From raw ingredients to delicious fluffy loaves of vegan challah, in only an hour!
Enjoy tasty home made Shabbat bread in double-quick time.
Not enough time
I must admit, I don’t make challah every week. As wonderful as it is, it’s typically just too time-consuming. At least it is the way I usually make it.
Challah making for me usually starts on a Thursday night. I make the dough after my daughter Kipper is in bed, then cover it and put it in the fridge. It rises, overnight, and in the morning I take it out and knock it back. Then I let it sit for a few hours to come up to room temperature. I knead it again, divide, and shape the dough. It has its second rise for an hour or so. Egg wash, seeds, and finally, into the oven. I’d say 18 hours, start to finish.
Of course a lot of that time the challah is taking care of itself while I’m doing something else. But I still have to organise myself around it. I need to be ready for the next stage at the same time that it is!
A different method
I recently saw a recipe for a half-hour loaf, and wondered if it was possible to adapt the method to make challah in 30 minutes. I consulted with friends who regularly bake challah, and in much less time than it takes me to do it! After all this, I concluded the following steps to be unnecessary:
- Mixing the dry yeast with water and waiting 10-15 minutes for it to activate – just chuck it straight in with the flour
- A lengthy (or even a short!) proof after mixing and kneading – simply let the dough rest while you clear up, then get on and divide and shape
- A lengthy second rise – 5-10 minutes while the oven heats up is plenty
Having simplified the method, I also simplified the ingredients. No eggs or honey = less faff and mess, and it also makes the challah vegan – yay! I usually use a mixture of flours but it’s one extra thing to weigh out, which takes time, so I stuck to just one type of flour. I suppose I could also have abandoned the toppings, but I’m actually addicted to putting yummy seeds on top of challah. I get twitchy if I see a plain loaf. The two in the photos each have different seeds – poppy and sesame on the 3 strand braid, fennel and nigella on the 4 strand braid.
The new timetable goes something like this:
- Weigh out all ingredients including yeast straight into mixer. Turn it on and mix for 10 minutes.
- Cover the bowl and put in a warm place. Put mixer away, wipe down surfaces, line baking sheets etc. 10 minutes (or less).
- Remove dough from bowl, knead very briefly. Cut into two roughly equal pieces. Divide and shape each piece into a challah. Transfer to baking sheet. 15 minutes.
- Set oven to 200°C. Brush loaves with plant-based milk and sprinkle with seeds while oven heats up. 10 minutes.
- Bake challah for 15 minutes.
- Total time: 60 minutes
OK, so it’s not a 30 minute loaf, but it takes me 15 minutes just to divide and braid the dough, so that was never going to happen! I’m confident that there are no corners left uncut.
5* Vegan Challah
I know what you’re wondering. What about the end result? Is it really any good?
The super-fast vegan challah is maybe only 95% as good as my standard 18 hour challah, but it only takes about 5% of the time to make. I think that’s a reasonable trade-off!
Maybe I will start making challah every week after all…
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Vegan challah in 1 hour
For the dough
- 300 g strong white flour (Approx. 2½ cups)
- 7 g instant dry yeast (1 sachet)
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 150 ml warm water (Approx. ⅔ cup)
Glaze and toppings (optional)
- 2-4 tbsp plant-based milk - I used oat milk (optional)
- 2-4 tbsp seeds of your choice (optional)
- Put all the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook fitted. Mix at low-medium speed for around 10 minutes until a soft, smooth dough is formed.
- Cover the bowl and leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper or a non-stick liner.
- Turn out onto a floured surface. Knead briefly and divide into two equal pieces. Shape each piece into a loaf according to your preference - 3 or 4 strand braid, coil etc (see below). Place the loaves onto the prepared baking sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Brush the challah loaves with plant-based milk and sprinkle with seeds, if using.
- Bake the challah for 15 minutes until risen and golden brown. The loaves should sound hollow when tapped gently on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack before eating.
If you need help with your braiding, I recommend this video which demonstrates how to braid 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 strands of dough into some impressively fancy loaves.