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Prep time: 20 min.+ 1 ½ hours to rise

Cook time: 40 min. for large challah

Yield: 1 large loaf or 2 smaller

With this recipe you would think we are trying to marry two traditions—Thanksgiving and Chanukah—which will be celebrated simultaneously this year. However, challah with pumpkin is a Sephardic tradition.  Many bakers add a bit of pumpkin to their dough, for the same reason others use water in which potatoes cooked and/or cooked potatoes. It produces moist and fluffy bread. I used homemade pumpkin butter perfumed with sweet spices, but you can use store bought. You may also add cranberries, currants, chocolate chips or chunks and nuts.


  • Dough
  • 4 cups plus 4 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup warm (not hot) water
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ½ cup pumpkin butter, homemade or store bought
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Egg wash
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Dash of ground cinnamon


  • Place flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl of a stand mixer and stir to combine. Create a well in the center. Put the yeast in the well and mix it with a bit of the flour mixture. Pour warm water only into the well with the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes to froth. Add egg, oil and pumpkin butter and mix with dough hook on low for 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. The dough will be a bit sticky and easier to handle with oiled hands.  Place in an oiled bowl and turn over to coat. Cover and place in a warm, draft free area to rise for 45 minutes, or until it doubles in bulk.
  • Oil or flour your working surface, divide into two or three equal parts.  Divide each part into three or how many strands you wish. With the cup of your palm, roll each part into a ball, flatten the ball into a small disk and roll like jellyroll into a 12” strand. Repeat with the rest of the balls. Braid  the strands, pinching the ends and tucking under the loaf, and place on an oiled or parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the loaves. Mix together egg wash ingredients and brush on braided bread. Let bread let rise for 45 minutes in a warm, draft-free area.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Reapply egg wash all over the loaves, sprinkle with pumpkin or other seeds, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes.  Loaf is ready if it produces a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom with your fingers. If not ready bake for 5 minutes more and check again.  Cool on a rack before breaking.
  • Tips for making challah
  • Dough may be prepared and put in the refrigerator overnight for first rise. Take dough out when ready to continue, gently deflate it and let stand to rise again and then proceed.
  • You can create a warm box by placing a cup of just boiled water in a cold oven or microwave next to the dough or in the shelf underneath.
  • You may freeze loaves. Make sure to wrap with aluminum foil and then with plastic wrap. When read to use, thaw on your counter top. Take the plastic wrap off and bake wrapped in aluminum foil on low heat, no more than 300 degrees, for 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure to unwrap and cool on a rack. It will be like fresh.

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