Monday, October 10, 2016

Harvest Apple Challah

There was a time in college when I ate probably 10 apples a day. I would be studying my biology and chemistry into the wee hours of the morning and I needed to be chewing something to prevent myself from collapsing in an exhausted heap on top of my textbooks. Apple slices were my snack of choice because I could easily sneak several out of the dining hall each meal thus fulfilling both my need to stay awake and my lack of a snack fund. My apple snacking made me aware of how many great varieties of apples there are, outside the ubiquitous golden delicious, red delicious (total misnomer - they are not-so-delicious), and granny smith. There are so many great-tasting apple varieties out there: Paula Red, McIntosh, Mutsu, Ginger Gold, Pink Lady, Zestar, Honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala, Empire, Cortland, Braeburn, Jonagold, SweetTango, Jazz, and so many more. Of all of these, Honeycrisp and Pink Lady hold my heart for eating out of hand, but in my pies I prefer a combination of Mutsu, Ginger Gold, and Granny Smith. 

In addition to an obsession with ketchup and pickles, my kids have inherited my love of apple because they will never turn down the opportunity to snack on one. In fact, most of the time when they are hungry, the first thing they will ask for is an apple. No need to stock up on the usual kid-friendly snacks like crackers and pretzels, my kids will gladly eat a sliced apple over those things any day! I love it. Even Lucy is making good use of her newly descended canines by hacking into as many apples as she can. It's so cute to watch her munch on an apple almost the size of her entire face.

Her shirt kept riding up, exposing that chunky little belly button (or "BB" as she calls it)

There are so many apple trees surrounding us! Emma and I usually do a bit of neighborhood foraging and pick from the apple trees planted in public spaces nearby. Sometimes the apples can be a bit wormy, but we've made some pretty tasty treats from these apples. However, if you really want to hit the apple jackpot, just drive to one of the nearby farms and they practically are giving away as many apples as you can haul away. The kids love roaming through the orchards, seeing the apple trees, and competing with one another to pick the biggest apples. It's such a fun, fall activity to do together.

We have hit up the apple orchards three times so far this fall. Each time, the farmers have told the kids that they are free to snack on as many apples as they want while picking. I don't think they expected my kids to eat quite as many as they did. Matthew alone ate about seven apples while casually picking from the trees and filling our baskets. So far, the Ginger Golds in our area have been so incredibly crisp and juicy that I am already itching to go back for more. We had over fifty pounds of apples sitting on our counter on Friday evening and today we have less than ten pounds remaining. Where did they all go? I've got so many fun apple treats to share in the coming days starting with this Apple Challah.

Sweet egg bread with large apple chunks and hints of cinnamon swirled throughout, this bread is a great snack or breakfast treat! My kids love it but that really shouldn't be too surprising since we love our bread. While trying to snap photos of the finished product, my two little princesses would not stop eating my apple props!!

And one little tiny thief in particular had trouble keeping her tiny hands off the bread. Can you blame her though? It's gorgeous!

This recipe is another that I have pulled from the dusty archives of this blog to bring to your attention once more because it is a wonderful, unique way to use all those plump, beautiful apples available this time of year! If you're a challah snob like me, you'll enjoy this fall-themed twist. I prefer butter in my challah, a true sacrilege if there ever was one, but if you must make your challah kosher, simply substitute an equal amount of neutral-flavored oil for the melted butter called for in the recipe. A nice slice of this bread with a cup of hot cider on a cool, breezy fall afternoon is a wonderful thing to enjoy!

Harvest Apple Challah

from King Arthur Flour

For the Dough:
1/2 cup lukewarm water
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast

For the Apple Filling:
2 medium-to-large apples, NOT peeled; cored and diced in ¾" chunks
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup granulated sugar

For the Egg Wash:
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Coarse white sugar, for sprinkling

To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead them, by hand, mixer, or bread machine, until you have a soft, smooth dough.

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

Lightly grease a 9" round cake pan that's at least 2" deep. 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". 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. In other words, fold the dough like a business letter, encasing the apple chunks 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. Don't stress this part. It's a messy process where you'll have chunks of apples and dough falling out every which way and you'll begin to wonder what the point of all this is. I was right there with you, but persevere! 

Lay the dough chunks into the pan and do your best to get everything in a single layer. Tuck and wedge any loose apple chunks in between the dough pieces. Again, don't stress.

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.

Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush the dough with the egg mixture, and sprinkle heavily with the coarse sugar, if desired.

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 or until an instant-read thermometer registers at least 190 when stuck into the center of the bread.

Remove the challah from the oven and let cool 5-10 minutes before removing the bread from the pan and transferring to a wire rack to cool. However, if you can't wait to dig in, this bread is fantastic served warm. Especially with a drizzle of honey.

1 comment:

  1. Going apple picking is one of those fall things I always mean to do...but I haven't since I was a kid. I really need to!! I LOVE a good McIntosh. I could 10 of those a day for sure.