Pumpkin may not be everyone’s favorite. A little pumpkin adds a lovely golden color to bread without affecting the taste so much. So even if you are not a fan of pumpkin, you can still enjoy this super soft & rich brioche. I have mentioned substitutes below so you can skip the pumpkin altogether, if you must!
As soon as I published my traditional sourdough Brioche recipe, there came a lot of requests for a vegan version. Some wanted to skip the butter and others eggs. So decided to take up the challenge.
Eggs and butter are the key ingredients that makes the brioche, well, a brioche. The large amount of butter(fat) is what gives the silky crumb that melts in your mouth. The eggs add strength(protein), richness(fat in the yolk) and at the same time a lovely golden hue, to the crumb. So replacing these with their plant based counterparts could result in considerable change in the texture. However, with careful adjustments I was able to come very close to a brioche.
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I’m using aquafaba (chickpea water) to replace eggs. If you have made vegan meringue or pavlova, this may not come as surprise to you. Aquafaba replaces the proteins and the fat in the egg. However we will miss the carotenoids in the yolk which gives the yellow shade to the bread. You can acquire aquafaba from canned chickpeas. Strain the liquid and check for the consistency. It should be thick and similar consistency of egg white.
In the rare case that your chickpea water happens to be very thin (watery) reduce it by cooking for a few minutes.
usually 2 tablespoons aquafaba will replace one medium egg
In this recipe dairy butter is replaced by a plant based butter. You can use any vegan(plant) butter in the super-market. Use while still cold. Most plant based butter are in spreadable consistency even when chilled. So you can add it straight from the fridge. The vegan butter I used consist of Cocoa Butter, Sunflower Oil, Coconut Oil so it is a little bit stable at room temperature.
The taste may be slightly different depending on the butter you use.
Egg yolk (color)
I am not replacing the yolk entirely but using some pumpkin puree to get the lovely golden color. You can use canned pumpkin puree or make your own by roasting a pumpkin and scooping out the flesh.
Pumpkin puree substitutes
If you hate pumpkin or don’t want to use it, feel free to replace that with some apple sauce. Or you can use plant based milk (half the weight). If you still want the color, may be consider adding some saffron, a pinch of turmeric.
You can add other flavors to make the bread even more appetizing. Following are a few that you can try;
Orange zest, Vanilla, cinnamon
With those facts sorted out, lets get to the making of the brioche.
Make the sweet stiff starter about
10 – 12 hours before you intend to mix the brioche. Mix everything in the starter recipe and knead until smooth. It will be like a small dough. Now place this in a container, cover loosely and place on the counter.
Best is making it the night before and leaving on the counter (at room temperature) till nextday morning.
If your starter hasn’t expanded and is not looking like a sponge, leave for another few hours or place in a slightly warm (25-26°C) area
Ready all the ingredients.
Vegan butter (soft)
Use all-purpose flour (bleached or unbleached). You can use refined (white) bread flour but the bread will be slightly chewier
Place everything except butter in a bowl of a mixer and start mixing on low speed using a dough hook. Scrape the bowl to encourage mixing. Increase to medium speed and mix until flour is hydrated and you see some gluten development.
Then start adding vegan butter a little at a time and mix/knead to incorporate. Keep adding butter and continue to mix on medium. Make sure butter is all incorporated before adding any more.
Tame the sticky dough
Scrape the bowl and continue to mix, until the dough becomes silky yet sticky. It is extremely sticky but don’t worry.
Cover the bowl and let it rest for 15 -20 minutes.
Then, scrape the dough out on to a nonstick surface. Lubricate your palms with water and use slap and fold to bring the dough together.
Do a few slap & folds, and rest the dough for 5 minutes and continue.
After a few folds, the dough will become slightly less sticky and more manageable.
Now place this sticky dough in a greased bowl, cover loosely and place in a warm area to bulk. It should almost double in size.
4-5 hours at 26 °C (79 °F)
If the temperature is too warm, butter may start to melt so check constantly.
This is the bulked dough after about 5 hours in a warm place. If your room temperature is low, this may take longer.
Bring the bulked dough on to a floured surface and fold and shape (degas slightly) into a tight smooth dough ball. Use flour to prevent sticking. This is now ready for the long retardation in the fridge. (18-24 hours)
For a same day bake, refrigerate this dough for about 4-6 hours or until it is hardened, so that it’s easier to divide and shape.
Refrigeration is important!
Divide and shape
If you have retarded the dough overnight (18-24), take it out of the fridge and leave on the counter for about an hour or until it softens up a little.
Do not let it thaw completely. The dough should still be cold but malleable. If you thaw it too much, it will be sticky and you won’t be able to work with it. However, if that happens, simple refrigerate until stable.
Divide the cold dough into 8 equal pieces.
This doesn’t have to be 8. You can do 6 or even 4. Shape into a different style you want.
Shape the dough pieces in to smooth balls. Similar to when making burger buns or dinner rolls
Use a light dusting of flour to prevent dough from sticking
Dough pieces should be tight and smooth. If you see tears or irregular tops, leave them to rest for about 10 minutes and shape again to smooth out. The smoother they are the neater and prettier the brioche loaf will be.
Correct shaping will also ensure even proofing and better oven spring.
Grease a loaf pan.
I’m using a 8.5″ by 4.5″ size pan.
But if all you have is a 9 by 5 pan, you can use that too. The finished loaf may be slightly wider and shorter. But this wouldn’t affect the taste.
If you are practiced with bread making, you can slightly adjust the recipe to fit a 9 by 5 pan.
Place the shaped dough balls in the pan. It should be a snug fit, so they will expand upwards and not sideways too much. As they proof, the pieces will fuse together to form one big loaf.
Lightly cover this and place in a warm place to proof. Too much warmth will cause the butter to melt and leak out. Leaked out butter may fry the outside of the bread while baking.
77-78 °F (25-26 °C) is an ideal proofing temperature.
This final proof may take about 5-6 hours at 77 °F (25 °C )
The dough should be almost doubled in size and should be risen above the rim slightly. Do a ‘poke test’ if you can’t decide by looking at it.
Preheat the oven to 400 °F
Brush the top with some plant milk and place in the preheated oven. After 15 minutes, reduce temperature to 350 °F and continue to bake for 20-25 minutes or until top is golden brown.
While the bread is baking prepare the simple syrup or melt some vegan butter and set aside.
As soon as the bread comes out of the oven, lightly brush the top with either melted vegan butter or simple sugar syrup.
Boil 20g water and 20g sugar and simmer for 1-2 minutes and leave to cool. Add spices or orange zest to the syrup if you prefer.
As soon as you brush the top, demold the loaf and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Do not slice while still warm as the interior may still be soft and sticky.
Don’t leave the brioche in the pan to cool, the sides will go soggy.
To make vegan French toast:
1/2 cup almond milk (any plant milk)
1 tsp flax meal (ground flax seed or chia seeds)
1 tbsp. maple syrup
pinch of cinnamon
- Mix everything and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.
- Cut about 4 thick slices from the brioche
- Heat a non-stick pan or a cast iron griddle (non stick surface is important as these tend to be sticky)
- Grease the pan using a generous amount of plant butter
- When the pan is hot enough, coat a piece of bread in the prepared mixture quickly (make sure to cover both sides) and set on the pan
- After a bout a minute, turn
- Keep frying until both sides are nice and golden turning frequently
- Continue with the rest
- Serve with fresh berries and more syrup