Archive for the 'challah' Category

16
Apr
15

Barbara Bensoussan Makes Challah


This coming Shabbat is typically one when most people make “key or schlissel” challah. While some will bake it in a key shape, others put a key inside. I belong to the latter group, and for this Shabbat I plan to change the usual shape of my challah. This time, I will shape it as Barbara Bensoussan explains in the following video and in her book A Well Spiced Life:

Basic Challah Recipe

This is my best “Challah for Dummies” recipe. One of the biggest mistakes challah novices make is to work too much flour into the dough, since bread dough feels so sticky on the hands, but the result is a heavy loaf better employed as a doorstop. This recipe kneads the dough in a food processor, so you are less likely to make this mistake. The recipe makes one large challah, but since it goes so quickly, you can simply make one loaf, dump out the dough, and repeat the process as many times as you like. In the interests of sneaking some nutrition into my white-bread-loving children, I usually add a tablespoon of wheat germ to the dough.

2 ¼ teaspoons dry yeast (1 package) dissolved in ½ cup very warm water along with ½ teaspoon sugar
3 cups flour, preferably high-gluten
2-3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon wheat germ (optional)
1 egg
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup water
1 beaten egg for glazing the challah; sesame or poppy seeds for garnishing, if desired
PAM spray and corn meal to grease the pans

Place flour, sugar, salt and wheat germ in the bowl of the food processor and pulse to blend.  Add the yeast-and-water mix (it should be foamy after five minutes) and process another 5-10 seconds.  Combine an egg and 1/3 cup oil and water into a small bowl; now dump this into the processor and continue processing until the mixture forms a ball around the blades of the machine—this make take 20-30 seconds (if you have a plastic dough knife for your machine, use it; if not, a regular steel blade will also do the trick).  Check the dough; if it seems tough and dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water; if it seems too wet and won’t come together, add more flour, ¼ cup at a time.

Let the dough process on a medium-low speed for one minute.  Voila!  The dough is done.  Place into an oiled bowl, turn it once, cover it with a plastic bag, and let it rise until doubled, about an hour and a half (may rise faster if your kitchen is hot).

kosher-scene-copyright-copy22

BarbBenssousChall

Punch it down and repeat the rising (it’s not absolutely necessary to do two risings, but I think it makes a smoother loaf).  The second rising may go faster than the first.  When doubled again, punch down the dough.  Shape into a loaf, either by braiding it or, as my mother-in-law does, by rolling it into a long rectangle from which you cut a fringe on one end and roll it up.  (I never managed to master braiding with six strands, but an easier, and also very nice, option is to divide the dough into four parts.  Braid three of them, then make a skinny braid with the fourth part.  Slice a little trough down the length of the big braid with a knife and nestle the smaller braid inside it—this will keep it from sliding off during baking, and makes a pretty double-braided shape.)  I like to use aluminum loaf pans to bake my challahs, as the high sides help them rise and maintain a more professional, uniform shape; spray them with Pam and dust with corn meal.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Let your shaped challahs rise at least another half hour, until almost doubled in size.  Brush with the beaten egg and top with seeds if desired.  Bake at 425 for five minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375 and bake until golden brown, about another half hour.  For a crispier crust, take the challahs out of the pans (carefully!) for the last five minutes of baking.  When they’re done, the bottoms will sound hollow when tapped with your finger.

Variation:  Whole Wheat Challah

My husband decided he prefers whole wheat challahs, as they’re more nutritious and he finds them easier on the digestion.  It’s advisable to mix whole wheat flour with regular bread flour, as the whole wheat flour contains much less gluten and consequently will not rise very well all by itself.  You can simply use the recipe above, but substitute half to two-thirds of the white flour with whole wheat flour or even spelt flour.

A Note on Sephardic Shaping

When my mother-in-law visits us, she makes her challah in a shape I had never seen before.  Instead of braiding the dough, she manages to create a sort of striped loaf.  I soon saw how this was accomplished; she rolls out the dough into a long rectangle.  Then she cuts one of the narrow ends into a sort of long fringe.  Starting from the opposite, end, she rolls the dough rectangle into a loaf, ending with the “fringes” wrapped around the loaf decoratively.  When baked, the fringes puff into a striped pattern.

My husband was familiar with this Moroccan challah shape and immediately surmised that it must have some ancient mystical significance; perhaps there was even a specified number of stripes to cut, like those who have the custom to bake a dozen challah rolls for every Shabbat.  But when he asked his mother the reason behind this unusual shape, she merely shrugged.  “Who knows?” she said.  “I think it’s just a way of making the challah easier to slice.”  And indeed, when you bring the striped challahs to the table, the indentations between the stripes make perfect cutting guides!

