When I saw Txfarmer’s post with a sea-star pattern pumpkin challah, I knew I wanted to give it a try (thank you for the inspiration!).
Since I was responsible to bring bread to the Thanksgiving dinner we were invited to, I thought this would be a beautiful addition to the table. I also followed Txfarmer’s lead when it came to the recipe and used Maggie Glezer's "A Blessing of Bread” pumpkin challah one. I have never made challah before, but often bake Zopf and brioches, and the dough consistency is very similar.
The shape comes from Hamelman’s “Bread” (p. 314-316): you have to make several six-strand braids which are then intertwined. It really wasn’t all that hard since the directions and pictures were very clear. However, I definitely needed to concentrate when I did the braiding and consequently had to shoo everyone out of the kitchen. :)
It was a fun project and I really enjoyed it! And on top of everything it tasted really good. The deep yellow color from the pumpkin was also wonderful.
I hadn’t really paid much attention to chapter 9 in “Bread” before this project. The entire chapter is dedicated to different braiding techniques. I wanted to try a few more so yesterday, with the rest of the pumpkin puree, I made my regular Zopf recipe and substituted some of the liquid with the pumpkin. I just love the color this gives and the taste is really good as well.
For this loaf I followed the Winston Knot technique (p. 306), without bringing the ends together at the end. One basically braids with 12 strands, but in groups of 3. I gave this to my neighbor to thank him for cutting my pizza stone a few days ago. For some reason I had two pizza stones, but of course could fit only one into my oven. I bake all my round loaves on this, but could never fit long baguettes on it (thus they were baked on sheet pans). I hadn’t bought a bigger baking stone, because they are all quite a bit thicker than a regular pizza stone and thus need to be pre-heated much longer. I love that the pizza stone basically provides the same effect, but because of its relative thinness, doesn’t need to be heated up so long.
My ‘can-do-it-all’ neighbor cut my second stone perfectly to complement my first one, using the surface in the oven to the maximum. I LOVE it!
This is the very easy two-strand braid, coiled up into a rosette shape (p. 297).
Mmm, those torn-away strands are so good with butter.
And finally my regular four-strand braid.
I was on the phone when these loaves were in the oven and forgot to cover them with aluminum foil after about 20 minutes (something I usually do), thus they got just a tad too dark.
I don't think I am done with pumpkin in my breads yet...