How to Make Pumpkin Challah

Written by Megan of Stetted.

I am nowhere near a bread expert. I have trouble achieving the proper rise and crumb, especially when it comes to sandwich bread. Yet that doesn’t stop me from practicing my kneading or remove the thrill that comes from seeing a bowl full of puffy dough.

Of all the breads I’ve tried making, the one I always come back to is challah. I not only love the flavor, but the methodical technique of braiding the loaves. I know many people hate the work that is involved with making bread, but the process relaxes me and is a great way to center my concentration. And let’s face it – we all need a little bit of relaxation when the holidays are fast approaching.

pumpkin challah braids

If the thought of kneading keeps you from making bread, remember that a stand mixer with a dough hook can take care of most of the work. Little hands can also pitch in. Sticky, squishy dough is a delight for kids, who can’t believe they are allowed to get messy on purpose.

braided pumpkin challah

In this version of challah, the pumpkin stands in for the eggs. Adding eggs will make for a richer dough, but of course remember that you’ll need to add flour to balance out the additional liquid.

Also, this pumpkin challah is only lightly spiced – I wanted to be able to have the bread fit as both breakfast and sliced alongside a savory dinner.

Tips:

  • Use a kitchen scale to ensure equal division of dough. I’m just as bad at dividing sections for braiding bread as I am for braiding hair.
  • I add 3 cups of flour to start with and then add the rest slowly. Due to different moisture levels, varieties of flour, and measuring methods, it’s easier to start out with less flour and add what you need rather than adding all at once and finding your dough is too dry.
  • On the second rise I preheat the oven and set the dough nearby. My kitchen doesn’t maintain enough heat for bread to rise well on its own most days, so this helps tremendously.

pumpkin challah

Recipe: Pumpkin Challah

Yield: This recipe makes 2 smaller loaves. We like to eat one sliced and unadorned, and use the other loaf for French toast.

ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 cups flour, plus more for dusting and kneading
  • 1 egg
  • Sesame or poppy seeds (optional)

method:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve sugar and yeast in the warm water. Let sit 10 minutes until foamy.
  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.
  3. Dust counter or wooden board with flour and turn out dough. Knead, adding flour as needed, until you have a smooth, springy dough. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise two hours, or until doubled in size.
  4. 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.
  5. Form pieces into long snakelike strands, about 12 inches long. Braid together strands and tuck both ends under the loaf. Carefully place on a flour-dusted board, greased baking sheet, or in a greased loaf pan. Repeat for remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
  6. 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.

Do you have a favorite fall baked good?

About Megan

Megan Myers is a copyeditor and spatula-wielding mom seeking out the simpler life in Texas. Her blog, Stetted, focuses on her family’s journey from junk food addiction to a diet of local, organic, and whole foods, while exploring the many options farmers provide.

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Comments

  1. This looks delicious! I’ve never made challah before but I think I want to attempt it. Yours turned out beautifully! And I love the addition of the pumpkin.
    sherri @ the life of a wife’s last post: Chicken & Tomato Pasta Bake

  2. What gorgeous bread! Love the addition of bread, Megan.
    Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies’s last post: Kerrygold Compound Butters

  3. That looks wonderful (as I sit here eating crappy store bought bread). I’m so going to try this! One question, I ran out of homemade puree and the pumpkins at the grocery aren’t looking their best anymore. Can we use canned pumpkin instead? About how much?

