Happy Chinese New Year! 🧧
It’s Chinese New Year! Which means we have a few days of holiday to celebrate and stay with our families. Usually during the CNY holiday, people will visit others’ homes for New Year’s greetings. However, this year, most people are choosing to stay at home due to COVID-19. So what’s better than experimenting with sourdough recipes that I’ve been wanting to try for so long? Sourdough Challah has been on the top of my list, hence I decided make the best use of the CNY holiday and give it a go. And I’m so glad I did as it is so buttery soft and fluffy.
What is Challah?
The word challah originally meant only the small portion of dough that was put in the oven when baking bread as a reminder of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. It has evolved into the twisted, sweet, almost brioche-like bread that was brought to America by immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe. Souce: NYT Cooking.
Traditional challah is made with eggs, oil, flour, yeast, salt and water. Therefore, in order to make it vegan, the only thing I need to veganize is the egg part. There are a lot of egg substitute options for baking. However, to my surprise, the best option here is just substituting egg with soy milk.
Yudane Method 💦
This vegan sourdough challah have the texture that resemble most Japanese bread – super soft and fluffy. As I learned more about sourdough baking over the past year, I came across the Yudane Method. Yudane method is the secret to make a soft and fluffy Japanese style bread. In order to bake using this method, you simply mix an equal portion of flour and boiling water. The effect of adding boiling water to flour is that it gelatinises the starch. The gelatinised starch will allow the starch to absorb more water, and thus enhancing the sweetness of the bread.
Yudane method is in fact similar to the Tangzhong method I used in my sourdough milk bread recipe. Unlike the 1:1 flour-to-water ratio in Yudane method, the Tangzhong mixture is made by heating up a mixture of flour and water in the ratio of 1:5 to 65°C.
For more sourdough recipe using Yudane method, check out my vegan sourdough shokupan and sourdough cinnamon roll recipe.
The recipe is adapted from Bake with Paws.
In this recipe, I used a 50% hydration lievito madre as the stiff levain. The main reason of using stiff levain in this recipe is to reduce the sourness in the bread. You can of course convert your 100% hydration sourdough starter to a 50% hydration starter if you don’t have lievito madre. You can learn how to convert your starter by following the recipe below. If you are using lievito madre, remember to refresh at least 3 times (4 hours apart) before using it. You will need 180g of lievito madre for this recipe.
4pm: Prepare Levain
8pm: Mix the dough
8:30pm: Retard in fridge
8:30am: Braid the challah and proceed to final proof
The Best Vegan Sourdough Challah Recipe (Yudane Method)Course: SourdoughCuisine: JewishDifficulty: Medium
The Vegan Sourdough Challah is so buttery soft and fluffy, definitely the perfect bread for breakfast!
- Main Dough
190g bread flour
90g spelt flour* (or sub bread flour)
All yudane dough (from below)
180g stiff levain (from below) or Lievito madre
38g agave syrup
6g sea salt
100g soy milk
50g avocado oil or olive oil
100g bread flour
100g boiling water
- Stiff Levain (50% hydration)
80g bread flour
- “Egg” Wash
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp soy milk
- Mix all the ingredients of the stiff levain and leave it to rise until doubled or even tripled. It usually takes 3-4 hours at 82°F (28°C).
- While you are waiting for the stiff levain to rise, add 100g boiling water to 100g bread flour. Leave it aside to cool completely.
- Once the levain is ready to use, place all of the ingredients (except oil) into the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the hook attachment, knead for about 5 minutes until the dough comes together and forms a dough ball.
- Gradually add in oil and continue knead for 10 – 15 more minutes or until reach window pane stage.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place in a bowl. Cover and leave the dough in the fridge for 8 to 12 hours.
- The next morning, transfer the dough to a clean floured surface then divide into 6 equal portions. Form each portion into a ball. Flatten with rolling pin. Roll each dough into a log, then shape it into a rope of about 16.5″ long.
- Braid the challah. I followed the instructions in this video.
- Carefully transfer the challah onto a lined baking tray. Brush with “egg” wash.
- Mark with a pencil about 1.5 cm away from the original size of the dough on both sides. Let it proof at a warm place until the dough rise double in size or when it reaches the mark. Mine took approximately 4 hours at 82°F (28°C).
- Preheat oven at 350°F (175°C). Brush with egg wash again.
- Bake in a preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Rotate the tray halfway to ensure the challah is evenly baked.
- Remove challah from oven and let them cool on rack completely.
- * In this recipe, I use a small amount of spelt flour for the flavor. But feel free to use 100% bread flour if you wish.