This super soft and fluffy buttery vegan brioche tastes just like the classic French brioche loaf, only entirely eggless and dairy free! With step by step instructions and every tip you’ll need to make bread, you’ll have the most soft and pillowy brioche bread ever! Perfect for vegan French toast or even bread pudding!
Is traditional brioche vegan?
Many times, bread is naturally vegan, as it just uses water as the liquid (the core formula for bread is often: yeast, flour, salt, water). However, brioche is usually not vegan, as it is made with an enriched dough.
The delicious French bread actually dates way back to the Middle Ages. To make brioche traditionally, one would use eggs, milk, and butter. However, this vegan brioche achieves the texture and taste of the classic recipe without using eggs or any dairy products.
But how? Well, let’s first go over what the difference is between enriched dough and lean dough so you can understand some of the science behind what’s going on, which will in turn help you make an amazing homemade brioche loaf.
What is the difference between enriched dough and lean dough?
Before we begin making this vegan brioche, I think it’s important to go over exactly what’s going on in the recipe so that you’re also better equip to make the best vegan brioche.
Of course, you can skip this section and just scroll right down the the recipe card for the recipe (or read the next few sections that are directly going over the recipe). But understanding what happens when bread bakes will help you in your process of vegan bread baking, especially if something starts to go astray, you can potentially save it!
Now for the basics. We’ll go over what enriched dough is and what lean dough is when baking bread. We’ll also go over what the ingredients are doing in the dough and how different breads bake the way they do.
Lean dough: this is essentially your standard bread formula of water, yeast, flour, and salt. There’s almost no fat in this bread, and you’ll notice that the air pockets are typically quite large. This is because there isn’t much kneading, so the gluten strands are not as sturdy.
This type of dough is used for pizza dough and artisan loaves of bread, such as baguettes, French bread, etc. You only need four ingredients, typically don’t need to knead (if at all- some times you’ll come across a no-knead dough!), and will sound quite hollow when baked.
Enriched dough: this is when you’ve added other ingredients beyond the four ingredient staples that help to enrich the bread, often times by adding fat and proteins. Enriched dough typically contains eggs, dairy, and more sugar (think cinnamon rolls, Babka, and Challah bread, and even sandwich bread sometimes).
You’ll also notice that the dough, when baked, is actually quite similar to cake texture. This comes into play with kneading the dough, as well as the ingredients used (fat creates a more pillowy, melt-in-the-mouth texture). The crumb of enriched dough is light and soft, and the air pockets should be quite tight together (thanks to the kneading), so this bread will NOT sound hollow once baked.
What happens when you’re making bread?
Since we’re making brioche, this means that we’re using an enriched dough. Now, because this is a vegan brioche, the following information isn’t exactly applicable, but if you like to develop your own recipes, then it’s important that you read, as this will help you understand why we’re making certain swaps to yield an entirely vegan brioche bread.
With this enriched dough, you’d typically use eggs, milk, butter, and sugar. Eggs add protein and fat to the dough, which will help to yield a really tender texture and help the bread rise.
Adding butter and a dairy also helps to yield a really tender texture, as well as that pillowy softness that we associate with breads such as brioche. However, butter can inhibit the formation of gluten in the bread, yielding a not-so-stable bread, so we actually add it towards the end of the dough making process, right before the first proof.
What’s really cool about butter (or any fat!) in enriched dough is that it helps to keep the bread fresher by about a day than lean dough!
Now, when these ingredients are combined with yeast, the yeast begins to turn into alcohols and CO2 (which is why yeast once activated often smells like beer!). This, in turn, makes the bread rise.
How then can we make brioche eggless and dairy free?
Simple! While classic French brioche bread uses eggs, butter and dairy milk to create that super soft and pillowy texture, we can do the same with entirely vegan ingredients.
In place of eggs, we’re using unsweetened applesauce. Applesauce is a great egg replacement in many recipes, including cakes and cupcakes. Much like eggs, it has a binding property that, once baked, keeps the ingredients together.
In place of butter, we’re using vegan butter! There are so many wonderful vegan butter brands on the market these days. The 21st century is certainly in its prime with this. I used Flora Plant Butter, which also helps to keep this vegan brioche nut free and soy free.
In place of dairy milk, we’re using dairy free milk! I personally love this bread with either oat milk or coconut milk.
You can use granulated sugar or coconut sugar here. To keep this vegan bread refined sugar free, I like to use coconut sugar. The only thing to note here is that while yeast love sugar, too much sugar will inhibit the rise process. Not to worry though- the amounts we’ve listed in the recipe below are perfect!
How to make vegan brioche
Now that you’ve gathered a bit more of an understanding of how to make bread, the difference between a brioche bread from an artisan loaf, and the ingredients we need in order to turn this brioche vegan, LET’S MAKE THIS LOAF!
The full recipe with written instructions and ingredients measurements is found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. However, we will be going over an overview of the process with photos to help give a better understanding of the process.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, it’s time to start.