  4. love this one!! Great post!
    Alison @ Ingredients, Inc.’s last post: Healthy Mini Pumpkin Flaxseed Bread Recipe

  5. I make challah (with my kids) almost every week for the Jewish Sabbath, but I’ve never thought to try a pumpkin variation. What a GREAT idea.
    Rivki Locker’s last post: A recipe…in exchange for some input

  6. What a lovely idea. I grew up with my mom making challah every Friday. It was marvelous. Will be passing this recipe along to her.
    Brian @ A Thought For Food’s last post: {Recipe: Purple Cabbage and Carrot Slaw}

  7. Pumpkin challah is one of my favorites! I wrote about a similar version of it a few years ago that’s absolutely become a Thanksgiving staple in our home! I actually make a batch about double this and freeze one loaf so we can enjoy it a bit later. My favorite are the leftovers, which I used to make french toast or toasted ham and cheese sandwiches (the slightly spiced and sweet bread tastes incredible with the saltiness of the ham and cheese). I recommend it!
    Alejandra’s last post: Sweet & Spicy Broccolini, Spinach, and Sausage

  8. Oh, I love challah bread! And I love pumpkin, what a great combination! I am not really a bread maker, but this is something I may need to try!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Bernice
    Successful Woman’s Resource Center’s last post: 10 reasons to start your own business

  9. Oh, YUM! I’m planning on making challah tomorrow, and I’m totally going to try this. I like to do a four- or six-braid. It’s like food art.
    Rivki’s last post: Menu Plan for November 2-12

  10. I love making bread, like you I actually find it relaxing. I have not tried to many different recipes out but would like to branch out a bit. I will definitely bookmark this one for the future.
    Stephanie’s last post: Now who is obsessed?!?

  11. Rebecca ~ Sweet Baby Yams says:

    I love Challah, but pumpkin challah! Yum! Can’t wait to try this out.
    Rebecca ~ Sweet Baby Yams’s last post: Pumpkin Recipes

  12. Evelyn D. says:

    I will surely try this pumpkin Challah. It looks like its easy to prepare and very tasty too. Thank you for sharing this recipe.
    Evelyn D.’s last post: How do i win the lottery?

  13. oh that looks amazing….
    I have a gluten free challah recipe.. wonder if I could get away with adding the pumpkin…hmmm.
    Thanks for the idea!
    T
    t @aseedinspired’s last post: Capturing a Gift….or How to Preserve leaves in Beeswax.

  14. Mmm… I can’t get enough of pumpkin! And pumpkin challah?!? Cannot be missed :D
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com’s last post: Pumpkin yogurt soup w/ grilled marinated shrimps

  15. So gorgeous, Megan! Love all of your tips!
    JulieD’s last post: Guest Post on goodLife [eats]

  16. Beautiful bread, Megan!
    Tracy’s last post: Vanilla Latte Cookies

  17. This looks delicious and I am just starting a batch. I thought 2 1/4 tablespoons of yeast seemed like a lot so I looked up how much yeast is in a packet and according to the Cook’s Thesaurus it should be 2 1/4 teaspoons. http://www.foodsubs.com/LeavenYeast.html

    If this is wrong let me know.
    Thanks,
    Terry
    Terry’s last post: Tahki Cotton Classic Yarn

  18. I adore making challah and can imagine how good it must be infused with the taste of pumpkin. Lovely!
    Cookin’ Canuck’s last post: Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa Recipe

  19. The bread looks wonderful.
    Joy’s last post: Taking you blog to the next level

  20. sandraw2580 says:

    What a great recipe! I will definitely bake this on the weekend for my husband! Thank you so much for sharing this great recipe! Keep up the good work!
    sandraw2580′s last post: More Home Security Tips

  21. Living The Sweet Life says:

    *YUMMM* Challa – - I always thought challa was really difficult to make ; Im always really worried about making bread … yeast scares me :$ This is a great recipe though … it looks DELICIOUS!
    Living The Sweet Life’s last post: The Long & Short of Cran-Orange Shortbread Cookies

  22. This looks phenominal! I’ve been looking for a great challah bread recipe, and pumpkin challah is even better. Can’t wait to give this recipe a try, thanks for the share!

  23. Made this bread (more than once already) and used it to make the pumpkin french toast for Christmas brunch. Turned out great and was a big hit. We grew pumpkins this year and this is one of the best ways to use them…..thanks!

  24. Are you using bread flour, or all-purpose flour???

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