Last week’s soup recipe exchange was so great! I loved all your recipes and look forward to incorporating them into my menu planning rotation. This week, I want share one of my family’s favorite challah recipes. I am very fortunate to be married to a great challah baker. When we moved back to the U.S. from Israel, we had to learn to make our own challot, since gone were the days of picking up a challah for 10 NIS at the corner makolet (mini-market).
My husband took on the baking job enthusiastically and tried out several recipes in our bread maker. He settled on one that I absolutely love — and so does everyone else who eats it! It uses a ton of egg yolks, which is probably what makes it so good, although far from low in calorie. But hey, it’s Shabbos… calories don’t count, right?
In any case, I’m not going to share his awesome recipe with you today — sorry! — because I’ve got Rosh Hashana on the brain. And while Frankie’s Shabbat challah recipe is on the sweet-side, I like to really amp up the sweetness for the High Holidays with a round apple challah.
It’s almost like a pop-over, stuffed with cinnamony apples and then brushed with margarine and cinnamon sugar on top. It is really indulgent and if you have any left-overs, they will be perfect for French toast or bread pudding.
(Warning: This recipe is a little patchkied, but it’s worth it. Plus, I only have to make it once a year, so I figure I can cope.)
Round Apple Challah
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla or to taste
1 teaspoon salt (I never bake with salt, but I realize some people think that’s nuts, so I’m including it in the recipe)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 T dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all purpose flour (I’m all about substituting whole wheat flour, but this is not the bread to do it with! Stick to white unbleached. Trust me.)
3-4 unpeeled apples, any combination of color and type, roughly chopped
1/2 cup white sugar
1 T cinnamon
up to 1 T lemon juice
1/4 cup melted margarine (I love Earth’s Balance buttery sticks)
1 T white sugar
1 T cinnamon
Combine first water, sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon in the Kitchen Aid and quickly mix together. Add yeast, together with one cup of flour. Mix again and let sit for a moment or two.
Slowly add 4 more cups of flour, one cup at a time. Once fully incorporated, knead the dough for about 7-8 minutes with the dough hook on the Kitchen Aid. (Note: I made three batches of this for Rosh Hashana, and by the third batch, my Kitchen Aid was groaning and the motor was running very hot. I might kneed by hand next time to avoid killing the Kitchen Aid!)
Put dough into a large, oiled bowl and cover with a towel until it doubles in size. I have a bread proofing setting on my oven, and it takes about 40-50 minutes. Before the new oven, I would put the bowl on top of a preheating over and it would take about an hour.
Meanwhile, mix apples, sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice and set aside. The apples will become slightly syrupy by the time you are ready to use them.
Punch down the dough. Divide into two or three large pieces. Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface. I roll one long rope, then flatten with my hand into a rectangle shape. Place the filling in a line along the middle of each rectangle. Bring the sides up and pinch tightly. Use water or egg white to seal the edges if necessary.
Roll each log into a coil and place inside a round cake pan. I have used both regular cake pans and spring form pans, both with equal success.
Brush melted margarine onto the top of the dough, then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and mixture. Loosely cover the pan with a towel and let rise in warm place. Once the challah has doubled in size, place in preheated 350° oven. I usually set the round pan on top of a cookie sheet to catch any drips.
Bake for 35-45 minutes until done. The top should get carmalized, but if it’s getting too brown, just loosely cover with a sheet of tinfoil.
Let cool completely on baking rack. I double wrap my loaves in tin foil and then store them in a ziploc bag, and they are still good by lunch the second day of Rosh Hashana. I also know people who freeze the dough before its second rising and then let it rise and bake the day it will be served. It always turns out great for them, so you may want to go that route. (NOTE: It did NOT turn out well for me to freeze at this point. My challot were doughy and dense. So, I don’t recommend this. If you want to freeze, go through all the steps and then freeze once cooled.)
Notes on cost: Bread is fairly frugal anyway, but I wanted to let you know (if you don’t already) that the best price on yeast is the 2 lb. bag at Costco or Sam’s Club. MUCH cheaper than buying anywhere else!
As for the apples: We often go apple picking right before Rosh Hashana. The apples aren’t necessarily cheaper than at the store (where I aim to pay no more than $1/pound here in the Midwest), but the kids love knowing that they picked the apples in their challah! We usually pick a bushel and have plenty for dipping in honey, baking into challah and making into apple crisps. Yummy!
Do you have a favorite recipe for challah? I’d love to see ’em all — sweet, salty, white or wheat! Are you a breadmaker fan, a Kitchen Aid fan, or an “I make all my bread by hand, including grinding my own flour” fan? Share your recipes, tips and other challah related comments below! Can’t wait to hear what you’ve got.
Edited to Add: I just linked this post up to Life as Mom’s Apple Recipe Swap. Ohmygosh, some of those apple recipes look amazing. If only I’d had this a week ago. Note to self: Check back there for next RH!