After a month of three-day weeks, festive meals, and thoughtful fasts, the holidays are over and those of us at PopJudaica.com are recovering. We have nearly two months until the next Jewish holiday -- Chanukah -- and Thanksgiving is nearly a month away, so that means we're in the clear. No more thinking about what to wear or what to eat, visiting family or taking part in festive parties that knock us out for days, right?
Wrong! Thankfully (or not?) a JTA news story has reminded us that today, Halloween, is a whole different sort of enigma for the Jewish community, especially this year when the holiday falls on Shabbat. It's a debate of great proportion between traditions: "challah vs. candy, the Sabbath Queen vs. the Pumpkin King, blue homes vs. orange."
The bonuses to the holiday are the sales on candy the next day, which -- kosher or not -- can benefit us all. But trying to convince your kids or friends to do Shabbat instead of Halloween can prove difficult. So a Halloween-themed Shabbat dinner? For some of us, we'll just buy our Purim costumes at post-Halloween sales and anticipate the distant dressed-up holiday.
So whether you're staying in tonight for Shabbat dinner, going to synagogue, dressing up as your favorite politician or television personality, or if you're indifferent all around, there is an option outside toiling over the Great Pumpkin/Great Big Meal debate. The activity? Making a Pumpkin Challah! Martha Stewart, the Queen of "Good Things" has this recipe on her website, and we'd like to share it with you for this occasion:
PUMPKIN CHALLAH RECIPE
Makes 2 loaves
* 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast, (1 1/2 packages)
* 1 cup warm water (100 degrees to 110 degrees)
* 3/4 cup egg yolks, (11 to 12 large eggs), plus 1 large egg yolk for glaze
* 1 tablespoon salt
* 2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for bowl
* 1/4 cup honey
* 2 cups homemade Pumpkin Puree, or one 15-ounce can
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon allspice
* 8 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1. Proof the yeast: Place 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl, and sprinkle yeast over it. Stir to combine, and let sit until mixture becomes foamy, about 10 minutes.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine egg yolks with remaining 1/2 cup warm water. In a medium bowl, combine salt, canola oil, honey, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Replace paddle attachment with dough-hook attachment, and add the pumpkin mixture to the mixer bowl; combine. Add the yeast mixture, stirring until combined.
3. Slowly add flour, 1 cup at a time, until all the flour is incorporated into dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, punch down the dough, and then form it into two 8-inch loaves. Place the loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
5. While the dough is rising, heat the oven to 350º. Mix remaining egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the loaves with the egg glaze, and bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, and serve.