Place a ramekin of honey, for dipping, in the middle of this beautiful centrepiece challah.
Preparation: 30-40 minutes
Cooking: 35-40 minutes
● 60g dried apple rings, chopped
● 500g strong white bread flour
● 8g salt
● 10g quick yeast - I like Dove's
● 1 heaped tsp cinnamon
● 80g honey
● 80ml sunflower oil
● 1 egg plus 1 yolk , beaten
● 210 ml cooled apple tea
● 60g pecans, 6 halved, the rest chopped
● 1 egg, beaten - to glaze
● Honey to glaze
● Oil to shmear
● Put the apple rings in a bowl and add just enough water to cover.
● In a large bowl, weigh out the flour, salt, yeast and cinnamon, keeping the yeast well away from the salt and cinnamon.
● Give them a quick stir before adding the egg and yolk, honey, oil and the apple tea, then mix well with a spatula until thoroughly combined. Scrape the mixture from the side of the bowl.
● Lightly oil your hands, and on a lightly oiled work surface knead the dough - It will be sticky but manageable.
● After about 10 minutes of kneading, your silky, elastic dough will be ready to prove.
● Drizzle a little oil in a clean bowl, roll the dough in it and cover the bowl with cling film.
● Squeeze excess liquid from the apple, blot with kitchen towel then chop into small pieces.
● After an hour, the dough should have risen. Push the apple into the dough, folding it in until well distributed. Cover and leave for a further hour.
● Turn the dough onto a clean work surface shmeared lightly with oil. Lightly oil your rolling pin.
● Press the dough down, divide into 3 equal pieces and roll each piece to a long oblong. Scatter the chopped pecans down the middle of each oblong, then roll tightly, so you have 3 ropes. Press down the edge to make a seam.
● Lengthen the ropes to about
60 cms each by gently rolling, plait them and bring the ends together to make a circle, tucking one end under the other.
● Carefully slide onto baking parchment, glaze with beaten egg and cover lightly with cling film.
● Leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour and a half.
● Pre-heat oven to 180°C, then glaze the loaf again with egg and decorate with the halved pecans. Slide it onto a heated oven sheet on the middle shelf of the oven and bake.
● After 20 minutes, gently cover it with foil so it doesn't brown too quickly - it will be dark because of all the sugar. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack, then glaze with a generous tablespoon of honey mixed with a splash of hot boiled water.