It’s my favorite season, although I have to say that what I am most fond of about seasons is that each season actually occurs, at least where I live.
There is an undercurrent on the internet of impatience with autumn and its major gourd, the pumpkin. Sorry, all you fall-haters, but in the Common Household we love pumpkin. A long time ago, our pediatrician approved homemade pumpkin muffins as a reasonable (ha!) source of vitamins for my son, who since the age of two has refused to eat any vegetables.
But sometimes a homemade, vitamin-laden pumpkin muffin can’t be had, and a desperate person must turn to Dunkin Donuts.
|Dunkin, I don't like your spelling and doughnuts are|
not my favorite carbohydrate, but your pumpkin muffins
have saved me more than once. Thank you.
The Dunkin Donuts pumpkin muffin saved my sanity in September 2011 when I was helping my aunt get ready for her move to the retirement home. I was having difficulty facing the task ahead of me, but a cup of hot tea and a pumpkin muffin at Dunkin Donuts made it possible to move forward. We all know we should not turn to food to try to solve our emotional problems, but I tell you, that pumpkin muffin was positively therapeutic.
Earlier this month Dunkin Donuts came through for me again on my way home from the retirement home. Yes, this muffin is basically mass-produced cake with sugar on top, but sometimes that’s what a person needs.
On the homemade front, I bring you an astonishing concept: Pumpkin Challah! I know this is a thing that exists, because I made it at a cooking class at synagogue. This pumpkin challah is not overly pumpkiny, but delightfully subtle. It is delicious toasted with a bit of butter or cream cheese. It would be great on the Thanksgiving table, in dinner-roll format.
Kneading bread is also sanity-saving. Pretend that dough is your worst enemy, and pummel it!
If you are turned off by autumn and pumpkins, then, because this blog subscribes to the Pumpkin Fairness Doctrine, here are a few places you might feel more at home:
This recipe makes one large loaf (congregational size) or two household loaves.
Based on the Meg Marshak Challah Recipe.
1 ½ cup warm water (hot bath temperature)
2 packets dry yeast (quick rise is also suitable)
¼ cup Sugar
¼ cup honey
1 Tbsp salt (kosher recommended)
2 Tablesp vegetable oil
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice.
3 eggs (at room temperature if possible)
2 cups All Purpose flour
4 cups Bread flour (if necessary, All Purpose can be used in place of bread flour)
Optional: raisins or Craisins, ½ cup or more if you prefer
Egg wash: 1 beaten egg with 2 Tbsp water
In a large bowl, stir together the water, yeast, and some of the sugar (2 Tbsp or so). Let the mixture stand for a few minutes until frothy and “yeasty” smelling.
Stir in honey and remaining sugar, salt, and then the oil and eggs. Stir in the pumpkin and spice. Fold in the All Purpose flour and most of the Bread flour. If you are using a mixer with a dough hook, add the flour gradually to avoid lumps.
Once the dough clings to the hook in a lump or is too hard to stir by hand, turn out onto a lightly floured board or countertop. At this point the dough will be a shaggy mess. (If you want to add raisins, this is the time to add them – ½ cup or more.) Knead for 8-10 minutes, adding any remaining flour as necessary. The dough should be soft and elastic and NOT sticky.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl. Turn the dough over to coat the entire surface lightly with oil. Cover with a damp towel and place the bowl in a warm spot. Let rise until almost double (about 30-40 minutes).
Gently deflate the dough and knead slightly (to remove large air bubbles). Divide into three equal parts. Roll and form into 3 strands. Put parchment paper on a large baking sheet. Using all three strands, brad loosely on the parchment. Brush egg wash over braided bread (make sure you get all the nooks and crannies). Let rise until puffy and almost double in bulk, usually 35-45 min.
Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 35-40 minutes until browned and hollow-sounding when tapped. Let cool before slicing.
|After the pummeling. Ready to take a nap in the bowl.|
|Napping under a damp towel.|
|Nap time for the dough is over. Time for the final formation.|
|Three strands, with the longest in the middle.|
|Braided and ready to rise one last time.|
|Done! Two pumpkin challah loaves.|