Saturday, October 1, 2016

Challah - Jewish Egg Bread

 For Rosh Hashanah, I'm reposting this challah recipe, along with a photo of my braided round challah from last year.  Directions can be found on numerous youtube videos, but I like the one that I'm embedding in the recipe, because the chef isn't annoying and I love her finishing technique of twisting the small ends and tucking them under.  Skip the beginning of the video, which is for a 6-strand braid, and watch the 4-strand braid, which is easier and prettier, I think. 

Or you can make a simple spiral round challah (directions included).  
Challah makes wonderful bread pudding and great French toast. It can be made in a bread machine or with a mixer but is best baked in the oven, so it can develop its distinguishing crust.  Braiding contributes to both taste and texture and is an essential characteristic of Challah.     The dough can also be made into nice dinner rolls.  Directions for a traditional 6-strand loaf will also follow.

Challah is a very personal thing - some like it very eggy, some very sweet, some like it cakey and some more like bread.  My recipe is of the "bready" variety.  If you like it cakey, you can add more oil  and eggs.  Just adjust the amount of water correspondingly.  If you like it more tender, you can use milk instead of water. 

Makes 1 or 2 loaves or 20-30 rolls

For Mixer
1-1/3 cups warm water
1/4 cup oil
1/4-1/3 cup honey
2 large eggs, room temperature (place them in their shells into warm water for 2 minutes to bring them to room temperature

5-1/2 cups (608 grams and 135 grams, divided) bread flour
1 tablespoon rapid-rise, quick-rising or instant yeast ( I buy mine in bulk from King Arthur Flour)
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup raisins, optional

1 large egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water, for glazing
Poppy seeds for sprinkling

To make the bread in a mixer:
Place the water, oil, honey, and eggs in the mixer bowl and beat to blend everything together.

Measuring the oil before the honey will allow the honey to flow out of the cup, instead of sticking.

Add all but 1 cup of flour (608 grams), the yeast and salt to the egg mixture. Beat, on low speed, with a flat beater attachment, until the dough starts to clump together.

Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium-low speed, adding the remaining flour, ¼ cup at the beginning and then 1 tablespoon at a time, as the dough progresses.   Add only enough flour to make the dough tacky, but not overly sticky.  It's okay if it sticks to the bottom of the bowl, but should not be very sticky when you pinch the dough. Continue machine kneading for 8 - 12 minutes. The dough should be moist and supple.  The final kneading will be done by hand. 

 When you take it out of the bowl, it will still be very rough looking.  Knead it,  adding a very little bit of flour if necessary to keep it from sticking to the board. 

Here's how to knead:

Press down on the dough with the heels of your hands (use both hands).
Then roll the dough towards you.

so that it folds up on itself.  Press again with the heels of your hands.  Roll and press the dough a few times and then turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat the whole process. Continue until the dough forms a smooth and elastic ball.

 Pinch out a small piece of the dough, and continue pinching and flattening. If the dough is done, it should be able to be pressed and pulled until you can just see your fingers through the dough.

Oil a bowl, add the dough, and turn it over in the bowl so that all sides of the dough are oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature to rise until doubled in volume (about 1 hour).

To test if the dough has doubled, flour a finger and gently poke the dough. If the indentation remains, the dough has risen sufficiently.

In the picture on the left, the dough wasn't risen enough, and the  hole started to fill back up.
The picture on the right shows the dough risen enough.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface. The recipe will make either 1 or 2, depending on how large you like them. Place the half that you aren't working with back in the bowl and cover it until ready to use.

For a 4-strand round braid, you can make 2 medium-size loaves or 1 large.  Divide the dough into either 8 strands or 4, as desired. If using raisins, flour them lightly and press them into each piece of dough, and then roll the dough up to enclose the raisins.

When rolling each piece into a rope, it's important that the board be unfloured.  Roll each piece into a rope (the length will vary depending on whether you are making one or two loaves.

To roll the dough into ropes:

Start in the middle with both hands lightly pressing on the dough.  Roll forward and back moving your hands from the center of the dough towards the edges, until you have the size rope you want.

Then follow these directions to shape the loaf:  OR watch this video (skip the 6-braid instructions at the beginning):

Transfer the completed bread to a greased and floured cookie sheet, cover with a non-linting towel, and  let rise for about 45 minutes until it has doubled in size. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. with a rack in the middle of the oven. 

