Friday, May 20, 2005

Harvest Apple Challah

Harvest Apple Challah (Adapted from King Arthur Flour)

For the dough

1/2 cup lukewarm water
6 tablespoons safflower oil
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour (we went with 17 ounces for weight)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast

For the filling

2 medium apples, cored and diced into 3/4" chunks
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the egg wash and topping

1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

To prepare the dough

In a large bowl, add water, oil, honey, eggs, flour, salt and yeast - stir the mixture until the dough begins to come together. Scoop mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until you have a soft, smooth dough.

Place dough into a large bowl coated with a little oil or cooking spray, turning to coat the top. Cover and set aside to rise until the dough is puffy and nearly doubled in size, about 2 hours.

To prepare the filling

In a medium bowl, toss together apple, sugar and cinnamon.

Turn risen dough out of the bowl and place it onto a lightly greased work surface. Flatten the dough into a rough 8" x 10" rectangle.

Arrange half of the apple chunks in the middle so the pieces run the shorter width of the dough, leaving about an 1" at the ends. Fold one of the short edges of dough over the apples to cover, firmly patting the dough to seal the apples in and gently spread the dough out a bit. Arrange remaining apples atop the folded-over dough. Cover the apples with the other short side of the dough, firm patting again to enclose (imagine folding the dough like a letter, trapping all the apples inside).

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in half lengthwise, then again crosswise. Cut each quarter piece of dough into four pieces for a total of 16. This will get messy as the juicy apples will want to fall out and the liquid oozes out - don't be concerned.

Arrange the chunks of dough in a single layer over the bottom of a 9" round cake pan with 2" sides or a 9" springform pan* coated with nonstick spray - plenty of apples will fall out of the dough when you do this, just tuck them in among the pieces of dough in the pan.

Cover pan with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until it is just over 2" high, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees with a rack placed in the lower third.

To prepare the egg wash

In a small bowl, whisk together egg and water.

When the dough has risen, brush the top of the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar (coarse if you have it). Place the pan into the oven (on the lower shelf) and bake until the top no longer has white spots and is golden brown, about 50 to 60 minutes - some higher-rising pieces may get dark, but this is ok.

Remove pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Run a thin knife or spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen, then transfer challah to a wire rack to cool until serving. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

*One note - if you do use a springform pan, wrap the bottom with foil or place the pan on a baking sheet. Some of the juice from the sugared apples will drip out (it definitely did for us!) during the rising and baking process and doing this will prevent any leaks from reaching the oven floor.

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