A Splash of Pumpkin & Kisses of Spice
by Guest Columnist Allaya Fleischer
With the cool, crisp air, beautifully jeweled earth tones, and sweet aromas, autumn remains my most favorite season of the year. As spring ushers trees and flowers into bloom, autumn brings forth the rich blooming of the earth.
Autumn, of course, is also a season of gratitude. From Sukkot to Thanksgiving, the earth's last "bloom" before winter is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on all the special people, events and things in our lives. While writing up my guest list for Thanksgiving this year, I imagined our warm apartment illuminated by the sparkling conversation of friends and candlelight; the friendly laughter and comforting food that has grown to symbolize "home" for me, these past few years I've spent in New York, against the backdrop of a cold, dark night.
Witnessing the recent devastation and destruction from hurricane Sandy, both on television and first hand, has made these feelings and images of home even more precious to me. It is with a heart full of love that I express my gratitude for my family and our home, because I understand the feeling of being displaced and feeling not so "at home;" something I experienced myself for nearly two years. I realize that my stints of volunteerism, chesed, and prayers, although somewhat helpful, don't make things all better all at once. That will take time. However, in creating this Challah recipe for Kosher Eye, I put a lot of thought into transferring my personal "home" experience into bread, with an attempt to offer at least a small taste of comfort to those who need it the most.
With a splash of pumpkin and kisses of spice, this challah not only smells magnificent while baking, it makes for quite an impressive presentation, especially when braided like a pumpkin. Since Thanksgiving is not a Yom Tov and does not require two challot, you can try making one large loaf out of the dough (adjust baking time accordingly if you do this). You could also knot them into rolls.
But, there's really no need to stop there. This would also be a great bread to serve for Sukkot or even Rosh Hashanah. What's certain, though, is that smelling this bread baking in the oven will transform anyplace you happen to be into "home." Well, maybe not exactly, but it will sure smell like it. To all of you who felt the stinging punch of the storm, you are all in my heart and prayers. Please accept this challah as my warm hug to you. As ever, I remain humbly thankful to all my readers who have supported me for this, my charter year. Thank you all.
Enjoy my recipe for Pumpkin Challah.
About the Author
A native of Bangkok, Thailand, Allaya currently resides in New York City with her husband, children and cat. You can read her blog, I Speak Food, at www.allaya.com, for kosher recipes focusing on Asian and Eurasian Fusion cuisine, and bread.
November 20, 2012
No time to make Challah dough, no problem!
To purchase click here: Zojirushi Bread Maker (Amazon).
Selecting a Breadmaker can be confusing.
Especially if one has not previously owned a bread machine. So many choices - one paddle or two? vertical loaves or horizontal loaves? A machine that makes a 1 lb. loaf or a 2 lb. loaf? Size of the actual machine? Ease of use? Settings? Decisions... decisions... decisions!
So let's talk! We have recently tested the newest model, of the Zojirushi (pronounced zo-jih-ROO-shee) bread maker, the Virtuoso BB-PAC 20. In fact, since we have grown so attached to it, let's use its nickname, the Zo. It has moved to a position front and center in our kitchen, right up there with our stand mixer, Vitamix, Coffee Maker, and food processor. Not only are we busily making whole wheat bread for weekday sandwiches, challah for Shabbos, and cinnamon rolls (yumm) much too often, but we have also made jam. strawberry jam to be exact. So simple! Making jam was so easy, that we plan to progress to blueberry and peach jam later this summer.
Yes, the Zo is an investment ($275), but if you have the counter or pantry space available, and if you love fresh bread and preserves, we think that it is well worth the price. If you use it often, studies have indicated that over time, homemade bread costs substantially less than store-bought bread, and is, of course, healthier, (We guess that depends on your ingredient choices.)
Why did we select Zojirushi? – We compared many popular bread machines, some less costly, but liked the features on the Zo. The Home Bakery Virtuoso® Breadmaker (BBBAC20). If you plan to become a regular breadmaker...these features are important.
The Virtuoso bakes a traditional, horizontal-shaped 1 ½ - 2-lb. loaf, has dual kneading blades, 13-hour delay timer, easy to read clock, and many varied menus settings-including basic bread, wheat bread, gluten-free bread, sourdough starter, dough, jam, cake, quick bread and 3 homemade settings for custom recipes. Trust me, we are not techies, but the accompanying recipe book offers easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions for each setting. Additionally, the Virtuoso has an exclusive lid heater, which makes even baking and proper browning possible. The dual paddles ensure thorough mixing and kneading and result in a higher rise. The bread pan includes easy-lift handles, ensuring quick and safe loaf removal of the loaves. And there is a large window to watch what's happening.
And, we must share one of our favorite features..the 13-hour delay timer – which allows us to go to bed and wake up to fresh homemade bread in the morning. Sounds so good, doesn't it? Yes, it's truly amazing. We also especially like the dough cycle, which is perfect for mixing up a batch of cinnamon buns, challah, and rolls.
We find the 2 lb. size loaf convenient, some to slice, some to store and even some to freeze. For Shabbos challah, the Zo delivers fresh challah in a hurry on a Friday morning. One 90-minute cycle provides enough dough to make two 1 lb. loaves. We shape them, place them in loaf pans or on our Silpat mat, let them rise for 1 hour, and bake for 30 minutes. Done! By the way, for those readers who are gluten-free, the Zo even offers a setting for you. So, dear readers, if you are in the market for a breadmaker, do consider the ZO, and share your thoughts (and recipes) with us.
To purchase click here: Zojirushi Bread Maker (Amazon).
*This is not a sponsored post. All recommended products are Koshereye tested. We hope to only provide you with amazing Kosher products and recipes. Koshereye may make a small commission if you purchase a product through our Amazon links.