The typical brioche is packed with butter and eggs. But hard as it is to believe, this vegan loaf, with its tender texture, rich mouthfeel, and delicious jammy onion filling, contains no dairy. The eggless glaze applied both before and after baking adds lovely sheen and a hint of sweetness.
To infuse the coconut oil: In a small saucepan set over medium heat, stir together the coconut oil and miso, whisking vigorously to combine. Cook until the miso begins to brown and the oil takes on a light yellow color. Strain the oil (compost or discard the miso) and set it aside to cool.
To prepare the herbs: Pile the fresh herbs together on a chopping board, chop finely, and transfer to a small bowl. Stir in the pepper and nutmeg. Set aside.
To make the dough: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.
In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer equipped with the beater attachment, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, and chopped herbs.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together the infused coconut oil, water, milk, and aquafaba.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and beat vigorously, until thoroughly combined. The dough will be wet and sticky.
Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
To make the filling: In a small saucepan set over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.
Continue to cook until the onions are brown and fragrant. Add the bourbon and cook until the liquid has evaporated; this will happen quickly. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
To shape the brioche: Generously sprinkle your work surface and hands with flour. Turn the risen dough out onto the work surface, gently pat it down to deflate it, and knead it two or three times.
Divide the dough in half; each piece will weigh about 410g. Shape each piece into a 6” round. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the center. Lightly grease a 9” x 5” loaf pan.
Working from the center outward, gently stretch one of the pieces of dough into an 8” x 11” rectangle.
Spread half the filling over the rectangle, leaving 1” bare along one of the short sides.
Starting with the filling-covered short side, roll the dough into a log, pinching the seam to close. Set it aside while you stretch, fill, and roll the second piece of dough.
Lay one log over the other to make a plus sign. Twist the ends around one another to create a two-strand braid and transfer the loaf to the prepared pan.
Let the brioche rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it's even with the rim of the pan, about 15 to 20 minutes.
To glaze the brioche: In a small bowl, whisk together the aquafaba and maple syrup. Brush half the glaze atop the loaf and immediately place the bread in the oven.
To bake the brioche: Bake the brioche for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and firm to the touch. Check the color of the loaf after 25 minutes, tenting with foil if it’s browning too quickly. The loaf is done when the center reads at least 190°F when measured with a digital thermometer.
Remove the bread from the oven and immediately brush it again with the glaze, while it’s still hot.
Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely before slicing.
Storage information: Store bread, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.
Flavoring the coconut oil with white miso yields oil with the rich mouthfeel of butter. Miso’s light umami flavor also counters the oil’s sweetness. You can skip this step and use vegan butter instead, but this technique is really worth the small amount of effort it takes.
Aquafaba is the liquid found in a can of chickpeas and is an excellent natural vegan egg replacer. It whips up well, works great as a binder, and creates quite a nice sheen. A single can of chickpeas should provide more than enough liquid for this recipe.