Dairy Free and Vegan Challah Bread

I used to think that cauliflower was one of those all purpose ingredients since you can make cauliflower fried rice, cauliflower risotto, or even cauliflower general tso and tabbouleh. So many uses for it and you’d never know. Lately since The Kid has been on a banana kick, I’ve had a plethora of bananas gone wrong as the supply of bananas has outpaced the demand.

After some playing around, I’ve managed to squeeze bananas into chocolate banana bread, pumpkin cranberry bread, and maple banana muffins. It was only a matter of time before I figured out another use for hiding the mushy brown bananas. Holla! Yep, you can use them to make challah! What wonders will the banana hold next.

If you’ve never had challah, where have you been. It’s a gorgeously golden braided loaf of egg bread. It makes a killer french toast as well, but just eating warm slices with butter or apple butter is pretty darn tasty. The outside is a nice brown, and the inside is golden and soft for your chewing pleasure.

The golden color of true challah comes from the egg yolks but since I don’t often have eggs on hand, I opted for a pinch of turmeric instead. It doesn’t add flavor and is in there only for the color. Feel free to leave it out if you don’t care if your challah is golden or not. You won’t miss anything.

Dairy Free and Vegan Challah Bread Vegan Challah Bread

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • Pinch of ground turmeric (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp (28g) coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp (28g) sugar
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 2 very ripe bananas (~160g or 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 cups (392g) all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds

Warm the water slightly in the microwave so that it’s warm to the touch but not hot. You want to activate the yeast but not kill it. Stir in the turmeric (if using), coconut oil, and sugar. Swirl to melt the oil and dissolve the sugar. Stir in the yeast and set aside for about 5-10 minutes. The yeast will activate and get foamy.

Meanwhile combine the salt and flour in a bowl. Once the yeast is foamy, add the bananas and mash and mix well to combine. Begin to add the flour, about one cup at a time, and stir well after each addition. The mixture will begin to come together into a dough. At this point, begin to knead the dough with your hands and turn out onto a lightly floured surface to work it into a smooth ball.

The kneading process will take about 10 minutes or so, and you can use the dough hook on your mixer instead if you prefer. If the dough is too sticky, slowly add a little more flour so that you can easily handle it. Spray a large bowl with non-stick spray and place the ball in the bowl. Turn to coat the ball with the spray. Cover with plastic wrap, place in a warm area, and let it rise about an hour until doubled in size.

Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and knead it slightly. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and roll each piece into an 18 inch long rope. Braid the pieces together, just like you would braid hair, and pinch the ends together to seal. Place the braided loaf on the prepared cookie sheet.

Let the dough rest and rise for another 30 minutes or so. While the loaf is resting, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. When the loaf is ready, spray the top lightly with non-stick spray and sprinkle on the poppy seeds. Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap it.

Remove from oven and cool slightly before slicing.

Makes 12 slices at approximately 134 calories per slice – 3g protein, 26g carbs, and 2g fat.

The slices are pretty large slices so no small crumbs from this loaf, and you save quite a few calories over traditional challah. The magic of the bananas is that they are naturally sweet and they stand in for quite a bit of the sugar in the recipe. The yeast needs sugar to rise so you can’t cut it completely, but using just a little sugar for the yeast and making up the rest in bananas for flavor is a perfect combination.

So celebrate your challah with french toast, or enjoy it just sliced from the loaf. Just don’t forget to shout “Holla!” every time you enjoy a slice.

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