Monday, September 18, 2017

New Year, New Blog Post, New Apple Challah

I have not updated this blog in quite some time.  I can only blame my..... my picky eating child who has transformed me from someone who enjoyed coming up with new recipes and meals, to an expert at heating hotdogs. 

Thankfully Beth El's Sisterhood/Zhava is coming out with a new cookbook, Eat in Good Health, later this Fall.   It will have more than 400 new recipes!  They gave me a preview of it and I will be trying out some recipes and give you all a sneak peak of the cookbook. 

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins Wednesday night.  To get you started right, here is a delicious, creative, and surprisingly easy Apple Challah recipe.  This recipe was submitted by Marilyn Fine, one of our amazing Religious School teachers.   This challah has apple chips, apple butter and honey - It is Rosh Hashanah after all!!  It also uses a combination of whole wheat and white flour.  It is a surprisingly easy dough to work with - so even a novice baker will have success with it. 

Marilyn's inspiration for this recipe was found in an Israeli cookbook. The original recipe used date honey (Silan) to sweeten the dough.  Although Silan is common in Israel (and is mentioned in the Torah), it is only just now becoming available at specialty stores in the United States.  So Marilyn innovated. She thought about what how date syrup would look like and taste, and decided that apple butter would be a close substitute. She substituted the apple butter and regular honey and used freeze dried apple chips instead of traditional raisins.  These substitutions make a perfect Rosh Hashanah themed Challah! 

2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup warm water
4½ cups whole wheat flour
2½ cups white flour
1½ tablespoons salt
1 beaten egg
1½ cups warm water
¼ cup honey
½ cup apple butter
½ cup oil
½ cup diced dried apple chips
1 beaten egg for egg wash, plus sesame seeds (optional)

In a small bowl, proof the yeast by dissolving it and the sugar in the ½ cup of warm water and letting it sit for a few minutes until the solution becomes frothy.
In a medium bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, the white flour, and the salt.
In a large bowl, blend the egg, apple butter, honey, 1½ cups of warm water, and oil.
Add the proofed yeast solution to the large bowl of wet ingredients and stir. 
Slowly add the flour/ salt mixture a half-cup at a time, mixing to incorporate. 
Then fold in the halfcup of dried apple chips. Knead for approximately 15 minutes, until a smooth ball of dough is formed. (Add a little more white flour if needed.)
Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1-½ hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
After it has risen, place the dough on a floured surface and divide into 4 parts. Roll and stretch each part into a long, round “snake.” Then, roll the dough into a spiral, starting from the inside out. Tuck the outside end under the rest of the loaf so that the center of the spiral is elevated. Repeat with each of the other portions of dough.
Let the loaves rise for another hour.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the four loaves with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
Bake on ungreased baking sheet for about 45 minutes or until browned. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Makes 4 medium-sized round loaves.

As noted, Marilyn gives a direction for a simple round spiral.  But if you want to try something different, you can search for videos on how to do round braids.  Here are the challahs I made just before and after baking.

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