Pumpkin Recipes for Thanksgiving

Pumpkins brighten your Thanksgiving table. What’s even better? Adding delicious pumpkin recipes to your holiday meal.
November 22, 2023
Photo courtesy of Faith Kramer

Pumpkins brighten your Thanksgiving table. What’s even better? Adding delicious pumpkin recipes to your holiday meal.

“In my house no holiday is complete without a Jewish twist, so challah is on the menu at Thanksgiving.”
– Faith Kramer

“In my house no holiday is complete without a Jewish twist, so challah is on the menu at Thanksgiving,” Faith Kramer, author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen,” told the Journal. “It especially resonates with me, since I associate making challah with gratitude and remembrance, two sentiments that I associate with Thanksgiving.” 

Kramer’s Savory Pumpkin Challah is flavored with cumin and dried chilis for a zesty taste. “Skip the red chili flakes for a milder loaf,” she said.

Savory Pumpkin Challah
Serves 6-8

Packet (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
1 tsp plus 2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup warm (100-110 degrees) water
1 cup canned or homemade pumpkin purée
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil plus extra
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp red chili flakes
3-4 cups bread flour plus extra
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp everything bagel topping mix
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp shelled, roasted pumpkin seeds (salted or unsalted)

Stir yeast and 1 teaspoon. sugar into warm water. Let it sit for 10 minutes until foamy.
In a large bowl, combine pumpkin with 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons of oil, 2 tablespoons of sugar, salt, cumin, cayenne and chili flakes. Stir in 3 cups of flour, one at a time. If a shaggy ball of dough has not formed, mix in flour until it does.
Flour your work surface and hands. Knead the dough for about 8 to 10 minutes, adding flour as needed, until smooth and a bit tacky. Pinching dough should feel like pinching an earlobe. (It will be softer and stickier than regular challah dough.)
Oil a large bowl. Turn dough in the bowl to coat with oil. Cover with a towel. Then set in a warm, dry place until doubled in size (about 1 hour; timing varies).
Punch dough down. Knead 2 to 3 minutes on a floured surface. Divide into 3 equal pieces. Let rest for a few minutes. Roll into 3 18-inch-long ropes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly oil the paper.
Place ropes 1-inch apart and parallel to each other in the center across the length of the baking sheet. Turn the pan so the short end faces you. Pinch the three ropes together at the top end. Pick up rope on your right and pass over the center rope. (The rope that started on the right is now the center rope.) Take the left rope and pass it over the center rope. Repeat until braided (but not too tight or loose). Pinch together at bottom and then turn both pinched ends under. Cover it with a towel. Let it rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes; timing varies).
About 20 minutes before baking challah, heat the oven to 350°F. Once the loaf has doubled, mix the egg with paprika. Brush it over the top and sides of challah and set aside. Sprinkle it with 1 tablespoon of everything bagel topping and 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds. Place the baking sheet in the oven.
After 10 minutes, brush the egg mixture over any newly exposed areas, sprinkling those with 1 teaspoon everything mix and 1 teaspoon pumpkin seeds. Bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes, rotating it in the oven, if necessary.
The challah is ready when it’s golden brown, the bottom sounds hollow when tapped and an instant read thermometer reads 190 degrees. Cool on a wire rack.

While Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to express thanks, Danny Corsun says that, as Jews, we have the opportunity to express thanks literally hundreds of times per day through hakarat hatov (recognizing the good). 

“During this difficult time, we can appreciate the importance of Judaism (to whatever degree you observe it), of our Jewish community and, of course, of Israel,” Corsun, founder of Culinary Judaics Academy (CJA), told the Journal. “Expressing hakarat hatov over and over guards against taking the richness in our lives for granted.” 

CJA’s T-Giving Hakarat Hatov Apple Pumpkin Muffins

3 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups all purpose baking flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
4 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored, and shredded

Icing (optional)
1 cup + 3 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1-2 Tbsp oat milk

Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Whisk in pumpkin, honey, sugars, oil and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder/soda, cinnamon, salt and spices. Mix dry mixture into the liquid, stir to blend. Fold in the shredded apples.
Spray muffin tin with cooking spray and pour batter in. Make sure the batter fills the tin ¾ full or less to avoid overflowing during baking.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. When the edges darken and pull fully away from the sides of the pan, and the muffin crust is brown, it should be done. Test with a toothpick to make sure. It’s moist, so it’s easy to undercook it; err on the side of caution and let it bake a little longer if you’re unsure.
Let it cool for a few minutes, then invert the muffins onto a cooling rack. If muffins stick, use a plastic knife to carefully loosen the muffins around the sides. Allow muffins to cool.
Option to frost muffins (cupcake style): Sift a layer of powdered sugar onto the top of the muffins. Next, into a bowl, sift 1 cup of powdered sugar. Add ¼ teaspoon of vanilla and 1 tablespoon non-dairy creamer. Stir with a whisk or fork to blend.
Add additional non-dairy creamer by teaspoonfuls, mixing constantly, until the mixture has the texture of thick honey. Pour the icing into a Ziploc bag, seal it and cut the very tip of one the corners of the bag. Drizzle the icing onto the muffins in a zig-zag pattern by squeezing the Ziploc bag gently to release the glaze. Allow 30 minutes for the icing to dry completely before serving. Enjoy!

Wishing you a healthy, safe and meaningful Thanksgiving!

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