Cinnamon-Apple Raisin Challah: sweet circle of life

Happy Rosh Hashanah! Have you made your challah yet?

Challah is typically made as a long, braided loaf, its crust a shiny golden brown from a glaze of beaten egg applied before baking.

But Rosh Hashanah challah, which celebrates the Jewish new year, often appears in a spiral — signifying the circle of life.

This particular challah is studded with fresh apple and raisins, and rolled in an aromatic coating of cinnamon-sugar — autumn flavors to complement the September Rosh Hashanah holiday.

Don’t observe Rosh Hashanah? Try this challah anyway. You can never go wrong with apples, cinnamon, and raisins, right?

Did you know that by clicking anywhere on this block of pictures, you can enlarge them to full size? Go ahead, give it a try; it’ll work for any of our photos.

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

1/2 cup lukewarm water
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey
4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons instant yeast, SAF Gold instant yeast preferred*
3/4 cup raisins, regular, golden, or a mixture
3/4 cup diced apple (1/2″ cubes); leave the skin on, if you like

*If you use regular (SAF Red) instant yeast, you’ll see an increase in your rising times.

Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead them, by hand, mixer, or bread machine, until you have a soft, smooth dough (as pictured at top, above).

Allow the dough to rise, covered, for about 1 to 2 hours (or more, if you don’t use SAF Gold yeast), or until it’s puffy, though not necessarily doubled in bulk. An 8-cup measure is a handy tool for tracking the dough’s rise.

Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.

Pat and roll the dough into a 36″ rope, tapering one end. Poke any raisins or apple bits sticking out of the dough back underneath the dough’s surface; this will help prevent them from burning in the oven.

Sprinkle the dough with cinnamon-sugar, rolling it around to coat as completely as possible.

Starting with the tapered end, coil the rope loosely into a lightly greased 9″ round cake pan, starting at the center and working outwards. Scrape any extra cinnamon-sugar off the counter, and sprinkle it atop the coiled dough.

Cover the loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap (or place it in a proof box), and let it rise until it’s very puffy, 60 to 90 minutes.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Whisk together 1 large egg white and 1 tablespoon water, and brush this glaze over the risen loaf.

Sprinkle with additional cinnamon-sugar, if desired.

Place the cake pan atop a baking sheet; this will insulate the bread’s bottom crust, and keep it from browning too much.

Put the challah in the lower third of the oven, and bake it for 20 minutes.

Tent the challah loosely with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 18 to 22 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown.

An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register 200°F or above.

Remove the bread from the oven, carefully turn it out of the pan, and place it on a rack to cool.

For best results, wait until the bread is completely cool before slicing.

Oh, and if there are any leftovers, consider apple-cinnamon raisin French toast; nothing could be finer.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Cinnamon-Apple Raisin Challah.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. lauried

    PJ, I love you! At every holiday, you give us wonderful new recipes to try. I already made my challah for Rosh Hashanah, but I’m going to try this for our post Yom Kippur break-the-fast dinner. Thank you!
    We love her too! She has some great ones, doesn’t she? Elisabeth

    Reply
  2. AnneInWA

    OH BOY does this look wonderful! I am going to start this right now! This will make delicious french toast, and can you imagine a grilled cheese with sharp cheddar? I think I will have to make two, one for breakfast and another for dinner! I am used to seeing challah in a braided form, will this dough work for braids as well?

    Thanks PJ!
    This dough is slightly stickier than a traditional challah, so you may find it a little more difficult to work with to form a braid (use oil to grease your hands and work surface instead of flour), but I think it would work fine as a braid. If you try it, let us know how it goes! ~Mel

    Reply
  3. AnneInWA

    I made two loaves today. One I made just as the instructions said, and the other I braided. The braided one was messy! I added quite a bit more flour to it in order to braid the dough. I used one of the loaves to make a bread pudding, and then I made a caramel sauce to go on top, which of course was topped off with a bit of homemade vanilla ice cream. It was wonderful! I think when I make this again for bread pudding, I will add some nutmeg to the dough. This was a wonderful treat, and it was devoured by my whole gang! Thanks again!

