Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sukkot 5773

We just barely got our sukkah up this year, so I'm so sorry no new recipes as of yet.  I'll work on one for Shabbat Sukkot!
For the first two days, we have Basic Half Batch and Pumpkin. I had about a quarter of a bag left of Trader Joe's pareve chocolate chips (boooooooo, no longer pareve), so they got added to the pumpkin this year!
Hag Sukkot Same'ah from our sukkah to yours!

Friday, September 28, 2012

View of Shabbat | Shabbat HaAzinu

Basic Small Batch and one with chocolate chips and cinnamon chips kneaded in! We still do round challot until Simchat Torah. What is your custom in YOUR home?

Friday, September 21, 2012

View of Shabbat | Shabbat Shuvah 5773

Pssst... make sure to check out our post on the history and a how-to for spiral challot.  Today, we're having a basic (with extra honey).  And The Hazz made a delicious mixed herb with olive oil... all herbs from our garden!
Shabbat Shalom from our Bayit to yours!

Rosh Hashanah 5773 | Making the Perfect Round Spiral Challah

I know, I know, Rosh Hashanah has passed, but I still put it in this title.  In our family, we make round-shaped challot all the way through Shabbat Shuvah, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah.  Personally, I think that the braided round (tutorial from last year) is really the loveliest of round challah shapes, and the Croatian star is one my most commonly hit pages here.  However, for certain recipes, the simple spiral challah is the perfect shape.

The round spiral is known by a few names, apparently.  I was surprised to read it referred to as a "turban challah," which to me brings up all sorts of funny visions of Maimonides (Rambam, Moshe ben Maimon, however you want to to call him).

Another name for the spiral is a Faigele which is Yiddish for "little bird." This website gives a good description for this name...
According to the Encyclopedia Judaica, the New Year's spiral is a shape with a Ukrainian origin, originally a bird shape with the center of the spiral culminating in a bird's head: "The bird's head symbolizes the phrase in Isaiah 31:5 'As birds hovering, so will the Lord of Hosts protect Jerusalem'" — which helps to explain why this spiral shape would be called a faigele, "little bird" in Yiddish.
Regardless of what you call it, it's lovely.  The following technique is a great way to make a really nice, smooth round challah shape.  It works equally for plain challah and for stuffed challah, so I've given you a set of pictures from both methods.

Start out with your dough on a flour surface.  With a rolling pin, roll the dough out smoothly and flat into a long, oblong rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Next, coil up the challah, trying to keep as many of the bubbles out as possible. The resulting strand should be about the size you would normally use to braid challah.
spiral05 spiral06
For a stuffed apple challah (or any filling), the process is the same, however you add your apples! I keep my apple pieces very small, flour them, and keep a consistent amount throughout the coil, which helps prevent air pockets. Also, keep them away about an inch or two from the ends to get a good seal.
spiral02 spiral03
Once you have your long strand, use your palms to length it if desired. When coiling, start by making the small central point and then switch to bring the long tail around the center (I learned this from an elderly woman at my synagogue... I'm not sure quite why, but it seems to make a more successful shape.)
If you like your round challah to be tall, keep the strands nice and tight together with each other. The result will be that, as the challah bakes, the center will be pushed up for a nice tall loaf.
Conversely, if you want your challah to be flatter, try to keep a bit of air in between the coils. The key is just a tiny bit otherwise your challah won't fuse enough. I always try to do this method, because I like my round challot flatter. Below is my crowning achievement in round challot... no other loaf has been quite as pretty as this one.  And perhaps that is the key... accepting that your challot are beautiful no matter what, even if they're a little extra tall like the one above.
Wishing you a Shabbat of rest and of peace and a very meaningful fast this Yom Kippur. From our bayit to yours.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Shanah Tovah from The Challah Blog!

From our bayit to yours, may this new year be filled with peace, blessings, and only good things.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Power of Food

I don't do this very often, but allow me a moment this Shabbat to talk about something a little more personal.  Recently, my husband and I suffered a loss of a beloved family member, my husband's father.  Truly, words cannot express what a loving, kind, devoted father, husband, and mentsch that he was.  The world has truly lost one of it's great souls.

Through it all, I am overcome by the outpouring of support and love that we have felt from our extended family, our friends, and the broader community.  Truly, the food in the shiva house overflows the freezers.  And back home, we have received so many offers for dinners and food, especially with the holidays approaching and this busy time.

