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Monday, November 21, 2011

Pumpkin Harvest Challah Bread


Bread, bread, glorious bread.....

I woke up Wednesday morning with one thing in my mind: challah bread.

 Not just any plain-Jane, regular challah bread....pumpkin challah bread.

 Studded with pumpkin seeds and tart dried cranberries, this tastes like Fall in the best possible way. Sweet and dense with a gentle chewy crust and soft, pumpkin interior, it tastes as good as it looks!


 I made two variations: one with pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. For the second, I used molasses instead of honey for a rich, dark, spicy taste; I also added pecans and raisins.


The loaf with molasses is the one in the upper right-hand corner. As you can tell, the molasses gives it a darker, almost caramelized-brown-sugar shade. The version with raisins and molasses was a tad sweeter from the raisins. My personal favorite was the cranberry pepita loaf by far. The cranberries gave it a candied tartness that went well with the moist pumpkin flavor.



Pumpkin Harvest Challah Bread - Two Ways
Adapted from Simple Bites
Yield: Each recipe makes 2 smaller loaves. I made one batch and used maple syrup for half, and mollasses for the other. After they baked, I tasted both, then froze one loaf. If you want to freeze it, place loaf/loaves in ziplock bag, date the bag, and pop in freezer. I recommend slicing the bread beforehand. That way you can toast a frozen slice anytime a craving strikes.
Pumpkin Cranberry Challah:
Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup  
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 
  • 4 cups flour, plus more for dusting and kneading
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4-1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
Directions:

  1. Add maple syrup, water (make sure it's warm!), and yeast in a large bowl. Whisk together and let stand for 10 minutes until you see foam.  
  2. Stir in pumpkin puree, salt, and spices. Add three cups of the flour and mix until well incorporated. Add remaining flour, a little at a time, until dough is only slightly sticky to the touch. Stir in dried cranberries and pepitas.
  3. Sprinkle counter with flour and plump the dough onto it. Knead, adding flour as needed, until the dough is smooth. Roll into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise two hours, or until doubled in size.
(Note: I let mine rise overnight in the fridge. In the morning, I took it out, punched it down, let it come to room tempeture and rise for 30 minutes. Then I slid it in the oven. Next time, I'd let it rise in a pan over a pot of boiling water.)
  1. Punch down dough and turn out onto flour-covered counter. Divide dough in half; set one half aside. For each half, divide into three approximately equal pieces.
  2. Form pieces into long snakelike strands, about 12 inches long. Braid together strands and tuck both ends under the loaf. Carefully place on a greased or covered with parchment paper baking sheet. Repeat for remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using a baking stone, start your preheat when you begin the second rise. Beat egg and brush over the bread, and sprinkle on seeds, if using. Put loaves in oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

Like this.....Have you ever seen such a beautiful crust?

Pumpkin Molasses and Raisin Challah Bread

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup molasses 
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 
  • 4 cups flour, plus more for dusting and kneading
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup dried raisins, soaked in water for 20 minutes
  • 1/2 cup pecans
Same recipe and directions as above, only substitute molasses for maple syrup and raisins + pecans instead of cranberries and pepitas. 

Look at that braided end! It's so cute I want to keep it forever....well, forever as in the 5 minutes before I get hungry again. This post is making me hungry - my stomach is literally growling as I type this, and demanding some of this bread right now.



Oh yum.


Holy, heavenly yum. A slice of this, slathered with butter sounds utterly amazing right now.
But don't just take my word for it - go make it right now. It is so simple. If you let the dough rise overnight in the fridge, all you have to do the next morning is let it come to room tempature and rise, braid it, and bake!


Your house will smell like fall and Thanksgiving.


Go make this tonight and enjoy for breakfast tomorrow, for lunch as an almond butter and jam sandwich, alongside soup and salad for dinner, or just toasted and spread with butter as a snack. Then come back and thank me later. ;)

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