Saturday, 4 October 2008

Apple bread for a sweet new year

It was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, this week. It’s traditional to eat two particular types of food to symbolise roundness and renewal, and to confer sweetness on the year ahead: apples and honey. I seem to have been baking myself into a frenzy lately (as the frequency with which I’m having to stock up on eggs and flour attests!) and so I decided that this year I would keep it simple: slices of apple dipped in honey, just like we did when we were little. However, I didn’t count on all the wonderful-looking festive cakes and desserts which then turned up on other blogs and my resolve slipped silently away in a puddle of sweet honey.

My first slip-up was a spur of the moment muffin-baking moment on Monday, when Munchkin Granny came up to Oxford for the evening to go out for a Rosh Hashanah meal with Eco Sis and Bro and me. The Ecos had apples, they had a semi-working oven (long story) and they had something they called a set of scales but which seems to be more ornamental than useful. I subbed honey for half the sugar in a recipe for apple streusel muffins, and despite the creative guestimating with the scales they turned out fine. I think they improved overnight, or so the text I got from Eco Sis the next day suggested (‘appley appley appley appley appley appley yum!’). Technical incompetence prevents me from posting pictures, which are stuck on Munchkin Granny's camera - let's say they were perfectly formed, golden, fragrant, and beautifully photographed :)

My second festive baking venture was inspired by Ariela's post on autumn apple bread on Baking and Books, a very inspiring bread-baking blog. Ariela posted a recipe for an even richer apple and honey challah last year, but I went for the slightly less indulgent bread, partly also because it used fresh apple instead of dried. I was staying with Munchkin Granny last night before a conference in London, and came up with the lovely domestic image of turning up like a good daughter, bearing not only challah, but seasonal appley challah. I’ve never baked bread with fresh fruit in it before so that was fun, but it didn’t affect the kneading or rising of the dough. I decided to braid my dough like challah, and let it rest and bake unfettered by a tin - and it puffed up into a mad round thing! Still, it looked sort of fun and rustic like that, and lent itself to being torn rather than cut, which is how all good challah eating should happen. I made some leek, chickpea and apple soup to go with the bread once I got to Munchkin Granny's, and at the end of a long week for both of us it made a fine, simple but hearty dinner. And I think the good daughter thing went down well too, I'm happy to add.

MG tells me that the bread made very good toast the next day, though she put it under the grill rather than risk it crumbling in the toaster.

Apple challah recipe here


Ilana said...

correction: i believe the text read "yum yum yum yum yum yum appley" ;)

so sorry i missed the second installment!


Johanna said...

I'd wondered if you had been baking for rosh hashanah when I saw lots of honey posts on blogs - this bread looks delicious and I love the sound of the soup you had with it.

I have a set of ornamental scales which I love the look of and can't bear to throw away because my functional scales look so dull in comparison- but I understand they are no fun if you want to know what something weighs

Lysy said...

I'm glad you liked the sound of the soup, Johanna - it was very comforting after a long day. I just gently fried some shallots, garlic, chopped eating apple and leeks until they were soft, then added stock, a tin of chickpeas and some cold boiled potatoes Mum happened to have in the fridge, simmered for a while, and pureed it. Yum.

Eco Sis - sorry for misrepresenting you (my version would probably have been a pain to text!). I was going to drop some of the week 2 cookies off at your house on my way home but I ran out of time - sorry :(

glenisha said...

The baked bread tasted almost like an apple pie, with the sourdough tartness substituting for the lemon juice I often add to a pie.The recipe is fairly simple. The salt percentage is less than the other breads.

Search Engine Optimization