I am joining a group of some of my favorite bloggers to celebrate autumn with a Fall Harvest Dinner Party hosting by Eileen of The Joy of Caking! As you could probably guess, I just had to bake something spectacular to share with my friends. I finally faced and conquered the 6 strand braided challah, much in part to an on-line video tutorial by Joan Nathan. I can barely braid hair, so this was a huge coup. I enlisted my daughter’s assistance and we both watched the video as I braided and repeated her instructions aloud. I hope the next time is easier! But the results were a spectacular loaf. I’d been curious after seeing a few bloggers share their pumpkin challahs this fall. I wasn’t sold on a challah full of autumn spices, as I wanted just the earthy sweetness of the pumpkin to shine through…so omitted the cinnamon et al.
I could definitely taste the pumpkin…a nice subtle sweetness. I sent part of the loaf home with my oldest and he did not see much difference in flavor from regular challah. It may have been due to a massive amount of butter on his slice…but I was pleased it wasn’t too squashy. This bread would be marvelous for French toast…especially topped with some cinnamon spiced apples. Make sure to check out what these super sweet foodie friends brought to this party…and please check out their lovely blogs:
- Sandra from Sweet Sensations and her Festive Fall Table
- Terra from Café Terra Blog and her Apple Pie Cocktail with a Twist
- Monet from Anecdotes and Apple Cores and her Goat Cheese with Herbs de Provence
- Dionne from Try Anything Once Culinary and her Eggplant Caviar
- Amy from Ms. Toody Goo Shoes and her Roasted Pear Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Jeanne from Inside Nana Bread’s Head and her Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Pineapple with Almond & Honey Streusel
- Denise and Sharon from BeBetsy with their Onion Rolls
- Eileen from The Joy of Caking with her Crusted Garlic Parmesan Roasted Chicken
- Anne From My Sweet Heart with her Cinnamon Applesauce Tart
- 1 package active dry yeast (I prefer Red Star brand)
- ½ cup lukewarm water, divided (approximately 110º)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons whisked egg (half of one large egg)
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 3½-4½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 egg yolk
- 1½ teaspoons water
- Pour ¼ cup of the lukewarm water (about 110 degrees) into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the yeast and 1½ teaspoons of sugar to the bowl, stir to dissolve. Wait 10 minutes. The yeast should bubble. Add the remaining ¼ cup lukewarm water to the bowl along with the rest of the sugar, egg, egg yolks, honey, oil and salt and whisk to combine. Mix in the brown sugar and pumpkin puree. Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, begin to add the flour slowly till the dough is smooth and elastic, not sticky. Mix on low for a couple minutes to knead the dough. You can also do this by hand by mixing in the flour with a wooden spoon, then kneading by hand.
- Grease a mixing bowl, then add the ball of dough. Twist it around to grease the bottom of the dough, then flip the dough over and cover with a damp towel. Place in your unheated oven and add a pan of hot water to one of the shelves. Let the dough rise for 2 hours, punching down at the 1 hour mark.
- Punch the dough down into the bowl a few times, then turn the dough out onto your floured work surface. Knead in some flour if the dough is sticky.
- Divide the dough into thirds and roll each into a long snake. Braid as desired. I have attached a video on my blog on how to make a more complicated 6-strand blog.
- Place the braided bread on a parchment lined baking sheet. Make the egg wash by whisking together the egg and water. Brush the loaf with the egg wash and let rest as you preheat the oven to 350º. Bake for 35-40 minutes total but turn the pan at the halfway mark. If the loaf is browning too quickly, tent with foil. Remove to cooling rack when bread is done (will sound hollow when you rap on the loaf. Serve when cool.