One of my greater achievements of 2015: I mastered the 6-braid challah.
This bread isn’t overwhelming pumpkin spicy, it just subtly tastes like fall. It’s as easy as can be, for a yeast bread that requires two rises. Honestly, the hardest thing about it was not the braid (that was probably the most fun part) but kneading this by hand.
Just one more month left of didactic school! Hoping that flies by…and that the next year and a half of rotations fly by, too…so I can finally make some $$$ and get me a Kitchenaid mixer :)
Pumpkin Spice Challah
1/2 cup warm water*
1 package instant rapid rise yeast
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 yolk, @ room temp
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg white for wash
- Whisk water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar together in a measuring cup.
- In a large bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla.
- In a medium bowl, combine spices, salt, and 3 cups of flour.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Mix until combined.
- Add in the spices, salt, and 3 cups flour. Mix until combined. It will be sticky!
- Add in the remaining cup slowly, while continuing to mix the dough. Dough should still be sticky.
- Finish kneading by hand on a counter until dough is smooth. Dough will get less sticky as you knead. Dough should be a soft, smooth and holds a ball-like shape.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place somewhere warm. Let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and punch down. Separate the dough into equal pieces, depending on the type of braid you’d like to do. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope roughly 1-inch thick and 16 inches long. If the ropes shrink as you try to roll them, let them rest for 5 minutes to relax the gluten and then try again.
- If making a 3-stranded challah, braid the ropes together like braiding hair or yarn and squeeze the ends together when complete. If making a 6-stranded challah, the directions are here.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the loaf on top. Drape it with a clean dishcloth. Place the pan somewhere warm and away from drafts and let it rise until puffed and pillowy, about an hour.
- About 20 minutes before baking, heat the oven to 350°F. When ready to bake, whisk the reserved egg white with a tablespoon of water and brush it all over the challah. Be sure to get in the cracks and down the sides of the loaf.
- Bake the challah for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking. The challah is done when it is deeply browned.
- Let the challah cool on a cooling rack until just barely warm. Slice and eat.
*The recipes usually call for about 110 degrees. I never use a thermometer, just microwave it for about 30 seconds, and test it with a finger. You want it warm, not hot. If it is warm enough to keep your finger in the water, then it won’t kill the yeast!