Make it. Eat it. Love it.
There is not one Jewish holiday that doesn’t have a beautiful challah on the table. There is not one Friday night dinner that doesn’t have a challah on the table, there is not one bowl of chicken soup that isn’t accompanied by a slice or 2 of challah, in fact most of the best family meals include a fresh baked challah gracing the table. This past Rosh Hashanah was no exception to this unspoken challah law.
In my last post where I baked up a beautiful pomegranate cheesecake for the holidays, I mentioned that challah, along with apples and honey and pomegranates, was also a traditional staple at the Rosh Hashanah table. And, when I noticed that there was not going to be any challah this year, I added it to the list of things to make. After all the laws of challah eating would not accept the absence of one on a high holy day now would it?
The normally braided bread undergoes a small makeover during Rosh Hashanah and is shaped into a circle to symbolize the cycle of the year. Though I braided mine normally and didnt go the circular shape I gave my freshly baked bread a twist of its own.
I know I have gushed about my mother in laws challah recipe when I posted a kicked up version of it here. But, her challah is so good it’s worth mentioning it again. Seriously, it’s that good. Like, eat the whole basket of it good. Its easy to make, is a huge crowd pleaser and the braid just makes people think that you are a whiz in the fresh baked bread department. What I love about her challah and any great bread recipe really, is; aside from the fact that it’s highly addictive and delicious, it’s a perfect base to add things to. And, that is just what I did.
I never thought to mess around too much with a perfect challah recipe but when Rosh Hashanah landed in the middle of pumpkin season, something had to be done. I added pumpkin to my challah. I also added cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg to give it a perfect pumpkin pie taste. And, it was good. Really good.
You don’t have to be celebrating the holidays to enjoy this recipe, you don’t have to be having a Friday night meal with your family, you don’t even need to be Jewish for that matter. This fall inspired challah bread will suit any occasion, any meal, day or night. Make it. You will be happy you did.
This recipe yields 2 large challah breads. You could half the recipe and make one but, why on earth would you do something like that? You will most definitely regret not having that second challah around when the first is devoured.
1/4 oz (about 2.8 teaspoons) instant yeast
1.2 teaspoon sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2.8 teaspoons salt
1.2 cups boiling water
1 cup pureed pumpkin
2 pounds flour
3 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 egg, beaten
In a medium mixing bowl mix together yeast, 1.2 teaspoons sugar, flour and cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, set aside.
In a small mixing bowl mix together oil, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and boiling water and set aside.
Add pureed pumpkin into the pil mixture and mix until combined.
In a large bowl beat eggs and add oil mixture and mix together using a wooden spoon.
Slowly add flour mixture and mix until a sticky dough forms.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed for 5-7 minutes.
Clean the large mixing bowl and coat with oil.
Place dough into oiled bowl and cover with a bread towel.
Let rise in a warm dry area for at least 2 hours (dough with double in size).
Pre heat oven to 350F and liberally grease 2 baking sheets.
Once dough has risen cut into 2 equal pieces using a sharp knife.
Take each piece of dough and cut into 3 equal pieces.
Roll out each piece into a long cylinder shape and lay side by side.
Pinch the ends of the dough together and braid (just like when you braid hair)
When done braiding, pinch the ends together tightly.
In a small dish beat egg and brush on top of challah.
Bake each loaf of challah separately for 30-35 minutes or until golden and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom.
Let cool completely or serve warm.