Apples & Honey Challah

In lieu of the Jewish High Holidays, I decided to try out a new sweet challah recipe.  Every time I am home, I try to make homemade challah for my family on Shabbat, mostly because I enjoy making bread and never make it fresh for myself in DC. 
This year for Rosh Hashana, I decided to make an Apple & Honey (round) challah.  Traditionally, for Rosh Hashana you make a sweet challah of some sort (cinnamon or raisins?) and in a round braided shape instead of a straight braid. 

So, here is my take on a sweet Rosh Hashana Challah, complete with Apple & Honey for a sweet new year!  (This recipe makes two large challahs).

1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water
1 packet of dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 egg
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup honey
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp vanilla
2 tsp salt
5 ish cups of flour (eyeball it based on stickiness of dough)
3 apples (granny smith works best)
1/4 cup sugar
Cinnamon (for sprinkling the apples and the top of the challah)
1 egg (for egg wash)

1. In a large bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of the lukewarm water, 1 tsp of sugar and the packet of dry yeast.  Let this sit for about 10 minutes or until frothy.

2. After 10 minutes, add 1 1/4 cup of the rest of the warm water, egg, 3 egg yolks, honey, canola oil, vanilla and salt.  Whix together.

3. Start folding in the flour until the dough can be kneaded with your hands and isn’t incredibly sticky.  Continue to knead the dough until a firm, well mixed dough is formed.  Once done, place in a greased (with canola oil) bowl.  Make sure you flip the dough in the bowl so that both sides of the dough have oil on it.

4.  Boil some water in a small pot.  Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and place on the top rack of your oven (make sure your oven isn’t on!!!) and place the pot with boiling water on the rack below the bowl.  Let the dough rise for 1 hour.

5.  After an hour, punch down the dough, place back in the bowl, cover and let rise for another hour.

5.5.  While the dough is rising, start with the apples.  Peel and finely chop up your apples and place them in a bowl.  Sprinkle them with cinnamon, sugar and a bit of honey and set aside.

6.  Cut your dough in half and then cut each half into 4 other pieces.  (You should now have 8 pieces of dough, four pieces per challah)

7.  Roll out your 8 dough pieces into 8 strands (long and flat) and once they are the right length and size you can start laying the apples in the middle of each strand.  Then fold over (like a dumpling) so that the apples are completely tucked in the middle of each strand.

8.  Once you have your 8 stuffed-with-apple challah strands it is time to braid.  I would recommend watching this video and skipping to 1:10 to see the 4 strand braid- but obviously braid it however you want.

9.  After the challahs are braided, place them on two different cookie trays (lay some parchment paper down beneath them) and let rise for another hour.

10.  While the challahs are rising (yes, again) preheat your oven to 375 degrees F, get your egg wash ready (beat an egg) and also mix some cinnamon and sugar together to sprinkle on top.

11. After an hour, egg wash your challahs (brush them with the egg mixture) and sprinkle them with the cinnamon and sugar.  Place in the oven for 20 ish minutes or until done in the middle (check with a tooth pick) and let sit before serving!

Bon apetite and L’Shana Tova to all of my MOTs out there!

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