So I have been really wanting to bake a challah from scratch for quite some time and I finally did it. Since it's Sukkot I wanted to make something festive and came across a Pumpkin Challah recipe on Tori Avey's blog. that I could not resist. And oh my god. It is life changing. This challah is seriously amazing. We made french toast with it twice and it's the best french toast I have ever had. It's seriously HEAVENLY. I feel like I have to share it. A quick note this recipe makes two huge challahs so make sure you have plenty of people to share it with or cut the recipe in half to make a single challah. But I kind of never want to run out of it. I made it this week and am already thinking about when I can make it again.
- 2 packets of active dry yeast
- 1 cup luke warm water - divided into two half cups
- 3 tbsp white sugar
- 1 egg
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp all spice
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 7-9 cups baking flour
plus for egg wash:
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp water
You'll also need:
- large mixing bowl
- 2 cookie sheets
- parchment paper
- aluminum foil
- pastry brush
First pour 1/2 cup of the warm water into a large mixing bowl and add the 2 packets of yeast and 1 tbsp of sugar. Stir it well to dissolve. Wait 10 minutes. It should look a bit foamy and a little thicker.
Add the other 1/2 cup of warm water to the bowl with the sugar, egg, egg yolks, honey, canola oil, salt and spice. I used a hand mixer to blend it all well. After that's mixed in add the pumpkin puree - I again, used my hand mixer to blend it well. It should be a thick liquid.
Next you are going to add the flour. This part can get VERY messy. I measured out 8 cups of flour and had it ready to go in another big mixing bowl, but I ended up needing 9 cups. You will need to use your hands to mix - so I recommend measuring out 9-10 cups of flour before hand so you don't have to clean your hands and measure out more flour in the middle.
Add the flour by the cupful. I started mixing with a wooden spoon until it was too thick and then mixed with my hands - and Wren loved helping during this part.
Keep mixing and kneading the dough until it's smooth and not sticky. Keep adding the flour cup by cup until it feels 'right'.
Once you're done kneading the dough place a saucepan full of water on the stove to boil. Meanwhile remove the dough from your mixing bowl. Clean and dry the bowl. Grease the bowl with canola oil. Put the dough back in the greased bowl and flip it over so both sides are moistened by the oil. Cover the bowl with a clean damp towel. Please the bowl on the middle rack of you oven and place the saucepan of boiling water on the rack below the bowl of dough. The pan of water will create an ideal environment for the dough to rise. Let the dough rise for 1 hour.
Take the dough out and punch it a few times to eliminate air pockets. Cover with towel and place back in the oven with pan of water to rise for 1 hour more.
Now your dough is ready to braid. Divide it into two equal portions. If you plan to bless your challah you can find the blessing here.
You can find braiding tutorials complete with pictures here.
I did my first one as a 6 strand braid, which I definitely recommend. Being 31 weeks pregnant and it was now like 9 pm, I got tired and lazy for the second and did a 3 braid for the second challah. I also did not bother to follow the tutorial and braided it like I would my hair. It still tasted great but visually was not as appealing. So I would definitely follow the tutorials in the link above.
After your challahs are braided - beat the egg wash - 2 egg yolks and 1 tbsp of water.
Place challahs on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Using your pastry brush cover both challahs evenly with egg wash.
Let the braided challahs rise for another 45 minutes. You'll know the dough is ready to bake when you press your finger into the dough and the indent stays.
Preheat oven to 350.
I baked both challahs at the same time.
Bake for 20 minutes. Then turn the challahs and switch racks so they bake evenly. Then bake for another 20 minutes. So its 40 min total baking time. Keep an eye on the challah for the last 20 minutes. It may be browning faster than its baking. Once you feel like it is browned to your liking, take the tray out and cover the challah with tin foil. Then place it back in the oven to finish baking.
You can make sure it's done by turning it over and tapping the bottom of the loaf, it should make a hollow sound.
Let the challah cool and enjoy!
I also recommend making Tori's Cinnamon Honey Butter to go with it. This challah is amazing toasted with a little of the cinnamon honey butter on top. I also used the cinnamon honey butter to make french toast with this challah. It's life changing I promise.
EAT and ENJOY!