I'm always tickled when I experience serendipity. Take this post for instance - while David has 3, 4, possibly 7 recipes in the cooker waiting to post, here I am - late, late, late - with a recipe I made over a week ago. Sigh. In so many ways, I am the epitome of organization - sadly, this just isn't one of them.
And what to write? I've been sitting at my desk staring at a page torn ages ago from an issue of Martha Stewart Living, pondering that very question. From the pile of never-tried-recipes, I had pulled out one for Apple-Honey Challah. Only now did my fingers do a bit of internet walking and I was delighted to read that Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year - begins at sunset this Wednesday, September 28th. Positively serendipitous and I'm just in the nick of time. It's interesting to learn that among the traditional food customs surrounding this high holiday, challah baked into a round loaf represents wholeness and community, and the cycle of the new year. And simply put, apples and honey are symbolic of the wish for a sweet new year.
I'm glad I finally made this recipe, after numerous times of pulling it out and stuffing it back into the folder. The bread is light and moist, and pleasantly sweet. I ate it toasted and slathered with butter, but I think it would make for wonderful French toast.
Shanah Tovah (Good Year) to all celebrating Rosh Hashanah.
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter or nondairy margarine, plus more for bowl, pan, and plastic
3-1/2 cups unbleached bread flour, plus more for surface
3/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
2/3 cup honey
2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1-1/2 tart green apples, preferably Granny Smith, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 1-3/4 cups)*
1. Butter a large bowl, and melt 4 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat; let cool. Combine 2 tablespoons melted butter, the flour, water, 1/3 cup honey, the eggs and yolks, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Mix until dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth (about 10 minutes if kneading by hand).
2. Transfer dough to buttered bowl, and brush with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Cover with plastic. Let rise in a warm place until dough almost doubles in volume, about 1-1/2 hours.
3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Pat into an 8-1/2-by-14-inch rectangle. Top with apples; knead to incorporate. Return to bowl. Brush with remaining tablespoon melted butter; cover. Let rise again in a warm place until dough almost doubles in volume, about 1 hour more.
4. Preheat over to 375 degrees, with rack in lowest position. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Roll dough into a rope (about 24 inches) on a floured surface. Coil into a circle, and transfer to pan. Let rise again until dough almost doubles in volume, about 45 minutes more.
5. Heat remaining 4 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup honey in a saucepan over medium-low heat until butter melts. Brush dough with half the honey-butter. Bake until golden brown and underside sounds hollow when tapped, about 35 minutes.**
6. Brush challah with the remaining honey-butter. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Turn out loaf from pan and let cool.
Makes one 9-inch round loaf.
* Several internet sources state that tart and bitter foods are avoided during this holiday, including tart apples. You may wish to substitute another variety for the Granny Smith.
** You may need to cover the loaf while baking, if it browns too quickly.