Low fat Jewish vegans no longer have to compromise with challah, thanks to amazing aquafaba I have made a delicious challah we can enjoy. Bye bye matzoh!
I’ve searched all over the Internet for a McDougall compliant challah, meaning low fat, no oil, vegan and made from whole wheat. I spent hours going through posts and comments to figure out what might work, but was left with nothing. So I went to the basic non-vegan challah recipe to try and veganize it. As I got my ingredients together I remembered the treasure cookbook I’ve had since I met the authors in Hawaii and Gentle World.
Many years ago Chris and I “moved” to Hawaii for a few weeks. We had big dreams of starting a permaculture homestead community with 2 other couples. My sister and mom joined us for the first week, and we had a fun vacation together. We enjoyed Maui and then went to the big island where we met some of the community members at Gentle World. They fed us an amazing vegan meal and set my husband and I up with a place to stay nearby until we got settled. I think Dr. Michael Klaper was there, he looks so familiar to me. He wrote the book Vegan Nutrition: Pure and Simple. For the next 2 weeks we stayed at a beautiful permaculture farm, trading care taking for a place to stay. Then we went to check out the land we saved our money up to buy. It was a wasteland, nothing like we thought from the listing. We quickly realized this wasn’t the place for us and left Hawaii. It was a beautiful place, and I’m sure we could have found a way to start our community, but we just didn’t feel right there. Funny enough today both of those couples live in Hawaii, and here we are in Florida, in a townhouse. Life is interesting.
Ok enough of that, back to the challah. Gentle world published a vegan cookbook called Incredibly Delicious. The recipes surely are.
And there it was eggless challah bread, page 31 in the book. I made some changes and used it as my inspiration.
Whole wheat vegan challah: makes 2 small loaves
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 Tablespoons organic or vegan sugar
2 cups Aquafaba-cold, liquid from cooked chickpeas (liquid in canned chickpeas can be used)
4 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Topping: 1/4 cup aquafaba or maple syrup
Mix yeast, warm water and sugar together until sugar dissolves. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes or until it get foamy and doubles in size. If this doesn’t happen in 15 minutes the yeast is not good, throw it out and try another batch.
While waiting for the yeast take 1 cup of aquafaba and whisk it until it’s all foam, I found I could do this in my vitamix on medium low speed. If it has some liquid on the bottom it’s ok, you want it at least mostly foam.
In a large bowl mix 2 cups of flour, with remaining dry ingredients. Pour in only the whisked aquafaba (which was 1 cup before you whisked it) and yeast. Mix. Add in the remaining flour one cup at a time. Add the remaining aquafaba and flour as needed to get a doughy consistency and kneed for 10-15 minutes. Dough should not be sticky. It should be smooth and have a slight elasticity to it.
With the dough in a bowl, cover it with a towel. Place it in a warm place in the kitchen and let it rise for about 2 hours.
Punch it down and divide into 6 equal pieces. I divided it in 10 pieces and made some rolls on a floured surface. Roll each piece into a rope, making them equal length. Take 3 ropes, join at one end, tucking it under, and braid to the end, tuck it under. Repeat to make the second loaf. To make a challah roll make a u shape with 1 rope piece, cross one side over the other, then tuck each end into the middle. There are many sources online on how to braid challah if you need more info.
If you have children the braiding part is lots of fun for them. Mine made the rolls and braided one of the loaves.
Once it has risen preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brush with aquafaba, coat it well. You can add any topping you like. My family likes cinnamon and a dash of sugar. Maple syrup can be used for a sweeter challah. It also makes the crust a little more crunchy.
Bake for 25 minutes or until it starts to get golden brown. Check with a toothpick if your unsure if it’s ready, by inserting it into the bread and if it comes out clean it is ready.
Let it cool before serving
It can be refrigerated or frozen however it can get dry. I prefer to make this on Friday morning or as close to Shabbos as I can, leaving one loaf for Saturday wrapped in a flour sack towel then placed in a ziplock bag.
Frozen challah can be thawed on the counter and reheated on a hot plate or in the oven at 300 degrees F for 5-10 minutes. You can add more aquafaba before reheating if needed.
Toppings stick very well when aquafaba or maple syrup is added.
Raisins can be added.
Sometimes for a treat I will mix maple syrup, ground dates or sugar with cinnamon and aquafaba. When rolling out the dough make a slit in one rope and drizzle the mixture in, then braid.
Instead of chocolate chips, which always have some type of oil in them, I make my own. Side note oil in the ingredients list doesn’t always say oil, but cocoa butter and lecithin are 2 common ingredients in vegan chocolate chips that are oil. I make my chocolate by mixing unsweetened carob or cocoa powder with dates. If the dates are no soft place them in hot water for a few minutes. I mash the dates and powder or mic in a food processor if I’m making a lot. It will form a ball, break it apart and mix into the dough before rolling it out, or make it tiny crumble pieces and sprinkle on top before baking.
Sesame seeds will stick if aquafaba is brushed on first.
I consider this a special occasion food and will only serve it every few weeks on shabbat. The rest of the time we eat matzoh. This challah is so good we can’t help but eat it all so we keep it to a minimum. This would be my advice to anyone on the McDougall maximum weight loss plan. Those who are at ideal health and weight can enjoy this every shabbat.