Let's Holla for some Challah, Whoop Whoop!
Sorry, I had to. I tried not to, but it came out anyway.
May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.
I was very excited when I saw that this month's challenge was to be challah! I've made challah once before (here) and it turned out great! I loved it, it was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. The last time I did sourdough and a four- stranded braid. This time I decided to do do regular dough, the rounded version, and fill it!
This bread vexed me from the start. Whereas the sourdough version was so easy to work with, this dough never became smooth and elastic, it took forever in rising, the apple bits refused to stay in, and then it took forever in baking. I was pretty sure it wasn't even done on the inside when I took it out, but it was getting a little too dark on the outside. It wasn't until just now, when I am typing up the recipe that I realized I only used 1/3 cup of water and not 2/3 cup. Whoops...
I should not have worried, though, because even with my little mistake, the bread still turned out beautifully! The crust is perfect, the inside is perfectly done, neither underdone nor overly dry. It was awesome with a little bit of butter and drizzled with some honey! If I can stop myself from snacking on it almost constantly, I want to make some french toast with it!
Apple and Honey Challah (Smitten Kitchen)
2 1/4 tsp (a standard 1/4 ounce package) active dry yeast
1/3 cup + 1 tsp honey
1/3 cup neutral oil, plus more for the bowl
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 1/4 cup flour
2 medium baking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small chunks
a squeeze of lemon juice
a dash of cinnamon
In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast, 1 tsp honey and 2/3 cup warm water.
Let stand for a few minutes until foamy.
In the bowl of the stand mixer, whisk together the yeast mixture, oil, remaining 1/3 cup honey, eggs, and yolk.
Switch to the dough hook and add in the flour and salt (just go ahead and dump it in) and mix on a moderate speed until the dough starts to pull together and form a craggy mass.
Lower the speed and knead the dough for 5 minutes, until smooth, elastic and a little sticky.
Transfer the dough to a large oil-coated bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size.
Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and gently press it into an oblong shape (the shape here doesn't matter as long as you get it mostly flat and even).
Spread 2/3 of the apple mixture over 1/2 of the dough.
Fold the other half of the dough over the apples and seal the edges.
Press the dough down, and re-flatten the dough.
Spread the remaining 1/3 of the apples over half of the dough, and fold the other half over the apples.
At this point your dough should vaguely resemble a square-ish shape - tuck the corners under with your hands so it forms a rounded shape.
Turn the bowl you used before upside down and put it on top of your dough - let it sit for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces.
Roll and stretch each piece into a rope about 12 inches long (tuck any apple pieces that fall out back in with your finger).
Arrange two ropes in each direction, so they form a + sign.
Weave them so that one side is over and the other is under where they cross the other strand.
Take the four strands that come under and cross them over the strand to their right.
Take the four strands that come over and cross them under the strand to their left.
Or whatever, just cross them over and under until you get a round-shape. Haha.
Tuck any corners or odd bumps under the dough to form a circle.
Transfer the dough to a parchment covered baking sheet or stone.
Beat an egg until smooth and brush over the challah (don't get rid of the excess egg, you will be using it again!)
Let your bread rise for 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Brush your challah with the egg wash one more time.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes - if the loaf starts to get too brown you can cover it with tin foil.
Cool on a wire rack before slicing. If you can. I couldn't. :)