There are a lot of people who hate pumpkin. I am not one of them. I will put pumpkin in everything — mac & cheese, curries, enchiladas, and yes, of course, challah.
I dreamed these up with Thanksgiving in mind. They’re the perfect accompaniment to sliced turkey, roasted veggies and mashed potatoes, a little more on the savory spectrum of baked pumpkin things, thanks to the addition of dried sage and thyme.
These rolls are adaptable in several ways. You can swap out savory spices for pumpkin spice mix, if that’s your thing. You also don’t have to shape these as rolls — just braid them into a regular challah.
Adding an extra glaze of melted butter and honey is completely optional, but will add a delicious sweetness and irresistible shine.
1. Place the yeast, 1/2 tsp sugar, and lukewarm water in a small bowl. Allow to sit for around 5 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top and smells “yeasty.”
2. In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together 1-1/2 cups flour, salt, dried herbs (if using), and sugar. After the water-yeast mixture has become foamy, add to the flour mixture along with the oil and pumpkin. Mix thoroughly.
3. Add another 1 cup flour and the eggs, then mix until smooth. Switch to the dough hook attachment if you are using a stand mixer.
4. Add the remaining flour, mixing thoroughly, and then remove the dough from bowl and place on a floured surface to knead for a few minutes. Add additional flour (1/4 cup at a time) if the dough is overly sticky, but take care not to add too much flour. The dough is ready when it is smooth and bounces back when touched, though it still may be a smidgen sticky (that’s OK!).
5. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for around 2-3 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge.
6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Braid challah into desired shape, or form into 2 to 2.5 oz balls using a digital food scale, using the palm of your hand to roll. If making rolls, place in two greased 9x13 baking pans. Allow the challah to rise for another 25 to 30 minutes minutes.
7. In a small bowl, beat 1 egg. Brush the egg wash liberally over the challah rolls.
8. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until golden on top and the dough does not look wet or sunken in the cracks.
9. Optional: Melt butter and honey in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds. Brush the rolls (or challah) with the melted butter and honey mixture, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, if desired.