I’ve been making Challah with my dad since before I can remember. He even helped me with a science fair project in middle school where I made several batches of Challah, and adjusted the levels of yeast to see how it would react with different ratios of sugar and flour etc. Suffice to say, there was a LOT of Challah to eat after that project (no one complained :D).
After going to Israel this summer with my sister, and eating the best Challah I’ve ever had from the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem (it was still warm…oh so yummy), I decided I really must practice and hone my Challah making skills to strive for that level of complete deliciousness.
So this recipe combines two loves of my life: Challah and pumpkin. I feel like September is the first time of the year where it is seasonally (and emotionally) acceptable to start baking with pumpkin.
Summer is just about to end, so Fall is creeping in…and with Fall, ya gotta bring on the pumpkin spirit. ALL the things must be pumpkin (I’m an avid fan, if you can’t tell). While it is sad to say goodbye to summer, I get excited because it means all the best holidays are around the corner.
The lovely earthy cinnamon, and the extra kick from the pumpkin spice makes this bread so seasonally perfect. Slather it with jam, honey, butter, or just eat it plain. It’s good with everything and anything.
A perfect recipe for the September #BreadBakers event, where we were to make one of our favorite breads to inaugurate our new baking group (hosted by Renee Dobbs from Magnolia Days). I knew I wanted to make Challah when I discovered this month’s theme. It’s just such a comforting and delicious bread that I am always excited to make and experiment with.
Ingredients: (Recipe adapted from Bake Love Give)
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided
1 whole egg
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 whole egg plus 1 tablespoon water (for egg wash)
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or whatever topping you prefer
1.) In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water. Whisk together, and let sit for at least 10 minutes to activate the yeast.
2.) Once the mixture has foamed up, add the rest of the water, sugar, eggs, oil, honey, salt and spices. Whisk together until combined. Add in the brown sugar and pumpkin and mix until incorporated.
3.) Using the dough hook attachment, add 1/2 cup of flour at a time and mix on low in between each addition to incorporate the flour. Once the dough has come together, turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky.
4.) Wash out your mixing bowl, coat in a little canola oil and place the dough inside. Cover with a damp cloth. Boil a small amount of water (1-2 inches) in a small saucepan. Place the bowl inside the pan of hot water, and set it inside your oven (do not turn on the oven). Let rise for one hour (it should double or even triple in size).
5.) Remove from oven, punch down the dough with your fingers, and let rise for another hour. Turn the dough out again onto your floured work surface and knead a few times until it is no longer sticky. Portion out, and braid as you prefer. I did one large four strand braid, and one large four strand weaved round. Great instructions for braiding challah can be found here.
6.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet. Whisk together your egg wash. Using a pastry brush, paint a light layer of egg wash over the tops of your loaves. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds. Bake large challah loaves for 30-35 minutes, rotating half way through. Small rolls bake for 20-25 minutes.
And there you have it. It is really a quite easy yeast bread to accomplish, and always looks so lovely braided in its unique way. With the pumpkin, it has that beautiful orange color and fluffy/soft quality. Get ready for Rosh Hashanah (coming up September 24th) with this tasty twist on a cultural classic.
My older sister Caroline suggested making this particular Challah, and I’m so glad she did (because she helped me braid it, and it was just so scrumptious). Challah is always much appreciated in our household, and adding the pumpkin made this the perfect treat to welcome Fall.
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board. Links are also updated each month on the BreadBakers home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to Stacy at firstname.lastname@example.org.