Vegan Chinese Challah Bread
The hubby and I have been keeping ourselves busy spending time with family and friends, and baking. Last week we baked a Homemade Potato Pizza, which we made again a few days ago, and this week it’s Chinese Challah. After visiting my sister and her husband last week, we stopped in at the nearby Alon Market HEB. That particular HEB has a large Kosher section and carries freshly baked Jewish breads such as Challah. The Challah looked so delicious the hubby had to have it. Since it had egg, I watched him slowly devour the loaf by himself over the following days. It made me slightly jealous and reminded me of a recipe on my Veganize This Pinterest Board that I had been meaning to try. It’s a simple challah dough with a Chinese twist. I’ve really embraced bread baking recently, so I made some modifications and gave it a try.
Recipe adapted from Molly Yeh
2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flaxseed meal + 6 tbsp warm water)
1 tbsp dry active yeast
1 tsp + 2 tbsp organic sugar
1/2 cups warm water + 1/4 cup water
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp agave (I use Sohgave Honey Flavor Agave)
1/3 cups + 1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2-3 stalks green onions, minced
1 tsp soy milk for brushing
1 tbsp sesame seeds
salt and pepper to taste
agave for drizzling
Prepare the flax eggs in a medium bowl by combining the flaxseed meal and warm water. Place the bowl, covered, in the fridge to set for 15 minutes. In another small bowl, mix together the yeast, 1 tsp sugar, and 1/2 cup warm water. Allow the mixture to proof for 10 minutes. You’re looking for a bubbly foam to start forming on the surface. While the flax eggs set and the yeast is proofing, mix together the flour, 2 tbsp sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Once they have set, remove the flax eggs from the fridge. They should have a thick, gooey consistency. To the flax egg mixture add 1/4 cup of water, agave, and 1/3 cup oil.
After the yeast has finished proofing, add it to the flour mixture, followed by the wet ingredients. Mix everything together with a large wooden spoon until the dough starts to form and the mixture becomes too thick to stir. Empty the bowl onto well-floured surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes. The dough should become smooth and no longer sticky. Feel free to add additional flour if needed. Add 1 tbsp canola oil to a large, clean bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and roll it around so it’s evenly coated. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and allow the dough to rise for two hours, or until doubled in size.
Chinese Challah bread dough after rising for 2 hours
After the dough has risen, preheat your oven to 350°F. Mince 2-3 stalks of green onions and set aside. Take the dough out of its bowl and separate it into three equal parts. On a clean surface, roll each piece of dough into a 12 inch long strand.
Green onions and toasted sesame oil with rolled dough strands
Gently flatten each of the three strands until they are 3 inches wide, about the width of your palm. Pour 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil in a small bowl or ramekin and use a silicon pastry brush to spread the sesame oil on each flattened strand. Top each of the strands with the green onions.
Flattened dough strands with green onions and toasted sesame oil
Roll the flattened strands lengthwise, pressing the dough together as you roll to keep the green onions from falling out. Lay the three strands side by side and pinch together the three ends. Braid the strands and pinch the opposite end to form the braided loaf.
Braided Chinese Challah dough
Place the braided loaf on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with 1 tsp soy milk. Top with sesame seeds, salt and black pepper. Bake for 30 minutes at 350°F until the top and bottom are golden brown and the bread is cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing and serving. This Chinese Challah Bread looks too pretty to eat, but the aroma of toasted sesame oil and green onion is irresistible! Try drizzling Honey Flavored Agave over the challah bread slices for a tasty sweet and savory snack.
I love how this bread looks topped with sesame seeds!
Chinese Challah is the first bread I’ve ever braided and it makes me want to try this technique more often. I’m still looking for that shiny coat on the bread, so next time I think I’ll try brushing it with honey favored agave thinned with water before baking. Happy Monday!