The same day I called the neighborhood beekeeper about collecting the honey from our yard, I finished up the latest Pick Now! Calendar, featuring apples as one of September’s showstoppers. It makes sense that yesterday’s sundown celebration of Rosh Hashanah includes the seasonal eating of foods like honey and apples to summon good hope and sweetness for the year.
For years, Elizabeth Colling has been tantalizing me with talks about her Apple-Honey Challah Bread on our hikes— yes, we exercise and talk about food – what else do you expect from a food blogger and a pastry chef? With honey and apples on the brain, I finally made it yesterday. It truly is a delicious recipe that I’ll be making often throughout the fall. If it tastes this good in a heat wave, imagine what it will taste like when that fall nip hits soon? (Please, God, soon.) What doesn’t get gobbled up at first serving, slice up for French toast the next day.
Challah is a really forgiving bread to bake, don’t let the rising time scare you– it’s not a lot of actual labor, just waiting time. The first time I mixed the bread together I missed some ingredients—blame the heat!— and had to retry a second time, so learn from my mistake and make sure you read the list carefully and see where it says to divide. Also, Elizabeth, bless her heart, kneads by hand but I used my Kitchen Aid mixer to mix the dough and then added the hook to knead.
Recipe from Elizabeth Colling, by way of Martha Stewart (whoever that is?)
Often, Challah is braided with six strands, but Elizabeth pointed out she coils the dough (much easier!) for Rosh Hashanah into a circle to symbolize fullness and completion.
1 stick of butter, melted (divided 3 ways) plus more for the pan and plastic
3 ½ cups unbleached bread flour, plus more for surface
¾ cup warm water (100 degrees)
2/3 cup honey, divided
2 large eggs & 3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons active dry yeast or 1 ¼ ounce packet
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ tart green apples, preferably Granny Smith, peeled and cut into ¼ inch thick slices (about 1 ¾ cup)
Melt the stick of butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once it’s melted divide it into three bowls – 2 tablespoons for the actual dough recipe, 2 tablespoons will be used to butter your bowls and plastic wrap during the second rise and 4 tablespoons will be deliciously mixed with your honey for the topping before and after baking.
Combine 2 tablespoons of melted butter, flour, water, 1/3 cup of honey, ALL of the eggs and yolks, yeast and salt in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until combined. Once the ingredients are mixed together insert the dough hook and knead on medium for 10 minutes. The dough will be really sticky. (If you don’t have a stand mixer you can just mix with a spoon and then knead on a floured counter.)
Brush the inside of a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of butter and cover with plastic. Let rise in a warm place until dough almost doubles in volume, about 1 ½ hours.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Pat into a 8 x 14 rectangle, top with apples and fold a few times to incorporate the apples into the dough. Return the dough to the bowl and brush with remaining 1 tablespoon of butter; cover. Let rise again in a warm place until dough almost doubles in volume, about 1 hour more.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in lowest position. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Roll dough into a rope (about 24 inches — yes, I got my tape measure out!) Coil into a circle, and transfer to pan. Butter plastic wrap with that last tablespoon of butter and cover dough. Let rise again until dough almost doubles in volume, approximately 45 minutes.
Heat remaining 4 tablespoons butter (if solidified) on low and mix with remaining 1/3 cup of honey. Brush or spoon dough with half of the honey-butter. Bake until golden brown and firm, about 35 minutes
Brush Challah with the remaining honey –butter. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Turn out loaf from pan and let cool.
Whether you’re Jewish or not, this is a great family-focused article that might conjure up some interesting dinner table conversation to enjoy with your Challah.