To see if it has doubled, flour a finger and gently poke the bread.  The indentation should not stay, but should pop back out.  

Mix the egg with 1 teaspoon water to make a glaze. Brush the glaze over the bread and sprinkle with poppy seeds. An easy way to make sure that the seeds are sprinkled evenly, is to hold the seeds in the palm of your hand and turn your palm up with your fingers closed. Shake your hand side to side and the seeds will just come out of the the little opening at the pinky side of your hand.

Set the dough into the middle of the oven and bake 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. (If you like your challah less brown and more golden, cook on the higher temperature for only 5 minutes).  Brush the bread again with the glaze and continue to bake 15 - 20 minutes more, until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom (the internal temperature should be 190 - 200 degrees F.). Place the bread on a cooling rack. Do not cut the bread until completely cooled.

To make Rosh Hashanah spiral loaves: Roll the dough into a fat rope, about 1-1/4-inches in diameter (make 2 if using the mixer batch). Coil each piece into a loose round, and then proceed, as above.

To make challah rolls:
Divide the dough into 20 pieces, if using the bread machine recipe and about 36-40 if using the mixer method. Roll each piece into a rope, about 6-inches long. Shape the dough as if you were going to tie it in a knot, but instead of pulling it tight, leave one end sticking up through the center. Tuck the other end under the roll. Let the rolls rise until doubled, glaze and sprinkle with seeds and bake for a total of 15-20 minutes, until the rolls sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

To make a standard 6-braid challah, roll the dough into ropes, as above.

Once all of the dough has been rolled into ropes, they should be sprinkled liberally with flour, so that they won't stick while you work with them, and so that the braiding will be more delineated in the final bread.

Braid, using this pattern: 2-1-5-6
As follows:

Attach six ropes together. Move strand #2 up past #6

Re-number the stands from left to right.

Move strand #1 between #3 and #4

Re-number the strands.

Move #5 up to the #1 position.

Re-number the strands.

Move #6 between #3 and #4.

Repeat these steps until you reach the end of the braid. Pinch the ends together.

Each  picture below shows how the bread shaping progresses after each  2-1-5-6 pattern.

Rise and bake, as above.

To make the challah in a bread machine, divide the recipe ingredients in half.  Add the wet ingredients ( water, oil, honey and eggs) to the machine bowl.  Add the flour, yeast and salt.  Use the dough cycle. After the dough has doubled (about 1 hour), proceed with the shaping instructions, as above, making either 1 loaf or 15-20 rolls.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Making Dairy-free Desserts

If you're using my book, Amazing Dairy-free Desserts, I thought you might like to know that Fleischmann's margarine, which I recommend, has changed its formula and now contains more water than it did when the book was written.  I recommend increasing the amount of margarine to use by about 15%.   I expect that it will be changing again within the next two years as trans fats are completely phased out.  I guess that will mean more experiments!  I'll keep you posted…

Friday, August 14, 2015

View and Purchase Books, and Updates 2015

If you're using my book, Amazing Dairy-free Desserts, I thought you might like to know that Fleischmann's margarine, which I recommend for parve or dairy-free desserts, has changed its formula from when the book was written.  For cakes, I recommend increasing the amount of margarine to use by about 15%.  Use the same amount for pastries and cookies, or the doughs will be too soft.  I expect that it will be changing again within the next two years as trans fats are completely phased out.  I guess that will mean more experiments!

These are no longer available on my website.  If you would like a pdf, please contact me and I will arrange to get you a pdf.
PDF cookbooks are so easy to use that you'll never want to use a regular cookbook again.  No more page turning trying to find the recipe you want.  You'll have the index available on the left of your page whenever you want it, and to go to a recipe you simply click on its name.  Click and go is the perfect way to view recipes.