Make the dough
You can use either a stand mixer or mix the dough by hand. If you’ve been joining the community on Instagram, then you know that this is my first recipe using my new stand mixer making dough! Don’t worry, though. I’ve tested this recipe a few times with both the stand mixer and by hand. Both work wonderfully!
I always want everyone, absolutely everyone, to feel like they can make these recipes. So if you need by hand, then we have that option!
You’ll first activate the yeast. This means heating the dairy free milk to precisely 110F. Too hot, and the yeast will be finished and you can’t use the mixture. Too cold, and it just won’t activate. Use a kitchen thermometer for accuracy. You’ll then mix it with a bit of flour and sugar to get the yeast hungry. Cover and store in a hot area to activate (this is considered feeding the yeast, and takes about 10 minutes).
Once the yeast is activated, you’ll mix in the applesauce, sugar, and vanilla extract, either into your stand mixer or in a large bowl. Sift in 1-2 cups of flour to start. Then turn the stand mixer on with the dough paddle attachment on medium speed. If you’re doing this by hand, then you’ll use a wooden spoon to start mixing the dough. Add the remaining flour in, and mix until almost a consistent dough ball (albeit a bit sticky and with some streaks of flour).
Then, knead in the softened vegan butter. Like we mentioned above, this is to help ensure that the fat doesn’t prevent the bread from rising. You’ll then knead the dough on a clean floured surface until you get a smooth dough ball, about 3-5 minutes.
The first proof and bread shaping
Once kneaded, you’ll place the dough ball into a clean oiled bowl and cover to be set in a warm area (ideally 80F) to rise. When the bread is resting, this allows the yeast to create even more CO2, causing the bread to rise and expand. This should take about an hour to two hours if your house or kitchen area is on the cooler side.
After the dough has had its first proof, you’ll lightly punch down the dough and form it into a large ball on a clean floured surface again. Use a bench scraper or large kitchen knife to slice the dough into 6 even dough balls. Shape the dough to be more oval than circular.
The second proof and baking
Place the dough ovals into your prepared baking pan. Cover the vegan brioche loaf dough once again, this time placing it near your preheating oven to rest and rise again.
The dough should rise nearly double while the oven preheats. I give the dough about 30 minutes for the second proof, which also fully allows my oven to come to 375F (it’s not exactly at 375F once it “dings” but a few minutes after).
Brush the vegan “egg” wash (next section for more deets!) on top of the dough and bake!
I like to keep the baked brioche in the pan for 30 minutes after the baking is done. This is because that while the brioche is technically out of the oven, it’s still continuing to bake. This will ensure that your dough doesn’t get “gummy” when you go to slice it.
Vegan Bread “Egg Wash”
This is one of my favorite vegan baking tricks. Ever want glossy vegan bread? Well this is your trick! Typically, a loaf like this would use an egg wash over the dough before it bakes. This gives the bread that glossy look.
Well, we’re keeping it all vegan here by using a mixture of maple syrup and dairy free milk. The maple syrup, when baking, caramelizes and forms a glossy sheen, giving your bread the appearance of a glossy wash!
Vegan bread baking tips & tricks
Think I can’t fit even MORE vegan brioche baking tips in to this post?! 😉 Of course, there might be some times where your bread starts to go astray. I’ve been baking bread for 4 years now, and my first attempts were very….uh…interesting. Even I accidentally don’t activate my yeast properly from time to time. Or my kitchen is just too dang cold (especially in the winter), so my bread isn’t rising properly.
Here are my best tips to help you along your bread baking journey:
Use a food thermometer
This is truly the only way to prevent any mishaps with activating the yeast right off the bat. Guessing that it’s hot enough when it’s actually too hot will mean that you need to start over. This is because the yeast will be completely done.
You don’t have to spend $100 on a food thermometer though. Mine was only $20, and it’s been keeping up for 7 years!
Spoon & level your flour
If you don’t have a food scale at home that you’re weighing your baking ingredients with, then please be sure to spoon and level your flour, rather than scooping it into the flour bag. The latter will give you way more flour than you actually need and will yield a really dry bread OR cause you to use more liquid than necessary.
Swap vegan butter for olive oil
After making vegan bread more times than I can count in various methods, I have found that if I’m going to swap out the vegan butter, then I prefer olive oil over coconut oil. Coconut oil will still work here, it’s just that the taste profile is better with olive oil!
Brioche Bread Trouble Shooting:
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m no stranger to failing with baking bread. What helps me reframe this is that bread baking, like really any form of a baking, is sort of an art, and it takes time and practice to really find your groove.
If your bread didn’t rise the first time
There are a few reasons as to why your bread dough didn’t rise the first time, and there are also some tell-tale signs as to it potentially having issues rising before it even goes into the first proof.
Possible problem #1: your kitchen isn’t warm enough. In order to properly double in size, the area that you’re proofing in needs to be at least 80F. During the summer months, I actually put my proofing bowl in the sun on my porch, and it doubles quite quickly. If it’s during the winter months, I sometimes need to heat the oven to 100F, turn it off, then keep the oven light on and put the bowl in the oven. As long as the oven is off, you should be good.
