Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shana Tova u'Metukah

May the new year bring you sweetness, joy, and only good things. Shana Tova from our bayit to yours :)



Monday, September 26, 2011


Oh. Em. Gee.  You guys.  My order from King Arthur Flour arrived today.  I am. So. Excited.

My sweet, sweet mother-in-law gave me a gift card for my birthday back in June, and I haven't spent it until last week when KAF had a big $3 shipping deal.  I splurged.  Here's what I purchased (and I still have a bit more on my card!)  The descriptions are from their website.

Unbleached Bread Flour - King Arthur’s unbleached, unbromated, high-gluten bread flour, milled from hard red spring wheat grown chiefly in the Dakotas, is perfect for yeasted baked goods-bread, rolls, pizza, and more.

Unbleached All Purpose Flour - - King Arthur unbleached, unbromated all-purpose flour (11.7% protein) is your very best friend in the kitchen.

European-Style Artisan Bread Flour - Ideal for your favorite French and Italian loaves, King Arthur's Artisan Bread Flour is the style of medium-protein flour French and Italian bakers use for their signature hearth breads.

Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour - Sprouted wheat is the best way to access the grain’s nutritional benefits. As the wheat berry grows, vitamins are formed that greatly enhance the nutrition and digestibility of the wheat. Sprouted berries are dried, then ground into flour.

Organic Kamut Flour - Discover the goodness of ancient grains. This Egyptian relative of wheat, now cultivated in North America, adds fiber, protein, and a slightly sweet taste to all your baking.

Caramel Bits - Creamy bits mix and melt easily in cakes, cookies, and muffins to create rivulets of gooey goodness.

Buttery Sweet Dough - There's a particular flavor to the Danish, sweet rolls and coffeecakes you get at the store. Is it a hint of vanilla, or butter, or...? Add a few drops of this flavoring to your favorite sweet bread recipe, and your family and friends will be clamoring for the name of the bakery you visited.

Please Note: I was not paid anything and did not receive anything for writing this post.  KAF doesn't even know I'm writing it.  I'm just really excited to start my baking with my new ingredients!

Rosh HaShanah Test Kitchen: Braided Round Challah


Wow, I'm all sorts of behind on posting, so I do apologize. I have a new job as my synagogue's youth advisor, and we had our first program on Sunday. That combined with S'lichot on Saturday night prevented my postings! How is YOUR high holiday preparation going?

Here's how I do the round braided challah. Someone recently posted this link on facebook, which is the same as what I do, only I don't do that last flipping step. I hadn't seen that link until I started this tutorial, so please feel free to click on it and use it.

The braided round challah is really easy. If you can braid three-strand braids or hair, then you can do this braid.

Step One - Lay out four strands of challah thus... the longer they are, they more braids you'll do.

Step Two - Bring every other strand over the one to it's counterclockwise. (B over A, D over C, etc). Alternatively, you could start clockwise (you'll see why in Step Three).

Step Three - Now, reverse, go clockwise instead of counterclockwise.

Step Four - Repeat counterclockwise again.

Step Five - Tuck all your ends under. Here's where many other tutorials say to bunch up and flip, but I was too scared, so I didn't, and I like the way it looks unflipped.

Note: I find I sometimes am needing to bake the round braids a bit longer than I usually would (sometimes foiling to prevent over-browning) because the centers still seem a bit doughy and don't reach 180/190 degrees.  I add time in 3-5 minute increments.



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rosh HaShanah Test Kitchen: Bird-Shaped Challah

Did you see this article in The Jewish Daily Forward?  Here's my bird!  What a fun and meaningful idea for Rosh HaShanah :)
Traditionally, some Ashkenazim formed other edible symbols out of the dough — things like crowns, which represented God’s majesty; ladders (a shape also commonly eaten before the Yom Kippur fast) to represent Moses’ ascent on Mount Sinai and our collective spiritual ascent throughout the holiday season; and, my favorite, birds.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rosh HaShanah Test Kitchen: iChallah - Apple through and through

So, I think this might be my new favorite, master recipe for Rosh Hashanah. In contrast to Stuffed Apple, this challah has apple mixed right into the dough. Use any type of challah you like (though I would recommend white over whole wheat flour). I used my Half Batch. Just before braiding mix together...
Roll-sized. :)

1 apple, peeled, and diced into small pieces (about 1/4 inch) - I used Fuji
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp cinnamon (depending on your preference)
pinch of nutmeg

Now, unlike the stuffed apple challah, you're going to knead this right into the dough, a la chocolate chips. It's sticky, somewhat messy business, so have some extra flour on hand to knead in as necessary. What I love about this method is that the apples get incorporated throughout, so each bite has one. Plus, the whole dough becomes cinnamon scented, which is absolutely wonderful. Egg wash and top with cinnamon sugar if you like. Bake as normal.
Talk about a sweet new year :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rosh HaShanah Test Kitchen: Stuffed Apple Challah

We've made Apple Cinnamon Challah before, but the method has never been completely finalized. This past Shabbat, I experimented with two different methods for apples-in-challah. This version uses my stuff-and-roll method which we've also used for Almond Cinnamon Sugar Challah. It's definitely a bit tougher with apples because there's a lot more air to be squished out. I asked The Hazz about this while rolling, and he said he usually tries to get most of the air out as possible. With this method, don't try to be perfect. One thing I love about challah is that it's perfect no matter what so if the apples leak out a bit during baking, who cares? It just means more oozy goodness for you.
Use any type of challah you like (though I would recommend white over whole wheat flour). I used my Half Batch. Just before braiding/coiling (this method works better with coil that braids, so that's why we usually save it for Rosh Hashanah) mix together...

