For the Water Roux (Preferment)
- 1/ 2 cup water
- 1/ 4 cup white spelt flour, or bread flour
For the Dough
- Water roux, recipe below, cold
- 2/3 - 3/4 cup almond milk, cold
- 1 1/ 2 teaspoons fresh yeast
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/ 2 teaspoons non-diastatic malt, optional
- 4 cups bread flour
- 1/ 2 cup chestnut flour, or bread flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/ 2 cup plus 3 tablespoons cashew butter, cold
For the Wash
- 2 tablespoons almond milk
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup, plus more for brushing
Make the water roux the day before making the dough. Combine the water and flour in a small saucepan. Whisk together until no lumps remain. Cook over medium, whisking constantly, until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of thick paste. Let cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, make the dough. Add all ingredients, in order, to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low for 12-15 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth. Start with the lower amount of almond milk and add more only if needed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm spot for about 1 hour. The dough will be airy and increased in size, but does not need to be exactly doubled.
Divide the dough into equal portions, depending how you want to braid the challah. Roll each portion into a thick strand, then let rest for 10 minutes. Make sure they are the same length, then braid as desired. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Make the wash by whisking together the almond milk and maple syrup. Brush the braided loaves. Leave uncovered to rise for 45-60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Brush challah with wash again. For one large challah, bake about 45 minutes; for two smaller challahs, bake about 35 minutes, until golden brown.