Jewish, Gentile, or Vegetarian: A Thanksgivukkah Recipe To Chew On

For the first time since 1888, Thanksgiving and the first day of Chanukah are falling on the same day this year, marking the monumental occasion now known as Thanksgivukkah.

When I spoke with Rabbi David Paskin of Kehillah Schechter Academy–the school where the idea of Thanksgivukkah was born–he hit me with a compelling question.

When Thanksgiving and Chanukah arrive…what will you do first–light the candles or eat the turkey?

It’s good food for thought…something to chew on…and it inspired me to go on a journey of Jewish self discovery that brought me to my childhood friend Josh’s mom’s kitchen.

She showed me how to make pumpkin challah, a recipe that has been passed down in her family for three generations.

And Mindy was kind enough to share the recipe with Fusion.

Grandma Shirley’s Challah
(makes two large loaves)

1 ¼ cups warm water (105 to 110 degrees)

2 pkgs of yeast (not rapid rise) or 20 grams

1 tbs. sugar

3 cups unbleached flour and 4 cups whole-wheat flour (1016 grams)

1 cup brown sugar

1 tbs. kosher salt

4 jumbo eggs

¾ cup cold water

½ cup can pumpkin

Measure the warm water in a 4 cup measuring cup–be sure it is the correct temperature.

Add the yeast, and sugar and stir once with a knife. Let stand for while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.

Combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl.

Combine the eggs, cold water and oil in a small bowl and then add to the flour mixture.

Then add the yeast mixture and stir until just combined. Turn it out onto a well floured surface with plenty of extra flour to add if it gets too sticky.

Knead with the palms of your well floured hands for 6 to 8 minutes. If it is too sticky flour your hands.

Place the dough in a well oiled large bowl, turn to coat, and cover with a clean kitchen towel.

Let it set until it has doubled in size about two hours, but it varies, depending on the humidity.

Punch down and form into two loaves. You can freeze or refrigerator at this point in gallon size zip lock bags.

When ready to bake, thaw dough and braid each loaf, challah-style, into three strands. Cover the loaves and let rise again, about two hours. Preheat oven to 325.

Brush the braided challah with egg or milk and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately!