My latest quest has been to find the perfect challah recipe. The “perfect challah”can definitely differ from person to person…but my tastebuds are loyal to the sweeter egg challah variety (as opposed to water challah). I have tried several different recipes over the past month,but I have not found any recipe to write home about (so if you have a go-to egg challah recipe that you love,please share it with me!). While searching for new challah recipes to try last week, I stumbled upon Martha Stewart’s Apple Honey Challah recipe. Being that Rosh Hashanah is approaching,I decided to do a test run of what sounded like the perfect Rosh Hashanah challah.
The results? In addition to looking magnificent (these photos really do not do the challah justice! …I must get a light box soon…),Martha’s Apple Honey Challah was delicious with a fluffy interior. There was no challah leftover,but if I had some leftovers,it would have made the best french toast ever! I only have a few things I would like to change during my next test run:
1. I want to mix whole wheat flour with the unbleached flour to make the challah a tad bit “healthier.”
2. I will decrease the temperature to 350 and cook it for longer,because the outside got browned very fast compared to how quickly the inside of the bread cooked. I ended up covering it in foil after about 20 minutes to prevent the top from burning. It took closer to 45 minutes to bake,but perhaps all of this is due to my specific convection oven.
3. I want to try making challah rolls instead of one large loaf. I think that you could easily do the same thing in a muffin tin,rather than in a 9″round cake pan,but this will also require tweaking of temperature and cooking time.
4. I will cut the apples into thin slices rather than dicing them,because I think that will make it look even nicer and it may be easier to incorporate apple slices into the challah dough.
Now onto the recipe I used this time:
Martha Stewart’s Apple Honey Challah Recipe
–1 stick butter or nondairy margarine (plus some extra for the pan,bowl,etc.)
–3.5 cups unbleached bread flour (and extra for your counter-top)
– 3/4 cup warm water
–2/3 cup honey
–2 large eggs &3 large egg yolks
–2 tsp active dry yeast
–2 tsp coarse salt
–1.5 apples peeled and cut into slices (Martha recommends Granny Smith,but I used a sweeter apple)
1. Butter a large mixing bowl to prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl. Melt 2 TB of the butter / margarine (I did this in the microwave to save time) and let it cool for a few minutes. Mix together in your greased bowl the melted butter,flour,water,1/3 cup honey (not all of the honey!),the eggs and egg yolks,the yeast and the salt. Mix the ingredients until it comes together into a dough. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes or until the dough looks smooth.
2. Melt 1 TB of margarine / butter and let it cool off for a few minutes. Place the dough back into your buttered mixing bowl and brush the dough with the 1 TB of melted margarine / butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1.5 hours or until it doubles in volume.
3. Move the dough back onto your floured countertop and form it into a rectangle that is roughly 8.5″by 14″. Place the peeled and sliced apples on top of the rectangle of dough and knead to incorporate. If pieces of apple start falling out of the dough,do not get frustrated or worry,just push it back into the dough when you put it back into the bowl for its second rise. Also,my dough felt a bit wet from all of the juices from the apple,so I got worried at this point that I should have added more flour to make it into a more “dough”like consistency,but I just left it alone and it came out beautifully…so don’t worry if it feels or looks wet at this point! The wet dough will also pick up a bit of extra flour from your floured countertop. Put the dough back into the greased bowl and brush with another tablespoon of melted &cooled margarine / butter. Cover the bowl again and let it rise for another hour,or until it has doubled in volume again.
4. Butter a 9″round cake pan. Remove the dough from the bowl and form a rope that is around 24″long. Coil the rope into a circle and place it in the pan. Butter a piece of plastic wrap and cover the dough in the pan. Let it rise yet one more time for about 45 minutes.
5. Preheat the over to 375 degrees. Mix together the remaining 4 TB of margarine / butter and 1/3 cup of honey and melt it together to form a delicious glaze. Let the glaze cool for a few minutes and then brush the dough with half of the glaze. Bake the challah until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when you knock on it (the true test of whether a challah is cooked or not!). The original recipe said 35 minutes,but it was closer to 45 minutes for me. And check after about 20-30 minutes to make sure that the top is not browning too quickly. Even though I put my challah on the lowest rack in my oven,I had to cover it with foil after 20 minutes to keep it from burning while the inside of the challah cooked.
6. As soon as the challah comes out from the oven,brush it with the rest of the honey &butter glaze. I found that I had a bit too much glaze leftover,but I served it on the side as a spread for people (namely,my husband!) who wanted to put extra on their piece. Let the challah cool for about 30 minutes on a wire rack and then transfer the challah out of the pan.