Vegan challah with fruit and nuts

Vegan challah with fruit and nuts

vegan challah glazing

Our lazy cat (she is living up to her name!!) home is finally taking shape! We finally have a dining table and chairs, whoop whoop. And we are hoping to finally paint the guest bedroom next weekend so that my brother and his girlfriend have somewhere nice to sleep when they visit us in two weeks time. You may be wondering why it’s been taking so long? Well, we take our prep very seriously and it’s very time consuming, especially when the previous house owners clearly did not. Why bother with a masking tape when you paint two very different colours next to each other, eh? Sorry for sounding a touch exasperated. I am a little… As there are a lot of botched jobs to correct and that is why it is taking ages.

Later on today, I am hopping on a ladder to fix a spiderweb of small hairline cracks that mysteriously appeared on the bedroom ceiling all of a sudden. We did investigate the seriousness of them by the means of me walking around in the loft and Duncan watching the ceiling for movement down below. There was no movement whatsoever so it does appear that the cracks are merely a cosmetic issue, phew… But they still need to be patched up properly or they will start showing through in a few weeks after painting. So I armed myself with some jointing tape and a joint compound and after watching tens of videos on YouTube, I am hoping to be able to fix this myself. Who would have thought that those cake icing skills are so transferable, eh 😛 ?

So all this chaos is probably the reason why Easter has crept up on me AGAIN!! We don’t really celebrate it, but if we did I would feel tempted to make a sweet vegan challah packed with dried fruit and nuts. It’s not quite a bread and not quite a cake either, but it is a pleasure to eat and my twist on the traditional braided breads that are popular all over Eastern Europe during Easter and which probably all derive from the Jewish challah.

Challah and those traditional Easter breads are made from yeast dough enriched with quite a few eggs. I’ve swapped the eggs out for a mixture of orange juice and rich vegan yoghurt as I’m not a fan of contributing to male baby chicks being ground alive. While killing them in this way is the domain of big industrial farms, small-scale, local farms kill their male chicks too – albeit they use a different method – as male chicks do not bring any profit so there is no point in keeping them alive!! I thought I would throw it out there as painted eggs and fluffy baby chicks are a symbol of Easter and it’s so ironic that their fate over Easter especially (when people buy even more eggs) is anything but fluffy.

One cool thing about challah is that, eggs aside, it is easily made vegan, as according to the Jewish tradition, it has to be made with no butter, so oil is used in the traditional recipes too. This sweet bread is really easy to make and full of flavour – dotted with sweet dried fruit and chopped nuts for a bit of crunch. It would make a perfect Easter breakfast table addition or simply a fantastic companion to your afternoon tea or coffee. If somehow you manage to let it go stale, don’t throw it away. The leftovers will make a great vegan French toast or bread and butter pudding!!

vegan challah process

vegan challah macro

vegan challah sliced

makes
1 loaf
PREP
30 min
COOKING
35 min
makes
1 loaf
PREPARATION
30 min
COOKING
35 min
INGREDIENTS
BASIC CHALLAH RECIPE

  • 250 g / 2 cups bread flour
  • 250 g / 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp instant dried yeast (prior activation is necessary with non-instant dried yeast*)
  • 4 tbsp sugar (you can use maple syrup, but use less orange juice to compensate)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 180 ml / ¾ cup orange juice or almond milk, lukewarm
  • 180 ml / ¾ cup thick vegan yogurt (I used The Coconut Collective), at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or any other vegetable oil) + a little extra for pan glazing
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam, pressed through a sieve

EASTER ADD-ONS

  • 75 g / 10 dried apricots
  • 70 g / 1/3 cup sultanas
  • 100 g / ½ cup almonds, chopped
METHOD
  1. Sift the flours into a large mixing bowl and mix in yeast, sugar and salt. If your yeast requires activation, add the activated yeast in the next step.
  2. Pour in the lukewarm orange juice, vegan yogurt, olive oil and stir everything together with a large wooden spoon until roughly combined.
  3. Knead it lightly for about 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface – don’t knead too much to keep the bread delicate! The dough will be on the wet side, if it’s too hard to handle, dust with a bit more flour, but don’t go nuts 😉 .
  4. Form a dough ball and place it in a clean bowl covered with a kitchen towel. Place the bowl in a warm (but not too warm – avoid going too close to an open fire or a hot radiator) place until the dough has doubled in size (approx. 1-2 hrs)**.
  5. Meanwhile, immerse sultanas and apricots in a little hot water for 5 minutes to rehydrate them. Drain and squeeze the excess moisture out of them using a sieve or a muslin cloth. Chop the apricots into fine dice.
  6. Mix apricots, sultanas and almonds together.
  7. Split the dough into three, four, five or six equal parts – it’s best to use kitchen scales here. The type of braid you make is up to you – I found this video really helpful. I went with a five braid loaf, but the instructions below are how to make the simplest of them all – a three strand braid.
  8. Roll each part into a long rectangle using a rolling pin. Sprinkle the rectangle with a portion of fruit and nuts and then roll up into a tight strand with both hands, applying even pressure. Once all your stands are ready ensure they are all similar width and length.
  9. Place all three strands on a lightly oiled baking tray alongside each other, leaving a bit of space around each strand.
  10. First pinch the ends of the three strands together at one end, then start braiding by folding the right strand over the centre strand and then the left one over the centre strand. Repeat until you get to the other end. Pinch the ends together again. Fold both pinched ends underneath the bread gently.
  11. Cover the bread and rest for another 60 minutes, until fully proofed – if you poke it with your fingertip, it should not spring back fully, but retain a little indent.
  12. Pre-heat the oven to 190° C / 375° F while the bread is resting. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until nicely brown on top.
  13. Glaze while hot, with apricot jam mixed in with 2 tbsp water.

