Pumpkin Challah – it’s not just for Thanksgiving!

With all the hype about Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlapping I decided to try making a pumpkin challah. I was a bit suspicious since I love pumpkin and wasn’t sure it would be good as bread. But boy was I wrong! IT IS DELICIOUS! Here’s the recipe – as I modified it to be a better loaf, according to my preferences. Give it a try. As I usually do, I’ve given you a bread machine option. I just think it’s faster and easier on a busy Friday (or any day) to use my bread machine.

Pumpkin Challah

1 package yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (Or 1/4 tsp ginger & 1/4 tsp allspice)
3 3/4 cups white flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg (+ 1 egg for glaze)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Combine yeast and warm water; let stand until foamy (about 7 minutes). Stir gently to combine.

Put flour and spices in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in yeast mixture. Gently mix some of the flour into the water–just enough to form a soft paste. (Don’t try to completely incorporate–there should be a lot of dry flour left around the dough.) Cover bowl with a towel and let it get foamy, about 20 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin, oil, egg, and salt. Pour into the flour mixture and mix well. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is pliable. (If it’s too wet, keep adding flour a tablespoon at a time. If it is too dry keep adding pumpkin puree a tablespoon at a time.)

OR put the dough into your bread maker and set the machine to ‘dough’ and start.

If you are kneading by hand continue here:
Let dough rest 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly oil the bowl, put the dough in it and re-cover with the towel. Let dough rise in a warm place until it has tripled in size, 2-3 hours. Punch down dough, knead it a bit more.

If you are using the bread maching continue here.
When the dough setting has finished the dough take it out.

If you want two loaves, divide the dough in half. If you want one large loaf keep the dough as one lump.
For each loaf you want to make divide the dough into three parts and braid them.

Spray oil on a baking sheet and place the braided dough on the sheet. You can spread some olive oil on the loaves to keep them moist.

Cover and let rise again. Let bread rise until doubled in size, about 40 minutes. Brush the loaves with a beaten egg yolk. Bake at 350° F for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.