1 apple, peeled, and diced into small pieces (about 1/4 inch) - I used Fuji
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp cinnamon (depending on your preference)
pinch of nutmeg

Using a rolling pin, roll a long flat, somewhat narrow (about 6 inches wide by a good foot and a half long) piece.  Fill with apples as below.

apple1 apple2
Bonus points to anyone who can name the movie I was watching while doing this... best. movie. ever.

After filling, roll together and seal, adding extra flour if necessary. Coil from one side around. Egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if you like. Bake as normal, keeping in mind you may need a bit of extra time with some foil on top of the loaves to prevent too much browning while the gooey center gets completely baked. I needed about 8 extra minutes, but your oven may vary so check every 3-5. Happy baking.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rosh Hashanah Test Kitchen: Pumpkin Challah

Make sure to read the updated version of Pumpkin Challah here! 

We've actually made pumpkin challah before, though I've never blogged about it because we hadn't quite finalized the recipe. I'm in a fall mood with cool, tights-wearing weather, spicy foods, and the first of the early turning leaves. This past Friday, I had no commitments, so what better than a Rosh Hashanah Test Kitchen. Three families (plus us!) were the lucky winners of "Take some of my challah off my hands!

And now, I bring you Pumpkin Challah. I'm thinking this more of a Sukkot food, but heck, it seems great for Rosh Hashanah as well, especially with squash soups and herby chicken.
3/4 c water
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1/4 c vegetable oil
3/4 c canned pumpkin
3-4 c flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon* *see note in recipe
pinch cloves
pinch nutmeg

(make sure you check the updated ingredient list!)

Mix water together with yeast and honey. Allow to rest for around 10 minutes or until yeast creates little eruptions. Add oil and pumpkin to yeast mixture and stir gently. Add flour and spices. (Note: Honestly, this challah was great, but I think it could stand a bit more sweetness. My friends who reviewed the loaves liked it, but they added jam on Shabbat morning. If you're planning on eating it plain, I would double the cinnamon content or perhaps add more honey/sugar. Knead by hand or with a stand mixer. Let dough rest in an oiled bowl until doubled in bulk

Punch down. Braid and let rest for additional half hour. Egg wash (I sprinkled a little cinnamon sugar on with the egg wash). This recipe yielded two smallish 5-strand braids and one round braid. (I'll post a how-to on the round braid next week.)

Bake at 350 for around 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 180-200 degrees.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Rosh Hashanah Test Kitchen

Lots of practice loaves this week means THREE NEW RECIPES coming after Shabbat. Stay tuned and Shabbat Shalom :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

PB&J Challah - DON'T DO IT!

So, I'm going to preface this whole post with three words.  DON'T DO IT!  No, well, that's not very nice.  Give it a shot.  Try it out.  Really, maybe you won't be as uber-disappointed as I was in the end result.  Because PB&J Challah was such an "eh..." I've put off the post.  I wasn't excited about the post because I was so unexcited about the end result of the bread.

In theory, it should be great, right?  We've done stuffed challah for Nutella, and the whole peanut butter-in-the-dough challah is tasty but really dry.  So, I combined the two ideas.  Three-stranded braid.  One peanut butter filled, one jelly filled, one just bread.
pbj2 pbj1
First of all, jelly = epic fail.  Maaaaaybe jam would work?  Maybe just fruit filled?  I don't know, but I ended up yelling to The Hazz in the living, "Help!" and having a goopy messy of fruity blob (descriptive, no?).   The peanut butter went in well.  But the baking result was so aaaaaaverage.  The peanut butter sort of turned into hard crusty... peanut butter crust?  The jelly disappeared almost entirely (I have no idea where it went) and the overall dough flavor was just off as a result.
It looks pretty but it was soooo blah!
I'm pretty sure PB&J Challah can be done.  I've seen mention of it on other websites, but never a method.  So, just DON'T DO IT!  (If you by some stroke of magic figure it out, by all means email me and you'll get a guest post FOR SURE!)

Shavua Tov, Chaverim!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Shavua Tov!

I've got a post in the works for you, but The Hazz and The Mrs. are going on a date to the movies tonight, so it'll have to wait until tomorrow.

In the meantime, hop on over to check out a few beautiful versions of the Croatian Star that I've been meaning to link up...

Chaviva @ The Kvetching Editor

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Also, LeighAnn made Nutella Challah, which never gets old.