November 12, 2018

Recipe: Apple, raisin and honey challah

– 1 tablespoon instant yeast
– 3 cups (13 1/2 ounces) bread flour, divided, plus extra for kneading
– 1/2 cup warm water
– 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon honey, divided
– 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
– 3 large eggs, at room temperature, divided
– 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
– 1/4 cup sugar
– 2 apples, preferably Braeburn or Golden Delicious
– 1 teaspoon lemon juice
– 3/4 cup raisins
– 1 tablespoon sesame seeds for garnish

In the bowl of a stand mixer using a whisk attachment, combine the yeast, 1/4 cup flour and the warm water, whisking until smooth. Set aside until the yeast begins to foam, about 10 minutes.

Whisk in 1/4 cup honey, the oil and 2 eggs until well incorporated. In a separate medium bowl, sift together the remaining flour with the salt and sugar.

Replace the whisk with the dough hook and begin mixing at low speed. Add the flour mixture, 1 spoonful at a time, until all is incorporated. Mix the dough for 6 to 8 minutes at medium-low speed to develop the dough; it will be very wet and sticky and will not form a ball. Remove to a well-floured surface and gently knead, adding a little flour at a time (up to 1/2 cup), until the dough is elastic, soft and only slightly sticky, 1 to 2 additional minutes.

Place the dough in a large, clean, oiled bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel or a loose sheet of plastic wrap. Set the bowl in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

While the dough is rising, prepare the apples. Peel and core the apples, then cut each into 8 slices. Dice them. Toss the apples with the lemon juice and teaspoon of honey to prevent them from discoloring. You should have 1 3/4 cups of diced apple.

Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl to form the egg wash.

Roll the dough on a well-floured surface into a long strand 2 1/2 to 3 feet in length and 6 inches wide. Scatter the apples and raisins over the length of the dough, then roll the dough crosswise over the apples (as with cinnamon rolls) and seal the ends with the egg wash.

To make the high-rising spiral shape common for Rosh Hashanah, wind the strand to form a spiral (the tighter the spiral, the higher the final loaf), making sure the outer end of the spiral is tucked under to prevent it from unraveling while the challah bakes.

Place the challah on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush it with the egg wash, then scatter the sesame seeds evenly over the top.

Cover the challah loosely with greased plastic wrap and proof until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. When the challah is almost proofed, heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the plastic wrap and bake the challah in the center of the oven until browned on top, the bottom of the loaf is dry when lifted, and a thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reaches 190 degrees, about 35 to 45 minutes. (Timing will vary depending on the tightness of the spiral and density of the loaf.) Rotate the challah after the first 20 minutes for even coloring. Remove the challah from the baking sheet and cool on a rack before serving.

Makes 10 servings.