Harvest Apple Challah

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Sometimes life is just made up of everyday annoyances, irritations, unfortunate circumstances and overall ‘sucky-‘ things.

It snowed earlier this week in Michigan.

End of April. We got snow.

I’m sorry to say that round here,  that’s nothing new. My senior year of high school, we got a full blown snow storm on Easter Sunday. I still remember going out to shovel the sidewalk in blowing snow when we got home from church.

It sucked.

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Oftentimes I can shrug off suck-y things as exactly that: suck-y things. For example:

Snow in April.

Random, unexpected and extremely inconvenient cooking fails (when I specifically planned on doing a photo shoot for the blog that day).

My paycheck doesn’t have a few extra zeros at the end.

Sucks.

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I’ve never been to Europe.

Stephanie Meyer is a gazillionaire and a bestselling ‘author’, and I’m…not either of those things.

Chris Evans hasn’t figured out that we’re meant to be together and proposed to me.

I don’t have the thighs of a Victoria Secret Model.

Sucks.

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But for every one of the daily, inconvenient ‘suck-y’ circumstances of every day life, I bet we all can think of just as many (if not more) convenient, not suck-y circumstances that make up for all that. I certainly can.

For one: challah. Challah is one of my all-time favorite things ever, period. It’s beautiful. It’s delicious. It’s the best.

Challah can make up for a lot of those daily suck-y things.

(Except maybe the one about Chris Evans. That still smarts pretty bad no matter what.)

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Somehow, I always end up baking challah around this time of year. Last year, I went all out and made regular Challah and a Vanilla Bean Challah. This year, I still wanted to try and make a twist on the original so I decided to go with this recipe for Challah stuffed with apples.

Challah itself can be a labor of love if you’re keen on twisting the dough into elaborate shapes. Or if you’re like me, and still has to Google EVERY SINGLE TIME how to correctly braid the dough no matter how many times I’ve made this bread before. This apple challah is, I will admit, somewhat more  labor intensive.

However, it’s worth it. More than worth it.

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As you guys can see, this dough is as soft, fluffy and moist as a bread dough can get. The fat challah rolls pull apart at the slightest tug, letting the tender apple chunks fall out into your hands. Best of all, the filling leaks out ever so little so that the bottom of the dough has a thin layer of syrupy brown sugar goo. And of course, there’s the trademark challah golden brown crust on top that is ever so ‘thunk-able’ with your fingers so that you know for sure that you’ve done it right.

So.much.yum.

Definitely does not suck.

If I had to critique one thing about this recipe, it’s that I had way too much dough to try and stuff into a 9 inch cake pan. Mine wasn’t wide or tall enough by far, so I opted for one of deep, oval casserole pans instead. I think it gave me a much bigger rise for my dough anyway, so that was totally cool with me.

Cheers, guys!

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Harvest Apple Challah

Recipe Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

For Dough

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast

For Apple Filling

  • 2 medium-to-large apples, NOT peeled; cored and diced in ¾” chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  ¼ cup granulated sugar

Glaze

  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • coarse white sugar, optional

 Directions

1) Pour water in a small bowl; add yeast and 1 tsp. white sugar. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until proofed and foamy at the surface.

2) Pour yeast mixture into a stand mixer and add vegetable oil, honey, eggs and salt, stirring well to combine. Using dough hook add the flour, 1 cup at  a time until dough is smooth and elastic.

3) Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 2 hours, or until it’s puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.

4) Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan that’s at least 2″ deep, or grease a 9″ or 10″ springform pan.  Toss the apple chunks with the sugar and cinnamon. Gently deflate the dough, transfer it to a lightly greased work surface, and flatten it into a rough rectangle, about 8″ x 10″.

5) Spread half the apple chunks in the center of the dough. Fold a short edge of the dough over the apple to cover it, patting firmly to seal the apples and spread the dough a bit.  Spread the remaining apple atop the folded-over dough. Cover the apples with the other side of the dough, again patting firmly. Basically, you’ve folded the dough like a letter, enclosing the apples inside. Take a bench knife or a knife, or even a pair of scissors, and cut the apple-filled dough into 16 pieces. Cut in half, then each half in halves, etc.  Lay the dough chunks into the pan; crowd them so that they all fit in a single layer (barely). Lots of apple chunks will fall out during this process; just tuck them in among the dough pieces, or simply spread them on top. Cover the challah gently with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow it to rise for about 1 hour, until it’s a generous 2″ high. It should just crest the rim of a 9″ round cake pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 325°F.

6) Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush the dough with the egg mixture, and sprinkle heavily with the coarse sugar, if desired. If you’re going to drizzle with honey before serving, omit the sugar. Place the bread in the lower third of the oven. Bake it for 55 minutes, or until the top is at least light brown all over, with no white spots. Remove the challah from the oven, and after 5 minutes loosen the edges and carefully transfer it to a rack.

Hawaiian Bread

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When my throat’s sore.

When my nose’s stuffed.

When I’m feeling sick.

I simply remember my favorite things- and that always does the trick. (Don’t laugh. You try coming up with a rhyme on the spot like that.)

So yeah guys: I’ve been ill with a pretty bad cold over the past few days. The blame lies with twin sister Jas, who had it first, then so graciously passed it on to me. Thanks a heap, Jas. Just because we’re twins, doesn’t mean we have to share EVERYTHING.

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Not gonna lie, the past few days have been kinda miserable; I contracted the worst sinus infection, and as such was unable breathe properly through my nose- which is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves/irritations. My head felt like it was hit by a mallet from the pressure in my sinuses. I had to get up from my desk at work every five minutes to go to the bathroom to blow my nose (because I’m too self-conscious to do that in public). I  also have the voice of a 20+ year chain smoker right about now.

But rather than spend this post holding a personal pity party for myself, I decided instead to just stay positive and focus on the silver lining in the clouds. Maybe if I think on some of my favorite things, this friggin cold won’t seem so very bad.

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Favorite Food: Pancakes. Hands down. No competition.

Favorite Day of the Week: Friday. (…Partyin, partyin’ yeah! Partyin’ Partyin’ yeah!) Am I the only one thinks of that darn crappy song at the very mention of the word?

Favorite Movie: A & E’s “Pride and Prejudice” (Starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth) This movie can literally make everything that’s going bad in my world suddenly feel fine. It’s just perfection itself.

Favorite Thing to Wear: Loose fitting shirt with black yoga pants or leggings. It’s a look that can be casual, comfortable, and even cute.

Favorite Book of All Time: This one is a tough one to narrow down, but I have to say it’s “Forever Amber” by Kathleen Windsor; this book is the best historical fiction I’ve ever read- and I’ve read a lot. I always read it at least once a year.

Favorite Cartoon Character: Daria Morgendorffer- I loved watching this show when I was younger and as soon as it came out on DVD, you better believe
I snatched it up. Daria’s dry wit was just classic.

Favorite Weather: Blue/Gray sky with thick & fluffy clouds, where the temperature is around 60-70 degrees outside. It just makes the atmosphere seem so calm and mellow.

Favorite Time of Year: November 1st-December 24th. Thanksgiving and the Christmas season is LITERALLY my favorite time to be alive during the year. I love the food, fellowship and celebrations that take place over both holidays.

Favorite Reason For Laughter: An inside joke with me and my sisters. Some of the stuff we laugh over is just as random and crazy as we are.

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Favorite Music Genre: Classic Jazz. Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday,  Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Carmen McRae, Doris Day, Julie London, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin. Need I say more?

Favorite Baby Names: Hannah Grace for a girl, and Michael Orlando for a boy.

Favorite Super Hero: Batman. He’s a human with no supernatural powers, but he’s still big and bad enough to hang with the best of them.

Favorite Fairy Tale: Rapunzel, with Rumpelstiltskin as a very close second.

Favorite phrase: God Is in Control. I have to tell myself this maybe 50 times a day, and sometimes that’s still not enough.

Favorite TV Series: I’m sorry. I cannot, CANNOT give just one answer to this…or two. Or three. Or four: Breaking Bad. Scandal. The Office. ER. Sons of Anarchy. House. Boardwalk Empire. Game of Thrones. Downton Abbey. House of Cards. With those choices, there’s no way I can pick just one winner.

Favorite Rom Com: My Best Friend’s Wedding. I’ll never hear the song “I Say a Little Prayer” the same way again- and I’m totally okay with that.

Favorite Vice: Extra dessert- even when I know I don’t really want/need it. Because, clearly that’s not the point.

Favorite Thing to Make in the Kitchen: Bread. I can still remember the first time I was able to make from scratch, yeast bread all on my own. I was so proud of myself. To this day, making delicious bread still just makes me feel great.

