My kids and I had been learning about the Jewish calendar and certain Jewish festivals in school, so one of our projects for the week was to make Challa bread. Challah is a braided bread made with eggs that is traditionally eaten on the Sabbath or certain holidays. Since we are also enjoying Fall, I decided to make a less traditional Challah bread and use pumpkin! We followed this recipe exactly, and used this video as our tutorial to do a six-strand braid for our loaves. The bread was especially delicious toasted with butter and honey on top!
As we started to roll out the dough to make our strands for the braid, I quickly realized we had an excess of dough. The recipe says you can make one six-stranded loaf or two smaller three-stranded loaves. But I divided the dough and we had plenty to make two six-stranded loaves. If you make that change as I did, be sure to reduce the baking time to about 35 minutes.
1 cup warm water
1 package yeast
3/4 cup eggs and egg yolks (I used 7 yolks and 2 whole eggs, plus 1 egg yolk for the egg wash
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
7-8 cups flour (bread flour, if you can find it), plus more for rolling.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine water and yeast. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, or until bubbles start coming to the surface. With the mixer on low, add in eggs, sugar, syrup, butter, salt, spices, and pumpkin. Slowly add in 2 cups of flour.
Switch to the dough hook, and slowly add most of the remaining flour until a nice, slightly sticky dough is formed. Add the rest of the flour, if needed. Cover bowl with a towel, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Punch down and let rest for ten minutes.
Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and braid into 1 large loaf with the 6 strand method, or make 2 smaller loaves with the normal 3 strand method. (see my note above about making two loaves) Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover, and let sit in a warm place for one hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together an extra egg yolk and a teaspoon of water. Brush over the top of the loaf. Place in the oven and toss a handful of ice cubes on the bottom of the oven (optional). Close oven door and bake for 1 hour.