Hey there kiddos! Greetings from my tiny kitchen! Ok. I know. This is two apple bakes in as many weeks. But listen. This bread has been on my list for at least a year. Maybe more. I finally had a whole day off and the right light and the right amount of energy and I just decided, today is the day and this is what I’m doing.
I’ve written about the joys of challah before. I don’t feel the need to go back and restate how much I love it. It’s just so tasty and homey…the house smells good, the cats are happy because the oven is on and it’s all warm in the house…life is good when challah is baking.
This is a recipe I wrote based on my previous challah recipe, and it was inspired by a picture I saw on Pinterest when I joined like 6 or 7 years ago. Because I’ve been on Pinterest for that long.
I was trying to figure out what to make this week and happened upon it. I finally went back to my old recipe and tweaked a few things here and there to make sure it would work with the added moisture and mass of the apples and…
Voila! Challah with apples. Once again, after you activate the yeast with just a little sugar, there is no white sugar in this recipe. The bread is sweetened entirely by honey and the Granny Smith apples (the best baking apple. Obvi) add the right amount of texture and tartness.
In my humble opinion, the most impressive thing about this bread isn’t the apples, the texture or the delightful sheen on the outside. It’s the braided knot. I saw this knot and I was like, “Woah. That’s cool. I wanna figure that out.”
So I looked up a couple tutorials while the dough was rising, got flour all over my computer and then braided some dough. It looks harder than it is.
So you make the dough like you normally would. You prep the yeast, mix the things, and knead the dough. You don’t add in the apples yet. Right now, it’s just a regular challah dough. It’s not a special snowflake dough. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean dry towel. Let it rise for an hour or until it doubles in size.
Split the dough into four equal chunks. You can just tear at them, I’m sure, but the dough is still sticky and I found a pizza cutter worked really well to divide the dough up. Note: It is best to do the entire next bit on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. It just makes things easier in the long run.
Now, this is where we divert from the regular rope and braid situation. Instead of forming the balls into ropes, we will make them into flat little valley type things.
Cut an apple into bite sized pieces and toss the bits in a little cinnamon. Then lay the bits into the valleys you made and close the dough around the apples to form your ropes.
Now we have get to the braiding. We organize the ropes into a pound sign. Or if you are one of those youth types, a hashtag.
Next, you start weaving. Any rope that is woven under in the above picture will be twisted over the rope to it’s right. You do this twice and then just kind of tuck everything in on itself so it sticks together.
If the description above doesn’t make sense, and trust me, it’s ok if it doesn’t, there is a great tutorial that makes it really easy here. The braiding starts at 1:20.
Next, we let the bread rest again. We want a little more flavor out of that yeast, so place a dry towel (I used the same one as the first rise) over the knot and let the dough sit for 20 minutes. Yes. Twenty minutes. Not another hour or an hour and a half. Just 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, during which time you can watch an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark, or do some pilates, or take a nap, brush the dough with an egg wash.
Pop into a 350° oven for 40 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through.
Yeeeeeees! And then you try really hard not to eat it all while it is still cooling. Remember, as it cools, it continues to bake, so try to be patient.
Once it’s cool, you just start ripping it apart and dig in. This bread is sweet, but not too sweet. The apples give a bit of crunch and the right amount of tart to balance the honey in the bread. It’s a crowd pleaser for sure. It would be great with a cinnamon sugar schmear, or even heated with a cup of coffee. Give it a shot. Challenge yourself. Bake something new. 🙂
Nosh on, friends!
Apple Honey Challah
Yield: 1 knot. Loaf. Thing. Prep: 15-20 minutes + 1 hour rising time Bake: 40 minutes
5 cups Unbleached all purpose flour- sifted
2 Tbsp Active dry yeast
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water- heated to between 100-110°
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1 Granny Smith apple, diced and tossed in a little cinnamon
1 egg white
- Prepare yeast. Add yeast to heated water. Add a pinch of sugar. Stir for about 30 seconds, until you see a froth form on top of the mixture. When froth has formed, yeast is prepared. Set aside.
- Sift the flour into the bowl of your standing mixer and whisk in salt.
- Using the paddle attachment, turn mixer on low speed and add honey, vegetable oil, eggs, egg yolk and prepared yeast.
- When all ingredients are mostly combined, switch to dough hook attachment.
- Mix on medium speed until all ingredients are well incorporated and the dough forms one ball that pulls away from the bowl of the mixer.
- Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. It will be pretty sticky, so sprinkle flour on the dough and your kneading surface as needed. I probably used about an extra 3/4 cup of flour during this process. When you are done, the dough should be smooth, no longer sticky and will hold it’s shape.
- Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean dry towel. Let rise for 1 hour, until dough has doubled in size.
- Dice the apple and toss in about 2 tsp cinnamon. Or more if you like that kind of thing.
- On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, split into four evenly sized balls. Shape balls into evenly sized flat worm looking things. Spread an equal amount of apple bits onto the dough. Close the dough around the apple chunks so you have four ropes.
- ay the ropes into a pound sign and weave together to form a knot.
- Cover with a towel and let rise 20 minutes. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 350°.
- Bake for 40 minutes, turning baking sheet halfway through.
- Take out of the oven and place entire baking sheet onto a cooling rack.
- Cover and let knot rest until cooled completely before slicing. If you can handle it.