Apple Spice Challah
This base challah recipe from Molly Yeh's new cookbook is a serious new favorite. The best part is that she really sparks your creativity as to how to adapt the base recipe to your favorite fillings. In this case, whether fall or winter apples are my favorite filling. If my family was staying around in the cold weather for the holiday season, we would definitely be eating this on Christmas morning. In fact, even still in warm vaca weather I might be give the role of making this for our easy casual breakfast for the holiday.
The key to making this work is balancing the amount of apple filling to bread ratio. If you can't get the "noodles" of dough to tightly wrap together, then consider removing some filling or making your knife cuts a bit smaller for the next round.
I like to make a full recipe of the base challah recipe here, do one with a filling and one simple. Or alternatively do one with filling and make them knots and one as a regular braided loaf.
MOLLY'S BASIC CHALLAH
from Molly on the Range Makes 2 loaves
- 4 ½ teaspoons (2 envelopes)
- active dry yeast
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- 1 teaspoon plus ¼ cup sugar
- 6 ½ cups flour, plus more for dusting (or sub in up to 2½ cups whole wheat flour)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 large eggs
- ⅔ cup flavorless oil
- ¼ cup additional sweetener: sugar, brown sugar, honey, or molasses
- Egg wash: 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
In a medium bowl, combine the yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar and give it a little stir. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl or in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together the flour, salt, and remaining ¼ cup sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and additional sweetener.
When the yeast is foamy, add it to the dry mixture immediately followed by the egg mixture and stir to combine. Knead, either by hand on a floured surface or with the dough hook until you have a smooth and slightly sticky dough, 7 to 10 minutes, adding more white flour as necessary (but resist any urge to add too much!).
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, and let it sit at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours. (It will take slightly longer if you’re using whole wheat flour.) Alternatively, you can stick it in the refrigerator overnight and then let it sit at room temperature for about 1 hour before shaping.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough in half and, working with half of the dough at a time (keeping the other half covered), pat the dough out into a long rectangle, roughly 3 inches by 12 inches (this doesn’t need to be exact). From this, cut 3 long and skinny rectangles and roll them out a bit to get 3 long snakes. Pinch them together at one end and then braid the snakes and pinch them at the other end. Transfer the loaf to a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining half of the dough. Let them rise, covered, at room temperature for 30 minutes.Preheat the oven to 375º F.
Brush the loaves with a thin even layer of egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until the loaves are golden brown and have an internal temperature of 190ºF. Begin checking for doneness at 28 minutes.
Let the loaves cool until they’re jusssst cool enough that they won’t burn your mouth, and then enjoy with lots of butter.
Apple Pie Challah Variation
- 1/2 base challah recipe up to the first rise
- 2 cooking apples
- 2 tbs pumpkin spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground ginger)
- 2 tbs granulated sugar
- 1 egg for eggwash
notes: for the challah recipe consider using softer sugars like honey as your additional sweetener vs. molasses
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Start by dividing your dough from the base recipe for the challah bread into three parts. You then want to create a long log out of each of the three parts, and roll out each log so it is a rectangle, at least three inches wide.
Chop & skin your apple into 1/2 inch cubes, add to a bowl and toss with sugar and spices.
On top of each of your dough rectangles add your apple mixture. Then one by one roll up the dough around the filling. Be sure to close each end tightly. At this point you will have three long tubes of dough with an apple filling. Take the three logs and place them together at one and and squish together. Then braid the three logs and squish the end.
Place on your baking sheet on the parchment paper, cover with a kitchen towel (clean + slightly moistened) and leave to proof for another half hour.
When ready to go, add a light egg wash (one egg beaten with a little water) and brush over all crevices of the loaf. Don't miss anything because it will rise and you will see the edges of the color.
Add to oven and set a timer for 28 minutes. Depending on your oven it might take longer. For me 28 is almost perfection, for this recipe I add an extra 2 mins if I am wary. The internal temp of the loaf should be 190ºF.
Let cool and enjoy! This would make a killer french toast by the way.
For a round braid variety like the one shown here try this tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7D8PSBsy1M