Pumpkin Challah Bread – A traditional Jewish braided bread made with eggs and pumpkin. Perfect for fall versions of your favorites, including french toast, bread pudding, cinnamon toast, and more!
I never really liked the idea of making my own bread. It just sounds like so much work and it never tastes the way that I want it to. Plus, why would I make something that I can easily buy at the grocery store and it tastes much better??
But after I made these garlic herb rolls, man, did my opinion change! They came out so chewy and full of flavor and I had never had anything like them before. Plus, I realized that I actually enjoyed the kneading process. I like to knead by hand because it’s almost therapeutic. You just pour all your stress and energy into the dough and you just feel so good afterwards. And the people around you will thank you.
After that experience, I was so excited to try a new bread recipe. But it had to be something unique, something that I couldn’t find at my local bakery. When I saw a recipe for pumpkin challah, I was inspired. What a great bread for the fall and a perfect recipe to use up the leftover pumpkin puree! And I could get back to my half-Jewish roots a little bit. My grandma is gonna be so proud.
This bread was even easier to pull together than the garlic herb rolls! Just add all the ingredients together, rise, braid, rise again and bake. Boom. That’s it! The braiding might be the most difficult part. If you’ve never braided bread before, here’s an awesome step-by-step guide here that will walk you through it. It’s actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. And it makes the bread look gorgeous!
And as gorgeous as the bread looked, it smelled and tasted even better. The smell of the pumpkin spice as it baked was heavenly and made the whole house smell like a Yankee candle. Isn’t that the dream? You’d have to put a candle in every room to get that kind of smell throughout the whole house. Who knew you just had to bake a loaf of pumpkin challah?!
Oh and the taste. My first bite was a toasted a piece of the challah and I spread on some salted butter. Holy moly! The nuttiness and creaminess of the butter was perfectly matched with the pumpkin and spice of the challah. Each bite was perfection. And it was even better with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top. I’m drooling just thinking about it again.
Since we had a whole loaf to use, you better believe we made some french toast with it. Two nights in a row. There’s really nothing like breakfast for dinner, or brinner as we call it. You can also use the bread to make an amazing bread pudding. Oh man. Can you imagine adding some toasted pecans to this bread and making a bread pudding?! Woah.
If you’re still unsure about making bread from scratch, hopefully these tips will give you the confidence you need:
- There are two kinds of yeast: (1) active dry yeast and (2) instant yeast. this recipe calls for instant yeast, but you can use either. If you want to use active dry, you must activate the yeast by adding the warm water to the yeast and let the yeast “wake up” and get bubbly for 10 minutes before adding the other wet ingredients.
- This recipe calls for two types of flour: (1) bread flour and (2) all-purpose flour. I know it’s tempting to just use all-purpose flour, especially because you probably don’t have bread flour in your pantry right now. But don’t do it! You gotta have bread flour for this recipe. Bread flour has more gluten in it that any other flour, which makes the bread chewy. It won’t taste like bread if you don’t use bread flour. You’ve been warned.
- You gotta knead this bread for a whole 10 minutes (5 minutes if using a stand-mixer with a dough hook). I’m not gonna lie to ya – those 10 minutes go by slowly. But it’s so worth it. Without proper kneading, that bread will come out tough and lumpy.
- Do not skip the egg wash step. Challah is characterized by the eggs in the dough, the braided look, and, last but not least, the shiny crust. And you can only achieve that shiny coat with a couple layers of egg wash. So make sure you brush on the egg wash.
- Braiding the challah sounds scary but I promise – it’s so easy! I used this tutorial and learned everything I needed to know.
Alright, guys. There you have it! I hope you enjoy making the pumpkin challah as much as I do! What other recipes do you have to use up extra pumpkin puree? I have about 1/2 cup left to use! Let me know you recommendations in the comments below.
Pumpkin Challah Bread
For the dough:
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 3 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice *see notes below on how to make your own
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the egg wash:
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- In a medium bowl, combine water, instant yeast, honey, pumpkin puree, oil, 1 egg, and egg yolk.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add flours, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Stir until combined.
- Remove the hook. With your hands, make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour wet ingredients into the hole. Attach the hook and turn mixer on low to combine the ingredients until a ball forms.
- Once a ball has formed, remove from the bowl and onto a floured surface to knead by hand for 10 minutes. Or you can continue to knead in your stand mixer for 5 minutes. I like kneading by hand because it's sort of therapeutic. And quite the workout! You'll know it's done with it's much softer, smoother, and elastic.
- Grab a large bowl and grease it lightly with cooking spray or vegetable oil. Shape dough into a ball and place into greased bowl. Cover top of bowl with a damp paper towel and place in draft-free place to proof for 1 1/2 hours. I always place dough in my microwave to proof and it works like a charm.
- Once it's proofed for 1 1/2 hours, punch dough down with your fist and remove from bowl and onto floured surface. Cut dough into three even pieces.
- Now we're going to braid the dough. Roll each piece of dough into a long, 14-inch log. Braid the dough and tuck the ends under. If you haven't braided dough before, I used an awesome tutorial on how to braid your challah. I included a link to the tutorial in the notes below.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Add challah to the baking sheet. Cover loaf with a towel and let it rise for 45 minutes until it's about double in size.
- When there's about 20 minutes left for the dough to rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Once the dough has risen, whisk the water and egg for the egg wash. With a pastry brush, brush two coats of egg wash all over the loaf. Make sure to get the sides too!
- Bake loaf in a preheated oven until it is golden brown all over, about 35-40 minutes. Make sure to rotate the loaf 180 degrees halfway through baking so that it bakes evenly.
- Once it's done, remove from the oven and let it cool completely before slicing so that you get smooth, even slices.