Gary, Indiana ?

We took a quick trip to Indiana for the first days of Sukkot to visit our friends from Israel.  It is 645 miles from where we live.  And unfortunately, all the words I know to “Gary, Indiana” are “Gary, Indiana, Gary Indiana, Gary Indiana, My home sweet home.”  And well, after about 10 miles of that, I had to try to find other things to sing….

The country is beautiful – the leaves are changing, they’re further along then our leaves were, so we saw lots of oranges, reds, greens and yellows.  When we crossed into Indiana, a big sign proclaims:  “Indiana – childhood home of Lincoln.”  Really?  Come on! Indiana.  I feel disappointed.  I think your state motto could be something stronger -Surely someone famous was born in Indiana – all you got is that Lincoln’s parents carpet bagged through your state?  (I wonder if people from Kentucky and Illinois get their dander up about the motto – thinking that Indiana is trying to lay claim to Lincoln….).  We drove about an hour past this sign to Bloomington, Indiana.

The University of Indiana is in Bloomington and Seth and Lisa Cook are the Aish Family there.  We got to spend the first days of Sukkot at their house.  They had quite a full Sukkah with about 50 people per meal at their table.  Our next recipe we’re going to share is the amazing Strawberry Banana salad that Lisa served.  That’ll be our next blog.

While we were there – we saw an advertisement for what they did last year – they made: “Challah”ween!  So I searched out a recipe for pumpkin Challah – and found Maggie Glezer (who won the James Beard award for cookbooks!).  She wrote a whole cookbook about the traditions of Jewish Baking (the book is wonderful).  Here’s the Pumpkin recipe with some tweaks from me:

Recipe taken from Maggie Glezer’s cookbook “A blessing of bread: The many rich traditions of Jewish bread baking from around the world”.

Pumpkin Challah

Makes 1 big loaf or two small loaves.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup warm water (if you add boiling water you will kill the yeast, the water must be warm to the touch)
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3 3/4 cups white flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (or cinnamon if you don’t have – but I have cardamom, so if you want some I’ll give it to you)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsps salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg + 1 beaten egg for the eggwash
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree + an extra 1/4 cup of puree added 1 tablespoon at a time if your dough is too dry
  • Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds or poppy seeds for the garnish on top

Method:

  • Proof the yeast: (Sprinkle the yeast into a small bowl with the warm water.  Stir and allow the yeast to sit for about 10 minutes – you are looking for bubbles to make sure the yeast isn’t dead).
  • Mix the flour and the spices together in a large bowl, make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast/ water.
  • Pull enough of the flour into the yeast water to form a soft paste – you will have some flour not mixed – and that’s ok.
  • Cover with a moist towel (I often use paper towels) and leave to “sponge” until frothy and risen, about 20 minutes.
  • Mix the sugar, salt, oil, egg and pumpkin together. Then add this mixture to the dough and mix well.
  • Knead for 5-10 minutes.
  • In a lightly oiled bowl – turn over your dough a couple times to oil the whole outside of your dough (this prevents drying).  Cover the bowl with a moist towel (again to prevent the dough from drying out).
  • Let the dough rise in a warm place until the dough has tripled in size, about 2-3 hours (if your kitchen is not warm – you can turn your oven on until it hits around 120 degrees then turn it off and put the dough in the oven – you should be able to touch the metals shelves with your hands – DO NOT USE plastic bowls for this – use metal or glass).
  • Punch down the dough and shape.  I like 2 long ropes that I spiral into a circle.
  • Place the loaves on aluminum foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray and then put on baking sheets.
  • Put the loaves back in the warm oven until at least doubled in size, about 40 minutes to an hour.
  • Take the loaves out of the oven and pre-heat your oven to 350.  Glaze the loaves with the extra beaten egg and sprinkle them with any of the seeds or with something else (cinnamon sugar?) if you like.
  • Bake the loaves at 350° F for 40-45 minutes.

Then enjoy!  You can use them for your Shabbat table or for anytime during the week.  You can eat the challah with jam or honey or make your favorite sandwich with it.