NOTES
*If your yeast needs activation, make sure not to use extra liquid or sugar – simply use some of what this recipe calls for.

**You can also make the dough and place it in the fridge overnight for the proofing stage. The next day, punch the air out, bring it to room temperate and proceed as per instructions 7-13.

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NUTRITIONAL INFO
calories
295
15%
sugars
15 g
17%
fats
7 g
11%
saturates
1 g
4%
proteins
7 g
15%
carbs
51 g
20%
*per serving
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5.0
5 reviews, 19 comments
REVIEWS & QUESTIONS
Orsi:
Fantastic recipe once again!! Thank you
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you, Orsi! I'm delighted to hear that! x Ania
Heather Gluck:
Hi Ania, this looks delicious! Would this recipe work without the fruit and nuts? I'm looking for a good plain challah recipe and this one looks so perfect.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Heather,
    Yes, it absolutely would work fine. Hope you'll enjoy these. x Ania
Bridget:
Hi Ania, I’ve been making this Challah every Friday for about a month now- we love it!!! I haven't had challah in over 11 years ( since I went vegan) and didn’t think I would ever taste it again. Thank you so much for this excellent and easy recipe!!! Forever grateful!!
    Ania
    Ania:
    I am delighted to hear that, Bridget and thank you for taking the time to let me know that you enjoyed it so much! x Ania
Caroline:
Hi Ania, I made this challah for a vegan get together with friends and everyone loved it. Thanks for the great recipe! :)
    Ania
    Ania:
    Great to hear, Caroline! Thank you for letting me know that everyone enjoyed it so much. x Ania
Emily:
This was sooooo good! Turned out perfect. I loved it!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Great to hear, Emily!! And thanks for taking the time to let me know! x Ania
Maria:
Hi Ania,
I am planning on making this for our Ortodox Easter next weekend . Have you got any recommendations for yeast and gluten free option by any chance! Struggling to find a recipe for vegan, refined sugar free and gluten free challah (Kkozunak)
Thank you xx
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Maria,
    No, I don't, unfortunately. Bread relies on gluten for its texture so a gluten-free recipe is a massive challenge and you need yeast for the rise. Sorry that I cannot help you with this! Ania
Shifrah Abrahams:
May I just point out that the whole thing about Passover is no YEAST , nothing leavened. In saying that I may well try this recipe after Passover as it looks like a lovely recipe for our Sukkot celebrations.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Shifrah,
    Thank you for commenting. I was not raised in a Jewish family yet we always had plain Challah at Easter. I am not sure why, I guess it's because my granma was from Krakow (Poland), which had a big Jewish community before the atrocities of the II World War and there was a lot of cross cultural influence. So I did not publish this recipe with Passover in mind (I do realise that Challah is not eaten at Passover) - it's simply my personal food memory. x Ania
Verena:
Hi! Thank you so much for sharing another challah recipe, I discovered your blog with your chocolate walnut challah (which I have fallen in LOVE with) so I can't wait to try this one!
    Ania
    Ania:
    I'm delighted to hear that, Verena! I hope that you'll like this recipe as much as the other one. x Ania
Bridget:
This looks amazing!!! I haven’t made challah in 9 years (since becoming vegan), and I’ve missed it every Friday evening. Will definitely try this next week when Passover concludes. Thanks so much for posting this recipe.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, Bridget! I hope you'll enjoy it! x Ania
Sally:
🙃hi there. Some rime ago you mentioned you'd be plastering a lot. Probably too late (the rate at which you accomplish things) but my husband's top tips, gathered from a lifetime of renovating our various homes) are:
use Bondcre 1:4 with water prior to plastering. It's sticky and is good for helping marry the plaster to the old surface. Otherwise the old surface can suck the water out of the plaster mix.
Use plasterer 's sand, not brickies if mixing your own.
Work quickly when applying.
Rough textured surface, even slightly so, far easier than going for super smooth. What did the Victorians do, hopefully rough ☺️There used to be a paint that had a rough surface and great colours but hell to get off if repainting.
The consistency of the plaster should be like toothpaste.
Apparently all this will mean nothing if you are using a plasterer ready mix bag. He says he was rendering not plastering as such though he did do it inside.
Ps i did my fair share and have the hands to prove it 😏
I'm excited for you both, we always enjoyed transforming 😉
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you, Sally! You are so thoughtful and always cheer us on with your comments, much appreciated! I am guessing that Bondcre is a type of PVA? If so, I've got that covered, although I am only doing small repairs with joint compound. Having thought about undertaking plastering a bit more, I've decided that I am just being silly and went ahead and found a plasterer who seems capable (he hasn't started yet as I am yet to finish wallpaper stripping) and does not appear racist or sexist (bonus, eh?) and I will let him handle it. I realised that even if I don't suck at it, it will take me some time to nail my technique down and I don't want to learn on my own walls especially after I've spent days taking wallpaper off them. x Ania
Julia:
Oh! I am so happy you shared this recipe. I've been wanting to make challah for a long time, but never saw a vegan version before yours! Thank you, it looks delicious and beautiful.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, Julia! I am excited about you trying it and I hope you'll enjoy it! x Ania
Anne:
Can I use bread machine yeast?
    Ania
    Ania:
    If you mean instant dried yeast, yes. If not, I am not sure what you mean? Ania
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