..."I highly recommend Amazing Passover Desserts to anyone looking to introduce some new Passover desserts to their repertoire. This cookbook also makes an ideal gift for those just setting up housekeeping or for that favorite cook in your life…" -Reviewed by Anna Dogole, The Jewish Eye

Amazing Passover Desserts is now only available by download. This PDF download contains • New, simpler and easier recipes for today's lifestyle • Updating of all old recipes
• All recipes self contained – no flipping from recipe to recipe
• 50 new drawings and photos attached to its recipe

This PDF download includes more than 100 recipes including: apple pie, crisp and turnovers, chocolate layer cakes, cheesecake and cookie sandwiches, slice and bake, shortbread, chocolate chip cookies, rugelach, banana bread, poundcakes, coffee cake,  carrot cake, layered cakes and even wedding and shower desserts. Step by step instructions are included along with hundreds of photos.   Learn techniques that will teach you how to be a great baker!


A few HARD COPY BOOKS  are available.  Contact me for new copies, or go to Amazon to find used copies

Amazing Dairy-free Desserts is a wonderful book, with great photos and precise instructions.

"Delectable, dairy-free desserts that everyone can enjoy". Reviewed by Carol Fenster, Ph.d, author of dozens of gluten and allergen free cookbooks.

Dairy-free (pareve) recipes and information for every time of year, including special occasions and holidays.

Recipes such as:Rugelach, Mandelbrot, Pecan Snowballs, Peanut Butter Crosshatch Cookies, Toasted Almond Ice Creem, German Chocolate Cake, Bananas Foster,Bread Pudding with Rum Custard Sauce, Chocolate Fondue
Pecan Toffee Cheezecake, Éclairs,Vanilla Custard Tartlets

 Passover Desserts contains 50 delicious recipes—everything from cookies to cobblers—that taste and look so good, you're sure to impress your holiday guests.  With recipes for frostings, fillings, glazes, and sauces—and instructions on decorating basics—Passover desserts become rich, flavorful, and attractive. The recipes—using Passover-approved ingredients like potato flour, matzo meal, and Passover chocolate—are arranged with pareve (no dairy or meat) recipes first, then dairy. Those with little or no cholesterol are marked with a heart. With choices like Caramel Cheesecake Squares with "Graham Cracker" Crust, Chocolate Cherry Mini-Tarts, and Peach Raspberry Tiramisu, Passover Desserts will be your go-to source for a sweet Passover. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

IT'S OFFICIAL - I'M RETIRED! is defunct.  

We've moved to a home where I can't seem to take good pictures with natural light, and I'm working in a cramped kitchen with my supplies upstairs.  It's now tennis, tennis, tennis for me!

Thank you to all of my loyal readers for following my blog all these years and for giving me your feedback and praise.  It's been fun being known for my baking skills and artistry.  

Please contact me if you are interested in a pdf or book, or look for used copies on Amazon.

Happy Baking

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Apple Blackberry Galettes

If you're a regular visitor to my site, by now you've realized that I haven't published for a very long time.   We just moved to a downsized home AND I had double knee surgery.  It definitely has given me time to think about what I'd like to do.  And, I will probably RETIRE!!  I'm still baking and cooking plenty, but I don't seem to have the energy to photograph and document every step.  So until I do decide if I want to take down my site, I thought I would republish this lovely recipe that is great for the wintertime.  Enjoy.

I've made these pastries several times over the last month, trying different shapes, fillings, etc.  For pickups, turnovers work great, but for desserts that get plated, these galettes contain twice as much fruihen and are terrific when people are sitting, and forks are available.  Directions for the turnovers follow. I've used Pink Lady apples here, because you need an apple that won't give off too much liquid.  The apples stay firm and the sweetness nicely complements the blackberries (if unavailable, try Pinatas or Jazz apples).  If seedy blackberries aren't to your liking, try them with blueberries.  The pastry dough is also wonderful in this galette.  It seems like a puff pastry, yet it's simple to make and has a complexity to the taste that goes great with the simple taste of the berries.

Makes 16 3-1/2-inch galettes or turnovers

2-1/2  cups (11.4 ounces)  unbleached all-purpose flour, fluffed, scooped and leveled
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/4 inch chunks
8 ounces cream cheese, cold
1/3 cup heavy cream, cold

4 cups Pink Lady Apples, (about 4) peeled and cored
1 medium lemon
9 ounces blackberries, washed and patted dry
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons coarse sugar

For the Pastry: Place the flour, sugar and salt in a processor, and process for 10 seconds to mix ingredients.   Add the butter, and the cream cheese by tablespoonfuls to the processor.  Pulse-process for 8-10 pulses until the fats are cut into lentil-sized pieces.  Add the cream, and process for 8-10 seconds until the dough starts to gather.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Smear bits of the dough down against the surface with the heel of the hand, to incorporate the fat into the dough (this is called Fraisage). Gather the dough together, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least two hours and preferably overnight.  

