Challah is a traditional Jewish bread served on Shabbat and throughout the holidays. Apples and honey are added to this classic recipe for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, to ensure a sweet new year. This recipe comes from cookbook author Leah Koenig (The Jewish Cookbook, Modern Jewish Cooking).
Makes 2 loves of round challah
- 1 1/4 Cup warm water (about 110F)
- 1/3 Cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
- 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
- 5 Cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
- 2 Teaspoons salt
- 1/2 Cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
- 1/4 Cup honey
- 4 large eggs
- 2/3 Cups apple butter
- 1 small apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped, divided
Step 1: In a medium bowl, stir together 1 1/4 cups warm water, 1 teaspoon of the sugar and 1 tablespoon active dry yeast. Let sit until foaming, 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 2: Meanwhile, stir together 5 cups flour, the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
Step 3: Add 1/2 cup oil, 1/4 cup honey and 3 of the eggs to the yeast mixture and whisk to combine.
Step 4: 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. (I typically add about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of flour while kneading, depending on humidity.)
Step 5: 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.
Step 6: Grease two 9-inch round cake pans; set aside.
Step 7: Gently punch down the dough and divide in half. Working with one piece of the dough (and keeping the other covered so it does not dry out), roll it into a large rectangle about ⅛-inch thick. Spread 1/3 cup of the apple butter evenly over the top, and sprinkle with half of the chopped apple.
Step 8: 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 the rope into a circle and place into one of the prepared pans. Repeat the process with second piece of dough, the remaining 1/3 cup of apple butter and the remaining apple.
Step 9: Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl and brush the challahs with one coat of egg wash. (Put the remaining egg wash in the fridge.) Let rise for another 30 minutes. Fifteen minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375F.
Step 10: Uncover the challah and brush with a second coat of egg wash. Bake until deeply browned and cooked through, 40 to 50 minutes. (An instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf should register 195F.) Remove from the oven and let sit 15 minutes. Carefully remove from the pans and let cool on a wire rack.