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Speaking of bread…

I did some reading up on this dish and apparently, Hawaiian bread actually has roots in Portugal as a sweet, egg based bread, then gradually migrated over to Hawaii where it became a trademark bread for both sweet and savory applications.Here in America, I generally see them in the well known Kings Hawaiian orange plastic wrapping. My grandma buys them a lot for holiday gatherings like Christmas or Thanksgiving. And because it’s something you can technically buy in the store, I of course am sharing a way that you can make it for yourself at home. Because that’s just how I roll.

I’ve had this recipe bookmarked on my Allrecipes.com account for a long time now. Because I make it apart of my responsibility to make sure that my family always has bread to eat on the side at dinner, I needed a new one to make, and decided that this one would be it.

It’s become another one of my Favorite Things.

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Hawaiian Bread

Recipe Courtesy of Allrecipes.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 (.25 ounce) envelopes of active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour

 Directions

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the yeast mixture, eggs, pineapple juice, 1/2 cup water, sugar, ginger, vanilla, and melted butter. Gradually stir in flour until a stiff batter is formed. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

3. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a well floured surface. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and form into round loaves. Place the loaves into three lightly greased round cake pans. Cover the loaves with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

4. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bottom of a loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

 

Note: Bread is ‘done’ when it reaches an inner temperature of 190°-F so if you  have an instant read thermometer, it helps to be sure!

Challah

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I’ve noticed that just about every blog I’m following has been making hot cross buns for the Easter bread. that’s cool, I’m loving everything that I’m seeing since I’ve always wanted to make hot cross buns. However, since I’m always the last one to the ‘party’ and it takes me forever to catch onto trends, I decided a while ago that this week on Cooking is My Sport would be centered around another particular recipe/ingredient. It happens to be challah. Which probably means I’ll be making Hot Cross Buns around…oh, probably the Fourth of July. Because that’s just how I am.

I’m sure most foodies already know about it, but for the ‘general’ and likely Non-Jewish reader, I can give an explanation of what it is. Challah is a traditional, braided Jewish egg bread. It’s hollow on the outer top, and light and fluffy on the inside. It’s not as soft and moist as say, brioche. But it’s also not as dense as French bread either. Challah’s religious significance can be found in the way the dough is  split into two rounds, then each round is rolled into 6 identical strands that are then braided together. The six strands in each loaf represent the 12 tribes of Israel referenced in the Torah/first five chapters of the Bible.  During the meals of the Sabbath- 2 loaves of bread are supposed to be served at the beginning of every meal- thus the 2 loaves of challah. I could go on a little bit deeper, but that’s the basic Judaic symbolism behind challah.

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Around the Foodie community, Challah is a recipe that I typically see pop up around this time of year, close to Easter. I actually find this to be pretty ironic/funny, considering that this type of year is also near the Jewish holiday of the Passover. During Passover, unleavened bread is typically eaten (like matzo). Challah, of course, has plenty of leavening agents. But whatever; I’m a non-denominational Christian, so Passover’s not something I celebrate anyway. I made this bread last year at Easter with surprisingly great results for my first time. I knew I wanted to do it again this year, but just bump things up a notch.

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So what you guys will be seeing for this, and the next two posts for this week is basically Challah done 3 ways: Regular Challah, a Sweet Challah, and a third recipe with Challah as a main ingredient…because I had to find some way to use all of the above challah up. Today I’m showing you the traditional Challah recipe that I first made about this time last year.

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Typically, challah is made as a long, braided loaf and baked on a sheet pan. If you guys read my Cornmeal Dinner Rolls post, then you know how I’m currently feeling about baking yeast breads on sheet pans. Long story short: I’m having ‘technical difficulties’ with that method. And although I did suck it up and do it for my sweet challah variation that I’ll be posting later this week, for my traditional Challah, I decided against it, and did something else. I still used the braiding method for both loaves, but one I braided and tucked into a round circle and placed into one of my 9 inch cake pans, while the other I braided and placed into one of my loaf pans that I usually use for quick breads. I was very pleased with the results. The loaves rose beautifully (take THAT sheet pans), and the bread turned out so fluffy and tender on the inside. My favorite part about challah? That hollow sound it makes when you thump on the shiny, egg glazed top of the loaves that tells you it’s done. It makes me feel like a huge Baking Boss.

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Challah

(Makes 2 braided loaves)

Recipe Courtesy of Allrecipes.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  •  2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

 Directions

1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water.

2. Beat in honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens.

3. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.

4. Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Divide each half into thirds and roll into long snake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid from middle. Either leave as braid or form into a round braided loaf by bringing ends together, curving braid into a circle, pinch ends together. Grease two baking trays and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about one hour.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid.

6. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 40 minutes. Bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.

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