This past weekend really felt like Fall! I can not tell you how thrilled I am!!! That goes double for Gimlet. He pranced the entirety of our walk and I was prancing right along with him! (a sight to see, I assure you) Yeah, we did get a bit of rain, a guess quite a bit of rain, over saturday and sunday. That just didn’t matter to me. The air was crisp and even though it was raining that horrible muggy oppressive air had moved on. As much as I loathe summers in Virginia, (and this one particularly sucked what with the Hades-like heat and humidity, hurricanes and earthquakes and all manner of bad news), I LOVE Fall! I love the nip in the air and the smell of wood fires, I love the colour change in the leaves, I love the holidays (Halloween and Thanksgiving) and I love the food… Think maple syrup, gingerbread, a plethora of pumpkin dishes, chilli, pot pies, stews and maybe best of all fresh apples. That’s right, we are heading into apple season and my favourite fruit is…you guessed it… apples! Yippee…I think it’s finally here! What better way to celebrate than with some yummy Harvest Apple Challah.
This Challah is very easy to make. I used to be afraid of any recipe that included yeast. But I’m way over that now. The only problem I have with the whole yeast bread preparation is getting the dough to rise in the amount of time indicated in the recipe. We like to keep it fairly chilly in the house, so all of my yeasty baked goods seem to take double the time to proof that the recipes actually call for. Luckily, I’ve figured that out and just plan for it to take longer than indicated. Patience is a virtue I’ve been told. After you let the dough rise until doubled in size, you roll it out into a rectangle. Add half of the apples which you have cored, but not peeled
and tossed with cinnamon a sugar.
Fold the dough over the apples once – like you would a letter -
adding more apples and then folding it over again.
Then you cut the apple filled dough the long way, down the center and then across which forms little apple filled dough bits.
Yup…this is messy as you can see, but as those apple bits fall out, just toss them into your prepared springform pan. No worries!. Once the pan is filled, you cover and let that dough rise again for about an hour.
I know, that is a lot of rising time. You’d have to get up pretty early in the morning if you wanted to serve this for breakfast. Maybe you should adjust your plans and aim to serve it for afternoon tea.
Or serve it for breakfast the next day, it is very tasty reheated ( or cold in the middle of the night for that matter…not that I’d know anything about that…)
Remember that thing I said about patience. Believe me, this bread was worth the wait! I couldn’t believe I had actually made this it was so perfect. Full of red, ripe, cinnamon coated honey crisp apples and drizzled alluringly with honey, (if you should choose to do so… go on, you know you want to!), every bite is a little taste of the long-awaited perfect Fall season.
Harvest Apple Challah
For the dough:
- ½ cup lukewarm water
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 packet instant yeast
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 4 cups unbleached flour
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
For the apples:
- 2 medium-to-large apples, NOT peeled; cored and diced in ¾” chunks
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
For the glaze:
- heavy whipping cream
- demerara sugar to sprinkle over the top
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or other bowl), mix the water and honey together until honey dissolves. Sprinkle on the yeast and lightly mix. Let stand 10-15 minutes until slightly foamy and activated .
Add the rest of the dough ingredients to the yeast mixture and mix with the paddle attachment (or by hand) until the mixture just comes together. Replace paddle attachment with dough hook and knead the mixture until a cohesive dough forms. If you’re not using a stand mixer, you can knead it by hand. The dough should be smooth. Form the dough into a ball in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise about 2 hours, until doubled and puffy.
Toward the end of the rising time, coat a 9- or 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Coat a piece of foil with cooking spray and wrap it around the outside bottom and sides of the pan. So that the juices don’t leak out.
Core and slice the apples into ¾” pieces. (Do not peel them.) Toss apples with cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.
When dough is ready, gently deflate, transfer to a lightly greased surface, and flatten into a rough rectangle, about 8×10″, with the short side facing you. Place half of the apples down the center of the dough, and fold the left side over the apples, sealing the edges. Place the rest of the apples on top and to the side of the folded over dough. Fold the remaining half of the dough over the apples (like folding a letter) and seal the edges. Now, the messy part: using a knife or bench scraper, cut the dough in half the long way. Then, cut the dough crosswise eight times, resulting in 16 pieces. Don’t worry about the pieces being the same size or keeping it neat.
Squeeze the dough pieces into the pan in a single layer. You don’t have to put them in any sort of pattern or design; place some in sideways or flat or on their sides, and jumble it all up; it doesn’t matter. Apple chunks will fall out, just put them on top. Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap and let rise again about 1 hour, until puffy and about 2″ high. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 325º.
When ready, brush the heavy cream over the surface of the bread. Sprinkle demerara sugar (coarse sugar) over the top to give it an extra sweet crunch. Bake bread about 55 minutes, or until bread reaches an internal temperature of 190º F. Remove from oven, let sit 5 minutes, then carefully remove from pan. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, preferably drizzled with honey.