While my husband remains with his mother and brothers, I spent some time today with my own mother, grateful for her love, support, and strength through this difficult time.  Together, we baked challah for Rosh HaShanah.
Thank you to all of you who have reached out to my family during this difficult time.  We'll be back to more regularly scheduled blogging after Yom Kippur.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Rosh Hashanah 5773 | Article Link: This New Year, give new life to your challah

I am thrilled and excited to have had the opportunity to share my challah journey with my local community in our city's Jewish newspaper, The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle.  Click here to read the article.
Please note: I did not receive anything for writing the article or for you making that click over.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rosh Hashanah 5773 | Pomegranate Challah & A Giveaway!!! {closed}

As I wrote about in my post on pomegranate-shaped challah, it's no secret that I love pomegranates. I have a pomegranate-shaped necklace, and our ketubah has a pomegranate on the scroll. There is a powerful symbolism around pomegranates and fertility, abundance, and the new year. Many people eat them on the second night of the holiday as their traditional "new fruit." Additionally, pomegranates supposedly contain 613 seeds, the same number as the mitzvot in the Torah.
This challah turned out to be quite a challenge, but I learned a few things in the process of making it. Besides a recipe, I'm excited to share with you the amazing way of removing the seeds from a pomegranate without staining your fingers and your clothes (no kidding, I actually wore a white shirt while seeding my pomegranate... totally clean!). Pomegranate seeds--arils--are watery, sweet, and crunchy. For some reason, I sort of expected them to change consistency in baking... which they really didn't. I had an idea that they'd become like cranberry texture. They don't. But don't let that deter you. This bread is delicious and the additions of extra aromatic spices and pomegranate juice are a fun twist.

1/2 c water
2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry or instant yeast
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp sugar or more for a sweeter challah
2 egg plus 1 more for egg wash
1/4 c neutral oil such as canola or vegetable
3 1/2 c bread flour
1 tsp salt
scant 1 tsp cinnamon
pinch ground cloves (just a pinch)
3-5 tbsp pomegranate juice (I used Trader Joe's organic)
Arils (seeds) of 1 pomegranate

Yield: 2 nice-sized round challot. You can either coil or make a braided round.

Please note, adding juice to challah may change the brakha said of this bread depending on the customs of your community. Check with your rabbinic authority for clarification on the laws of challah.

Place very warm but not boiling water in mixing bowl. Add yeast and honey, mixing lightly. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes, or until the yeast is foamy.  Add eggs and vegetable oil and mix with wood spoon.  Add the flour, salt, cinnamon, and pinch ground cloves.  At this point, your dough should be on the shaggy side because it's lacking in liquid.  Don't worry too much about this.
pomegranate01 pomegranate04
If you have a stand mixer, beat dough hook or knead by hand. Add the pomegranate juice slowly (I poured it into a glass) until a ball forms and holds together, cleaning the sides of the mixing bowl.  This dough has a lovely dark color due to the addition of the juice.  If the dough is very sticky, add more flour.
Turn the ball out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times until very smooth.  Place in oiled bowl and cover in plastic wrap or a towel.  Now you can prepare your pomegranate!  Place a piece of paper towel over your cutting board and cut open the pomegranate (the paper towel keeps those staining juices from trickling down onto you and your clothes).  Take half of the fruit and place it a bowl of water, using your hands to break out the seeds underwater.  The heavy seeds will sink to the bottom, while the membrane and skins will float.  Amazing right?  No mess!
pomegranate06 pomegranate07
When you're done, you can skim off the membrane and skin and then pour the contents of the bowl through a strainer.  Ta-da!

Allow to rise at least one hour, preferably more (usually about an hour and a half), until doubled in size.   With some extra flour ready, knead the pomegranate seeds into the dough by hand and shape as desired.  I ended up adding about 1/4 c of additional flour.

Allow to shaped loaves to rise an additional 20-30 minutes. Top with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar if desired.
pomegranate09 pomegranate10
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  Since round challot tend to be doughy in the middle, check at 20 and 25 minutes, foiling the top as necessary to prevent over browning.  The challot are ready when internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.
As I said, these challot are different. The seeds are a little juicy and a little gummy. They pop in your mouth and have a lovely tang. The spices of the bread are aromatic which I think is one of my favorite parts along with the pomegranate juice. This particular pomegranate also didn't seem quite as ripe (the seeds weren't all bright red like you sometimes get). However, I'm calling this a success. The Hazz and I enjoyed one loaf, and we're freezing the other to serve in a few weeks. I can't believe it's already the middle of Elul!

This High Holiday season, Nirbeh zchuyoteinu k'rimon, may our merits increase like the seeds of a pomegranate.

Rosh Hashanah Blogger Party & Giveaway
This week, I am thrilled to be participating in the Rosh HaShanah Blogger Party where you'll find some AH-MAZING links to other great recipes this year for your High Holiday table.  I'm so happy to be included, and I can't wait to try some of these recipes out!