Enjoy!

SYR

16
Oct
12

Manna From Heaven


Richmond,VA’s Rudlin Torah Academy, published Manna from Heaven – while it differs from cookbooks designed to woow the reader as he or she imagines the various recipes, this one shows that you need not be a Cordon Bleu trained Chef to prepare succulent, wholesome dishes.

The underlying philosophy behind this cookbook is that food and Judaism are inextricable parts of each other, as stated in the preface. As such, you will find recipes for every holiday, for every occasion whether a party or just for the immediate family.

This is a cookbook designed to make the average cook shine, with sections such as:

  • Effortless
  • Breads
  • Spreads and Dips
  • Appetizers
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Meat Poultry
  • Fish
  • Dairy and Bruch
  • Side Dishes and Vegetables
  • Desserts

From the easy – last minute preparations – to more complex dishes everything here is easy to make, and yet every recipe from Strawberry Bread to Blue Cheese Ball, from Marinated ‘Shrooms to Tomato Soup with Herbs and Feta, from Brandied Fruit Salad to Fail-Proof Rib Roast, from Arroz con Pollo Valenciana to Salmon in Orange-Honey Marinade, from Mediterranean Strata Lite to Ratatouille in Phyllo, from Peanut Butter-Chocolate Crispy Treats to Rugelach and more, are

During chol hamo’ed and the last days of yom tov I was in Richmond, VA and had the privilege of tasting a superb challa (one of the best I ever had!) made by the lady who created it for this cookbook. Here’s the recipe:

No Need to Knead Challah

(page 21)Yields 8 loaves

Ingredients

  • 6 packets quick rise yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cups warm water
  • 5 pounds plus 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 8 extra large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups oil.
  • 1 egg plus 3 tablespoons water for wash
  • Sesame or poppy seeds, optional

Directions

  1. Dissolve yeast plus 2 tablespoons sugar in 2 cups warm water in a medium bowl, Set aside. In an extra large bowl, mix flour and salt together  and make a well in the center. In a separate bowl mix together remaining sugar, eggs and oil.
  2. Add yeast mixture and 2 additional cups of warm water to sugar, egg amnd mixture. Slowly pour egg and yeast mixture into the well in the flour and mix. Make sure that all the flour is mixed into the dough. Mix only enough to combine all the ingredients. Cover with a damp cloth and either leave in the refrigerator overninght or let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2 -3 hours. In the morning, remove from refrigerator and place on a clean surface. Divide up dough into 8 portions, roll each portion into 3 ropes and braid loaves.
  3. Spray baking sheets or large loaf pans and place challa on or in them. Cover again with damp cloth and allow to rise for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat egg with water and brush on challah. Sprinkle with either sesame or poppy seeds if desired. Bake 25-30 minutes until loaves are golden brown. Remove from oven and place on racks until cool. Challah may be wrapped in foil and frozen.

Each section opens up with a quote from sifrei kodesh, because this is more than just a cookbook, it shows the connection between what goes into a Jew’s mouth and his/her spiritual growth. You can order the cookbook online at the Rudlin Academy’s website. While you most likely did not attend the Culinary Institute of America nor Johnson and Wales University, you will still wow your family and friends with these recipes!

CS

15
Sep
11

Lilly’s Home Style Bake Shop


As I toured Lilly’s Home Style Bake Shop, the sweet aromas wafting through the air, I was transported back to my mother’s kitchen, where the promise of sweet delicious treats were imminent as she prepared Shabbos or Yom Tov cakes and cookies. This past Tuesday morning, I walked the plant with Ethan Lieberman who together with CEO Irving Guttman, started the company in 2004 and kept on expanding the premises as new machinery was needed to streamline production of their growing product line.

Sprinkling cinnamon onto babka dough...

From jumbo to regular sized bagels, to assorted breads and challah types of various shapes and sizes, to mouth watering cakes and danishes, to cookies and biscottis,  all beckoned before my gluttonous Hansel and Gretel eyes as the various doughs were being made, shaped and baked.

Racks filled with challah, chocolate danish, hamentashen and so much more...

Lilly’s (named after Ethan‘s – Avrumi‘s – mother) ships nationally under their own name and under various private labels – including well known supermarket chains and warehouse type wholesalers. The whole operation is supervised by Silliker, a third party approver which specializes in certifying the cleanliness and strict adherence to codes governing this type of operations. Kashrus is under OU supervision.

Fresh and moist! A tray full of chocolate babka, rainbow cookies, black and whites are awaiting me...

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy! As for me, I’ll just grab another piece of that decadent babka oozing with chocolate… Get your own, kid!!!

CS




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