Fall hits, and I have a strong urge to utilize apples in all of my cooking. I put apples in my salads, in grilled cheese sandwiches and yesterday I tried it in my bread.

This apple and honey challah is reminiscent of the iconic apple pie. The tiny pieces of apple nestled into the dough make the surrounding bread ever so slightly syrupy and you taste the flavor of the honey more than an overt sweetness. I used Bernard’s Acadiana honey (harvested in Breaux Bridge) and two enormous honeycrisp apples. The recipe calls for two apples, but smaller ones would be best because the pieces were falling out left and right while braiding the loaf.

But don’t plan on making this if you’re short on time. The dough has to rest for a total of 2 1/2 hours (with intermittent kneading and braiding) plus baking for 45-50 minutes — but don’t be deterred. It’s worth the wait.

It makes an enormous loaf, so slice it up to eat with any meal during the week or as a snack with some butter and apple cider. The recipe is from a favorite recipe website of mine, foodgawker.com. It’s a compilation of all the best recipes available on the Internet, and each beautiful photograph brings you to the original food blog that posted it — in this case, it’s smittenkitchen.com. The original recipe also calls for sprinkled coarse sugar on top, but I didn’t feel that it was really necessary. It also recommends squirting lemon juice on the apples to keep them from browning, but I didn’t encounter a problem with that, either. challah

Ingredients:
2 1/4 t active dry yeast
2/3 C warm water
1/3 C honey, plus 1 t
1/3 C oil
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 1/4 cups bread flour
2 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped into little bits
1 egg (for the egg wash)

Instructions:
1. Whisk together the 1 t honey with the warm water in a bowl, then sprinkle in yeast and leave for 5 minutes or until foamy.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the remaining 1/3 cup honey, oil, eggs, egg yolk and the yeast mixture.
3. Add the flour, then use a dough hook attachment and beat on a medium-low speed until there is no dry flour left on the sides of the bowl. Then turn the speed down to low to knead the dough for 5 to 7 minutes.
4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a slightly dampened tea towel and leave it in a warm place for an hour to double in size. (For my dough, I heat the oven to 200 degrees and then turn it off as soon as it heats up. It helps keep a steady temp and ensure that it will rise in the time allotted.)
5. Add the apple to the dough by stretching it into an oblong circle. Spread 2/3 of the apples over one half of the dough, then fold the other half over, flattening it with your hands. Take the remaining 1/3 of the apples and repeat the process.
6. Tuck the corners of the dough underneath and cover it with the upturned bowl for another 30 minutes.
7. To braid the dough, liken it to braiding hair. Separate the dough into four pieces and stretch them into long ropes. After braiding the pieces together, pinch the ends together — for beauty’s sake.
8. Transfer the dough to a parchment-covered heavy baking sheet and brush the loaf with the egg wash. Let it rest for another hour.
9. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Before placing it in the oven, brush it one more time with the egg wash. Bake for 40-50 minutes. If it isn’t completely baked but is getting dark on the top, cover it with aluminum foil for the rest of the allotted time. If you want to be sure, measure the temperature of the center of the loaf, which should be 195 degrees.

For the original recipe, click here.

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