Welcome to the first ever Jewish Holiday Blog Party, hosted by Jessie of Taste and Miriam of Overtime Cook, and sponsored by Kitchen Aid! As you may know, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year is coming up, and Jewish bloggers from all over the world are celebrating with all kinds of twists on traditional Rosh Hashanah foods. 

To kick off the celebration, Levana Kirschenbaum is giving away a copy of her fabulous new book, The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen to three lucky winners. To enter, leave a comment on this post sharing with me your favorite part about Rosh Hashanah (it can be food, services, family, whatever you like!). Limit one entry per reader per blog so click over to the other participating blogs below for your chance at additional entries! Giveaway ends 5 am eastern time on September 11th, 2012. 

Prize is sponsored by Levana and available to readers from all blogs participating in the Rosh Hashanah Blog Party. Prize can only be shipped within the US. 

This is the first of hopefully many exciting Holiday Blog Parties, so if you would like to join in the fun, please email

Stop by and check out some of these amazing Rosh Hashanah themed recipes on the following blogs: 

Challah and Bread:
Marlene of The Jewish Hostess made Apple Challah
Amanda of The Challah Blog made Pomegranate Challah
Shelly of The Kosher Home made Apple, Honey and Pomegranate Challah!

Sides, Salads and Starters: 
Sarah of Food, Words, Photos made Tzimmes (Rosh Hashanah Carrots)
Tali of More Quiche, Please made Roasted Beets and Butternut Squash
Roberta and Lois of Kosher Eye made Simanim Salad
Chanie of Busy In Brooklyn made Pomegranate Coleslaw
Rivki of Life in the Married Lane made Super Salad
Hannah of Cooking Manager made Beets Marinated with Ginger and Garlic
Sina of The Kosher Spoon made Pomegranate, Almond and Raisin Couscous 
Shulie of Food Wanderings made Rosh Hashanah Salad
Hindy of Confident Cook-Hesitant Baker made Warm Roasted Beets with Farro
Sarah of Kosher Street made Sweet Potato Apple Tzimmes

Main Dishes:
Jessie of Taste made Smoked Salmon
Samantha of The Little Ferraro Kitchen made Chicken with Dates
Michele of Kosher Treif Cooking made Coconut Chicken Strips with two dipping sauces
Melinda of Kitchen Tested made Key Lime Glazed Duck
Stephanie and Jessica of The Kosher Foodies made Chicken Braised in Pomegranate 
Liz of The Lemon Bowl made Beef Brisket
Estee of Anyone Interested? made Easy Breazy 5 Minute Brisket

Desserts and Drinks:
Miriam of Overtime Cook made Mini Apples and Honey Tarts
Laura of Pragmatic Attic made Fresh Ginger Honey Cake
Susan of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen made Honey Caramel Apple Galette
Danielle of Hugs and Cookies xoxo made The World's Best Rugelach
Amy of What Jew Wanna Eat made an Apple and Honey Cocktail
Nick of The Baking Process made Apple and Date Honey Squares
Lisa of The Monday Morning Cooking Club made Honey Chiffon Cake and Traditional Honey Cake
Leah of Cook Kosher made Pomegranate Ice Cream
Nossi of The Kosher Gastronome made Non-dairy Key Lime Cheesecake Bar with Key Lime Caramel

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Single-Stranded Braid Challah Shape

When making stuffed or coiled challah, one thing has always bothered me... the ends.  The ends of the bread never seem to have any of the goodies.  No Nutella, no cinnamon sugar... which is really why you spent all that time making the stuffed challah in the first place.
Enter The Single-Stranded Braid, which will fix all your problems with the ends of your challah lacking in the fillings.  Plus, this shape works awesome to achieve small-size rolls that mimic the overall braided look of a three-strand challah.  Cute, simple, and successful.

I started with a long, flat piece of dough that I rolled out and filled with a melted margarine base topped with cinnamon sugar. I then coiled the roll-up, length-wise, being careful to avoid too many air pockets.
one_strand_01 one_strand_02
As you can see in the following pictures, I didn't seal this challah as well as I could have. As a result, the filling did leak out. Ultimately, I don't mind too much because cinnamon sugar just crystallizes into deliciousness when it leaks out. You can always pinch the seam tighter if you like.

Start with the right end tucked under about the middle of the long strand.
Bring the long tail beneath and through the circle you've created.
Now grasp the circle and twist it once toward you.
Bring the long tail underneath and through.
It's that simple!  Bake as normal.  I can tell you this week how much we liked this cinnamon sugar challah, because between just The Hazz and me, this challah is GOOOOOONE.  Success!
Shavua tov from our bayit to yours!!!

PS: I'm thrilled to be participating in a Rosh Hashanah Blogger Party coming later this week! Stay tuned.