    Reply
  4. Kathe in IL

    Yum! Made this for a friend for Rosh Hashanah. We shared it this evening and the whole thing was gone in about 10 minutes. Much easier than I expected and the taste really delivered. Thanks!

    Maybe you can tell me of its ok to add nuts?
    Kathe
    Sure! Go ahead and knead the nuts in after the first rise, Kathe. ~Amy

    Reply
  5. fransbaking

    This bread came out superb. Everyone says it is the best bread I have ever made. It looks exactly like the pictures and was light and fluffy. I didn’t have apples and raisins on hand so I diced up a fresh pear and some dried cranberry /blueberry blend . It was super easy and I would give it 5 stars. I had the special yeast on hand and I wonder if that is what gave it such volume and flavor. Loved it.

    Reply
  6. Charlene S.

    Made this bread yesterday– absolutely fabulous recipe!! Rose beautifully with regular yeast and is picture perfect. Couple questions– I made the dough in my Zo bread machine, added the chopped apples and raisins “at the beep” and for a few heartstopping minutes, the raisins and apples turned “slushy.” I had to sprinkle with flour to get the correct dough consistency back. Bread still turned out great but should I add raisins/apples at the beginning to prevent this? Also, only apple I had was a Red Delicious and it seemed to disappear into the finished bread– result of the slush incident or just the general Red Delicious lack of flavor issue?
    (And by the way– even though it may not sound that way, I will be making this recipe often– french toast would be great, if I can keep any of it long enough to get to that stage!)

    Charlene, I’d suggest you use a harder/crisper apple; Delicious can be soft and grainy sometimes. And adding it at the beep should be fine; adding it sooner would only worsen things… Glad you liked it despite the “disappearing” Delicious! 🙂 PJH

    Reply
  7. "Lisa Cornely"

    I made this challah over the weekend. It turned out wonderful. I used it for French toast with cinnamon syrup and it was amazing. Thanks for the recipe and the beautiful step by step photos.

    I’m glad you had such success with our challah recipe. Happy Baking!-JDB

    Reply
  8. suellen

    In this recipe you say that a thermometer should read 200 degrees or above. I am an experienced bread baker and, in fact, teach bread baking classes. My breads are always ready at 190 degrees and never underdone at that temp, including this wonderful, delicious challah. Any idea why the difference? And thanks for such a great recipe.
    With heavier breads like sourdoughs, challah etc. we like to bake to 200°F to ensure that the centers are completely baked through and the internal structure of the bread is set. If you’re good with 190°F, no need to change what has been working for you. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. Fara

    I just made this dough. It did not turn into a soft dough. Is this normal? I used the 1/2 cup warm water. Did I probably need more ?Also, the other day I made the “no knead focaccia” and the dough was very soft and the focaccia was out of this world! So can I say that soft dough breads taste better than hard dough breads? I am sorry I am pretty new in yeast bread making, that is why I asked.

    Reply
    1. Amy Trage

      Your challah dough was probably too dry. Here is a helpful video on measuring flour by volume. Bread doughs should almost always be soft and pliable. The ones with a higher hydration (like focaccia and ciabatta) tend to have a more open crumb (large holes in the interior). ~Amy

  10. jeff

    Made two challah”s with recipe everyone love it, but made the cubes too small but it was a hit anyway. everyone said it tasted better than the bakery. I also used bread flour but reduced the the amount to slightly more than 3 1/2 cups it worked out great

    Reply
  11. Madlyn Dickens

    The recipe above does not instruct when to add the raisins and apples! Must be some time before you roll it out, but information for this would be helpful.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Madlyn, you add the apples and raisins with the rest of the dough ingredients, all at the same time before mixing and kneading. The step is under the first photos, after the introduction to the recipe. The apples and raisins are listed as some of the ingredients, and the instructions say to mix and knead all of the ingredients together. I hope this helps! Bryanna@KAF

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