Challah was a staple in my home growing up and was on the Shabbat table every Friday night alongside the candles. The Challah was white bread, light, fluffy and ever-so-slightly sweet. Challah was and still is my favorite bread. It was the one I learned to make and the one I still make regularly for family, friends, gatherings, gifts, oneg at Messianic Synagogue and the one most requested when I had my bread and pasta business.
I have worked on my perfect (to our tastes) Challah recipe for almost 30 years. The changes I have made over the years include using only freshly ground whole wheat flour, raw honey, local eggs from pasture-raised hens, extra virgin olive oil and organic butter. I have made 2 loaf, 3 loaf, 4 loaf, 6 loaf and 8 loaf versions. I make super small loaves and super big loaves. We prefer 2 medium loaves for our Shabbat table.
However, with so many people dealing with allergies, I wanted to make an eggless Challah and have it still retain the springy and fluffy texture that could only be achieved with eggs. I tried many different variations of eggless Challah in my experiments, but they all just tasted like regular bread, they didn’t have the Challah taste or feel. That is until aquafaba came into my life last year. Aquafaba is the cooking liquid that results from cooking legumes such as garbanzo beans and it has a wonderful protein and starch make up that can whip up like egg whites and sub for whole eggs in some baking applications.
I finally got my Challah bread recipe the way I like it, using aquafaba instead of eggs. You can make this Challah 100% vegan, very easily by subbing out the honey for another sweetener (I use organic sugar) and using all oil instead of oil and butter.
This version yields 2 medium loaves and any left over (if you have any left over) makes phenomenal French Toast!
Eggless Aquafaba Whole Wheat Challah
Yield: 2 medium loaves
1 1/2 cups warm water, 110 degrees
1 Tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar, room temp
1 Tablespoon instant yeast
1/4 cup salted butter, softened
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup organic sweetener (you can use less – we like it a little sweet)
3.25 fluid ounces (about 6 Tablespoons) warmed aquafaba, not more than 110 degrees
2 Tablespoons vital gluten
4 cups whole wheat flour — more or less as needed (I use freshly ground flour)
Extra virgin olive oil
Place warm water in mixing bowl. I use the WonderMix Kitchen Mixer with the small batch adapter for 2 loaves. Add apple cider vinegar and 2 cups of flour then the yeast. Mix well, cover and place in a warm place to sponge for 15 minutes.
Stir down sponge and add butter, olive oil, salt, sweetener, aquafaba and vital gluten. Mix well. Stir in flour, one cup at a time, until a dough is formed that pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl and clings to itself. The dough should not be very sticky, but still moist and supple. Do not add all the flour if not necessary and add more if needed. The amount of flour needed will vary. Let dough knead until very supple, springy and gluten is developed. By hand, 12-15 minutes, by large mixer 6-7 minutes.
Let rise, covered, until doubled. Punch dough down and divide into 2 equal portions.
Shape into desired shapes and let rise until almost doubled usually about 30 minutes. Brush with olive oil before baking.
For shaping directions and baking times, see below:
Braiding Loaves: There are 3, 4, 5, 6 and even 9 braid instructions out there. My favorite is the 5 braid.
Divide each loaf’s dough into 5 portions. Roll each portion into long snakes. Pinch all the portions together at the top. Braid by starting with the left portion and running it over, under over under the other portions. Pinch each end of the loaf to seal. Roll loaf slightly lengthwise on the counter before placing on the baking sheet.
To make butter horns (or crescents) divide each loaf portion into 2 equal parts. Roll each part into a circle 6-8 inches. Cut into 6 equal triangles. (I use a pizza cutter). Starting with the wide end, roll up the triangle and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet, with the point underneath. I turn the edges down slightly as well so the rolls look like an upside down u.
To make cloverleaf rolls divide each loaf portion into 12 balls. Divide each ball into 3 smaller balls. Place 3 balls in each tin of a 12 muffin pan. The balls will join together as they rise and look like a ” crown”.
For shaped rolls; bake in a preheated 425 oven for 10-12 minutes, or until just lightly browned. Do not over bake, they will be hard. I bake mine for 10 minutes.
For loaves, bake in a preheated 350 oven for 30 minutes, or until done. I use a thermometer to check that the inside is cooked and make sure the internal temp is around 190 degrees F.