For the Filling: Dice the apples into 1/4-1/2-inch pieces, place in a large bowl,  and sprinkle them with lemon juice.  Stir in the sugar and all but 3 tablespoons of blackberries.  Let the mixture macerate while you prepare the pastry.

Assembly and Baking: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Cut the dough in half, wrap and return 1/2 to the refrigerator, and roll the remaining piece out on a lightly floured board, into a rectangle, about 1/2-inch thick (size isn't  all that important).  Fold the dough into thirds, like a letter, and then roll the dough again to about 1/16-inch thick

Because you are going to cut the dough into large rounds, and because it is thin, the circles tend to change shape if you try and lift them from the board onto the parchment paper.  Therefore, I like to transfer the entire rolled dough sheet to the parchment lined cookie sheet, and cut out the final shapes right on the sheet.  Once the rounds are cut, the excess dough can be removed.  For a nice serving size, I use a 6-inch cutter (the top of my cookie-cutter box is the perfect size).  Once the edges get turned up, the finished pastry will be about 3-1/2 inches round.  

If you have more than about 1/4 cup of juices in the fruit bowl, drain the fruit, reserving the excess juice.  Stir the cornstarch into the fruit.

Doing 1 pastry at a time, spoon a heaping teaspoonful of filling into the center of a round, leaving about 1-inch all around with no filling on it.  Fold the  inch of dough up, all around the perimeter of the pastry.  The dough will naturally make pleats.  

When all the edges are up, press lightly downward on the pastry top to seal together the pleats and to make it so that when the pastry  bakes it won't open up too much.  

Brush the edges with a little cream, and sprinkle generously with the coarse sugar.  

Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator while you prepare the second sheet of pastry (if you don't have a refrigerator large enough to accommodate a cookie sheet, this step can be skipped.  The pastries won't be quite as crisp, but no one will complain!). Chill the pastries for about 10 minutes, or until the dough has just firmed up.  Spoon about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of juice (not the reserved juice, but the juice with the cornstarch in it) into the center of each pastry, and set them into the oven.  Bake for about 20-27 minutes, until well browned and bubbly.   

Repeat with the second sheet of pastries.

While the pastries are cooking, you can either make a little glaze or extra fruit to add to the pastries.  Cut the remaining blackberries in half, and either stir in a little of the excess juice,  or some of the juice that has some cornstarch mixed into it.  If it has the starch, it should be heated for 10-15 seconds, or until the raw starch taste is gone and the mixture has thickened lightly.  This extra fruit can either be brushed over the hot fruit (not on the pastry) or a little bit can be spooned on to add texture and moisture to the baked pastries.  

To make turnovers, you need to cut all of the blackberries in half,  and let the fruit macerate with the sugar for at least 20 minutes.  Add the starch just before shaping, as with the galettes.  Roll the dough into a rectangle ( the dough should be a bit thicker - maybe a scant 1/8-inch). You want to cut the rectangles to be about 4x4, so roll the dough to a size that is workable for you, rolling it slightly larger than you need it in case it shrinks when you cut it.

Because your really can't have any juice in these, I like to sprinkle the rectangles with powdered sugar to compensate for the sugar that is left in the juice you can't really use.  After they are sprinkled, cradle 1 rectangle in your hand and spoon a heaping teaspoonful of drained filling into the center (use a slotted spoon because the fruit will continue to ooze juice as it sits).

Bring two opposite pointy sides and seal together, and then seal along the whole edge.

Now you need to make sure that the edge is well sealed.  I pinch it tightly closed and then roll the edge slightly upward, as if you were making a pie crust edge.  Hopefully this will prefent the turnover from splitting open when it bakes.  Set the turnover on a parchment lined sheet.  Cut a slit in the top of each turnover.  Brush the turnovers with either cream, or an egg yolk whisked with 1/2 teaspoon of water, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes until nicely browned.

Friday, September 14, 2012


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