Rosh Hashana is the holiday where you see time passing, it’s the moment of
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This recipe was based on The Holiday Apple Raisin Challah from Epicurious
by Amy Traverso