It’s been a little over a year since I started keeping bees.
As I explained in this post back in July of 2011, I knew it was going to be a while before we’d be able to harvest honey from our hive. The bees need to have a good stash to get them through the winters, so it’s not right to take what they require to survive. I thought we might have to wait until next year, so I was pretty ecstatic when my bee “guru” Chris determined it was fine to pull out a few frames last week.
What you see here is honeycomb the bees have built on the frames capped with wax.
Beekeepers who have a lot of frames to deal with would use a machine called a honey extractor to separate the honey from the comb. Since I only had the two frames for now, I sliced off big chunks of the comb with a knife…
…and placed them into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. I then pressed each chunk down hard with a layer of parchment between the comb and my hands in an effort to not end up all sticky (but I still ended up all sticky), and the honey drained away from the wax into the bowl.
It was a somewhat tedious and rather messy experience, and the honey’s not 100% wax-free, but I ended up with a substantial amount of dark, intensely flavored honey and I could not be happier.
With the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah upon us, I decided to use some of my honey in a challah. I make challah with eggs from my chickens, and I loved this recipe I made last year. I adapted the recipe just slightly by adding 1 cup peeled, chopped local apple, 1/2 cup of organic raisins, an additional 2 tablespoons of honey, and a bit of extra flour to the dough (I also omitted the sesame seeds on top as I didn’t think they meshed with the sweeter bread). This loaf came out really beautifully- absolutely giant- and it was perfect for our holiday dinner: a sweet bread to symbolize a sweet New Year to come!
If you make the recipe, be prepared for a huge challah. We ate about a quarter of it with our Rosh Hashanah dinner, and we’re enjoying another quarter of it with breakfasts this week. I froze the other half in anticipation of challah French toast in the future…it’s my favorite way to use leftovers of this eggy bread. Next time I make this, I might add more apple and raisins. Because it’s such a big loaf, the amount I used is pretty well dispersed. I personally wouldn’t mind more bites of the fruit, but my family thought it was perfect as is.
More Challah Inspiration:
Cinnamon Apple Raisin Challah from King Arthur Flour
Fig, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Challah from Smitten Kitchen
Chocolate Chunk and Sea Salt Challah from Sassy Radish
Honey Challah from Farm Girl Gourmet
Challah from Food Wanderings