Harvest Apple Challah

Apples and honey are traditionally eaten at Rosh Hashanah celebrations to express the hope for a sweet new year. Tender and just slightly sweet, this bread’s round shape symbolizes the cycle of one year’s passing and the beginning of the next.

Prep
35 mins
Bake
55 mins
Total
4 hrs 30 mins
Yield
One 9" round challah, about 16 servings
Harvest Apple Challah

Instructions

  1. To make the dough: Mix together all of the dough ingredients. Knead the dough in your mixer at medium-low speed for 6 minutes, or by hand for 8 minutes. The dough should be soft and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 2 hours, or until puffy; when you poke the dough with your finger, the dent will remain and not bounce back. If you've made the dough in a bread machine, allow it to rise in the machine for an extra hour after the dough cycle is completed.

  2. Lightly grease a 9" round cake pan that's at least 2" deep, or a 9" or 10" tube pan.

  3. Gently deflate the risen dough, transfer it to a lightly greased work surface, and flatten it into an 8" x 10" rectangle.

  4. To make the filling: Toss the apple chunks with the cinnamon and sugar.

  5. To assemble: Spread half the apple mixture in the center of the dough. Fold one short edge over the apples to cover them, patting the edges firmly to seal the apples inside. 

  6. Spread the remaining filling on top of the folded-over dough. Cover with the other side of the dough, again patting firmly and pinching the edges to seal.

  7. Using a bench knife, cut the apple-filled dough in half lengthwise, then in eight strips across the short length. This will be messy, with some apples falling out.

  8. Transfer the portions of dough and any stray apples to the prepared pan, forming a single layer across the bottom. Stack more dough on top of the first layer if needed to fit them all in.

  9. Cover with greased plastic wrap or the reusable wrap of your choice, and let rise for about 1 hour, until puffy looking. Toward the end of the rise time, preheat your oven to 325°F with a rack in the lower third.

  10. When the dough has risen, uncover it and brush with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake the challah for 55 to 65 minutes, until it's a deep golden brown. Some of the top pieces may caramelize; that’s OK.

  11. Remove the challah from the oven and place it (still in the pan) on a rack for 5 minutes. After this rest, remove the challah from the pan and return it to the rack. Serve warm, drizzled with honey if desired.

  12. Store covered at room temperature for up to three days; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Be sure to use good-quality honey and oil in this recipe. Since they play such a major part, they have to taste good. We prefer safflower oil, as it's neutral-flavored. Canola oil can produce off flavors in baking, so best not to use it here.