Wow, it must be a high holiday miracle! For what seems like the first time, Rosh Hashanah is not sneaking up on me this year, catching me by surprise. Of course, it helps that Rosh Hashanah is not until October. In preparation, I made some round challot with a bangin’ new apples and honey challah recipe, and even put together a video tutorial of how to braid it. Look at me, I’m a stud!
Things have been a little wild around here lately. My parents came to visit for two weeks, my son is teething like a monster and some other exciting news is on the horizon, which I hope to share with you soon (nope, not pregnant). But even with all of that, our weekends have been relatively quiet, which has been a nice reprieve from all the excitement and frustration going on in my head.
Here in North Carolina, the leaves are already falling off the trees, and some of them are even turning bright yellows and reds. Autumn is so different on the east coast than the west. In LA, September often has the hottest temperatures, and things don’t cool down until late October. While I wouldn’t say the weather has been crisp, it has been cooler.
This new challah recipe not only incorporates the Rosh Hashanah staples of apples and honey, with a few minor tweaks I made a cinnamon sugar dessert version with all the feels of fall. I have to say, this dessert challah, it’s incredible. You are completely unprepared for how amazing it is.
My tried and true challah recipe does not call for honey, so I followed this new recipe exactly as written (which was tough!). I’m actually thrilled with the results! The challah came out golden, sweet and fluffy. I’ll have to try it on its own without apples inside to decide if I want to switch over.
Okay, now that I’ve tempted you with pictures of the most fabulous dessert challah you’ve ever seen (the light was great when I took these), check out my super handy round braided challah tutorial video below!
I know you’ll want to remember this for later, so I have no one, but two images for you to pin!
- 1/4 cup, plus 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
- 1 packet (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 egg
- 3 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup honey
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp salt
- 7 cups flour
- 3 granny smith apples
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp cold water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 Tbsp almond milk
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, pour ¼ cup of the lukewarm water. Add 1 packet of Active Dry Yeast and 1 tsp of sugar to the bowl, mix to dissolve. Wait 10 minutes for yeast to activate.
- Add remaining 1 ¼ cup lukewarm water to the bowl along with the egg, egg yolks, honey, canola oil, vanilla and salt. Mix to thoroughly blend the ingredients together.
- Add four cups of the flour, one at a time, mixing between each cup. Once you have mixed 4 cups, replace the paddle attachment with the hook attachment, then add the remaining 3 cups, one cup at a time. The dough will be sticky.
- Put a sauce pan filled with water on the stove to boil.
- Grease a large bowl, and place the dough inside. Cover with saran wrap or a when towel.
- Place the bowl with dough and the top rack in the oven, and place the sauce pan of boiling water on the bottom rack. Close the door and let rise for an hour. (FYI, my dough did not rise much at all in this hour. That's ok.)
- Take out the dough and punch it down, then cover and back in the oven to rise another hour (at this point I turned the oven to warm, then when it reached that setting, turned it off).
- During the second rise, fill a mixing bowl with cold water and dissolve ½ tsp of salt in it. Peel the apples and dice them into very small pieces. Place the diced apples into the bowl of lightly salted water. Reserve.
- When you are ready to begin braiding the dough, drain the apple pieces and pat them dry with paper towels. Toss the apple pieces with 1/4 cup of sugar.
- After the second rise, the dough should have doubled in size. Flour a smooth surface like a cutting board. Punch down the dough, then turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Add flour as needed to take care of the stickiness.
- Divide the dough into two equal halves. Put one half of the dough on a smooth, lightly floured surface. Leave the other half of the dough in the bowl covered by a moist towel. Cut the dough on the floured surface into four equal portions.
- Take one of the four portions and stretch it with your fingers into a rough rectangle, about 1 foot long and 3-4 inches wide. Use a rolling pin to smooth the dough. The rectangle shouldn't be too thin-- the dough needs to be thick enough to handle an apple filling.
- If you are making dessert challah, mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl. sprinkle some on your rectangles.
- Sprinkle some of the sugared apple pieces across the center of the rectangle. Shake off excess liquid before placing the apples on the dough. Leave at least 1/2 inch border along the outer edge of the dough clean, with no apples. (If making dessert challah, sprinkle some of your cinnamon sugar mix over top of the apples.)
- Gently roll the upper edge of the rectangle down to the lower edge and pinch to seal, creating a snake-like roll of dough stuffed with apples.
- Gently and carefully roll the stuffed strand till it becomes smooth, using gentle pressure with your hands on the center of the strand, pulling outward as you roll. If any apples begin to poke through the dough, repair the hole with your fingers before you continue. Re-flour the surface as needed to keep your dough from sticking.
- Taper the ends of the strand by clasping between both palms and rolling.
- Once your apple strand has been rolled, repeat the process with the remaining 3 pieces of dough, making sure that they are even in length with the first strand. In the end, you’ll have 4 apple-stuffed strands.
- Braid your challah (whether round or traditional) VERY carefully.
- After the round has been braided, place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silat.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Let the braid rise 30 to 45 minutes longer. While this challah rises, you can braid the other half of the dough. Your second challah will rise as the first one bakes.
- Prepare your egg wash by beating the egg, salt and water till smooth. Use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of the mixture onto the visible surface of your challah. Reserve the leftover egg wash.
- Bake your first call for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, take the challah out of the oven and coat the grooves of the braid with another thin layer of egg wash. (If making a dessert challah, dust the top with your cinnamon sugar mixture.)
- Turn the challah around, so the opposite side faces front, and put it back into the oven. Bake for another 20 minutes.
- Test the bread for doneness by turning it over and tapping on the bottom of the loaf—if it makes a hollow sound, and it's golden brown all the way across, it’s done. Because of the apples in this challah, it may take a bit longer to bake than your regular challah recipe.
- Let challah cool completely on a wire cooling rack before serving.
- Bake the second challah in the same way.
- Mix the powdered sugar and almond milk in a bowl.
- When challah has cooled, while placed on top of a cooling rack, drizzle the sugar mixture back and forth creating a design letting excess drizzle drip onto a pan below.