We’re in FULL APPLE FRENZY here at the farm and we’re welcoming ourselves back to the blog with a classic Apple and Raisin Challah recipe that uses EF Apples, honey, and eggs. On that note, we should mention that all of the recipes we make here at the farm use our super large brown eggs. If you can’t get to us early on Saturday mornings to pick some up, any extra-large variety will do. But make sure they’re extra-large, not just large by commercial standards.
Last week, over brunch with an old friend, we got to talking cooking for specific diets. We ran the gamut from gluten free, lacto-veg, all the way to Kosher. This got us to thinking, Challah time is right around the corner and what better to serve it with than some fresh apples from the orchard?
We love breads, and especially enriched ones. Making a loaf of Challah is something different for us, as we usually enrich our breads with dairy (butter). After getting our hands on someone’s great aunt’s, cousin’s, sister’s, mother-in-law’s recipe, we knew we had to try.
In the end, our house smelled delicious and the product was just as we imagined. Tender, golden, and large. Really large. In fact we feel compelled to tell you that if you aren’t planning on making apple and white cheddar grilled cheeses (stay tuned for tomorrow’s entry) the next day, you could probably cut this recipe in half. Or, make two loaves and freeze one of them after it’s cooled. I, on the other hand, AM planning on making apple and white cheddar grilled cheeses tomorrow and I live with a hungry farmer and a pug. This loaf won’t last 24 hours here.
But still, making two loaves would have been more manageable and less terrifying coming out of the oven.
This recipe requires time. It took us about 4 hours to complete the entire process, which is predominately a waiting game. It’s definitely a commitment and best made on a day when you have other fun things to do around the house. Like reorganize your antler collection or wash your dog’s favorite fall sweaters.
14g (2pkg) active dry yeast
½ cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
4 eggs + one yolk
¾ cup flavorless oil (canola, safflower, grapeseed)
¾ tsp salt
2/3 cup water
7 cups AP Flour
2 EF Apples (cored, peeled, diced into ¼ inch cubes)
1 cup raisins
Juice from ½ lemon
3 tablespoons of honey
½ tsp cinnamon
1 egg yolk
1 tsp water
1 pinch salt
1) First, assemble the starter. In a small bowl, combine dry yeast with ½ cup warm water and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Let this sit for about 10 minutes until the mixture gets bubbly and frothy.
2) While starter is frothing, in a different bowl, combine eggs, oil, salt, and the ¾ cup of granulated sugar. You can mix this in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed for 4 minutes. Mixture should look light in color.
4) Add 2/3 cup of water and the starter to the egg mixture. Turn on low speed and mix until combined.
5) Remove paddle and attach dough hook attachment. Turn on low and slowly add flour to the mix.
6) Once all flour is added, continue to mix on low speed for about 4 minutes. The dough should come together and pull away from the sides of the bowl as it is kneading. It will be sticky!
7) Using a non-stick spray or a very thin coat of olive oil, oil a large bowl and place your dough in it to rise. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and put in a warm place for about an hour or until it has doubled in size. The weather today was perfect and we used our patio. Another good place to proof is in a microwave with the door closed (just make sure no one turns it on) or in an oven, off, with the door shut and the light on.
8) After dough has doubled, remove plastic and punch down. Re-wrap with another piece of plastic wrap and let rise again, this time for about 30 minutes.
9) While your dough is on its second rise, dice your apples and combine them in a small bowl with the raisins, honey, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Let this sit for about 15 minutes.
10) Turn your dough out on a lightly greased surface. We use our countertop and lightly spray it with non-stick spray. Divide the dough in half, and then equally cut each half into three pieces.
11) Flatten each piece and add apple mixture, dividing between each, down the center of the dough.
12) Fold the sides over the filling and seal along the edges.
Now comes the tricky part.
13) Carefully roll each filled dough piece into a tube. Pinch the ends of three tubes together and braid. When you reach the bottom, pinch ends together and tuck under.
14) At this point, we realized we had over committed ourselves and had to attempt a “double braid” to handle all of the dough. You are much more prepared than us and will not have to worry about making a MONSTER Challah. A simple braid will do just fine.
15) Repeat pinch and braid with remaining three tubes.
16) At this point you have two beautiful loaves. Place each one on a sheet tray lined with parchment and cover lightly in a dish towel. You’re going to let these loaves rise one more time for about 45 minutes.
17) Preheat your oven to 400’ F.
18) In a small bowl combine egg yolk, water, and salt.
19) After dough has risen for 45 minutes, brush loaves with egg wash and place in preheated oven. Be sure to egg wash all the nooks and crannies!
20) After about 15 minutes of baking at 400’F, turn down your oven to 350’.
21) Continue to bake for another 40 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown and shiny. You can tell the bread is done by lightly tapping on the bottom. If it sounds hollow, you’re good to go! Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.