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


Garlic Harvest

This weekend I finally got to harvesting the garlic in our raised beds. I’ve been impatiently waiting for this for months. I planted the little baby bulbs all the way back in the very early fall and watched them grow all through the year; their green tips getting taller and taller over the hay that kept them warm under our light snow this winter.

This was definitely a long wait for me, and most of the gardening web sites left me feeling confused as to how to know when to harvest. Most advising to dig up the bulbs and check, to see how they are growing to know when they are ready. But still didn’t really tell you how you would know, when you dug them up. But then I stumbled on a tip somewhere in the interweb world, that said that the leaves start to streak yellow when the bulbs are getting ready to be harvested. Yes, this! And my plants had started doing this just the week before. The leaves streaking came at the perfect time, since I have to get my summer plants in and I just ran out of time.

I decided to dig up everything, but the two Elephant Garlic bulbs I planted, since they still have no yellow streaks on the leaves, I’ll update you when they come in. Because our garden is so small just right outside our townhouse I planted the garlic patch really tight and compact. Just two squares, each 1×1 ft. In the tray pictured you can see the garlic bulbs from just one of the squares. I thought it was pretty impressive for such a small space!

I managed to braid three long garlic braids and one baby braid, not to shabby for my first time braiding garlic. Which I learned thanks to one of my favorite blogs Thy Hand Hath Provided, you can learn how right here.  Now I’m drying the garlic until the outer layers are papery and its hanging from the drying rack in my dining room, along with catnip, some oregano, sage, and spearmint it smells delightful. All we have to wait for is the Elephant Garlic. Check back soon I’ll be cooking the Elephant Garlic Scapes.

Early Dividend Broccoli

Today I got to harvest the first florets from our broccoli plants. They’ve been growing since late August, maybe early September. And they have gotten to be absolutely humongous. I’ve never grown broccoli before, but I didn’t do anything special, except to put them into my favorite Lucky Frog soil. I bought Early Dividend starters at our local organic plants store and I’ve been so happy with these beautiful plants. One of the best things about them is that after the main head is harvested big side flowers will form. Keeping you in broccoli for weeks and weeks. I took some pictures of the raised bed so you can see how big they’ve gotten, next to them I’ve planted garlic, which will be covered with a thick layer of hay by the end of the weekend to protect the bulbs from frost.

My Great Grandmother’s Fresh Picked Apple Cake Recipe

This recipe started out, as a simple plain vanilla cake, and over time has evolved into a moist, spice filled, apple cake, perfect for fresh picked apples. I only make this cake once a year, after we go apple picking in early Autumn. The sweetness and texture of just picked apples, makes the off the shelf grocery apples pale in comparison.  We went apple picking at the Historic Orchard at Altapass in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was a great time with music, food, crafts, and more!

Pre Heat oven to 350*
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup milk or juice
2 eggs separated
2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1. In a large bowl mix the sugar, shortening, vanilla, and egg yolks until the sugar dissolves. Then gently mix in the milk or juice.

2. Next in a small bowl beat the two egg whites, until they form stiff peaks, put aside.

3. In another small bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, making sure they are well mixed.

4. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the sugar and egg mixture. Then fold the egg whites into the mixture gently.

5. Now take a well greased cake pan, fill it 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full with batter.

6. Carefully peel and then thinly slice your apples. Lay them into a decorative pattern on top of the cake. Sprinkle the top of the cake with a mixture of sugar, cinnamon, and cloves.

7. Bake at 350* for 25-45 minutes remove when the knife comes out of the cake cleanly.