"Only the knife knows what goes on in the heart of a pumpkin."
It's here. October. My favorite month of the year. The month where the BF hangs on for dear life, as I vortex all things pumpkin. [Ed. note: I'm worried about you, man. Seriously.] Pumpkin items I adore: bread, muffins, donuts, cakes, cookies, popovers (coming soon to the blog), ice cream, mousse, cheesecake, soups, curries, pancakes, french toast, scones, cinnamon rolls, trifle and candles. Lots and lots of candles.
Most unnecessary pumpkin-spice products that I've seen? Pringles, vodka, body lotion, kale chips, salsa, salmon and bagels (the BF had a bite and requested that I never, ever, pinkie-swear-on-penalty-of-death buy that again). [Ed. note: Can confirm.]
Side note: The Huffington Post "reports that their taste testers were struck with a variety of reactions to Pringles’ new line of potato chips, ranging from 'surprisingly not revolted' to a 'horrible abomination to humanity.'"
October is also the month to make a mean pumpkin lasagna, crispy pumpkin and sage cannelloni (coming to the blog close to Thanksgiving) and pumpkin gnocchi. Seriously, I feel like there are not enough days in October for everything I want to make with pumpkin. [Ed. note: So this is why you were pining for them in February.]
This pumpkin bread is moist, tender and plush on the inside, with a sumptuous cinnamon-sugar craggy lid. One of my biggest pet peeves when baking pumpkin bread are the recipes that use 1 cup of pumpkin puree out of a can that holds 1 ¾ cup. That leftover puree drives me bat-shit crazy. [Ed. note: Can confirm.] Fear not, this recipe utilizes every last drop of that canned pumpkin and it only takes one bowl to make.
Very key here is the size of your loaf pan, as this will fill out every inch of it. Mine holds 6 liquid cups; it’s 8 × 4 inches on the bottom and 9 × 5 inches on the top. If yours is even slightly smaller or you’re nervous, go ahead and scoop out a little to make a muffin or two.
Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen says, "Finally, I know someone is going to say 'that’s way too much sugar!' but please keep in mind this loaf is gigantic, easily 1.5x a normal one and the sugar is scaled accordingly. You can decrease it if you wish but we have made this now several times and many people have commented about how in-check the sugar level tastes, not over the top at all."
PS: Can't forget last year's pumpkin challah (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/pumpkin-challah), and mini pumpkin whoopie pies with apple cider filling (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/mini-pumpkin-whoopie-pies-with-apple-cider-cream-cheese-filling), which were client and reader favorites.
Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen
Number of servings: 8-10
Because I ain't no Challahback Girl, I ain't no Challahback Girl!
Sorry, couldn't get Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" out of my head while making this pumpkin challah. No Doubt fans will understand.
I don't make homemade bread too often, as there are many extraordinary bakeries around me that offer all manner of amazing confections. But it was so worth making this particular bread at home. The aroma alone was intoxicating, and I've never seen pumpkin challah at any bakery.
Disclaimer: my BF is a writer-music-journalist and is meticulous with grammar, so he hates when I use too many !!!!!! [Ed. note: I'm letting this slide, but will need to see you after class.] But people, I mean, look at this challah! Oh my beloved October!
Pumpkin and challah is a divine combination. The inside is a gorgeous saffron yellow, the crust is laquered, and the bread itself is soft and has an ever so slight taste of pumpkin. You can taste it, but it doesn't overwhelm.
There is, however, much down time, and you can do other things while the bread is rising and baking. When fully baked this loaf of bread is hefty, the BF and I feasted on this loaf of love for a week (we've made deli sandwiches, grilled cheese, french toast, bread pudding, croutons and eaten it plain, slicked with honey butter or cranberry butter—my favorite).
If you're invited to a dinner party or perhaps a holiday dinner, and the host asks you to bring the carbs, consider bringing this gem of a challah. Bet you're asked to bring it the following year.
Adapted from: The Bojon Gourmet, Smitten Kitchen and Joan Nathan
Number of servings: Makes 1 large loaf
According to Joan Nathan, the secrets to good challah are simple: use two coats of egg wash to get that laquer-like crust, and don't overbake it. Also, three risings always makes for the tastiest loaves.
I'm Jacquie, personal chef & recipe developer in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Lover of books, bourbon, chocolate and movies.