L’Shanah Tovah ~ for a good year. Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. To celebrate, we eat apples and honey, in hopes of a sweet and happy year to come. Last year, I attempted to make Apple Stuffed Challah. Unfortunately, I overworked the dough, and the challah came out tough, doughy and undercooked. Luckily, it looked gorgeous, and my family appreciated my efforts regardless.
This year, I was inspired by a Saveur Magazine recipe for Challot (Challah Knots). I still wanted to add apples to the recipe, and considered a few options. And then a miracle happened – I’m not even joking. I got an invitation from Jamie Peha to sit-in on her radio show – Table Talk Radio. You’re going to have to check out the site later to see what happened. For now, let’s just say that I returned home after a fun one-hour show with a box of apples and an assignment.
I went ahead and used the ingredients for the dough, as written in Saveur, but changed some of the methodology, directions and the final few steps in the directions. I added caramelized apples, and created apple rolls, instead of challah knots. And finally, instead of baking these delights in a single baking pan, I used my trusted muffin tin pan.
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1. Whisk yeast into 1 cup warm water (at about 115°). Allow to sit for 10 minutes – you want to check that the yeast is active – it will bubble up and foam. (Disclosure – I am incredibly nervous baking with yeast. I’ve had problems before, and this time it was no different. The water, I thought was too warm and I declared my first batch of yeast to be dead. While I was in the process of making the 2nd batch, this time, with cooler water, I noticed that my first batch came from the dead – it bloomed, formed bubbles, foamed, and gave out a sweet, yeasty aroma.)
3. Add flour and salt, stir to combine. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and kneed until it is smooth, about 10 minutes. (Disclosure – I thought the dough was too wet. I tried not to add too much extra flour, out of worry that the dough will be too tough, but I did have to sprinkle extra flour to prevent the dough from sticking too much. Using a metal bench scraper helps to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and to the kneading surface).
4. Lightly oil the dough and place in a large, slightly oiled bowl. Cover and set aside for an hour. If all has gone correctly, by the end of the hour, the dough should be doubled in size!
5. While the dough is rising (fingers and toes crossed), melt butter and brown sugar in a heavy pan over medium heat. Add apples, and cook, stirring occasionally until apples are caramelized and softened. If you prefer, add a sprinkling of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey. Allow the apples to cool completely.
6. Back to the challah. After an hour, uncover the bowl – the dough should look doubled in size. Gently punch the dough, cover it up again and let rest for another 45 minutes.
7. Preheat oven to 350°. Divide the dough in half. Using half of the dough, at a time, form it into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cover, evenly with half of the apples and lightly drizzle with honey. Roll up the dough, and using a bench scraper, cut into 12 pieces. Place each piece, cut side up, into a buttered muffin tin. Lightly brush with beaten egg. Repeat with the second half of the dough and apples. Cover the muffin tins and allow to rest for another 30 minutes. Bake in the oven for 28 minutes, rotating the 2 muffin tins half way through.
You could also sprinkle some cinnamon here! Try not to overwork the dough. Work gently and quickly.
Oy vey! This has been truly a labor of love and determination – close to six hours of it. By far one of the most challenging, but rewarding experiences. I have to say, I love the final texture of these Challah Apple Rolls – light in texture, rich in flavor. The apples retained a bit of the bite, which I like. I’m glad I didn’t add too much sugar – you can still taste a bit of the tartness from the apples.
If you choose to make these Challah Apple Rolls, be sure to have a lot of free time, patience, and perhaps a glass of wine 🙂
I wish you a fantastic, sweet and a very happy year!