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.
For the starter
- 20 g fed starter culture
- 70 g flour
- 30 g water+/-
- 1 tsp sugar
For the brioche
- All of the above starter
- 250 g all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cups sugar
- 6 tbsp. aquafaba (chickpea water)
- 140 g softened vegan butter (not melted)
- 80g pumpkin puree
- Some plant milk to brush the top before baking
- Simple syrup or melted vegan butter to brush the baked brioche
- Make the starter the day before (at least 10-12 hours prior to mixing ) When mixing the stiff starter ingredients, make sure to knead until smooth
- To make the dough, place everything except butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook
- Mix on slow speed until combined. (Use some water or more puree only if it’s too dry)
- Increase speed and mix until a dough is developed (for about 5 minutes)
- Dough should be wet and sticky (check the blog photos)
- Then add the softened vegan butter, a bit at a time and mix to incorporate
- Scrape down the bowl every now and then
- Make sure all the butter is mixed before adding more
- Once all the butter is incorporated, mix on medium speed for another minute or so
- The dough will be silky, wet and extremely sticky. leave in the bowl for 15 minutes
- Take the dough out and use wet hands to perform a few slap and folds to bring the dough together. It will be slightly smooth
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and set aside for the fermentation to take place. Dough should be almost doubled in size
- This will take about 6-8 hours depending on the room temperature
- Once the dough has doubled, punch it down using a spatula or greased palms(check blog description for more detailed) and round up to a tight dough
- Place back in the same bowl, cover and refrigerate for at several hours (or overnight)
- Even for a same day bake, you need to refrigerate the dough for at least 4-6 hours to harden it
- When ready to make the brioche, take the dough out
- If you retarded over night, let it sit outside for about an hour or until it’s malleable. But it should be still very cold to the touch.
- Then take the dough onto a floured bench divide into 8 equal pieces and shape each piece in to smooth dough balls
- Grease a loaf tin (check post for more details) and place the dough balls in
- Cover loosely and leave in a warm draft free place for the final proof (5 – 6 hours at 78°F)
- Once the dough has risen(proofed/doubled in size) preheat the oven to 400 °F
- Brush top with some plant milk and bake for about 15 minutes
- Reduce the temperature to 350 °F and bake for a further 20-25 minutes
- Make sugar syrup if you are using it
- Once baked remove the loaf from the oven and brush the top with melted butter or sugar syrup
- Slide off the loaf and place on a wire rack to cool completely
- Once the loaf is fully cooled, you can either slice it or store in an air-tight container
If stored in an air-tight container, this stays fresh for up to a few days.
You can freeze the loaf /leftovers to keep for longer
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
I’m no vegan.Do you like the crumb and flavor so much that you’d make and enjoy it. I was under the impression that the sugar goes in later as the oil/butter goes in later. Any comments? If I don’t have a starter to use today how much SAF? Educated guess. Is the crumb as colorful as it appears in the foto? Beautiful!
Not everyone can consume eggs/milk. This recipe is for them. If you are not a vegan you can use my traditional brioche recipe which is also on the blog.
Yes, the pumpkin gives this color to bread.
Do you recommend coconut oil to replace butter in that case?
I find coconut oil makes the crumb a little too wet/tacky if used in excess.
If you want to use Coconut oil, may be cut down the quantity in half. In my matcha and coconut braided brioche, I used coconut oil but a small quantity.
Hope this is helpful
Thanks for the recipe, and the picture blog. It was really helpful. I tried making it, but I didn’t get a rise on the first ferment. The sweet stiff sponge was definately like a sponge. Any ideas why the full dough might not have risen?
One of the following could be the reason for not seeing the bulk;
1. Temperature too low (try placing in a warm place). In a cold environment (<25c) the bulk may take longer than you expect, sometimes 6 hours or longer.
2. The dough wasn't developed enough. The dough should have some gluten development after the mixing and the slap & folds to get a visible expansion
Hi, thanks for sharing
Question,any subtituted for aqufaba?
It’s the best egg replacer for baking. But if you can’t find it, use 2 tbsp. silken tofu (dessert tofu).
You can skip using this entirely too. Use some plant milk or water instead. You will see a slight difference in the crumb but nothing too obvious
I was wondering if I can use date sugar or Stevia in place of the granulated sugar?
You can use cane sugar or raw sugar. Sugar in bakes help retain structure and locks in moisture (soft crumb). It is not there just for the sweetness so even though you can stevia in place of sugar, you may not get the exact same results. I haven’t used stevia (or any sweetner) in my bakes so I am not sure of the results. Hope this helps. If you ended up using stevia, I’d love to hear how it went. cheers!