Monday, December 2, 2013

Pumpkin Challah

It's not going to happen for another 77,798, but I still wasn't able to fully embrace Thanksgivukkah or Chanksgiving as my father called it. I felt that Chanukah was being overshadowed and why is Thanksgiving getting top billing in the name? But I do love Thanksgiving and I definitely love Chanukah. Both are filled with warmth and bring together family and friends. So in honor of this once in a lifetime occasion I used some of the Thanksgiving/Autumn (something that doesn't really exist in Israel) flavors and one of my favorite Jewish foods, challah. The warm flavors of pumpkin and the spices of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg made me feel cozy in my kitchen even though it doesn't feel like Fall in Jerusalem and the comfort of kneading my dough by hand reminded me of making challah with my mother in New York. Since Chanukah and Thanksgiving won't be meeting up for a very long time I suggest making this recipe for this shabbos and bring some new flavors to a classic.

The recipe calls for canned pumpkin, an ingredient that they do sell here in American style stores but it is a little pricey because it is imported. Thanks to my parents I have a few cans here from America but I know that you can substitute with the chunks of squash that are sold in every supermarket. Peel and boil until very tender, mash with a fork or puree with an immersion blender and then strain it pressing out as much moisture as you can.

This recipe is from The Shiksa in the Kitchen be sure to look around the site she has a lot of other great ideas.

2 Packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
1 cup lukewarm water, divided (make sure it's not too hot or else you will kill the yeast)
2 Tbs white sugar
1 whole egg
6 egg yolks
1/4 cup honey (I used the cheaper silan/date honey)
2 Tbs canola oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
pinch of cloves
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
7-9 cups all-purpose baking flour

Pour 1/2 cup lukewarm water into a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) add yeast and 1 tablespoon of white sugar to the water wait 10 minutes to activate the yeast. If the mixture doesn't get bubbly and foamy then your yeast is not good and your bread won't rise.
Once the yeast is activated and the remaining 1/2 cup of water and white sugar to the bowl along with the egg, yolks, honey or silan, oil and spices. Whisk to combine. Add the brown sugar and pumpkin puree. Whisk together to form a thick liquid.
Begin to add the flour by the half cupful, stirring in each addition with a wooden spoon. When it gets too hard to mix with a spoon switch to the best tools in the kitchen, your hands. Keep adding flour until your dough is smooth, elastic and not sticky. Form the dough into a ball and spray the bowl with cooking spray, cover with a damp towel and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size.
When your dough is ready, flour your work surface and dump the dough out onto it. Knead the dough a few times and then separate with a bench scraper or knife into equal pieces. The original recipe says that this makes two large loaves but I was making rolls and was able to make 18 large rolls. Shape the dough however you like, braids, pull apart, or rolls.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. The recipe calls for an additional egg to brush the challahs with but  you can use the leftover whites from all those yolks. For a little extra crunch and color I topped my rolls with pumpkin seeds. Let the formed dough rise for another 30-45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C. Baking times vary depending on how you shaped your challah.
Enjoy and Happy Chanukah!

No comments:

Post a Comment