Anyway, on to better things: pumpkin. I'm still working on using it up! I only have 3/4 cup or so left, which I think I'll eat for dinner. Thank you for your suggestions. I made pumpkin waffles, a really, really amazingly yummy pumpkin-black bean-chipotle soup (I'm definately posting the recipe for that) and this....pumpkin challah!
I'm so pleased with this bread. Pumpkin challah is a Sephardic challah, which I'd never made before. It's really good. It has the same texture as normal challah, but with a hint pumpkin-spice flavour. But it's not too sweet or overpoweringly spicy-- I had some today with baba ghanoush, for example, and it tasted great.
When I make challah, I always, always make a 6-strand braid. First of all, it looks much prettier than a 3-strand braid in my opinion, and it's really fun to braid. It also makes a higher loaf than a 3-strand braid does, which I like. I hope you won't be intimidated, and will try to make a 6-strand loaf, too! It's really easy. I know thoughts of having 6-strands tangled in front of you can seem dizzying, but there are only 4 steps, so it's not that hard. Just look at this diagram, print it out and have it in front of you, and you'll be all set. If you google, you can find lots and lots of videos on how to braid 6-strand challahs, too.
Anyway, the recipe. It's adapted from Maggie Glazer's A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking from Around the World.
Pumpkin Challah (makes 1 large loaf)
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup warm water
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy yoghurt
Mix the yeast in the warm water along with the spices and 2/3 cup of the flour. Let the mixture stand for 10-20 minutes. Whisk the sugar, salt, oil, yoghurt, and pumpkin in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast sponge. Stir in about 2 cups of the remaining flour, then start incorporating the rest with your hands. You might need a bit more or a bit less. The dough should be soft but not too sticky. Knead for 10 minutes. Dough should be smooth. Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl, cover, and let it rise in a warm place until it has tripled (2-3 hours).
Punch the dough down. On a lightly floured surface, cut it into 6 equal balls of dough. Roll each one into a rope about 3/4'' in diameter. Try to make the ends of the ropes taper. Braid into a 6-strand braid-- see link above. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and rise until at least doubled in size, about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Brush the loaves with soymilk, and bake then for 40-45 minutes, until they are deep golden brown and hollow when tapped on the bottom. Take them out of the oven and brush them again halfway during baking.