I’ll let you in on a little secret… I HATE aquafaba. It’s on of my least favourite ingredients in the world and that is why I’ve created this Vegan Sourdough 4 Braid Brioche Loaf with NO AQUAFABA. That’s right! You can enjoy fluffy, airy, and light brioche without having to hassle with using chickpea water. This brioche is super fluffy, smells like a bakery, and tastes DIVINE. It’s super buttery without the need for butter, and perfect for breakfasts (or just general snacking). All of that and it’s traditionally fermented, meaning that its easy going on the gut. My best loaf yet… let’s get into it!
I got my inspiration for this loaf from the simple yet beautiful ‘Challah’ bread. I’ve always loved the delicate twists and folds of the braided patterns of the loaf, and decided I wanted to make my own, but sourdough (and plant based). In the end, however, the loaf I came out with actually reminds me more of ‘Butterzopf’. Butterzopf is a Swiss bread traditionally eaten on Sunday mornings. It’s buttery, fluffy, and beautiful. It reminds me of my trip to Switzerland a few years ago, of sunny summer mornings spent on the deck looking at mountains from across the valley and enjoying breakfast with my family. Alpine air, fresh milk, and honey. This recipe brings back a little of those memories.
This recipe is my variation of a Butterzopf, made with vegan ingredients and sourdough starter. It feels nice to have my own recipe for this delicious bread, and I’m very excited to share it with you guys! This bread takes a little extra attention to detail (on top of the labour of love we call sourdough) but the outcome is just… *chef’s kiss*. Okay, let’s stop getting so sentimental and start baking!
As is the way we roll, this recipe shows Sybil (my sourdough starter) some love! First thing when I wake up, I take her out the fridge and give her a generous feeding. I always feed my sourdough starter with a 1:1 ratio of rye and white flour, and add enough water until it’s as thick as pancake batter. For this recipe, however, I recommend feeding your starter with ONLY white flour to create an extra fluffy, extra light, melt-on-the-tongue dough. After feeding, I let the starter come to room temperature and grow to at least double the original height (she’s usually ready around mid afternoon).
Once nice and bubbly, it’s time to make the dough! For this recipe, I use unsweetened oat milk (at room temperature) and extra virgin olive oil. You can use whichever plant milk you like – I tend to use oat milk in my baking because I’ve found it’s most stable at higher temperatures. You can also use melted vegan butter instead of olive oil if you wish, just make sure you have the exact same amounts (I consider olive oil to be more of a wholefood than vegan butter which is why I use it more often). For maple syrup, I use the rich A grade stuff for the best flavour, but you could use any alternative you like as long as it’s not too heavy e.g. I wouldn’t recommend molasses or similar.
Whisk up all those wet ingredients until well combined, then go ahead and add in the flour. For this recipe I’m using strong baker’s flour (also known as bread flour) instead of all-purpose/plain because I find it gives you a much softer bread at the end. Add in the flour one cup at a time, until your dough is smooth and elastic (not sticky). You might need to add more or less flour, depending on how wet your sourdough starter was and the humidity of your kitchen. Once a dough has formed, knead her a few times before shaping into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, covering with a DAMP tea towel, and leave to ferment overnight.
During the fermenting process, we want to complete a few stretch-and-folds for extra gluten strands and fluffiness. To complete a stretch-and-fold, go ahead and take the top half of the dough and pull it away from you. Fold it over the top of the rest of the dough, then turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat this process until you’ve gone all the way around. Do this 2-3 times, leaving 30 minutes or so in between each iteration. After that, cover your dough once again and let that baby rest for the night.
In the morning, your dough should have risen to fill the bowl, or at least doubled in height. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and complete one last stretch-and-fold before leaving to sit for 15 minutes (this is called the autolyse process and makes the dough easier to handle later on). After 15 minutes, cut the dough into 4 pieces. Onto an un-floured surface, use your hands to roll each piece into a long strand (at least 50cm long and 1 inch thick).
