven.
Once the loaf has risen and domed over the pan (about 90 minutes), place in a preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the loaf pan and let it cool on a rack until it can be handled. Remove the loaf from the pan and let it cool thoroughly on a rack. Serve.
This is a rather sticky dough, so don't think you did something wrong if it clings to your fingers. It should come off easily, though. Use the exact proportion of ingredients recommended and make sure you follow instructions closely for good results.
I do recommend using a stand mixer for kneading this bread, because the amount of oil you need to incorporate into the dough would make it rather time-consuming and tough to knead it by hand.
More bread, please: