Apple Challah

September 10, 2018 By Cathy — 7 Comments
Celebrate Rosh Hashanah with an apple challah bread for a sweet new year. Apple challah is a  special woven round loaf of spongy, eggy bread, flecked with apples, and sweetened with honey. The round shape is symbolic of the continuing cycle of the year and seasons, is lightly sweet, and especially delicious served with a drizzle of honey.

A golden brown round loaf of apple challah bread served with apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah.

It’s a very sweet time of year as many families are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It’s time for apples and honey and sharing the holidays with family. While challah bread is a staple at these gatherings, a round loaf of apple challah is traditionally served during Rosh Hashanah.

Apple challah, a round loaf of spongy, eggy bread, is flecked with apples and sweetened with honey. Instead of long and braided, the dough is shaped into round loaf, symbolic of the continuing cycle of the year and seasons and sweetened with honey for a sweet New Year.

Let’s Make Apple Challah

Step by step instructions on how to make apple challah bread: from mixing the dough, it's first rise, adding the apple chunks and folding over to enclose the apples within the dough.

  1. Whisk the yeast with a  little sugar, and water. Let stand until foamy and then add in the eggs, oil, honey and salt.
  2. Mix in the bread flour until combined.
  3. Knead (I use a mixer fitted with a dough hook), until smooth. Turn in a well oiled bowl, cover and let it stand until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hrs).
  4. Once risen and doubled, divide into four even pieces.
  5. Roll each piece into a 12 inch rope, then flatten until about 3 1/2 inches wide. Sprinkle apples along one side.
  6. Fold the dough over to enclose the apples and pinch the edges to seal.Three steps on how to weave apple challah, first in a tic, tac, toe shape, then folding over the ends, and finally the risen round challah, ready to bake
  7. To weave the dough, lay two pieces lengthwise next to each other (almost touching). Now use the other two pieces to weave it tic tac toe style, one side is over/under, the next row is then under/over across the middle.
  8. Next, pick up the piece that was under and pull it over its partner to the side. Repeat with the three “under” pieces. Now, reverse the direction and pull the “unders” over their partners. Tuck the ends underneath to form a round shape.
  9. Place the woven round on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover it very loosely with plastic wrap or a slightly damp towel. The dough should rise for about 1 hour until doubled in size and it doesn’t spring back when lightly pressed. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar and bake until deeply golden brown, about 35 mins.

Apple Challah

Tips for Success

  1. Test your yeast by whisking it with a little sugar and water and allow it to sit for a couple minutes. The mixture should activate and foam…this will indicate that it is working.
  2. Cut the apples into a 1 – 1/12 inch dice so they will cook evenly and not make the dough to difficult to weave.
  3. Sprinkling the apples with sugar will give them a boost of sweetness and prevent them from browning.
  4. Cover the remaining dough ropes loosely with a damp towel when adding the apples to prevent them from drying out.
  5. I recommend turbinado sugar for topping for an added crunch (granulated sugar will dissolve a bit).
  6. If the bread is browning too quickly during baking, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Drizzling honey over a slice of apple challah bread. The slice of bread is studded with apple chunks.

Have leftover apple challah bread?

This apple challah can be transformed into french toast for breakfast. Try my Blueberry and Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast and simply substitute sautéed apples for the blueberries. Be still my heart!

5 from 2 votes
A braided round apple challah bread sweetened with apples and honey.
Apple Challah
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Rising Time
2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time
3 hrs 35 mins
 

Celebrate Rosh Hashanah with an apple challah bread for a sweet new year. Apple challah is a  special woven round loaf of spongy, eggy bread, flecked with apples, and sweetened with honey. The round shape is symbolic of the continuing cycle of the year and seasons, is lightly sweet, and especially delicious served with a drizzle of honey.

Course: Bread
Cuisine: Jewish
Keyword: apple challah
Servings: 8 Servings
Calories: 395 kcal
Ingredients
  • 1/4 oz active dry yeast (1 pkg)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (100 degrees)
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup canola oil (+ oil for coating the bowl)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 large apples (I prefer Braeburn)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Topping: 1 egg + 1 Tbsp water and 1 Tbsp turbinado sugar
Instructions
  1. Whisk the yeast, 1/2 tsp sugar and warm water together in the bowl of a standing mixer (if using) or another large bowl. Let stand for 5 mins until foamy.
  2. Whisk in the eggs, honey, oil and salt. Add the flour and stir to combine.
  3. Using the dough hook attachment for a standing mixer, knead the dough for 5-7 mins until it is smooth (it will be a little sticky). Alternatively, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface by hand for 10 mins.
  4. Scrape the dough into a large, well oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand a room temperature for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
  5. Peel, core and chop the apples into 1/2 inch chunks and toss with 2 tsp sugar.
  6. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 4 equal pieces.
  7. Use your hands to roll each piece into a 12 inch rope and flatten to about 3 1/2 inches wide. Working with one piece at a time (cover the others with a slightly damp towel), spread 1/4 of the apples along one side of the flattened dough strip. Fold over lengthwise and press the edges lightly to adhere. Repeat with the remaining three pieces.
  8. To weave the dough, lay two pieces lengthwise next to each other (almost touching). Now use the other two pieces to weave it tic tac toe style, one side is over/under, the next row is then under/over across the middle. 

