Shabbat Shalom fellow vegans, bakers and a shout out to my beloved husband Rick’s Levi tribe. I love baking and have spent many years converting old family recipes to fit my becoming a vegan (no animal products). A few years back I discovered on my mothers side we had been bakers as far back as the 1500s. Thankfully I got the bakers gene for which I am forever grateful.
Bread baking often seems mysterious and in many ways that is due to our fast food culture. Making bread is a long process and cannot be rushed. It is a courtship between the maker and dough. It is my meditation leading into Shabbat, a time to reflect and let go of the past week. From start to finish this is a 3 hour 45 min process. If you are not in a meditative mood it is also a perfect time to read or stop and start some Netflix/Amazon/Hulu binge watching.
- Prepping ingredients: 15 minutes
- Yeast activation: 10 minutes
- Mixing dough: 10 minutes
- First kneading of dough: 10 Minutes
- Raising Dough: 2 Hours (kneading every 20 minutes)
- Braiding loaves and raising: 30 minutes
- Bake: 25 minutes
- Cool Down with oven off: 10 minutes
It cannot and should not be rushed, quick rise yeast rarely gives the optimum outcome.
This recipe makes 2 loaves or 12 bread rolls or 1 loaf and 6 rolls. If you want only one loaf or 6 rolls cutting the ingredients by half works perfectly. I am giving you a basic recipe this time, but in the future I will show you ways to add items for a multitude of flavors. I change things up with seeds, dried and fresh fruit, coconut shreds and caramelizing.
Ingredients for 2 Loaves:
- 7 cups of unbleached flour
- 1/2 cup unbleached flour for dusting the surface where you will knead the bread.
- 2 packets or 4 1/2 teaspoons of yeast
- 1/2 cup vegan sugar, agave or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vegan sugar (you need this to get the yeast started if you are using agave or maple syrup as they do not work as well).
- 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed or chia seeds (egg substitute) with 3 tablespoons of water I use Garden Of Life brand RAW Organics Organic Golden Flaxseed + Organic Antioxidant Fruit and RAW Organics Super Omega-3 Organic Chia Seed as they are always fresh. PSA: rancid flax will kill the taste and fragrance of your loaves.
- 1/2 cup oil – I am loving the flavor of Garden Of Life Living Foods RAW Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil. You bread will reheat to amazing softness when you use coconut oil also makes perfect next day toast (french toast too).
- 1/2 teaspoon of oil for greasing raising bowl
- 2 cups water
In a warmed large mixing bowl (I use a metal one) add 2 cups warm water, 1 teaspoon sugar and 2 packets of yeast. Leave to activate (10 minutes) while you prepare dry ingredients.
In a medium bowl measure and add add 7 cups of sifted flour. In a cup measure fill to 1/2 mark with sugar (agave or maple syrup).
Mix flax or chia and water when it has a runny jelly consistency mix in oil.
Alert: remove rings from hands (you will thank me later)
When yeast has activated stir in sugar (agave or maple syrup), salt and half the flour. Stir until mixed. Add flax oil mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed. Slowly stir in remaining flour. Remove spoon and begin to shape into ball. Remove from bowl an place on floured surface. Breathe in breathe out and now kneaded and ad add flour as needed for 10 minutes. Although called kneading think of it as fold air into the dough. Air folded in is oxygen for the yeast to help in the raising.
Clean and grease the large mixing bowl, add dough then cover and place in warm (not hot, not oven) location. Warm location also aid in raising process. Every 20 minutes for the next two hours I use a Kitchen Timer App by Roberto Leinardi it has not failed me the past 6 years.
After 2 hours are up turn on oven and set to 375 F. Lift dough from bowl place on bare table or counter (No flour). Grease with coconut oil large cookie sheet. Cut dough in half then take first half and in half again. Cut each 1/2 piece into 3 pieces and roll with your hands into long strands, then braid. Place one braid on top of the other (if one braid is slightly smaller place it on top). Tuck top braid ends into the lower and roll lower ends to bind together. Place loaf on large cookie sheet. Repeat process with the left over half leaving 2 to 3 inches between the loaves.
Cover and let raise for 30 minutes.
After 2 hours are up turn on oven and set to 375 F. Lift dough from bowl place on bare table or counter (No flour). Grease with coconut oil large cookie sheet. Cut dough in half then take first half and in half again. Cut each 1/2 piece into 3 pieces and roll with your hands into long strands, then braid. Place one braid on top of the other (if one braid is slightly smaller place it on top). Tuck top braid ends into the lower and roll lower ends to bind together. Place loaf on large cookie sheet. Repeat process with the left over half leaving 2 to 3 inches between the loaves. Cover and let raise for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes has passed put bread in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes turn off oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Place on bread (cake) racks to cool. Oven temperatures can vary for example when I moved from Oregon to Arkansas I had to take 1 minute off the baking time and add 2 minutes to the rest time.
Remember odd looking loaves and rolls taste just as good as the picture perfect ones 🙂