By Rochie Pinson
As thanksgiving draws closer and you can’t sneeze without hitting a pumpkin, we encounter the dilemma once again of “Yes turkey vs No turkey?”
Is it a ‘non-Jewish custom’ and therefore not for us to celebrate?
Or is it a universal tradition of giving thanks to the Eibershter (whatever you may call Him) for all our bounty and for the opportunity to serve Hashem proudly and openly in this free country, and therefore perfectly aligned with the Jewish tradition of Hallel and Gratitude.
The Rebbe spoke openly and proudly about the concept of Thanksgiving as a positive idea that reminds all citizens of this country about the foundations upon which it was built – that of belief in a Supreme Being, and our gratitude to Him for all of our bounty.
Although there are many opinions about how and if to celebrate the turkey day, (we are, after all, Jews,) it seems that the general consensus is that as long as it is celebrated in a way that is casual, and not as an official “Yom Tov” it is a lovely thing to do, and not a contradiction to Yiddishkeit in any way.
And it appears that this is indeed how many in the from community seem to approach this day of turkeying and giving thanks.
(However, please get your final opinion from your LOR, this is not a halachic or hashkafic ruling in any way!)
So, in honor of this great country in which we are able to practice our yiddishkeit openly and proudly, I have created a pumpkin challah… it combines the grand Americana tradition of seasonal pumpkin, with our own great mitzvah of challah which is of course all about recognizing the Source of our blessings!
Today I’m going to show you a cute little technique to make little challah rolls that look just like mini pumpkins. It’s easy and fun, and I even include a sinfully delicious cinnamon maple butter (or marg) spread that takes this challah to the next level!
See below for my pumpkin challah recipe – and don’t forget that Chanukah is coming up and Rising! The Book of Challah is an amazing gift for any special woman on your list!
May we all be present to, and grateful for, all the blessings in our lives, every single day.
Harvest Pumpkin Challah
With cinnamon maple butter spread
Yield: about 16-20 mini pumpkin challahs
11/2 cups very warm water
3/4 cup sugar
41/2 tsp granulated yeast
2 cups +
5–61/2 cups all-purpose unbleached white flour (or white whole wheat)
11/2 Tbsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
dash ground cloves
11/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 15-oz can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 egg, well beaten with 1 tsp water
pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
*There is a “Full” recipe included in the cookbook as well, which yields enough dough to separate challah with a blessing. This size dough requires separation of challah, but without a blessing. See page 320 in Rising! for more details about the mitzvah of separating challah.
“RISING: The Book of Challah” is available in bookstores, and fine kitchen stores, as well as on Amazon.com. It is also available in select Anthropologie stores and in their online store this Chanukah season. Follow Rochie Pinson on her challah journey through Instagram @rochiepinson and on her website therisinglife.net.
In a large bowl, pour the very warm water. Add the sugar and then the yeast.
Allow a few minutes for the yeast to bloom.
Add the first part of the flour, the salt,
cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and pumpkin spice mix and mix until a smooth batter forms.
Add the eggs, oil, vanilla, and pumpkin purée and stir again until smooth.
Gradually add the remaining flour, mixing with your hands or stand-mixer until the flour has fully incorporated into the dough. Be sure to add only as much flour as is needed to form a non-sticky workable dough.
Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until it springs back when lightly touched.
Pour 3–4 teaspoons of oil into the bowl.
Turn the ball of dough around in the oil until the outer layer of the dough has been thinly coated.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a warm, damp dishcloth and place in a warm spot to rise.
Allow the dough to rise for 1.5–2 hours, until dough has doubled in bulk. Punch out some air and allow to rise for an additional hour.
Separate challah with a blessing. See page 320 for instructions.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Braid or shape the dough as desired and place on lined baking sheets. If using the “half recipe” to create a wreath, use most of the dough for the wreath, saving a small amount for extra rolls or small challahs. For the wreath braiding technique, see page 294.
Brush the challah with the egg glaze after braiding.
Allow the challahs to rise for an additional 30 minutes.
Glaze challahs again and sprinkle with toppings.
Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes (medium-sized challah; time will vary according to challah size). The challah is ready when its underside is brown and it sounds hollow when tapped.
Cinnamon-Maple Butter Spread
Yield: enough spread to fill a 12-ounce bowl
2 cups unsalted butter or margarine, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Mix with electric mixer until fluffy.
To achieve the look of the cinnamon butter in the photo on the facing page:
Fill the bowl 2/3 way full with the spread.
Put the rest of the spread into a cake decorating bag fitted with the star tip.
Working from the center outwards, create stars, one at a time, working in a circular pattern until the entire surface of the bowl’s interior has been filled.
Keep the spread refrigerated until ready to use so that it doesn’t melt and lose its shape.