Apple-Filled Star Challah
Family and guests will ooh and aah over this beautiful Rosh HaShanah challah, which tastes as good as it looks!
- In a large mixer bowl combine 2 cups whole-wheat flour with 5 cups of the bread flour, yeast, cinnamon, and salt. Turn machine to low (#1) for 10 seconds to combine.
- Measure 1 cup oil in a one-cup liquid measuring cup. Set aside.
- Lightly beat eggs and vanilla with a fork in a 1-quart bowl until combined. Set aside.
- 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.
- Turn mixer to low (#1). Immediately add the hot juice/sugar mixture straight from the microwave, and then add the eggs and then the oil.
- Turn mixer to medium (#2) and continue mixing with dough hook for six minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary to incorporate all of the flour before adding any additional flour. If dough is too sticky add as much as 1 cup more flour or until a floured finger poked into the dough comes out clean.
- Grease a 4-quart bowl with the 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 (make the apple filling while dough is rising )
- Peel, core and cut apples into 1/4-inch dice.
- 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.
- 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).
- Stir the cornstarch and water together to dissolve and then add to the apples, stirring constantly. Mixture will be shiny and no liquid will be visible.
- Turn off the heat and add the coconut oil or butter. Stir to combine and set aside to cool while dough is rising.
- Punch down the dough and divide into 4 equal pieces.
- Roll the first piece of dough into a 12-inch circle on a floured board. Spread a thin layer of honey over the dough and then 1/3 of the apple mixture over that.
- Repeat the previous step with the remaining pieces of dough ending with the fourth circle of dough. Gently pull the top layer over and tuck in all the edges underneath.
- 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 to cut through all layers of the dough.
- 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 of David in the middle and little stripes of spiced apple peeking through.
- Carefully transfer the dough to a parchment lined cookie sheet and allow it to rise for 30-45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a pastry brush to coat the top of the loaf with the egg wash and place the cookie sheet in the lower third of your oven.
- 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 the bread is done at about 195-205°F.
- Allow the bread to cool for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting.
Watch Tina Wasserman demonstrate how to make this recipe:
- Apple filling can be doubled and dough can be divided into eighths to create two 8-inch braided loaves.