Harvest Apple Challah Bread (Day 2)

Does your bread look nice and puffy yet?  Ready for the next step?

First, take out your dough from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.  Or if you left your bread on the counter for a few hours, you’re ready for the next step.

See how when I push my finger into the dough, it leaves a permanent indentation, that means it has risen fully.

Grease a 9″ round cake pan that’s at least 2″ deep.  You’re going to want those 2 inches when it’s baking.  Also (on a totally different note), I can never remember whether ‘ or ” is inches.  Who came up with this system because it makes no sense.  I got to use my delightful silicon, flexible pans.

Chop up the apples into bite-size pieces.  Toss the apple chunks with cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.  I got help from my friend Caroline in chopping up the apples.

Remove your dough from the bowl, and transfer it to a lightly greased or lightly floured work surface.  Gently deflate the dough.  Flatten the dough into a rough rectangle, about 8 inches by  10 inches (notice I didn’t use “).

I had two batches of dough, so I first divided mine in two.  Put half of the apple mixture into the center of the dough.

Fold 1/3 of the dough over the apples.Put the rest of the apples on top of the apple mound you have. Yes, the apples will want to defy you and go every which way, be in charge. Tell them who’s boss.  

Fold the other third of dough over top.

You now have a little package of deliciousness.

Now comes the fun part.  Cut your blob of dough and apples down the middle (hotdog style, did you learn that in elementary school ,too? hotdog and hamburger folds, well if you didn’t you must have gone to some crazy school). Here’s a picture if you have no idea what I’m talking about, and think I’m slightly crazy.  Makes me think of surgery.

Keep making cuts, the other way so you get squares of dough.  Cut it in half, then cut those pieces in half.

Keep cutting until you have 16 separate pieces.  Put these pieces into your prepared pan.

You will have to squeeze the pieces together to get them all to fit.  Things will fall out, fingers will get messy, apples will be flying all over the place.  Work with it. Just put the pieces back together.

Now we wait.  Let the dough rise covered  until it crests over the pan for about 1 hour.

See that beautiful dough rise.  Now you’re ready for the oven. Preheat the oven to 325˚F.

Want that nice golden color on the top of your bread?  The key to that is an egg wash.  Mix together an egg and 1 tablespoon of water.  

Brush your bread with these tasty looking mixture.

Bake in the lower third of the oven (this is so the dough cooks nicely without burning) for 55 minutes until the entire top of the dough is lightly brown.  This is so the inside gets cooked too.

Now, enjoy!  Eat it warm with a tall glass of apple cider.

 

Recipe: Harvest Apple Challah

 

 

 

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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