Easy Apple Challah Recipe For The First Day of Rosh Hashanah

Monday, October 3, 2016

When I was a teenager, I attended and moved into my former high school, an all-girl boarding school located in Outremont, a predominantly Jewish community where I had the opportunity to learn about traditional desserts for many religious celebrations. So each year, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, I try to make time to bake a few sweet treats for my closest friends who are celebrating the holiday with their families. I think Rosh Hashanah desserts are the best way to end a meal and constitute a blessing for the Jewish New Year!

Yesterday night began the holiday on which, it’s a tradition to eat apples and honey as a way of wishing for a sweet new year. One of my favourite Rosh Hashanah recipe is by far my Apple Challah, a delicious and sweet hybrid of fluffy, airy cake and soft, tender bread seasoned with sesame and cinnamon. And, even if you’re not celebrating the holiday this week, this recipe is perfect for Fall, when apples are in their peak season!

Serving: Makes 1 challah, plenty enough for 8-10 guests !


- 1 cup warm water
- 2 1/4 tsp. dry active yeast
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup + tsp. white sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 drop of sesame oil (a “smidge”, to be technical)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 large granny smith apple, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. raw sugar for topping


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Add the warm water, yeast and 1 tsp. of sugar to a large mixing bowl. Stir briefly until yeast is dissolved. Wait 10 minutes until the mixture has a foamy layer on top. Add 2 eggs, 1/3 cup of sugar, salt, canola oil, and sesame oil. Mix well.

Editor's note: You can’t clearly taste the sesame oil in the challah, but it adds a hidden delicious flavor!

Add 3 3/4 cups of flour gradually while mixing until a dough forms. When the dough is too dense to mix with a spoon, use your hands. After all the flour is mixed in, knead the dough for 10 mins. Use the 1/4 cup flour left to dust the dough while kneading. It should be a bit wet and sticky. Don’t over-flour it.

Place in a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Place in a warm area in your kitchen. Let rise for at least 1 hour or until double in size. After the dough has doubled in size, knock it down with your hands to release the air bubbles. Time for the second rise. Let rise for 1 more hour.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle until dough is a 1/4 inch thick. If the dough is too tough to work with, let it rest for 10 minutes then try again. The length of the rectangle should be slightly more than the width. You can trim off extra dough to make it a rectangle.

Place a line of apple slices 1/3 of the way from the bottom of the rectangle (see picture above). There should be enough space below the apples to fold the dough over them. Sprinkle 1 tbsp. of sugar and 1/3 tsp. cinnamon over the apples. Fold the dough over and repeat two more times.

Editor's note: There may only be enough space for 2 rows of apples, and that’s okay. If there is any extra dough at the top, fold it over the rest of the roll.

Cut the roll into 8 sections. Place each section in a greased bundt pan with the sides facing up & down (see picture below). Place an apple slice between each section. Baste with egg and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Let rest 15 mins then bake for 30-35 minutes on middle oven rack, or until top is golden to your liking.

Editor's note: If you have a thermometer, the challah is ready when the inside hits 185°F!

Photo credits:  Jewlishious©,  Tori Avey© & Cupcake Project©

Here's to the sweetest year yet. Happy Rosh Hashanah!

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