Possible problem #2: the bread isn’t getting enough moisture. Not only does the area need to be warm, but the air itself needs to be moist. Now, some months and locations don’t really have moist air, but we can fake it. Sometimes what helps is, as long as the kitchen is warm, I’ll run a clean kitchen towel under hot water. Squeeze it out, and place it over the bowl to proof.
Possible problem #3: your kitchen towel is too thick. I’ve noticed that when I try to proof my bread with one particular kitchen towel, it always takes AGES to double. I realized it was because the material of that kitchen towel is way too thick, which means that the bread is blocked off from oxygen. I know this seems counterintuitive, as we’re covering the dough, but we’re actually only trying to create a warm area for it. The dough still needs oxygen, as the yeast uses oxygen to metabolize the sugars and starches into CO2, giving the bread its rise. If the yeast is starved of oxygen, then it actually creates alcohol (and subsequently won’t really rise).
Possible problem #4: you didn’t give the dough enough time. Most of the time, I can get my dough to double in size within the hour, even using just dry active yeast. However, on occasion, the dough can take up to two hours, given the various factors that we mentioned above. If your dough is making its way and rising, just not quite double in size, this is a VERY good sign. It means that your dough is still viable and just needs more time.
Before thinking that your dough is done and can’t be saved, please go through the above solves. More often than not, it’s one or a combination of the above issues, and your bread can easily be saved!
If your brioche’s middle is gummy
This can happen from time to time, especially if you’re new to bread baking. Sometimes it’s the oven, but there is a solve for this.
If the brioche’s outside is cooking, but the inside still needs more time, what you need to do is stop the hot air from directly cooking the outside and make the heat go more towards the inside. To do this, we’ll cover the bread loaf pan with tin foil and place the loaf pan into an oven-safe bowl. Cover the bowl as well. Then place the bowl back into the oven and continue cooking for the remaining time.
This should help the heat go more towards the inside rather than burning the outside.
If your brioche is browning too fast
Much like the above solve, we just need to cover the vegan brioche while it’s baking! No need for the bowl here, as the middle is still cooking. We just need to make sure that your brioche doesn’t burn on the outside before it’s fully baked.
What to use vegan brioche for
Now that your vegan brioche is baked, it’s time to try a slice!! Trust me, this brioche tastes AMAZING as is. But here are some other ideas for how you can enjoy this vegan bread:
- with fresh strawberry jam and vegan butter toasted
- in vegan French toast (honestly the best bread to use!)
- as sandwich bread
- in vegan bread pudding
- in vegan French toast casserole
I hope you love making this vegan brioche bread as much as I do! If you try it, let me know how it goes by leaving a comment down below, as well as a rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ so that others may find it.
Happy vegan bread baking!
More vegan bread recipes for you to try:
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This super soft and fluffy buttery vegan brioche tastes just like the classic French brioche loaf, only entirely eggless and dairy free! With step by step instructions and every tip you’ll need to make bread, you’ll have the most soft and pillowy brioche bread ever!
- 3/4 cup (184 grams) dairy free milk, heated to 110F
- 1/4 cup + 1 tsp (54.2 grams) coconut sugar
- 3 1/4 cups + 1 tsp (418.6 grams) bread flour
- 2.5 tsp (.25 oz) activated yeast
- 1/4 cup (62.5 grams) unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) salted vegan butter, room temperature
- vegan “egg” wash*
- Grease a medium bowl with olive or coconut oil, and set aside. Generously grease a 9″ loaf pan with olive or coconut oil as well, and set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, combine the dairy free milk, 1 tsp coconut sugar, 1 tsp bread flour, and activated yeast. Mix with a wooden spoon, and cover. Place in a warm area to activate for about 10 minutes. The yeast should begin to foam and smell yeast-like (similar to beer).
- Once activated, add in the melted unsweetened applesauce and vanilla extract. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to stir together. Sift in the remaining bread flour. Use the wooden spoon to combine at first.You can also use a stand mixer with the dough attachment paddle if you’d prefer. Once almost combine, you can add in the vegan butter and begin to knead the dough in the bowl. This should take about 2 minutes.
- Once it starts to form a ball, lightly flour a clean surface and knead the dough for about 2-3 minutes, until it forms a smooth dough ball.
- Place the dough ball into the medium sized greased bowl. Cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm area (ideally above 80F) to rest for about 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Once doubled in size, lightly punch down the dough ball in the bowl to release the air. Lightly flour a clean surface again and divide the dough into 6 even balls. Gently shape each ball to be more oval.
- Place the bread ovals into the prepared baking pan, lining them up.
- Cover the loaf pan with a clean kitchen towel and place by or on top of the oven while it preheats to 375F. This allows the loaf to rest for 30 minutes. Once rested, brush the loaf with the vegan “egg” wash. Place the loaf pan into the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow the loaf to cool for 30 minutes in the pan before carefully removing the loaf to serve. Tear, share and enjoy!
Vegan “Egg” Wash: Combine 1 tbsp maple syrup with 1 tbsp dairy free milk. Mix together thoroughly. Brush on top of dough.
Keywords: vegan brioche, vegan brioche rolls, brioche bread, easy brioche, homemade brioche