  9. Next, pick up the piece that was under and pull it over its partner to the side. Repeat with the three "under" pieces. Now, reverse the direction and pull the "unders" over their partners. Tuck the ends underneath to form a round shape.

  10. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  11. Place the woven round on the baking sheet and cover it very loosely with plastic wrap or a slightly damp towel. The dough should rise for about 1 hour until doubled in size and it doesn't spring back when lightly pressed.

  12. Whisk the egg with the water and brush over the top and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
  13. Bake for 35 mins until golden brown. If the crust begins to brown too deeply during baking, cover with aluminum foil. Slice and enjoy!
Recipe Notes
  1. Test your yeast by whisking it with a little sugar and water and allow it to sit for a couple minutes. The mixture should activate and foam...this will indicate that it is working.
  2. Cut the apples into a 1 - 1/12 inch dice so they will cook evenly and not make the dough to difficult to weave.
  3. Sprinkling the apples with sugar will give them a boost of sweetness and prevent them from browning.
  4. Cover the remaining dough ropes loosely with a damp towel when adding the apples to prevent them from drying out.
  5. I recommend turbinado sugar for topping for an added crunch (granulated sugar will dissolve a bit).
  6. If the bread is browning too quickly during baking, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
Nutrition Facts
Apple Challah
Amount Per Serving
Calories 395 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 18%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 61mg 20%
Sodium 463mg 19%
Potassium 147mg 4%
Total Carbohydrates 62g 21%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 14g
Protein 10g 20%
Vitamin A 2.3%
Vitamin C 2.5%
Calcium 2.1%
Iron 5.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Update Notes: This post was originally published in September 2017 but was republished with step by step photos and tips in September 2018.

My Personal Connection

Rosh Hashanah is a holiday that I’ve come to know through marriage, but one that’s no less special because I didn’t grow up celebrating it.

I grew up in a very Catholic home, in a very Italian Catholic town. My life was Christmas and Easter and pasta and cakes flavored with anise. We ate fish on Fridays and went to mass on Sundays. We spent every birthday, holiday and Sunday around the kitchen table eating seemingly endless trays of heartily sauced food, followed by bottomless pots of coffee. My family was boisterous, occasionally biting, and always interesting.

And then I grew up and got married to a Jewish guy, that according to my Aunt Rita, at least “looked Italian”. It’s funny, as single-minded as most of my relatives were growing up, it never occurred to me that bringing a Jewish boy home would be difficult. Whether it’s a credit to them or if I was just oblivious, I never gave it a second thought. I simply assumed that it would work out and surprisingly enough, it actually did.

See, in a very top-line view, big Italian families and big Jewish families aren’t that different (save that whole religion thing). We have a tendency to nurture, over-feed, and over-worry. Opinions are shared even when not asked for and doggy bags are packed even when you say you’re not hungry. But it comes from a good place, the best place…the heart.

When I said yes one day to a boy on bended knee, I didn’t fully realize that I was saying yes to his family too. A family with their own traditions, their own holidays and yes, their own religion. We both said yes to a life where we would technically be the “outsiders'” in so many ways. Well, twenty years and a couple of scrappy boys later, I think we’ve got a handle on it.

As it turns out, this melding of families and traditions has benefited both of us. I’ve been welcomed into a family as keen on tradition as my own, albeit in different ways. I’ve learned the importance of the Jewish heritage over holiday dinners and in countless discussions and it’s encouraged a very open and direct dialogue with my own boys as they set out to discover themselves. It’s incredibly important to me that they have an understanding of where they come from and be proud of their heritage, on both sides.

A close up of a golden brown round loaf of apple challah bread served with apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah.I am also grateful and very fortunate that my husband’s family absorbed me into their lives as one of their own. I may not take two helpings of gefilte fish at Passover dinner, but I make up for it by bringing some killer treats. But more importantly than the food (and that’s a big statement coming from this girl), is that I truly think of his family as my own at this point. I no longer think of it as “his” holiday or “my” holiday, instead I think of it as our family’s holiday. A time that we share meals, laughter, love, traditional food and occasionally too much wine.

The round shape is symbolic of the continuing cycle of the year and seasons, but it also represents a time in which we can decide if we want to continue down the same path or make a change. Perhaps it’s time to leave some of our past behaviors and ideologies behind and engage in a new path that lifts us out of our comfort zone into something less easy but more inspiring. I know that dipping a toe into two cultures has provided me with firsthand knowledge that there’s more than one way to look at life and there truly is room for everyone’s point of view. I’m humbled and honored to share this day with my Jewish friends and family and wish them all a sweet new year!

Apple Challah

Related Post

Filed Under: Breads/Rolls/Muffins, Holiday, Recipe

Comments

7 responses to “Apple Challah”

  1. Mimi says:

    That is just a phenomenal idea Cathy! And it turned out so beautifully.

  2. Debi says:

    Cathy:
    This is an incredibly beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your story – and this recipe. That’s one gorgeous challah!

  3. Cindy says:

    This is incredible. I love to make breads and with that drizzle of goodness, mmmmmmmm. Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *