Challah is a braided Jewish bread made with eggs. Several years ago, Martha Stewart made a pumpkin challah on her TV show. I printed the recipe off and saved it for years. It wasn’t until today that I decided to crack open all those eggs and give it a try.
My recipe is not quite the same as hers. I had trouble making my egg yolks total an entire 3/4 cup, so I substituted some whole eggs for the yolks. I also used butter instead of oil, and maple syrup.
This is one of those recipes that isn’t exactly quick, but it is delicious, and worth all the time and love you will put into making it.
When you braid the challah, you could just use three strands and braid it like a normal braid, tucking the strands under. Or, you can also attempt a six strand braid. It’s a little tricky, but very pretty. I found an excellent instructional video on finecooking right here.
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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and braid into 1 large loaf with the 6 strand method (see instructions here), or make 2 smaller loaves with the normal 3 strand method. 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 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.