Harvest Apple Challah Bread (Day 1)

I go to a women’s liberal arts college, so we have cool, fun holidays.  A few weeks ago we had Mountain Day.  Our college president picks a beautiful fall day and cancels classes.  The bells are rung to let the campus know the day.  Sadly and not so sadly, I had crew practice in the morning, so I didn’t get to sleep in like most everyone else.  I did get back from practice and delighted in a nap and an episode of glee.  In the afternoon, people from my house went apple-picking.

I refused to do any of my mounds of homework (it’s just the spirit of Mountain Day), and instead decided to succumb to my baking craving (Hi I’m Kelly and I’m addicted to baking…). I wanted to capitalize on the fact that there were dozens and dozens of fresh picked apples waiting for me to just find them a home.  I went with Harvest Apple Challah Bread.  I decided to divide this baking between 2 days so it wasn’t a huge chunk at one time. There is something called school that I’m supposed to be focusing on.

Day 1: Preparing Dough

I’m writing this post for those of you who have very little bread baking experience.  If you do, feel free to skip some of the details.

This is a yeast bread, and I’m using active-dry yeast.  Active-dry is active yeast granules coated with dormant yeast.  You must proof the yeast, which means adding warm (NOT hot) water to bring the yeast back to life.  If you use instant yeast, you don’t need to do this step of letting the yeast sit in the water for 5 minutes to reactivate.

So mix the water and yeast together in a small bowl.  You want water that is about 90˚F.  Above 110˚F, you kill the yeast, so the water should feel neither warm nor cold to your fingers.  Remember your body temp. is 98.6˚F.  Mix the yeast with the water, and let sit and bubble for 5 minutes.

The yeast should almost completely dissolve in the water and make glorious bubbles.  Those bubbles are what gives your bread fluff.

While the yeast is chilling (well actually warming), add all of the other dough ingredients to another large bowl (oil-salt).  Before you do that, read this:  Add only 3 cups of the flour.  The extra flour may be used to thicken up the dough, but it’s almost impossible to add water a dry dough.  You can add flour to a slack dough though.

Stir this all together, either with your hands, dough hook, or a dough scraper (what I used).

Turn onto a clean, lightly floured  counter and knead for 5-10 minutes.  Add the excess flour if the dough is sticking to your hands or the counter.  Only add it if you need it.  Don’t know how to knead? Here’s a video to show you the basics of kneading.  You don’t need to put lots of pressure on your dough (no pounding, hitting, etc. needed).  After about 5-10 minutes, your dough will have come together.  If you push a finger into the dough, the dough should spring back (meaning the gluten has formed a tight network).  Here’s my nicely formed dough.  

Put the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for 2 hours until doubled in size.  I let mine rise for 1 hour and then put in the fridge overnight completing Day 1.  Stay tuned for day 2.

Recipe (complete): Harvest Apple Challah

Recipe from King Arthur Flour

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