Have you had Challah? It’s a rich, fluffy, slightly sweet braided bread. It’s delectable as-is, toasted, or– my favorite– made into French toast!
I love Challah (traditionally a Jewish Sabbath & holiday bread). And while it’s perfectly amazing as regular challah, I wanted to do something different that would make it unique and add #Fall flair. So I thought..how about a pumpkin butter swirled challah? Oh and what about figs? Fig butter?
I bought a jar each of pumpkin butter and fig butter from Trader Joe’s (amazing) and used these, swirled together, for the filling.
I love this recipe for 3 key reasons:
1) Aside from the yeast, it uses common ingredients that you probably already have at home, like regular all-purpose flour. No need to buy any special bread flour.
2) It can be made relatively easily using the dough hook on the kitchenaid mixer! Don’t have one? No problem, you can knead by hand & get an arm workout 🙂
3) It’s adaptable! Pumpkin filling? Fig filling? Cinnamon-sugar? Chocolate?! The choice is yours!!
Let’s make one, shall we?
2/3 cup warm water
1 tsp honey
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp salt
4-5 cups all-purpose flour
1 jar pumpkin butter – 11oz
1 jar fig butter – 11oz
1) In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the 2/3 cups warm water and the 1 tsp of honey. For the water, I just turn the facet to warm– that’ll do for the water temp. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water-honey mixture and let it sit for 5 minutes, until it foams.
2) Put the bowl onto the mixer and add the dough hook. Add in the 1/4 cup honey, 1/3 cup olive oil, and 2 eggs. Mix them with the dough hook on a low speed. Add in the salt, and then gradually add in 4 cups of flour, keeping the mixer going at the low, slow speed.
3) Continue kneading with the dough hook for about 10 minutes. The dough should come together into a ball. When you touch it, it shouldn’t stick to your finger. If it does, add in a bit more flour, just a little at a time. The dough is ready when you have a soft, pliable, not-sticky dough ball.
4) Take the dough out of the bowl with your hands, forming it into a ball if it isn’t in one already. In that bowl that you mixed the dough in, spray olive oil cooking spray to coat the whole inside of the bowl. Put the ball of dough back into the bowl, and then flip the dough around so that all of the sides get coated with the oil.
5) Place a kitchen towel over the bowl to cover it and place the bowl into the oven. The oven should NOT be on. Rather, putting it in the oven creates a draft-free place for the dough to rise. Allow the dough to rise for about 2 hours. It’ll be about doubled in size.
6) Flour your work surface, and turn the risen dough ball out onto it. Cut the dough ball in half. Roll out one of the halves. You want it to be rectangular-ish, but don’t stress about making it perfect. Roll it out until it’s stretched almost as far as it can be (try for about 3 feet long and a foot wide). Spread the pumpkin butter or your filling of choice alllll over the rolled out dough. Then, from the long-end, roll up the dough as tightly as you can. Cut the rolled up dough log in half. Stretch each half out a bit more. The longer your dough ropes, the more you’ll be able to braid them for the loaf of bread. Repeat this process with the other half of dough.
7) Braid the dough. You can do this a few different ways. I would make a plus sign ( + ), with two ropes going horizontal and two vertical. You want them to be overlapping, over-under-over-under. I know this is way harder to explain than it is to do. You’ll get the hang of it when you lay out the dough.
8) Take the ropes that are on the bottom (that have other dough going over them) and move each piece so that it now goes over the rope to its right. Now take the dough ropes that just got dough placed on top them, and fold them to the left, so they are now on top. Repeat this until the ropes are fully weaved.
See what I mean?? Hopefully the picture helps.
9) Line a baking sheet or pizza pan (that’s what I used) with parchment paper and put the weaved bread on it. Place your kitchen towel over the dough again and allow it to rise for another hour.
10) About 45 minutes into the hour, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
11) Whisk an egg in a bowl, and spread it over the dough. You don’t want any pools of egg– that’ll create scrambled eggs on your bread! You want just enough to lightly coat everywhere. This will help create that golden brown crust while baking. Sprinkle sea salt over the crust.
12) Bake the bread in the preheated over for about 45 minutes, or until you have that golden brown color.
13) Remove that big beautiful bread from the oven and cool it on the pan on a wire cooling rack.
14) If you want to enjoy it fresh and warm (highly recommended!) wait about 30 minutes, and then use a sharp knife to create slices.
15) Serve with butter, jam, goat cheese, or your favorite spread. It’s also fantastic as-is. If you aren’t serving it all right away, wait until it’s completely cooled and store it in an airtight container or a ziploc bag. I often times will cut the loaf in half, freeze one half, and keep the other half in a ziploc bag in the fridge. The sooner you eat it, the better, but it’ll be good for about a week in the fridge. Eat the frozen one within 4 months for best results. To thaw, simply remove it from the freezer and allow it to come to room temperature. It’s easiest to remove it the night before you want it, and by morning, it’s ready!
I hope you enjoy this fluffy, flavorful bread. What will you try as a filling? Write it in the comments! Or, if there are any fillings you want me to try, let me know!