This Community Recipe is Cheryl’s Vegan Matcha Challah Recipe.. This eye-catching version of our Jewish classic bread is stunningly bright green! Spread with tahini and a sprinkle of natural palm sugar or drizzle of maple syrup for a sweet breakfast or snack. Or slice and serve with any nut butter for a delicious accompaniment to a hot cup of fruity tea. Or bake and enjoy as it on Shabbat or any other Jewish holiday.
Community Recipes is a recurring feature where we share your vegan recipes on the Jewish Food Hero blog. If you want to share a recipe in this series, pitch us your idea here. This series is all about sharing healthy plant-based and vegan recipes. We are creating a positive community around food and sharing.
All about Cheryl Holbert
Cheryl is owner and baker at Nomad Bakery, a cottage food business located in southern New Hampshire in the USA. She specializes in artisan baking – especially challah! Drawing inspiration from the time-honored breads of her Eastern European and Middle Eastern (Persian) heritages is important to her. Cheryl also loves to bake with sourdough bread varieties.
One look at Cheryl’s Instagram account and it’s clear: this isn’t just bread, it’s art! Previously, she has been both a tapestry weaver and an art teacher. As a result of these experiences, Cheryl has a passion for “bread as art”. She is happiest when teaching others how to discover the bread baker and artist within themselves.
Originally Cheryl was raised in New Jersey. Today, she lives in New Hampshire with her husband of over 30 years, who is recently disabled with early onset dementia. This turn of events in life together has set Cheryl on a path of new purpose and deepening creativity. The creative spirit must run in the family as their two grown children are also artists.
Calmness in cooking
These days, Cheryl is busy all the time – running a small business, caring for her husband and adapting to life’s changing complexities. Her favorite way to relax is to dream up new approaches and designs in breadmaking. Here are just a few examples of her creations:
Baking leaves Cheryl feeling energized, peaceful and clear-headed at the same time. For inspiration, she goes to:
A Blessing of Bread: Recipes and Rituals, Memories and Mitzvahs
Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes
How was Cheryl’s Vegan Matcha Challah created?
Cheryl’s Vegan Matcha Challah Recipe was inspired by her love of teas. Matcha tea led to the idea for this recipe. Originally, Cheryl served it with an Asian-inspired Erev Shabbat menu. Honestly, this recipe is a great example of how versatile challah is. As long as you follow the principles of baking bread – kneading for long enough, leaving to rise for ample time – there really is no mystery in a great loaf. Challah can be flavored with dried fruits and sweetened with sugar or honey, garlic and herbs, pesto, chocolate, ginger… or indeed, matcha!
Cheryl’s Vegan Matcha Challah contains only 7 ingredients. Admittedly, the recipe calls for bread flour, although you could use any flour in a pinch. But don’t expect exactly the same result! The high protein content in bread flour gives extra gluten. And more gluten means more stretch, chew and texture. This is my favorite bread flour in the USA!
Have you seen this vibrantly colored green tea? It is made using very young tea leaves and grinding them to a powder, which retains that impossibly bright color. We are all familiar with making a regular cup of tea from loose leaves or a bag. Simply steep in water, remove and discard the tea and enjoy the remaining tea drink. But the difference with matcha is that we simply mix water with the powder and drink the whole lot, meaning we get the full nutritional benefit of the leaves, including the many antioxidants they contain.
How to shape the challah dough
Of course, we all know and recognize the traditional appearance of braided challah. But you can vary this shape endlessly, depending on how creative and adventurous you are feeling! Here are some suggestions:
- Keep it classic and let the taste speak for itself with a regular 3 strand braid
- Take inspiration from Cheryl’s bread art, for instance!
- Feeling brave enough to try a 7 strand braid?! Follow an instruction video from another of our community bakers, Idan Chabasov, a.k.a. the Challah Prince
For the dough
700g organic bread flour
100g cold-pressed oil (light such as canola or safflower)
3 heaped tablespoons organic green matcha powder
2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
15g sea salt
For the glaze
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon water
Combine the water and yeast with 200g of the flour and set aside.
After about 15-20 minutes, the mixture will begin to swell. At this point, beat in the matcha powder, sugar and oil.
Next, add the remaining 500g flour along with the salt. Combine to make a a very rough, messy looking mix.
Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes by hand or or 2-4 minutes in a stand mixer on medium speed. While kneading, adjust the consistency as needed by adding more flour or water one tablespoon at a time, until it is firm but pliable.
Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl and cover with a damp towel. Leave to rise for one hour.
Knead the dough briefly to deflate it, and divide into equal pieces to form strands. Let the pre-shaped pieces rest for 30 minutes.
Roll the rested ropes/strands, and braid them together into your desired design.
Leave the braided dough to rise for up to one more hour on a parchment-lined baking sheet. When ready, lightly pressing the dough with a fingertip will leave a soft indentation.
Combine the maple syrup and 1 tbsp water to make a glaze. Brush carefully over proofed loaf.
Bake at 375 F / 190 C for 22 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through to ensure even baking. When it is lightly browned all over, remove from the oven.
Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before moving to a cooling rack for a further 30 minutes, if you can wait that long.
Keywords: challah, matcha, vegan, bread
Oil-Free Challah Recipe
If you eat oil free and are looking for a delicious vegan challah recipe, here it is! This recipes I call this recipe the “modern challah update” and it has two surprising ingredients….you will never guess!
More Community Recipes
Sometimes we all need a little inspiration to mix up our regular recipe rotation. Our Community Recipes feature is for just that – to share our favorites and hear from a variety of people in our community. Don’t forget to get in touch to share your vegan recipe too!
Check out these other recipes from our community:
Photos of Cheryl’s Vegan Matcha Challah Recipe were taken by Jessica Ramos