New Year’s Apple Challah

Chalah Bread 001

1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil (or unsalted melted butter)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 1/2 to 5 cups bread flour

Apple mixture
3 cups coarsely chopped apples
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Egg wash and garnish
1 egg – beaten
1 teaspoon sugar
1-2 tablespoons coarse sugar (optional) for sprinkling

non-stick cooking spray

Instructions
Generously spray one 5 by 12 inch loaf pan or two 9 by 5 inch loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray. You may also use a 10 inch spring-form pan.

In a large mixing bowl, briskly whisk together the water, pinch of sugar and yeast. Let stand to allow yeast to swell or dissolve. Briskly stir in the oil (or melted butter), eggs, vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Add most of flour to form a smooth but resilient dough (a soft but elastic bread dough). Add additional flour and knead – 8-10 minutes.

Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl and place this in a plastic bag and seal loosely. Let rise until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare apples. Place in a medium sized bowl and toss with sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon. Prepare egg wash by whisking together the egg and sugar.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board. Roll or pat out into a large round (about 10 inches across). Press in half of the chopped apples. Fold in edges of dough over apples (in any way you can). Roll to flatten with a heavy rolling pin (this flattens the dough so as to offer more of a surface on which to place remaining apples). Pat or press remaining apples on dough. Bring edges of dough over, pressing in apples that may pop out. The idea is to distribute the apples over the dough in a random way.

Let the dough rest five minutes. Then, using a dough cutter or sharp knife, cut into odd shaped chunks – about 16 pieces in all. Lay pieces of apple- filled dough in prepared pan, lining bottom first, and then gently laying remaining pieces on top. Top with any escaped apple pieces.

Whisk egg wash ingredients together. Dab on egg wash as thoroughly and generously as possible (since dough is not a smooth surface, you have to drizzle and dab on the glaze rather than paint it on). Sprinkle with coarse sugar (optional). Place loaf pan(s) inside a large plastic bag to rise. Let rise until doubled or dough is puffy and has almost reached the top of the pan – 45 to 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place bread in oven.

Bake 40-45 minutes until well browned. If top of bread starts browning too quickly (and bread interior is not done), cover lightly with a sheet of foil to protect top crust.

Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing and cooling on a rack. You can use almost any apple in this recipe – a combination of tart and sweet is best. If apples are new and thin skinned, you can leave the peels on – the bright red hue bakes up very prettily in the finished loaf.

Yield

Makes one large or two smaller loaves

Category: Breads
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