Star Challah with Honey Apple Filling

Star ChallahDon’t let the length of the recipe scare you.  The recipe is not hard to make; I have just given you detailed instructions.  If you wish, all white bread flour may be used to conform to tradition. This recipe will make 2  ten in challahs or one large one.  Why not serve one for Rosh Hashanah and freeze one for Yom Kippur

BREAD DOUGH:

2 cups whole-wheat flour

6 cups white bread flour

2 packages rapid rise yeast

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 Tablespoon salt

1 cup corn, canola or avocado oil plus 1 T. for greasing bowl

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups unfiltered apple juice or apple cider

3/4 cup sugar

1 recipe for apple filling

EGG WASH-1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water

 

APPLE FILLING:

4 large Honeycrisp or Fuji apples, about 2 1/2 pounds

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

2 teaspoons cornstarch combined with 2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons coconut oil or unsalted butter

1/3 cup or more Wildflower or clover Honey, as needed


  1.  In a large mixer bowl combine 2 cups of the whole-wheat flour with 5 cups of the bread flour, the yeast, cinnamon and salt. Turn machine on to low (#1) for 10 seconds to combine.
  2. Measure 1 cup of the oil in a one cup liquid measuring cup. Set aside.
  3.  Lightly beat eggs and vanilla with a fork in a 1 quart bowl until combined. Set aside.
  4.  Measure the apple juice or cider in a 2 cup glass measuring cup. Add the sugar and stir once or twice. Microwave juice/sugar mixture on high for exactly 1 minute 20 seconds.
  5.  Turn mixer on to low (#1). Immediately add the hot juice/sugar mixture straight from the microwave, and then add the eggs and then the oil—in that order.
  6.  Turn mixer to medium (#2) and continue mixing with dough hook for six minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary to incorporate all the flour before adding any additional flour. If dough is too sticky add as much as 1 cup more flour until a floured finger, poked into the dough comes out clean
  7. Grease a 4 quart bowl with the extra tablespoon of oil. Add the dough to the bowl turning the dough over to coat it on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a draft-free spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour (I like to use an out of the way corner in my kitchen or a warming drawer set on low.) Dough can also be put in the refrigerator to rise overnight.

APPLE FILLING:

  1. While dough is rising, if you haven’t already done so, make the apple filling
  2.  Peel, core and cut apples into ¼ inch dice
  3. Heat a 10 inch non-stick pan over medium-high heat for 10 seconds and then add the diced apples and brown sugar. Stir the apple mixture until the apples begin to give up their juices (about 3-4 minutes) Turn down heat if apples look like they are browning.
  4. Add the spices to the apples and cook, stirring often, until the apples are tender but not mushy and some of the liquid has evaporated (about another 4 minutes).
  5.  Stir the cornstarch and water together to dissolve and then add to the apples stirring constantly as you do so. Mixture will be shiny and no liquid will be visible.
  6.  Turn off the heat and add the coconut oil or butter. Stir to combine and then set aside to cool while dough is rising, or cover and refrigerate until needed (up to two days).

TO ASSEMBLE BREAD:

  1.  Punch down the dough and divide into 4 equal pieces (or 8 if you want to make 2 smaller rounds about 8 “ in diameter). Divide apple mixture in half ONLY if you are making 2 smaller loaves.
  2.  Roll the first piece of dough into a 12 inch circle (8 inch for smaller loaf) on a floured board. Brush a thin layer of honey over the dough and then 1/3 of the apple mixture over that.
  3.  Continue the previous steps with the remaining pieces of dough ending with the fourth circle of dough. Gently pull the top layer over and pinch all the layers together.
  4.  Place a 3 inch glass bowl or cup face down in the center of the bread and lightly trace around it with a knife to mark a circle. Remove the glass. Make 12 cuts from the line of the circle to the end of the dough (I find it easiest to imagine a clock making my first cuts at 12,6,3 and 9 and then filling in the other cuts evenly. Make sure you cut through all layers of the dough.
  5.  Working in pairs around the dough (clock!), take a wedge of dough in each hand and twist them over once away from each other. Pinch the middle bottom of the pair together. Repeat with the remaining 5 pairs and then pinch the ends of each dough pair together to form a circle that has the design of a Jewish Star in the middle and little stripes of spiced apple peeking through.
  6. Carefully transfer the dough to a parchment lined cookie sheet and allow it to rise for 30-45 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350F. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash and place the cookie sheet in the lower third of your oven.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes depending on the size of the round and the heat of your oven. When the bread is done, it will be golden brown and have a hollow sound when tapped. You can also insert an instant read thermometer into the center and if it registers around 195-205 it is done.
  9. Always allow the bread to cool for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting.

YIELD: 2  ten inch or 1 large round challah

 

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