Let the thoughts of Scrooge’s nephew, conveyed to his uncle, on the subject of Christmas, provide a prelude to this concluding portion of “A Loaf of Bread and Thou ~ a Christmas Season Tea-Time for Two”. Here is what he has to say:
There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I daresay…Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round–apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that–as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it! (from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)
Pumpkin Challah (for 1 large loaf)
Note: To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF. You will have the option of printing in smaller text size and without photos.
- 2/3 cup of Warm Water: The water should feel quite warm but not hot.
- 1/2 cup of Sugar
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of Instant Dry Yeast
- 1 Tablespoon of Sunflower Oil
- 1 cup of Pumpkin Purée: Canned purée was used for the photographed loaf.
- 1 Whole Egg and 2 Egg Yolks, beaten, plus another 1 Yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon of Water, for glazing the loaf before baking it.
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon of Ground Ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon of Freshly Ground Nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cardamom
- 4 cups of Unbleached White Flour
- Optional for spreading on the bread: ‘Pistazienaufstrich’. The recipe for this pistachio and lemon spread is given below.
- 2 large Mixing Bowls: One of these may be the bowl of the Mixer if using it to mix and knead the dough.
- a Mixer with a Paddle Attachment is useful for mixing the dough together, but it may be done by hand instead
- a Pastry Board and Rolling Pin
- a Baking Sheet lined with Parchment Paper
- a Cotton Dish Towel or Tea Towel
- a Pastry Brush for brushing the loaf with egg before baking or…use your fingers to do this
- a piece of Aluminum Foil may be needed to tent the bread if it browns more quickly than it bakes.
I. Making the Dough:
1. Pour the warm water and sugar into the mixing bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar a bit. Add the yeast and let the mixture sit until it becomes foamy (which will be in about 10 – 15 minutes).
2. Stir in the pumpkin purée, the sunflower oil, one whole beaten egg and two beaten yolks, the salt and the spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom).
3. Add 3 cups of the flour, slowly mixing it in using the paddle attachment of the mixer, or by hand. Add the remaining 1 cup a little at a time until it is all mixed into the dough. Then knead the dough (either with the paddle attachment of the mixer or by hand) until is is smooth and elastic.
4. Place the dough in a large, dry mixing bowl, cover it with plastic, and let it rise until it doubles in size.
II. Forming and Braiding the Loaf:
1. Divide the risen dough into 4 equal parts. Roll out the first part into a rough rectangular shape, measuring at least 12-inches on two parallel sides …
…Then roll it up into a tight rope:
2. Roll the rope between your hands to smooth its surface. Taper the ends of the rope as you roll it. Make ropes in the same way with the other 3 parts of the dough. The photographed dough is rolled into ropes of about 20-inches in length. The exact length is not important; what is important is that all the pieces of dough are rolled into ropes of equal length.
3. Place the ropes parallel to each other on the pastry board. Pinch the ropes together at one end (the end farthest from you).
4. Pick up the rope farthest to your right (#1), and weave it over #2, under #3, and over #4:
5. Pick up Rope #2 (which now has become the rope farthest to your right) and weave it over #3, under #4, and over #1:
6. Pick up Rope #3 (which is now the rope farthest to your right) and weave it over #4, under #1, and over #2:
7. Pick up Rope #4 (now #4 is farthest to your right) and weave it over #1, under #2, and over #3:
8. Now Rope #1 is again the farthest to your right. Repeat the over – under -over pattern again…and again…until you reach the end of the ropes. Pinch the ends together and tuck them under at both ends:
9. Transfer the loaf to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the bread with a cotton towel and let it rise again for perhaps an hour (depending on heat and humidity), until the dough no longer bounces back when pressed with a finger. The imprint of your finger remains in the dough. While the loaf rises, preheat the oven to 350 F.
10. Brush the loaf all over with an egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon of water. A pastry brush or your fingers both work well for performing this step.
11. Bake the bread for 40 minutes. Check the loaf occasionally. If it begins to turn golden brown before the baking time is completed, tent it with a piece of aluminum foil. Cool the loaf on a rack:
12. Serving Suggestions: Pumpkin Challah goes well with ‘Pistazienaufstrich’ (described below). It will also make good French Toast.
Pistazienaufstrich (for about 1 cup)
Ingredients: The ingredients are listed in metric measures since the recipe’s source is a German cookbook. The closest American equivalents are given in parentheses. Either metric or American measures will turn out a good spread.
- 250 g Mascarpone, at room temperature (1 cup, plus 1/8 cup, plus 1 teaspoon)
- 20 g of Granulated White Sugar (2 Tablespoons minus 1 teaspoon)
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 teaspoon grated Lemon Peel
- 30 g Pistachios, roasted and roughly chopped, plus a bit more to sprinkle on the bowl of finished spread (1/4 cup, plus a bit more to sprinkle on the finished spread)
1. Mix together in a bowl the Mascarpone, the sugar, the lemon juice, the grated lemon peel and the pistachios.
2. Put the spread in a pretty bowl or ramekin, sprinkle it with some more chopped pistachios and serve it at room temperature. The spread will keep for a couple of weeks refrigerated.
A Note: Pumpkin Challah and ‘Pistazienaufstrich’ is the third loaf in the Occasional Menu: A Loaf of Bread and Thou ~ Christmas Season Tea-Time for Two. The recipe for ‘Pistazienaufstrich’ is adapted from one in the German cookbook Äpfel, Birnen & Co., die besten Rezepte (2006).
A Second Note: You will find more ways to braid a loaf of challah, or any other dough that may be formed into a braid, here at The Shiksa in the Kitchen.
An Invitation: You are invited to request suggestions from the diplomatickitchen for your own menus for any occasion by clicking on the feature ‘Ask and Tell’ here or in the Menu at the top of the page. Do you have a menu concept with a gap or two that wants filling…or perhaps you are an expat looking for ways to adapt your recipes to what is available in your temporary home…maybe you are just looking for a new way to use a familiar ingredient or would like suggestions on how to adjust quantities of a recipe from the diplomatickitchen for smaller or larger groups…Replies will be published in ‘Ask and Tell’ or sent by email if you prefer.
© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2012