Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pumpkin Apple Challah










A beautiful fall-inspired bread


Pumpkin Apple Challah is made with my basic challah recipe   with a variation in the amount of eggs (3 large) and a specific final shaping and proofing. 

I use 3 kinds of flour in the recipe, you can make this challah entirely with all-purpose flour and it will be very good; however, the combination of white whole wheat, bread and all purpose makes a delicious loaf with a fantastic texture in the crumb.  Use instant yeast as described in the procedure OR if you prefer active yeast, activate the yeast in the warm water with a bit of sugar for several minutes until very bubbly and then add to the flour and knead together.  For more information about yeast, check out my blog entry. 

Choreography:
The dough is mixed, rises, deflated and shaped before placing in a pan for the final rise.  The process can be completed in about 4 hours or you can choose to "retard" the proofing (rising) time by placing the dough in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours. 

Equipment: you can make this challah by hand, but it's much easier to use an electric mixer.  We use a kitchen aid stand mixer, it's the workhorse of the kitchen.  You will need measuring spoons, cups , and a kitchen scale if you weigh flour. When mixing by hand, I do not wash out the bowl out after kneading, but rather just pour in a bit of oil, put the dough back into the bowl and turn so that the surface is covered with oil.  Cover with clear plastic wrap and allow to rise. If you avoid the use of plastic wrap, make sure the dough has an oily surface and use a flat weave dish towel that has been dusted with flour to prevent sticking. 

Dough ingredients: 
4.5 tsp yeast + 1tsp sugar
1.5 c warm water
8 oz whole wheat flour (2 scant cups)
8 oz bread flour (2 scant cups)
20 oz all purpose flour (5 scant cups)
3 large eggs 
2.5 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c honey
additional olive oil for greasing the bowl (for rising/fermentation)

Filling:
3-4 oz dried apples, chopped into small pieces (if you can't find dried apples in a local store, Nuts.com has a wide selection of high quality dried fruit and nuts) 
1 1/2 c pumpkin butter (I use Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin butter )

Wash: 
2 Tbsp honey mixed with 1 Tbsp warm water for brushing on shaped unbaked loaves 

Procedure: 
In the bowl of an electric mixer, with the dough hook:
  • 8 oz white whole wheat and 8 oz bread flour 
  • 4.5 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp white sugar, sprinkle over the spot where you have distributed the yeast
  • 1.5 cups warm water (not too hot, the instant yeast is finicky) - pour the water around the yeast, so you know the yeast has been hydrated, the sugar will be around it to feed it immediately.
Slowly mix the flour, water and yeast. You'll see the yeast bubble immediately.

With the dough hook on slow speed, add the following:
  • 3 large eggs 
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (the olive oil gives the bread a subtle taste, you can use any vegetable oil, there will be subtle difference)
  • 1/2 c honey or liquid sweetener (I usually use mild honey- like orange blossom, but you can use darker stronger honey, grade B maple syrup, a mixture of molasses and mild honey, etc.).  I once, in a pinch used karo syrup, the kids didn't like it
  • 2.5 tsp (not quite a tablespoon) kosher salt (easier if you mix it into the honey before pouring into the bowl)
  • 20 oz bread flour (added in two additions)
Mix for 3-4 minutes, it will be loose sticky dough


  • Keep mixing until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will be sticky, avoid an urge to add more flour. Once the kneading is finished, add 1-2 tsp oil to the bowl, turn the dough so that the surface is covered with an oily sheen and cover with plastic wrap. 



  • As the dough proofs the flour will absorb the liquids and you'll have a dough with a beautiful texture in about an hour. 
  • Prepare 2 round cake pans (9 or 10 inches) by spraying with oil and generously dusting with cornmeal.  The pan I've used is a disposable paper pan - wonderful for baking and freezing.  I order them from Plastic Container City, an on line source for baking supplies. 












  • Divide the dough in half  and then half again. You'll use two portions of dough for each dough. 
  • Gently shape the pieces of dough into short logs (you'll be helping the strands of gluten position along the length of the dough piece. ) 
  • Roll the dough along the edge, increasing the length of the log to between 12- 16 inches.  Roll along the width, forming a rectangle that is approximately 6 inches wide. 






  • Using approximately 1/4 of the filling, spread a thin film of filling on the rectangle, stopping within about a half inch of the edges. 


  • Sprinkle on approximately 1/4 of the chopped apples on top of the pumpkin butter. Roll the dough along the length of the rectangle.
     



  • Once you finish rolling the dough, take a sharp knife and pierce the roll about halfway through, drawing the knife down the length of the roll. 
  • Repeat with the second log. 
  • Attach the logs at one end by pressing together and loosely twist one over the other until twisted along the entire length. Attach the edges, bring around and form a circle. 

Along with the photos, here is a very short video showing the process:























  • Repeat with the second half of the dough and allow to proof (rise) in a draft free place for about an hour. A slightly warm oven (around 90 degrees) is a perfect place to let your bread rest and rise.  The dough will double in size in about an hour. 
  • Brush with honey-water mixture. 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees . Place the bread on the center rack and bake for approximately 35 minutes. Honey causes the crust to darken quickly- check the bread after 25 minutes and if it appears to be darkening too quickly lower the heat to 350 and continue to bake until done. 


Enjoy !!