Beni’s Round Raisin-Apple Challah
A round raisin challah symbolizes the cycle of life. This bread is more special than the braided Friday-night challah we normally eat on Shabbat because it is dipped in honey so the new year will be a sweet one. Alongside the challah, apples are also dipped in honey to be sweet for the coming year. Beni got the idea to place apples on top of the challah from his neighbor Marni, who is quite the baker!
2 packages of dry yeast dissolved in 2 cups of warm water
Pinch of sugar
3 large eggs
1 egg white (reserve yolk)
1 teaspoon salt (optional portion)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2/3 cup honey
9 cups unbleached flour
1 cup dark raisins
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 sweet red apple, peeled, cored,
thinly sliced (optional)
- Dissolve yeast in 2 cups warm (not boiling) water or use a food thermometer to around 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Add sugar. Stir. Set aside at room temperature for 10 minutes until the liquid foams.
- Beat 3 eggs and 1 egg white. (Reserve yolk for later.) Add salt, oil, and honey to mixture and continue beating.
- Put flour in large bowl. Indent center, making a well with your fist. Gradually add yeast mixture to flour, stirring center with a wooden spoon until it is fully absorbed. Stir in liquid from Step 2.
- Mix by hand. Fold in raisins and cinnamon. (Sprinkle lightly with flour if dough is sticky.) When dough is smooth, place in a greased bowl. Cover with a dish towel. Keep in warm spot for 1 – 2 hours. Let dough rise until it doubles in size. Punch dough down.
- Knead dough for 5 minutes on a floured board or surface until the dough tightens and is no longer sticky. Divide into 2 balls. Form each ball into a roll between your fingers to make a snakelike rope about 18 inches long. Shape circle by twisting the rope into a spiral with the end of the snake tucked under the round.
- Let dough rise again, uncovered, for 1 hour on greased baking pan or cookie sheet until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Egg wash: Gently beat the reserved egg yolk with 1 teaspoon cold water. Coat the loaves with the egg mixture using a clean, 1‑inch pastry brush. This will give the challah a golden glaze when it is baked.
- Cut circle halves of an apple into paper-thin slices with a knife or mandolin to decorate the top of challah, partially layering slice over slice.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Yield: 2 Loaves
From Beni’s Tiny Tales: Around the Year in Jewish Holidays by Jane Breskin Zalben. Reprinted by permission of Christy Ottaviano Books, an imprint of Little, Brown Young Readers/Hachette Book Group.
Jane Breskin Zalben was born in Whitestone, Queens, New York City. She went to the High School of Music & Art in Harlem, graduated Queens College with a degree in fine arts, and went on to study printmaking at the Pratt Graphics Center in Manhattan while working in publishing. She has created over fifty award-winning books for children. Her most recent picture book that she wrote and illustrated was on the Horn Book’s “Calling Caldecott” list. Currently an abstract painter, she was a former art director at Scribner’s and has taught writing, illustration, and design at the School of Visual Arts in New York City for eighteen years. Her acclaimed picture books and novels explore issues of family, friendship, self-reliance, inner strength, peace and religion, and the creative process of music and art. Her work has been exhibited in libraries, galleries, and museums. Her studio is on Long Island. She splits her time between Port Washington and Long Island City, New York cause she has ‘a thing’ with being not too far from water and nature, and yes, near major cities.