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December 20th, 2011 | By Alicia Silverstone

Happy Hanukkah! I’m kicking off our eight days of recipes with this yum looking challah bread.

When I was a wee girl at Hebrew school’s right, Hebrew school three times a week and Friday night services once a month, I remember the greatest challah bread ever- we made it ourselves, all the little people! It was in the Bay Area, so maybe that’s why the bread was so good (water thing). But I have never met a challah since that was as good as the Temple Beth Jacob challah in San Mateo.

I am curious if this one would be nearly as good; I look forward to hearing what you all think of it!

Vegan Challah


  • 1 small yam, about 5 to 6 ounces
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons brown rice syrup, divided
  • 2 tablespoons baking yeast
  • 6 to 7 cups unbleached white flour
  • Canola or olive oil
  • Non-dairy margarine or vegetable spray
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Poppy seeds or sesame seeds


1.  Peel yam and dice. Boil in water and simmer until soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and place into blender with 2 cups of cooking water and blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add remaining cooking water if needed, or sufficient cold water, to make a total of 2-1/2 cups of liquid. Alternatively, bake yam in microwave for 5 minutes, then peel and puree with water to yield 2-1/2 cups of liquid.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, place puree, salt, and 3 to 4 tablespoon brown rice syrup. Mix ingredients and allow to cool until slightly warm. Add the yeast, stir, and let soften for 10 minutes.

3.  Stir in flour, one cup at a time, until the mixing spoon moves the mass of dough in one lump. Spread 1/2 cup of flour over your work surface, and empty mixing bowl onto the floured surface. Sprinkle a little flour on the dough, and knead it in.

4.  Continue kneading dough, sprinkling only enough flour on the board to prevent sticking. After about 10 minutes, the dough should be smooth, bouncy, and elastic. It should spring back when you press it down.

5.  Let dough rest for a minute or two while you scrape out and oil the mixing bowl with 1 to 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil. Knead dough again for 2 to 3 minutes. Place dough in oiled bowl and turn dough so the top is oiled. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and keep warm until dough doubles in bulk (1 to 2 hours).

6.  To braid the challah, flour your work surface again, and divide half the dough into 3 equal pieces. Using both hands, squeeze each piece into a rope 1 inch thick and 12 inches long. Roll out each rope so you have 3 ropes about 15 inches long. Place the three ropes side by side on your work surface and pinch the three ropes together at one end. Starting from this pinched end, braid the three ropes together. When the braiding is complete, seal the braid by pinching the ends together. Place the braided challah in the center of one of the greased cookie sheets.

7.  To coil the challah, press down the remaining dough and squeeze into a rope about 15 inches long. Then roll it into a rope about 24 inches long. Take one end as the starting point, and coil the rest of the rope around it, so that it resembles a snail. Tuck the end of the rope under the coil, and place the challah in the center of the remaining greased cookie sheet.

8.  Set cookie sheets in a warm spot, cover the braided and coiled loaves with a light cloth or paper towel, and allow to rise for 30 to 40 minutes.

9.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix 1 tablespoon of brown rice syrup with 1/4 cup water to make a glaze. Using a soft pastry brush or the edge of a folded paper towel, paint the surface of the challah loaves with the glaze. Sprinkle the glazed surfaces with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets at once and set loaves on a rack to cool. When ready to serve, break apart the bread by hand and enjoy!


If you try this recipe, let me know how it goes!
Next up is homemade applesauce, so be sure to check back tomorrow!

How are you celebrating Hanukkah?

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