Tasty vegan challah dough is wrapped around delicious spiced apple filling to create sensational Rosh Hashanah challah! Plus 3 beautiful ways to shape it.
Rosh Hashanah challah differs from standard Shabbat challah mostly by its shape. During the rest of the year, challah tends to be either a plait (braid) or a tin-loaf. Or sometimes a plaited tin-loaf. However, on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, challah is invariably round.
Round and round
The round shape is said to represent the cycle of the year. It is also plump and generous, expressing our wishes for a year full of good things.
The most usual round ‘style’ is a simple coil, sometimes referred to as a ‘turban challah’. However there are also complex plaiting techniques to create a round braid. There are numerous instructions for this pinned to my Rosh Hashanah Pinterest board, so why not have a look? There are lots of other great recipes and ideas there too.
Sweet and delicious
Rosh Hashanah challah is often also sweeter than regular ‘year round’ challah. It often includes dried fruit such as raisins, honey, and warming spices. I decided to create a spiced apple swirl in my Rosh Hashanah challah, as apples are so traditional for the festival. I didn’t make this dough too sweet though, since the challah will be slathered in honey before eating!
I used a variation on my standard vegan semi-wholewheat challah dough, then made a simple filling of finely diced apple mixed with flour, sugar and spice.
I shape my challah in three different ways. They are the classic ‘turban’ (coil), the ‘rose’ and – my personal favourite – ‘Chelsea bun’. All three start out as a Swiss roll (jelly roll) of challah dough around the apple filling.
You can roll the dough out with a rolling pin, but I prefer to stretch and pat and encourage. It takes a bit longer, but seems altogether gentler, and the dough is less likely to shrink annoying back once you’ve flattened it out.
Fruity and sweet
I’ve been eating this Rosh Hashanah challah for breakfast for the last few days and I’m really enjoying it. Fruity, warmly spiced, sweet without being overly so. I considered glazing the loaves with something sugary but in the end decided for a natural, naked finish. That way, you can drizzle over as much honey as you like without feeling like you’re gilding the lily.
Whichever shape you go for, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this delicious spiced apple Rosh Hashanah challah.
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Spiced apple challah
- 500 g white bread flour (4 cups)
- 250 g wholemeal bread flour (2 cups)
- 400 ml 'hand-hot' water (13 ½ fl oz)
- 75 g golden caster sugar (⅓ cup)
- 20 g dry yeast (approx. 1 ½ tbsp)
- 100 ml vegetable oil (scant ½ cup)
- Beaten egg, milk, or milk-substitute to glaze (optional)
For the filling
- 2 large apples
- 3 tbsp light brown sugar
- 2 tsbp flour
- 1 tbsp mixed spice (or use the sweet spice blend of your choice)
- Mix the flours in a bowl and set aside.
- Mix 50ml (2 fl oz) of the water with 1 tbsp of the sugar and the yeast. Stir well to dissolve, then set aside while the yeast begins to activate.
- In a stand mixer with the dough hook fitted, mix the remaining water and sugar with the oil and half the flour.
- Once the yeast mixture is foaming, add to the bowl and mix well. Gradually incorporate the remaining flour. The dough should leave the sides of the bowl clean.
- Leave the mixer on a low setting to knead the dough for around 10 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Turn out the dough, shape into a ball and roll in a little oil. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with cling-film or a tea towel. Leave in a warm place to rise for around 45 minutes - 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Peel and core the apples and cut into 4-5mm (¼ inch) dice. Place in a bowl and toss with the flour, sugar and spice to coat. Set aside.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch down and remove from the bowl. Knead briefly on a lightly floured surface and divide into three equal pieces.
- Flatten out each piece to a rectangle approximately 15cm x 40cm (6 x 16 inches). It will be quite thin, so be careful to avoid tearing the dough.
- Spread a third of the apple mixture over each piece, then roll up from the long side. Roll into a coil or your preferred shape (see below). Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and set aside to rise for 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Brush the challah with an egg wash, milk, or a milk-substitute - I used oat milk - or leave 'bare'. Bake for 25-35 minutes until golden brown and gorgeous!
- Allow to cool on wire racks. Serve warm or cold. (The challah can also be baked in advance and frozen.)
To make a 'rose' challah
- Roll up the dough around the filling. Carefully cut the roll in half lengthwise, then twist the two halves together. Roll the twist into a coil, then place on an oiled baking sheet. Allow to rise for 20-30 minutes, then glaze and bake as above. Warning - once cut the layers of dough and filling will have a tendency to separate, so handle very carefully!
To make 'chelsea bun' challah
- Roll up the dough around the filling. Slice the roll into 3cm (1½ inch) pieces, and arrange in an oiled 20cm (8 inch) round baking tin. Leave space between the slices as they will expand as they rise. Allow to rise for 20-30 minutes, then glaze and bake as above.
Below you can see the stages of filling, rolling and twisting, ready to coil into a ‘rose challah’.
The three finished loaves!
For more Rosh Hashanah recipes take a look at this epic list of over 80 recipes featuring traditional ingredients. You might also enjoy a sticky honey cake, vegan spiced apple cupcakes, Devon apple cake with honey crumble, or vegan apple and pomegranate jelly.
I’m entering this Rosh Hashanah challah recipe into the apple season link-up hosted by United Cakedom. I’m also adding it to the Bready Steady Go link-up hosted by Jen at Jen’s Food and Michelle at Utterly Scrummy.