Friday, August 26, 2011

Single and Double Knots


Rolls!  I like rolls.  I like that you can freeze them, you don't gorge yourself (sooo easy to do), and they're just so freaking darling!  Here are two of my favorite shapes.

Basic Knot
This is my go-to roll shape.  Easy.  Works for filled loaves (Nutella... drool), and just looks nice overall.

Step 1 - Roll out a long strand.  bring side B over side A.
Step 2 - Loop B through and keep poking up just a bit.  Adjust with hands so it's nice and snug.
singleknot1   singleknot2

Double Knot
The double knot is such a lovely flower.

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 but leave a nice long tail for side A and leave a bit of room inside the knot for side A.
doubleknot2   doubleknot3

Step 3 - Bring end A up and into the roll, right snug next to B.

So, I didn't diagram for you the spiral, because... well, it's a spiral.  Also, I'm holding out on you all from showing you the single-stranded braid for rolls, because I haven't quite perfected it.  Stay tuned.

Shabbat Shalom from our bayit to yours!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Midweek Loaf: Olive Oil Bread

It's times like these that I realize how lucky I am to have a huge kitchen, a nice oven, and husband who doesn't mind that I cut into a fresh loaf of bread before he came home.  Yeah, I couldn't wait.

Olive Oil bread was inspired by a recipe in my favorite book, Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook.  However, the recipe calls for fresh yeast, which I didn't have (it's been out at the store the last few weeks... boo hoo), and I wanted to make a slightly smaller loaf.  In the end, that didn't happen because the heavy dough was so oily, I kept adding flour and ended up close to Martha's proportions.  But here's the proportions I used.

2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp honey
1 c warm (but not boiling) water
2/3 c extra virgin olive oil (I used Trader Joe's because it's what we had on hand)
about 4 cups of flour (I used 2 c unbleached all-purpose and 2 c bread flour)
2 tsp sea salt
cornmeal, for dusting

Mix the yeast, water, and honey together and let rest until foamy, about 10 minutes.  Add the oil, flour, and salt and mix well by hand or with a stand mixer.  Let rest until dough has doubled in bulk (for me, it was about 2 hours).

Form into a boule on baking sheet or wooden peel sprinkled with corn meal (I sort of winged it, but I wish I'd look this up beforehand).  Sprinkle entire boule with cornmeal.  Let rest an additional 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, place pizza/baking stone in oven and preheat to 450.  Score top of boule is square shaped pattern.  Transfer to stone and bake 35-40 minutes.

I'm so in love with this bread. It's very crusty but totally moist inside.  It doesn't even need topping like butter or olive oil, obviously because it's so delicious inside.  And, I'm loving the baking stone method.  The crust is so nice.  Tastes like real bread :) From a store!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Eggs, Eggs, Everywhere... but not a drop in THIS challah!

This past Shabbat, we had a small group of 6 adults and 1 child.  I got into my head that it would be awesome to make the flourless chocolate cake we love so much from Pesach it shouldn't be relegated to one week a year.  6 eggs.  Carrot Kugel, another egg.  The Hazz asked for Matzo Ball soup since we have fresh garden basil.  4 more eggs.  A half batch of challah.  2 eggs plus 1 for the egg wash.  Are you with me, that's 15 eggs.  I just COULDN'T BRING MYSELF to crack two more into the second batch of challah.  (I actually also altered the chicken recipe and found an olive oil instead of egg method for getting bread crumbs to stick to chicken.)

In April, I made an eggless challah for a friend who is vegan.  At the time, I wasn't sure if she ate honey, so I opted for sugar to proof the yeast.  But, really, I don't like sugar-sweetened challot.  I find they always fall a little flat, don't have the luxurious texture I'd like my challah to have.  So, here's what we did on this eggless version.

3/4 c water plus about 1/4 c more
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1/4 c vegetable oil
3 c flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
small amount of (real) maple syrup for wash

It's essentially the same as my regular half-batch, but I added the extra water (around 1/4 c) while mixing.  Then it was too sticky, so I sprinkled more flour.  Wash, rinse, repeat, until the texture I wanted.  As with the other eggless challah, I used MAPLE SYRUP for the glaze and it's SO TASTY.

