New Year's Apple Challah
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil or melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons dry yeast
5 to 6 cups flour
3 cups coarsely chopped apples
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice (skip if apples are tart)
1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon sugar
Coarse sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the first seven dough ingredients, in order listed. Stir in a cup or two of the flour, then add yeast.
- Add enough additional flour to equal about 5 cups, and stir/knead into a smooth dough, adding additional flour if needed. Knead dough for 8-10 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.
- Place apple filling ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Set aside.
- Punch down the risen dough, kneading to remove excess air bubbles. On a lightly-floured surface, roll the dough into a large round, about 1/2-inch thick. Spread apple mixture over the dough.
- Fold the edges of the dough over the apples and continue to fold/roll the dough to make one big lump with the filling enclosed. Let rest 5 minutes.
- Grease a 10-inch springform pan. Place springform pan on a large cookie sheet (to catch any leaks during rising/baking).
- Using a sharp knife, cut off chunks of the dough and place them in the prepared pan. You should end up with 15-20 chunks of dough (though a particular number doesn't matter). The apple pieces should be randomly dispersed throughout the dough chunks. Sprinkle with any escaped apple pieces.
- Combine the egg and sugar, and then dab the egg wash over the top of the dough. Sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired. Cover gently with a piece of plastic wrap and place pan in a warm location to rise.
- When dough has almost doubled in size, preheat oven to 350 degrees and then place baking sheet/springform in the middle of the oven (remove the piece of plastic wrap first, of course!) to bake for 45-55 minutes or until done. When I make this, usually the edges of the top get well-browned before the middle is cooked. So, after about 25-30 minutes, I cover the darker areas loosely with foil — sometimes forming a large loose "ring" of foil (with no foil in the middle) to lay on top.
- When challah is done, remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out of pan onto a cooling rack and cover with a clean towel until completely cool.