Vegan Challah

This post originally appeared as an article on The Nosher.

One of the first Jewish foods I remember eating is challah. I associate challah with mingling at bar and bat mitzvahs, a glass of grape juice in hand and a chunk of bread in the other, calculating how many times I could reasonably duck into the temple bathroom without looking suspicious.

I wanted to hide from the awkwardness of being 13 and the fact that temple never felt comfortable to me. My mom is Jewish and my dad is not, so my relationship with Judaism has always been rooted more in my stomach and attempts to find a religious identity than anything concerning actual religious observance. The challah was delicious.


When I was a little bit past bar mitzvah age I attended a Passover seder with relatives on my mom’s side. It was a large group of friends and family and we passed a dozen dishes around several pushed-together tables (one was not large enough to fit all of us). I was transfixed by the elaborate food traditions: the brisket, the matzo ball soup, the seder plate. We read stories, sang songs, and ate and ate and ate. I learned that one of the wonderful things about Judaism and its many traditions rooted in food is its ability to bring people together.

I stopped eating meat, dairy, and eggs about seven years ago and can attest that eating a vegan diet creates a different but similar discomfort I remember feeling as a preteen. If you decide to follow this diet, you will be everyone’s least favorite friend when it comes to picking a place to eat dinner, and you basically need to get used to packing your own Thanksgiving meal every year. One of the reasons I write a vegan blog is to share recipes and stories to bridge that gap between people who choose to eat less meat (or dairy or eggs) and those who choose to eat all of the meat and dairy and eggs.

When I started following a vegan diet I was pleased to learn that most bread is naturally vegan — challah, of course, is one of the exceptions. After going years without challah I decided to try my hand at a loaf like the ones I remember so well. I found the fluffiness was difficult to replicate. The first time I tried it, I didn’t give the yeast enough time to rise and it ended up dense and doorstop-like. After a few more tries it turned out pretty great.

vegan challah

Vegan Challah

  • 3 – 3 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 envelope instant yeast (about 2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons refined coconut or vegetable oil, melted (note: if using coconut oil, it’s important to use refined for a mild flavor)
  • ½ cup warm water plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds, or sesame (optional)

1. Whisk together 3 cups of flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in medium bowl. Mix together melted coconut oil and 1/2 cup of water in bowl of standing mixer with dough hook attached. Add the flour/yeast mixture to the wet mixture slowly. Knead at low speed until dough ball forms, roughly 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup flour a bit at a time. The goal is to add just enough to prevent the dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl. Whisk liquid sweetener (maple syrup or agave) with 1 tablespoon of water and set aside.

2. Oil a large bowl lightly with coconut oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling the dough around gently to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in size, 1 1/2-2 hours. Gently press dough to deflate, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size again, 45-60 more minutes.

3. Lightly grease a large baking sheet and set aside. Lightly flour a counter surface and transfer the dough to the floured surface. Divide dough into 2 pieces, one roughly half the size of the other. Divide both the large and small piece into 3 equal pieces (you will have 3 large sub-pieces and 3 small sub-pieces). Roll each piece into a roughly 16-inch snake. Line up the 3 large snakes of dough side by side and pinch them together at one end. The the snake on the left side lay it over the center snake. Take the right-hand snake and lay it over center snake. Repeat until pieces of dough are entirely braided, then pinch those ends together. Place the braid on the prepared baking sheet. Take the three smaller pieces of dough and repeat the process of rolling into snakes and braiding. Brush a bit of the maple-water mixture on top of the large braid and place the small braid on top of the larger braid. Loosely drape a piece of plastic wrap over the top and let rise in warm place for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush the loaf with the maple-water mixture and place in the oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown on top. Cool loaf completely and serve with desired spreads.

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Cranberry, Pistachio, Cashew Granola

My aesthetic this holiday season is somewhere between “marshmallow dipped in white chocolate rolled in crushed candy cane” and “snot-encrusted nose dipped in shredded Kleenex.” I’ve been listening to the twee, unadulterated joy of the She & Him Christmas Party album (10/10 would listen on repeat for 18 days straight) and baking away all my problems. The glue in my holiday baking seems to be cranberries and pistachios, if not for their perfect combination of sweet and crunchy, then probably just because they’re red and green. I also got a good deal on them at Stop & Shop.

Granola is a great last-minute gift for the holidays: it honestly takes less than an hour to make, you probably have most of the ingredients on your shelf, and people will think you’re fancy. I know you want people to think you’re fancy.

cranberry pistachio cashew granola dsc_0160 dsc_0169

Cranberry, Pistachio, Cashew Granola

This recipe is adapted from the Do-It-Yourself Cookbook

  • 5 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cashews, loosely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, loosely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325*

In a large bowl combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, oil, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until combined. Slowly mix in the rolled oats and cashews and stir until everything is coated in the maple mixture. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper then spread the oat mixture across the whole sheet. Firmly press the mixture down with your hands. Bake at 325* for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Allow the mixture to cool for an hour, then with your hands break it up into clusters. Stir in the chopped pistachios and cranberries. Stir in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

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Dark Chocolate Bark with Pistachios, Cranberries, and Slivered Almonds

Thank god November is over. What a brutal month. July feels like it was 23 seconds ago yet November seemed to last at least eight weeks, which makes perfect sense because math?

vegan chocolate bark

Now that it’s December it’s prime holiday party season (also known as drink-all-the-drinks-and-talk-to-your-neighbor’s-second-husband season). If you’re looking for something to bring to said party or just need a new, inventive way to consume chocolate at home, then this is going to be your shit. You can put LITERALLY ANYTHING IN IT. Dried cherries.  Granola. Chopped Hazelnuts. Stale Cheetos. Cat hair. Your will to live. Anything.

 

18 ounces chopped dark chocolate (can be broken up bars of any kind, including semi-sweet)

1 cup pistachios, loosely chopped

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Set a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water (or use a double boiler if you have one). Melt the chocolate and add the coconut oil, stirring. While the chocolate is melting, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Pour the melted chocolate in a large rectangle over the silpat and sprinkle in the nuts and cranberries. Place in the fridge or freezer for 1 hour until firm. Slice or break into pieces. Devour.

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Veganizzm Thanksgiving Roundup

Hey y’all. I know it’s crunch time for Thanksgiving, so I thought I’d share a few favorite recipes to give you some inspiration.

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appetizers:
roasted carrot & garlic hummus
mushroom chickpea pinwheels

sweet potato gratin
entrees + sides:
roasted delicata squash with tahini and walnuts

cranberry sweet potato stuffing

herbed cranberry-squash stuffing

sweet potato tahini & swiss chard gratin

poppy seed-crusted squash with pomegranate

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dessert:
double layer pumpkin cheesecake
baked cinnamon sugar pumpkin donut holes

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