Lightly sweetened, super soft and fluffy – a vegan-ised version of challah bread! I used the tangzhong method (pre-cooking a bit of flour and water to form a paste) for the bread as it helps give the lightest texture to this bread without using eggs.
The dough is quite a wet one which means that (a) you must knead it using the French fold method – slapping the dough down onto the counter and folding it over itself again and again (for about 10 minutes) until the dough is silky smooth. It’ll stick to the surface at first, leaving a residue, but will eventually become silky and cohesive.
As the dough is so soft, I chill it overnight which makes it easier to handle the next day when shaping. It also improves the flavour giving the bread so it’s a win-win really.
To incorporate the fruit and nuts, I divided the dough into thirds and rolled each one into a circle which I scattered the mix-ins over. The circle of dough was then rolled up into a snake, kind of like when you’re making cinnamon rolls, to form three long logs. I then plaited the logs together (just a 3 stranded plait to keep things simple).
This is the perfect kind of bread for snacking on OR, when it gets a bit stale, for turning into French toast!
- 20g plain white flour
- 50g water
- 250g lukewarm water
- 50g vegetable oil
- 85g granulated sugar
- 480g plain white flour
- 1 tsp fine table salt
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 50g Crazy Jack dried cranberries
- 100g Crazy Jack walnut pieces
- 2 tbsp plant-based milk
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 3 tbsp Crazy Jack whole almonds, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp pearl sugar (optional)
For the tangzhong
- Combine the tangzhong ingredients in a small pot, mixing until smooth. Place over a low heat and stir until super thick – about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour in the lukewarm water, oil and sugar. Stir a bit to combine (the paste will still be chunky, this is fine).
For the dough:
- In a large bowl combine the 480g of plain white flour, the salt and yeast. Stir to combine. Pour the contents of the pot into the bowl and stir until no floury patches remain.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead by lifting the dough up and firmly slapping it down onto the work surface and folding the top half of the dough down over the bottom half (google the ‘French fold kneading method’ to see videos on how to do it). The dough will at first be very sticky and will leave residue on your worktop but as you knead it will become more smooth, cohesive and elastic. You can test the dough is ready by the windowpane test – pinch off a small piece of dough and stretch it as thin as possible with your fingers. It should be able to get thin enough to see light through it without breaking.
- Grease your mixing bowl with a bit of oil and transfer the kneaded to back into the bowl, flipping it to coat with oil. Cover the bowl (I use a clean bin bag secured at the edge with a chip clip) and place the bowl in the fridge overnight.
- Now is a good time to place the cranberries into a small bowl and cover with water – leave them at room temperature overnight so they can become juicy.
The next day:
- Tip the dough out onto a clean work surface dusted with flour. Divide into 3 portions and roll each portion into a ball.
- Roll each ball out into a ~40cm circle, dusting on top and underneath with flour as needed to prevent sticking. If the dough is resisting as you roll, just leave it to rest for 5 minutes and come back to it.
- Drain the cranberries and sprinkle a third of them over each dough circle. Sprinkle a third of the walnut pieces over each dough circle. Roll each circle up tightly (as you would with cinnamon rolls) to form 3 long snakes of dough. Line up the snakes of dough and pinch their top ends together firmly. Plait the strands and then pinch the bottom ends together firmly and tuck them under the loaf.
- Transfer the loaf to a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover and leave to rise somewhere warm until almost doubled in volume – around 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180°C fan.
- Combine the milk and maple syrup in a small bowl and brush gently all over the loaf with a pastry brush. Bake for 20 minutes then remove the loaf from the oven, brush again and then sprinkle with the chopped almonds and pearl sugar. Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes until deeply golden all over.
- Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.