This fabulous recipe is from from Mayim’s Vegan Table: by Mayim Bialik with Dr. Jay Gordon, Da Capo Lifelong Books.
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
6 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm water
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 cup canola oil, plus more for bowl
3 cups bread flour
2/3 cup baking soda
Salt or sesame seeds, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium glass bowl or measuring cup, combine the yeast, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the sugar, and the lukewarm water. Leave for 10 minutes, or until foamy.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, on medium low speed, mix the remaining 4 1/2 teaspoons of sugar, 1 cup of water, and the kosher salt and oil. (This also can be done by hand with a whisk.)
Add the yeast mixture to the mixing bowl, beating well. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour. Raise the speed to medium and knead for 4 to 5 minutes, until a smooth, satiny dough forms. It will have almost a matte finish. If you are kneading in the flour by hand, it may take a few minutes longer to get a good, smooth texture. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean dish towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. If dough is sticky, knead in more flour, a little bit at a time, until easy to roll. Divide dough into 6 equal balls and roll each into a long strand. Braid 3 strands of dough into a challah loaf, for a total of two challahs. Place on a baking sheet lined with the parchment paper.. In a pot with a wide opening, bring 8 cups of water and the baking soda to a boil. Gently and carefully, lower one challah into the baking soda solution. Using two wooden spoons or spatulas, carefully turn the challah so both sides get equally covered in the water, or bathe the top with spoonfuls of the solution. Remove after 30 seconds and place back on the parchment-lined pan. Repeat with the other challah.
Brush the top of each challah with some water from the pot and then top with salt or sesame seeds. Bake until challahs start to brown, about 30 minutes.
Note: The finished challah is best eaten warm on the day it’s made, as the outer crust can get hard the next day. Dip in additional pretzel salt or kosher salt and add sesame seeds if you like. Optional:Serve with mustard.
These can be made into pretzel rolls as well.