Take all 4 strands, and stick them together at one end with a little water. Now, count the strands from left to right like so: 1, 2, 3, 4. Take strand 1 and place it in between strands 2 and 3. Now place strand 3 where strand 1 was originally. Make sure you cross each of the strands over fairly tightly, so that you can achieve more of a plait. Now, repeat this process but going in the other direction – count the strands from right to left like so: 1, 2, 3, 4. Take strand 1 and place it in between strands 2 and 3. Now place strand 3 where strand 1 was originally. Repeat this process, alternating between the two directions after each iteration, until all the dough has been used up.
Tuck the ends under so you have a nice round loaf at each end. Place onto a lined baking tray and cover with a DAMP tea towel for at least 2 hours, until the loaf is nice and puffed up. The loaf won’t double in size, but should rise to at least 50% larger than it was. Towards the end of the 2 hour prove, preheat the oven and brush the loaf with some plant milk or melted vegan butter. Bake until lovely and golden brown, then let cool completely. Slice, spread with vegan butter and jam (or enjoy it on its own) and serve with a cup of coffee. The perfect delight to enjoy for breakfast, tea time, or just whenever you feel like it!
And there it is in all its golden glory – a super simple Vegan Sourdough 4 Braid Brioche Loaf with NO AQUAFABA. I really hope you love this brioche recipe as much as I do, and it becomes special to you in your own way too. Thanks to this recipe, I can enjoy sunny mornings in the Swiss valleys whenever I want (sort of). If you make this recipe, make sure you leave a like and a comment down below! I absolutely love hearing from you guys and you can be sure that I will try my best to get back to you soon! And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @amongsttheflour I love seeing the photos of recipes you’ve all made! Have a beautiful autumn and a safe and warm November! I look forward to hearing from you soon!
vegan sourdough 4 braid brioche loaf (no aquafaba)
- 220g (1 cup) bubbly, sourdough starter
- 250ml (1 cup) unsweetened plant milk
- 125ml (1/2 cup) olive oil
- 65ml (1/3 cup) maple syrup
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 750g (5 cups) strong white bread flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
In the morning
- Take your sourdough starter out of the fridge and give it a good feed. For this recipe you’ll want your starter to be about the same thickness as pancake batter.
- Leave the starter to come to room temperature and double in height throughout the day. By about mid-late afternoon, your starter should be ready to use.
In the afternoon
- Once the starter is nice and bubbly and at least double the height it was originally, pour the stated amount into a large mixing bowl. Add in the milk, oil, syrup, and vanilla, and whisk everything together until combined.
- Add in the salt and the flour one cup at a time, until everything is combined. You’ll want to use your hands as you add the last of the flour to make sure it’s fully incorporated. Knead gently in the bowl for a few minutes until smooth and fairly elastic.
- Shape the dough into a ball and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave to prove for 8-12 hours overnight. Whilst the dough is proving, complete 2-3 of stretch-and-folds every 30 minutes or so, to help create long gluten strands in the brioche.
The next morning
- Overnight, your dough should have at least doubled in height. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, complete another stretch-and-fold, then leave to sit for 15 minutes.
- After this time, cut the dough into four sections. On a clean work surface, roll each section out into a long strand shape (you may want to slightly wet your hands to help the dough roll). Roll the dough out until it is at least 50cm long.
- Repeat for all the rest of the dough. Once all your dough is rolled out, join them together at one end. Count the dough strands from left to right 1, 2, 3, 4.
- Take strip 1 and place it in between strips 2 and 3. Take strip 3 and place it where strip 1 was originally. Make sure you cross over the strands fairly tightly, otherwise you won’t get much of a plait.
- Repeat step 4 going from the other side (right to left 1, 2, 3, 4). Repeat the plaiting motion from both sides until all the dough has been plaited. Once so, tuck the ends in underneath slightly before carefully transferring to a lined baking sheet.
- Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to puff up slightly for 2 hours. The dough won’t quite double in size but that’s okay. Get it to puff up as much as possible, to create a really fluffy brioche.
- Towards the end of the 2 hours prove, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°C). Gently brush the top and sides of the brioche with a little plant milk, before placing in the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes. Once baked and beautifully golden brown, remove from the oven and let cool completely before slicing and serving with vegan butter and lots of jam!