Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Harvest Apple Challah
It just so happened that I had two apples in my house. Now, what should I do with those apples? Should I eat them? Well, I could, and that would be wonderful. But, why eat them when you can bake with them. I've had this Harvest Apple Challah on my mind forever and I decided that now was the perfect time to make it.
The King Arthur Flour website (love that site!) where I got this recipe has some great pictures on how to go about making it and you should really check it out if you decide to give this a try. I made a few changes like substituting brown sugar for the honey and adding more cinnamon, but other than that, I kept the recipe pretty much as is.
The bread, when baked, is a thing of beauty - all golden brown, soft and fluffy, with apples tucked in here and there. It's definitely a healthy bread that you can eat for breakfast since it's not sweet at all, with the exception of the apples adding their natural sweetness to each bite. The King Arthur Flour website also recommended drizzling it with honey before eating, which I tried and I recommend you do the same. The only thing I didn't like was that the apples were still on the crunchy side even after baking. That's fine if you like that sort of thing, but I kind of want my apples to be more tender, so I might cook the apples a little next time before tucking them into the dough. But, even though I felt it could use a little improvement, that still did not stop me from eating this every chance I could. What can I say? The carbs called out to me.
Harvest Apple Challah (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
1/2 c. lukewarm water
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil (I used melted butter)
1/4 c. honey (I used 5 Tbsp. dark brown sugar + 1 Tbsp. water)
2 large eggs
4 c. all-purpose flour (I used 3 1/4 c.)
1 1/2 tsp. salt (decreased to 3/4 tsp.)
1 Tbsp. instant yeast
2 medium-to-large apples, NOT peeled, cored and diced in 3/4" chunks
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (increased to 1 tsp.)
1/4 c. sugar
1 large egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. water (for glazing)
Combine the yeast with the water and a pinch of sugar. Let sit until foamy, about 5 min.
Combine the yeast mixture with the melted butter, the honey, and the eggs and stir well. Add 1 cup of flour at a time and mix until the dough no longer sticks to the bottom of the bowl. Knead the dough for about 6-7 min. until it is smooth and elastic. (I ended up using about 2 3/4 cups of flour to start and kneaded in 1/2 cup more.) Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn to coat the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and a dishtowel and let rise for 2 hours, or until it's puffy and nearly doubled in bulk (mine took 1 hour).
Lightly grease a 9" springform pan. Toss the apple chunks with the sugar and cinnamon.
Gently deflate the dough, transfer it to a lightly greased work surface (I used a buttered piece of parchment paper taped to my kitchen table), and flatten it into a rough rectangle, about 8" x 10". Spread half the apple chunks in the center of the dough and fold the short side of the dough over the apples to cover it, patting firmly to seal the apples and spread the dough a bit.
Spread the remaining apples atop the folded-over dough. Cover the apples with the other side of the dough, again patting firmly. Basically, you've folded the dough like a letter, enclosing the apples inside.
Take a bench knife or a knife and cut the apple-filled dough into 16 pieces (i.e. cut it in half first, then cut each half in halves and so on until you have 16 pieces). This will be very messy; the dough is slippery, apples will fall out, sugar syrup will ooze, but just keep going all the same.
Lay the dough chunks into the pan; crowd them so they all fit in a single layer. If any apple chunks fall out, simply tuck them in among the dough pieces or spread them on top.
Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour, until it's a generous 2" high. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 325F.
Whisk the egg with the water and brush the dough with this mixture. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired, or omit if you intend to drizzle the bread with honey before serving.
Place the bread in the lower third of the oven. Bake for 55 min., or until the top is at least light brown all over, with no white spots. Remove from the oven, and after 5 min., loosen the edges and carefully transfer it to a rack.
Serve the bread hot, warm, or at room temperature. Drizzle with honey just before serving, if desired; or serve with honey for dipping.