This month for Crazy Ingredient Challenge we are cooking with apple and basil. I had a few ideas in mind. I thought a pork dish would be perfect but ultimately settled on an apple basil challah. I had wanted to bake a challah since I made the beet bread pudding last month. The loaf that I made for that was a water challah (no eggs) so it was time to add the eggs. Plus, I love braiding loaves and I look for any excuse to practise.
This bread is not sweet. If you want a sweet challah, increase the sugar. You could even sprinkle sugar over the crust or even add sugar to the apples. I did not want a dessert challah so I didn't do that. Later, I will make French toast and can add all the sugar that my little heart desires. This is HUGE loaf - 1.08 kg. I have to get creative before it's too stale to eat as is. Right now, it's soft and fluffy and I can't stop eating it. The basil gives just the perfect background note. I probably could have used more basil and if I ever make a basil bread again, I will.
Apple Basil Challah
500g all purpose flour
7g active dry yeast
132ml water (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon)
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
89ml oil (6 tablespoons)
52g sugar (1/4 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
14 - 28 grams basil, chopped
2 apples, chopped
1 egg white
Combine all the ingredients except salt, apple, basil and egg white and knead until just combined - about 1 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes then add salt and basil. Knead dough for 6-8 minutes (in a stand mixer) until it forms a smooth tacky (but not sticky) dough.
Form the dough into a bowl and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic and let rest until doubled. This could take up to two hours but depends on the temperature of your room.
When the dough has doubled, divide it into 4 equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a roughly 9"x 2" rectangle and fill with apples. I used approximately 1/2 cup of apples per rectangle. Roll the rectangle into a tube, sealing the apples in. Keep rolling the tube until it's about 12 inches long.
Braid dough.See instructions for the 4 strand weave/round challah here.
Whisk the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water and brush over braided loaf. Allow loaf to double once more. This could take 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
When loaf has risen, brush dough with remaining egg wash. Bake loaf for 40-45 minutes or until loaf reaches 195 F.