Monday, July 27, 2015

Apple Honey Challah

This recipe, from The Kitchn, was created for Rosh Hashanah, what with the apples and honey and all. I made it in June because it seemed like a good side dish any time of the year, though I concede it would be more suited to early fall. The kitchen – and the whole apartment, actually – smelled fantastic, like a really good bakery. And the bread was absolutely delicious! The recipe makes two loaves, so I froze one, and it held up very well. I’ll be making this one again!

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1/3 cup + 1 tsp. granulated sugar, divided
1 ¼ cups warm water (about 110 °F)
5 cups all-purpose white flour, plus more for kneading
2 tsp. salt
½ cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
4 large eggs, divided
¼ cup honey
2/3 cup apple butter, divided
1 small apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped, divided

Stir together the yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and the water in a medium bowl. Let sit until foaming, 5 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, flour, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

Add the vegetable oil, 3 of the eggs, and the honey to the yeast mixture and whisk to combine. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the wet mixture. Gently stir until the dough begins to form, then turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead well, adding more flour a little at a time as necessary, until a supple dough forms, 10 to 12 minutes. (Expect to add about 1/3 to ½ cup of flour while kneading, depending on humidity.)

Rub about 1 teaspoon of oil around the bottom of a large bowl, add the dough and turn to coat; cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let sit in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Grease two 9-inch round cake pans; set aside. Gently punch down the dough and divide in half. Working with 1 piece of the dough (and keeping the other covered so it does not dry out), roll it into a large rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Spread 1/3 cup of the apple butter evenly over the top, and sprinkle with half of the chopped apple.

Starting at one of the long ends, tightly roll the dough in on itself, like a jelly roll. Pinch the ends to seal and gently stretch into a 24-inch rope; coil rope into a circle and place into one of the prepared pans. Repeat process with second piece of dough, remaining 1/3 cup of apple butter, and remaining apple.
Whisk the remaining 1 egg in a small bowl and brush the challahs with one coat of egg wash. (Put remaining egg wash in the fridge.) Let rise for another 30 minutes. Fifteen minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375 °F.

Uncover the challah and brush with a second coat of egg wash. Bake until deeply browned and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. (An instant read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf should register 195 °F – for my loaves, this only took 30 minutes, and they were already a little browner than I would have wanted.) Remove from oven and let sit 15 minutes. Carefully remove from the pans and let cool on a wire rack.

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