Home » Seasonal » Autumn » Celebrate Rosh Hashana with a Sweet Apple and Golden Raisin Challah

Celebrate Rosh Hashana with a Sweet Apple and Golden Raisin Challah

Bread and Honey for Rosh Hashanah

Bread and Honey for Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashana is the holiday where you see time passing, it’s the moment of

Round apple raisin Challah

Round apple and raisin Challah with vanilla sugar crust.

change, The New Year, but it always comes as the season is in full turn, where you can’t deny time, where you can’t deny its endless pull. This year will never come again, and hopefully next year will be sweet. I used to spin under the street light in my Grandparents yard, where the leaves lasted the longest because of the lights heat, spin and spin in the dark staring up at the leaves, in those fall nights when I was a child, when everyone was busy inside, the way those leaves looked was like time passing, and I never realized how quickly it would pass.

We make our Challah’s for this holiday to reflect that pull of time, in round braids and spirals, for good luck and prosperity we add honey, sugar, and fruit, it all captures that endless fleeting moment of time spinning away.

This recipe is for a delicious 4 strand braided Challah that is lightly filled with a mix of apples, raisins, and honey then coated with vanilla sugar. The flavor is perfectly sweet, and would make for some amazing french toast!

Yield: Makes 2 loaves
Active time: 45 minutes
Total time: 4 hours

Challah fillings.

Challah fillings apple’s, raisin’s and honey.

For the bread
•    2 tablespoons dry yeast
•    1 tablespoon plus 3/4 cup (155 g) granulated sugar
•    5 large eggs
•    3/4 cup (180 ml) vegetable oil, such as canola or safflower
•    3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
•    6 cups (870 g) all-purpose flour

For the filling
•    1/2 large firm-tart apple (about 8 ounces), peeled, cored, and cut into small cubes
•    1/4 cup (65 g) raisins
•    1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
•    1 tablespoons honey
•    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the topping
•    1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
•    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
•    1 egg yolk

Challah bread dough rising.

Bread dough ingredients.


1. Combine 1/2 cup warm water, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a small bowl. Stir until the yeast dissolves. Let the mixture sit for ten minutes, it should look foamy, that’s hot you know it’s alive.

2. In the large bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment or with a hand-held mixer, beat the eggs at medium speed until well blended. Add the oil, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Beat until pale in color, about 4 minutes. Beat in 2/3 cup water, then add the yeast mixture. Beat in the flour slowly, 1 cup at a time.

3. Now turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes (or use the dough hook on your mixer for 1 minute at low speed). Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn it to coat well. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and put in a warm corner of your kitchen to rise. I like to use my (unheated) oven with the lightbulb on. You want the dough to double in size, which takes just about an hour.

Dough rising.

First bread dough rising.

4. Punch down the dough, and cover with a kitchen towel, let the dough rise for 30 more minutes. It won’t quite double in this time, but it will puff up.

5. Meanwhile, make the filling: In a small bowl, toss the apples with the raisins, lemon juice, honey, and cinnamon. Let sit for 20 minutes, then drain any liquid.

6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Separate each half into balls of equal size.

Roll out the dough into wide strips

Roll out dough into wide strips so that you can twist in the filling.

7. To start braiding the Challah take the four balls of dough and roll them into four equally sized long dough logs, then flatten them with your rolling pin. You need them to be wide and long, with a thin flexible texture so you can easily roll them into a spiral to hold in the filling.

Strand of bread dough.

After rolling in the filling and pinching the dough closed this is what the strands should look like.

8.Once you have four wide, long, oval shaped, pieces of dough, spread your apple and raisin mixture out onto them, and carefully roll the dough back up and into a log shape, pinch the dough together to seal it. If it won’t pinch together a little water will seal the two edges.

Four Strand Round Challah How To

How to braid a four strand round Challah.

9. Lay out your four dough logs Tic-Tac-Toe style with one piece over the next, make sure the pieces are all the same sized and centered.

Step 2 Round Challah how 2

Round Challah how to: Take each right branch and move it clockwise over the left.

10. Going in a clockwise rotation, take the piece that was under, this will be the piece on the right, and place it over it’s partner.  For the next rotation you are going to go in a counter clockwise direction, the left piece is now going over the right.

Round braided challah bread unbaked

Round braided challah bread unbaked.

11. Then go back to going clockwise with the right piece going over the left, and tuck the ends under the Challah finishing the look off cleanly.

12.Cover the loaves with kitchen towels, and let them rise for 45 minutes.

Round challah bread.

Round challah covered in cinnamon and sugar.

13. Coat the Round Braided Challah with the beaten egg wash, sprinkle with vanilla sugar ( a mixture of sugar, vanilla extract, and crushed Madagascar Vanilla pods), and cinnamon, place it into the preheated oven.

14. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set a rack to the middle position. Bake for 30 minutes or until brown and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. Put on a wire rack to cool.

Golden Brown Challah

Take the Challah out of the oven when golden brown and makes hollow noise when thumped on bottom.

This recipe was  based on The Holiday Apple Raisin Challah from Epicurious
by Amy Traverso


6 thoughts on “Celebrate Rosh Hashana with a Sweet Apple and Golden Raisin Challah

  1. 1/2 of a large apple? Really? The recipe I’ve used for many years from “The Gourmet Jewish Cook” by Judy Zeidler calls for 5 apples & 1/2 cup golden raisins (juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 c honey & 3/4 tsp cinnamon). It calls for 6-7 cups of flour so I assume I make about the same size challahs. I can’t imagine having enough filling for both challahs with just 1/4 a large apple. I do very much like your instructions for braiding. It looks much easier and fancier than my regular 3 piece braid pinched together ro make it round.

    • The filling recipe is cut in half since the other Challah is finished with the Herb Parmesian crust, but yes this recipe is light on the filling. You can choose to use more, but when I have it has broken through the surface of the braided bread, and I like to make sure that it is nice and smooth.

  2. That makes sense. Especially if the filling is only used for one challah. Have you ever tried freezing this challah? I’ve been making my recipe for over 20 years but have never frozen it. This year we will be back east for the High Holidays and our little Jewish Congregation (we live in Alaska) will be having their holiday get together while we are gone so I baked two loaves yesterday and froze them. I hope they taste as good.
    I wish I had seen your directions for braiding before I baked them. Next year I will try your way.

  3. I’ve never frozen this particular Challah bread, but at the Chabad House that I attended in college we would always freeze the extra bread, and they still tasted great, if you make extra dough freezing it before baking works great too.

    I’ve seen a lot of recommendations for freezing breads, we even bought a honey cinnamon raisin loaf at our local bakery last week and they told us it would be fine in the freezer, so I wouldn’t think there would be any problem with the filling. I hope you have a wonderful High Holiday!

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