A traditional Apple cake for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, celebrated in 2012 from sundown on September 16 to nightfall on September 18. The Hebrew date for Rosh Hashanah is 1 Tishrei 5773.
- ½ c. lukewarm water
- 6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- ¼ c. honey
- 2 large eggs
- 4 c. (17 oz.) all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. instant yeast
- 2 medium-to-large apples (Macintosh, Jonamac or Northern Spy varieties preferred), peeled, cored and diced into ¾-inch chunks
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ c. granulated sugar
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. water
Apple chunks and cinnamon
Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix. Knead them — by hand, mixer or bread machine — until you have a soft, smooth dough.
Allow the dough to rise, covered, for two hours, or until it’s puffy and nearly doubled in bulk. If you’ve made the dough in a bread machine, allow it to rise in the machine for an extra hour after the dough cycle is completed.
Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan that’s at least 2 inches deep, or grease a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan. In a bowl, toss the apple chunks with the sugar and cinnamon.
Gently deflate the dough, transfer it to a lightly greased work surface and flatten it into a rough rectangle, about 8 inches by 10 inches. Spread half the apple chunks in the center of the dough. Fold a short edge of the dough over the apple mixture — as if you were making the first fold of a letter, with the apples enclosed inside — patting firmly to seal the apples and spread the dough a bit. Spread the remaining apple mixture atop the folded-over dough. Cover the apples with the other side of the dough (as if you were making the second fold of a letter), again patting firmly.
Now, take a knife
Take a bench knife or a regular knife, or even a pair of scissors, and cut the apple-filled dough into 16 pieces by cutting in half, then cutting each half in halves, etc. Don’t stress about making all the pieces the same size.
Lay the dough chunks into the pan; crowd them so that they all fit in a single layer (barely). Lots of apple chunks will fall out during this process; just tuck them in among the dough pieces, or simply spread them on top. Cover the challah gently with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow it to rise for about one hour until it’s a generous 2 inches high. It should just crest the rim of a 9-inch round cake pan. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Whisk an egg
Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush the dough with the egg mixture. Place the bread in the lower third of the oven. Bake it for 55 minutes, or until the top is at least light brown all over, with no white spots. Some of the higher-rising pieces will actually char; that’s OK.
Remove the challah from the oven, and after five minutes, loosen the edges and carefully transfer it to a rack. Serve the bread hot, warm or at room temperature. Drizzle with honey just before serving, if desired, or serve with honey for dipping.