Cinnamon Apple Challah

Traditionally at Rosh Hashana we enjoy sweet challah studded with raisins to symbolize our desire for a sweet new year to come. That is, if you like raisins. I’ve never been a huge fan of raisin challah, so I’ve started making a cinnamon apple challah for my sweet shallah option.

The dough itself isn’t sweeter than my regular challah dough but the little chunks of apple are tossed with cinnamon and brown sugar before being rolled up in the dough and that adds a subtle sweetness to the bread. You can use any apples you like, but I prefer to bake with Granny Smith or Pink Lady or even a mixture. The important thing is to do choose a firm, tart apple.

This recipe calls for instant or quick-rise yeast but you can use dry active yeast instead if you prefer — just bloom the yeast in the water before adding it to the rest of the ingredients if you do.

This challah is a lovely, sweeter treat to help bring in the new year.

Dough Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (1 pound, 1 1/2 ounces / 500 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp quick-rise/instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (or other light oil)
  • 3/4 cup tepid water

Filling Ingredients

  • 3 Pink Lady or Granny Smith (or other crisp, tart apples), peeled, cored and diced (approximately 3 cups diced apple)
  • 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Glaze

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp water

For the dough –Mix all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and use the dough hook on low to mix everything together. Add the oil, eggs and water and continue to mix on low until all of the ingredients are combined.

Turn the machine up to medium and knead for 8-10 minutes, until a soft dough ball forms. I like the dough to be slightly tacky at this point. Scrape it out of the bowl until a lightly floured counter and knead for a minute or so, just enough to form a smooth ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic of a tea towel and set aside for 10-15 minutes.

When you use instant yeast, you skip the first, long rise but it’s still important to let it relax for 10-15 minutes so that it’s not elastic when you go to shape the loaf. I know the dough is ready when I stick a finger into the ball of dough and the indentation remains when I remove my finger:

As the dough relaxes, prepare the apple mixture. Combine the apples, cinnamon, brown sugar and flour. Stir to coat all of the apple chunks with the sugar mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350F (I use convection — 375F conventional).

On a lightly floured work-surface, roll the dough out into a large rectangle, approximately 18″ x 12″. Spread the apple mixture over the dough, leaving an inch empty at the top.

Start tightly rolling the dough up from the bottom, until you have one, long roll. Pinch both ends together and gently squeeze the whole length of the roll.

Starting at one end, form the roll into a coil, tucking the end of the roll under the challah and making sure the start of the roll (on top) is tucked into the center.

Lightly spray with vegetable oil and cover with plastic wrap or tea towel. Set aside to rise for 30-60 minutes until it’s puffed up and pillowy.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg and water for the glaze and liberally brush over the whole loaf, making sure you get it into the crevices.

Bake for 15 minutes, rotate the pan and bake another 15-20 minutes or until the challah is a deep golden brown and when you knock on the bottom of the loaf it makes a hollow sound.

Let cool before slicing. See all those little chunks of apples? Enjoy!

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