Challah is Jewish celebratory bread. I was smitten by the sheer beauty of it, the very first time I saw it. It is either braided or coiled like a turban to make it look pretty. I did a six strand braid while my 17 year old stood by me guiding me through the braiding, which is really simple once you get the hang of it. Took me back to my art and craft class at school and was great fun to do!
The other I made is a turban shaped one with a layering of apple butter. This one is almost like a sweet pastry. I made the apple butter at home from scratch and we love it as a bread spread too! The turban shaped Challah is often made at the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah. The circular shape symbolizes the year’s cyclic nature says The Kitchn,where I have adapted the recipe for the apple butter challah from.
Peter Reinhart’s amazing treatise on baking is my constant companion and a lot of this bread comes from there too.
I used the measures below to make a round turban challah and a six strand braid.
Apple Butter Challah
All purpose flour/Maida- 5 cups
Salt- 2 tsp
Instant Yeast- 1 tsp
Warm water- ½ cup
Sugar- 1/3 cup plus 1 tsp
Oil- ¼ cup (I used sunflower oil)
Apple Butter- ½ cup
Apple, peeled and chopped fine- 1
Orange Juice- ½ cup
Raisins- ¼ cup
Soak the raisins in the orange juice for a couple of hours.
Prove the yeast by mixing it in ½ cup of warm water and a tsp of sugar. Let it sit for about 10 minutes till it foams well.
Mix flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
Mix the oil, two eggs and the honey. Give this a stir and add to the yeast mixture.
Add the orange juice and the soaked raisins.
Add this to the flour mix and stir till all comes together to form a ball.
Knead well for 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle a little flour in case the dough is too sticky. Add a little water in case the dough is too dry. Knead to get soft and supple dough.
Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Cover and let rise for 1-2 hours till it doubles.
Gently punch the dough down and divide into two.
Roll out one part to a rectangle about 1/8 inches thick.
Spread apple butter generously and top with the chopped apple.
Roll the rectangle, taking care to seal the edges. Gently pull the sides to elongate it to a 24 inches rope.
Coil it to form a turban like shape.
Transfer to a greased baking pan (I uses a 9inch pan) .
Whisk the remaining one egg and brush the Challah. Store the remaining egg wash in the refrigerator.
Leave to rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven at 180C for 15 minutes.
Just before putting the Challah into the oven, brush it again with egg wash.
Bake at 180C till cooked through and deeply browned all over. It took me 45 minutes.
Let cool before slicing.
For the Six strand braid
Divide the remaining dough into 6 strands.
Bunch the ends together at the top.
Starting from the right, bring one strand over two strands; slip it under one strand and again over the remaining two.
Again, starting with the right –repeat.
Continue this till the braid forms.
Brush with egg wash and rest for 30 minutes.
Pre heat the oven at 180C for 15 minutes.
Brush again with egg wash and bake for 40-45 minutes.
This is a sweet and spicy spread and contrary to its name has no butter. It is called so because of its smooth buttery texture. I have adapted the recipe from Simply Recipes.
Apples, quartered- 5-6
Water- 2-3 cups
Vinegar- 2-3 Tbsp (I used white vinegar. Apple cider is what the original recipe says but I didn’t have any)
Salt- ½ tsp
Sugar- 2 cups (use in ratio with the pulp- see recipe)
Black pepper- ¼ tsp
Garam Masala- ½ tsp
Cinnamon powder- 1 tsp
Ground cloves- ¼ tsp
Grated rind and juice of one lemon
Wash and cut the apples. Do not peel or core them.
Put the apples with water and vinegar in a heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil and cover and cook on low heat for twenty minutes.
Cool and mash with the back of a ladle and run through a sieve.
Measure the pump and add ½ cup of sugar for each cup of pulp. Add the salt, cinnamon powder, clove powder, black pepper, lemon juice and rind and Garam masala. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Cook the mixture in a wide mouthed, heavy bottomed pan or kadhai and keep stirring.
Mine took about 40 minutes to get done. I kept the heat high and kept stirring to avoid scalding, taking care to scrape the bottom of the vessel. To check if it is done, spoon a bit on to a chilled steel plate. Chill the plate in the freezer for ten odd minutes before you check.