This is an apple and honey challah I made a few days ago, in celebration of Rosh Hashana. As it is traditional to eat apples dipped in honey for this Jewish holiday, I thought I would combine the apples and honey with the challah. I’m not Jewish, I just love any excuse to bake and eat of course.
Challah is a really enjoyable dough to work with because it’s soft to knead but not sticky. It’s not difficult to make and the braiding is easy enough if followed step by step. I adapted this recipe from here by adding two apples to the dough. I used braeburn apples and they baked up a treat.
I chose to seal the apples in the braids of dough rather than knead it straight into the dough, but both would work. It’s more of an aestheic thing as sealing it in the braids means that there are no random chunks of apple on the surface of the bread. The apple chunks are not evenly distributed throughout the dough, but I enjoy this because there is a lovely burst of sweetness when you do bite into apple. Although I do think it may have benefited from a little bit more apple.
- 6g fast action instant yeast
- 475g strong white flour
- 60g tepid water
- 3 large eggs (or 4 medium eggs)
- 8g salt
- 55g vegetable oil
- 85g honey
- 2 apples, chopped, coated in a little cinnamon
1) Whisk together all the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (apart from the chopped apples). Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix til it comes together in a rough ball.
2) Knead until the dough becomes silky, smooth and elastic. The consistency should not be sticky or too firm to knead easily. It should be firm but easy to knead.
3) Place the dough in a bowl, and cover with cling film. Let rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size. I like to let this rise in my oven on a low temp (30C) because my kitchen is in the basement and very cold.
4) Divide the dough into four equal pieces (best to weigh them). Roll each piece out into a long rectangle and sprinkle the cinnamon coated apple chunks on top, like this:
Roll this up and seal the edges to form a long rope of dough, with all the apple concealed inside it.
5) Now it’s braiding time. Now I recommend just seeking out a youtube video for good visual instructions. I watched this one and found it very helpful. But I’ve tried to get a few photos of the process (thanks to my boyfriend Andrew taking pictures).
As you can see, to tidy up at the end up you just twist the ends of dough together and tuck them underneath. Carefully pick up your creation and place it on a lightly greased baking tray.
6) Loosely cover with lightly oiled cling film, or better place a bag over the tray, and let rise for about 45 mins to an hour until the dough does not immediately spring back when you push your finger in.
7) Brush with beated egg and bake for 45 minutes in a fan oven preheated to 160C. Check it after 15 to 20 minutes as a second egg wash may be needed in the bits of dough that have become exposed after the oven spring. It will probably need tenting with foil before it finishes baking completely too, because the sugar in the dough means that it browns very quickly – before it bakes completely inside.
When they’re finished, let them cool and enjoy. Or just enjoy hot from the oven. I ate mine dipped in extra honey as I do have a sweet tooth, but I also liked it with just butter.
As it was Rosh Hashanah, I also made matzo and we had the traditional apples dipped in honey.
They aren’t perfect, they’re more rustic. But I was proud of them as I hand rolled them all to the thinnest of the thin! I burnt one batch and forgot to prick another batch all over with a fork before baking, so they ballooned like chapatis, but hey whatever, happy Jewish new year!