Challah, a beloved and braided bread traditionally enjoyed on Jewish Sabbath and holidays, has a special place in the hearts of many. But what if I told you that you could enjoy this classic bread while staying true to a vegan lifestyle? This Vegan Challah recipe allows you to savor the rich, golden-brown crust and soft, fluffy interior without any animal products.
Vegan challah is a pastry that you will eventually need to bake if you are hosting for Shabbat. More and more people, especially in January, have started a vegan diet so it’s a perfect fit. With a sweet fluffy bite, this recipe is delicious fit for everyone!
This recipe of vegan challah is pretty easy if you already bake challah regularly. It's not a quick recipe since you need to let the dough rise but the outcome is so yummy that the long process is totally worth it.
The difference from a regular sweet challah recipe is that vegans avoids eggs and in this recipe, there are no eggs - not even an egg wash on the outside. The challah still gets a nice color and tastes really good, don’t worry. Since the recipe is vegan, it is also parve nondairy. Vegan challah can also sometimes be called water challah.
Originally I was baking this challah for Tu BiShvat seder and I wanted to add some holiday flavor to the challah. I used dried fruits that symbolize Tu Bishvat celebrations.
For any other occasion, you can bake the challah without the fruits or can add nuts, chocolate chips or other flavors you like.
I shaped the challah as a braid made of 6 strands and I used this YouTube video to learn how to create the braid with 6 strands.
To garnish the challah, I sprinkled sesame seeds, you can omit or change to other seeds if you prefer. In order for the seeds to stick to the challah, I brushed it with water.
Helpful tips for making delicious vegan challah:
Use a High-Quality Flour
Choosing a good-quality all-purpose flour is essential. It will give your challah the right texture and rise. You can also experiment with bread flour for a slightly chewier result.
Active Dry or Instant Yeast
Be sure to use either active dry yeast or instant yeast. Instant yeast can be added directly to the dry ingredients, while active dry yeast should be dissolved in lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar and allowed to froth before adding it to the mix.
The water used for proofing the yeast should be lukewarm, not too hot or cold. Water that's around 110°F (43°C) is ideal. Too hot water can kill the yeast, while cold water won't activate it properly.
Use a stand mixer with a kneading hook or knead the dough by hand. Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes, making sure it's smooth and elastic. This helps develop the gluten and ensures the bread rises properly.
Allow the dough to rise for the recommended time. This helps develop the flavor and texture. If the dough is too cold, it may take longer to rise.
Customize the filling with your favorite dried fruits. Raisins, cranberries, and chopped apricots are a great combination, but you can experiment with other options like figs or dates.
When braiding the challah, take your time. A three-strand braid is traditional, but you can get creative with more strands or even try a round challah.
After braiding, let the challah rise again. This allows the dough to relax and gives the bread its fluffy texture.
Baking Temperature and Time
Preheat your oven to the correct temperature, 180°C / 350°F with the fan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the challah is golden brown. Keep an eye on it, as ovens can vary.
Vegan challah is best enjoyed fresh, but you can also freeze it for later use. Just make sure to wrap it well to prevent freezer burn.
Traditional challah recipes typically include eggs, which are an animal product. Vegan challah substitutes eggs and sometimes honey, which are common ingredients in non-vegan versions.
Yes, you can use whole wheat flour or a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flour to make vegan challah. Whole wheat flour will give your bread a heartier texture and a nuttier flavor.
Making gluten-free challah can be challenging because wheat flour is essential for traditional challah's texture and structure. However, you can experiment with gluten-free flour blends and additional binders like xanthan gum to create a gluten-free version.
Absolutely! You can sweeten your vegan challah by adding more sugar, maple syrup, or agave nectar to the dough. Additionally, you can include sweet fillings such as cinnamon and sugar or chocolate chips.
Yes, you can freeze vegan challah. Once it has completely cooled, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or foil and place it in a freezer-safe bag or container. When you're ready to enjoy it, thaw the bread at room temperature or reheat it in the oven.
Vegan challah, like any bread, is best when consumed fresh. It will remain fresh for about 2-3 days if stored at room temperature in an airtight container. To extend its freshness, you can refrigerate it for up to a week or freeze it for several months.
To create a glossy finish, you can use a vegan glaze made from ingredients like maple syrup, silan (date syrup), agave nectar, or non-dairy milk, combined with a little bit of oil. Brush this glaze on the challah before baking.
Yes, you can shape the dough into smaller portions and make mini challah rolls. Adjust the baking time accordingly as smaller rolls will cook faster than a full-sized loaf.
Other Challah recipes to try:
If you want to bake a few types of challah bread then check out my other challah recipes on my blog - they are all festive and delicious!
Whole wheat challah
Sweet potato challah
Apple Cinnamon Rosh Hashanah Challah
For other Tu BiShvat recipes check out my Tu BiShvat recipe index.
Bake this vegan challah today!
So, whether you're a seasoned vegan or simply looking to expand your culinary horizons, this recipe is a must-try. The end result is a beautifully braided bread, golden and enticing, perfect for any occasion or as an everyday indulgence.
Let's dive into the creation of this Vegan Challah and discover how easy it is to bake a cruelty-free version of a cherished classic.
The recipe yields one loaf or 2 small ones.
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon dry yeast
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1¼ cups lukewarm water
For the filling:
- ⅓ cup dried fruits (I used raisins, cranberries and chopped apricot)
- Handful sesame seeds
- In a stand mixer bowl, place all dough ingredients, but make sure you don’t place the dry yeast directly in with the salt as it will cause the dough to not rise.
- Knead the dough in the mixer on low speed with the kneading hook for 4-5 minutes.
- Grease the bowl and let the dough rise for 2 hours.
- Divide the dough into 6 strands and braid them.
- Place the challah on a baking pan and let it rise for one more hour.
- Set the oven to 180°C / 350°F with the fan.
- Brush the challah with water and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Cool the challah at room temperature.
- Have a slice and enjoy!