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Apple & Honey Challah

A classic Jewish New Year combination perfect all year long.

Apples and honey are a staple food observance for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. This challah features those flavors without any of the fuss, thanks to a whole lot of technique and no torture. The result is a superior loaf of bread, bedecked with apples and glistening with a touch of honey. The secret to the success: apple chips. They provide all the flavor without turning the dough wet. In fact, it is the dough that imparts moisture to the dried apples, reconstituting them while maintaining the bread's structure and desired texture. Adding honey to the second egg wash gives that glisten and sheen. Another Rosh Hashanah tradition is to prepare a round challah. Follow the technique for Golden Raisin Challah Rounds, using the dried apples in place of the raisins.

Equipment: measuring spoons; wet and dry measuring cups; large mixing bowl; dough hook; standing mixer with dough hook attachment (optional); bench scraper; plastic wrap; baking sheet; parchment paper or nonstick baking mat; cooling rack

Ingredients: 1 cup warm water (at least 95°F - 110°F) 1 package yeast (or 2¼ teaspoons) 1 teaspoon granulated sugar 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil 1/3 cup sugar (or ½ cup for sweeter bread) 1 tablespoon kosher salt 3 large eggs 4 – 4½ cups bread flour (or all-purpose) *

1 cup dehydrated apple chips 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon cold water

1 tablespoons honey

"Bread flour has more gluten (wheat protein) than does all-purpose flour. The more gluten the stronger the bread structure, which also helps the dough to rise."

1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, sprinkle yeast and sugar on warm water. Stir. Let stand for up to 10 minutes (it should look like the foam on beer).

2. In a large bowl, combine oil, sugar, salt, eggs, and then the yeast mixture. Stir in 2 cups of flour.

3. Gradually stir in most of the remaining flour.* Dough will be sticky.

*ILOC tip: The amount of flour used will vary, depending upon the moisture in the air.

4. Place dough on lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes (or use a standing mixer with the dough hook on a low speed), adding a little flour at a time as needed. If dough sticks to the counter, use a bench scraper to clean the surface and lightly flour the board to prevent further sticking. When done kneading, the dough will feel silky and smooth.

5. Put dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1½ hours in a warm, draft-free environment until approximately doubled (the bowl placed inside your oven with the light on is a good spot).

6. Punch down the dough with your floured fist. Divide the piece into 3 equal sections.

7. Flatten each piece of dough and spread with approximately 1/3 cup apple chips. Carefully roll each section into equal strands, about 12 inches long, tapering the ends as you roll.

8. Pinch the strands together at one end and braid, maintaining the same tension as you go so that the challah will be symmetrical. Pinch the other end as well when done.

9. Place dough on parchment paper or nonstick baking mat. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel as it goes through the final rise for 30 minutes to no more than 1 hour.

"If you are pressed for time, you can skip the second rise and still get great results!"

10. Right before baking, brush the bread with beaten egg wash (egg and water). Place the bread in the oven and bake for 17 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon honey to the egg wash and set aside.

11. After 17 minutes of baking, remove the pan from the oven (shut the oven door so the heat does not escape). Brush with additional honey egg wash, and rotate the pan when returning it to the oven. Bake for another 17 minutes.

"The bread should take approximately 34 minutes in total to bake, until golden brown and challah sounds hollow when bottom is tapped. The internal temperature will be approximately 190°F - 195°F, which will vary depending on the size of the bread. "

12. Allow the bread to rest and cool for one hour before serving.

You can make the dough the night before, and place in the refrigerator to rise. Remove it 30 minutes before shaping. Then proceed as written above.

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