As with so many holidays, there are traditional foods that accompany The Feast of Trumpets. One of our favorites is this braided sweet loaf — a soft, buttery knot of soft bread, dotted with sweet apples that almost melt away. A slice of this bread, a little crispy on the crust but cloud-soft inside, spread generously with golden honey butter is a sure sign of a sweet year to come.
Apple Honey Challah
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen • Makes 1 challah
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon honey (divided)
1/3 cup neutral oil
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2″ chunks
Squeeze of lemon juice, to keep them from turning brown
1 large egg
Make the dough: Whisk yeast and 1 teaspoon honey into 2/3 cup warm water and let stand a few minutes, until foamy.
In the bowl of a stand mixture, whisk together yeast mixture, oil, 1/3 cup of honey, eggs and yolk. Using a dough hook, add 4 1/4 cups flour and salt. With the mixer on a moderate speed, the dough Use dough hook on a moderate speed until it pulls all of the flour and wet ingredients together into a shaggy dough. Lower the speed and let the dough hook knead the dough for 5 minutes, until smooth, elastic and a little sticky.
Transfer dough to large bowl prepared with oil. Cover and let rest 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size.
Turn dough out onto a floured counter and gently press it down into a flat, oblong shape. Spread 2/3 of apple chunks over 1/2 of the dough. Fold the other half over the apple chunks and press the dough down around them, flattening the now lumpy dough. Spread the remaining 1/3 apple chunks over half the folded dough. Fold the other half over the apples, pressing the dough down again. Your dough will now be a square. Fold the corners under with the sides of your hands and form the dough into a round. Cover and set aside for another 30 minutes.
Weave your bread: Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll and stretch each one as carefully as you can into a rope about 12″ long. Follow this video (much better than us trying to type these out):
Transfer the dough to a baking sheet prepared with parchment. Beat egg until smooth and brush over challah. Let rise for another hour. When it’s almost time to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Before baking, brush loaf one more time with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake in middle of oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. If it starts to get dark too quickly, cover it with foil for the remainder of the baking time. To determine if it’s done, check the inside with an instant read thermometer. The center of the loaf should be 195 degrees.
Cool on a rack before serving.