We didn't have any fresh yeast on hand this week (all the stuff at the grocery store was expired boo hoo!), so we were back to active dry but it worked well for us.  I needed a slower rise anyway on Friday afternoon due to what-was-going-in-the-oven-when and fresh yeast rises OH SO FAST.
Egg-y on the left, Egg-less on the right!

Eggless challah is so different from regular challah.  It's MUCH lighter... in both color and texture.  The flavor seems less sweet, even though it's the same amount of honey.  It's a good alternative and  also seems to last a little bit better (for noshing on Sunday mornings!).

Shavua Tov, chaverim!  I hope you have a great week!

Friday, August 19, 2011

View of Shabbat - August 19

I'm running late (haven't showered yet, haven't set the lights, blah blah), so I promise to make a REAL post later this weekend... I already have a great title for it. But, here's a teaser for you.

Shabbat Shalom from our bayit to yours!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Experiment - M&M Challah

That's right... your eyes don't deceive you.  We've ventured into candy challah.  A friend of ours has been encouraging (requesting/demanding) us to make a Reese's Peanut Butter Challah.  Yes, I think we'll try it at some point.  But this past Friday, we had some M&Ms in the house.

Basically the same as chocolate chips.  Knead 'em in right before braiding.  Remember back in March when I tried to make Tie Dye Challah for Purim?  And how I failed immediately with a pink loaf of bread?  Ridiculous.

Well, I think M&Ms might be the answer.  They do bleed a bit.  But not as much as the sprinkles.  And seriously... the sweetness, the fact that it's CANDY CHALLAH.  Wow.

I experimented with a teeny-tiny loaf and a few fun size bags of M&Ms.  (As I do with oatmeal cookies, I pulled out the brown M&Ms... unlike Matthew McConaughey in The Wedding Planner, who ONLY eats the brown ones, I feel that why would I bother putting pretty colors in if a percentage of them are just brown).
mm2 mm3
I want to do a full size.
This might be the craziest challah I've ever done.  Have YOU ever tried a ridiculous, candy, filled challah?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Five-Stranded Braid (and the return of Almond Cinnamon Sugar Challah)

cinnamon3Almond Cinnamon Sugar Challah is awesome.  It's bright, it's sweet, it's aromatic, it's a delight.  It's EVERYTHING that challah should be.  Don't want to toot my own horn, but it's soooo special. I'm eating my own words a bit from last week when I recommended not to use complicated braids for stuffed breads.  Really, I do stand by what I said for things like Nutella Challah (or peanut butter perhaps, note to self, must try), but for a rolled loaf, bigger braids are okay for the adventurous.

And I was feeling adventurous today.  Since we're not having Shabbat at home tonight (Shabbat Under the Stars at our synagogue), I brought out the almonds.  Refer to the original recipe of the method and proportions.  I almost always make too much of the toping, but you can always save it.

cinnamon1 cinnamon2

Step One - Lay your strands out and gather at the top. Just like the four-strand, they are numbered right to left.

Step Two - Bring #1 over #2, #3, and #4.

Step Three - Bring #5 to the middle (over #1 and #4)

Step Four - Bring #4 over #5.

Repeat!  Make sure to tuck in the ends.  You did it!  I know several methods then say to give the entire loaf a quarter turn, but I don't do this. LeighAnn, I'm paging you on this!  Do you?!?!?!


I'm just going to go ahead a say it, it's not my most perfect, evenly shaped loaf.  But I'm sure it'll taste great.  For those loaves I'm really proud of, you can click here and here and here. But since the cinnamon is in each strand and there are five strands going around and around, I think this'll be great and really infused with deliciousness!

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Midweek Loaf: Martha Stewart's Honey Whole Wheat Bread

If you're a follower of The Mrs.'s personal blog (it's not really all that interesting... so I'm not hurt if you're not), you'll know that she recently left her day job in pursuit of a few other exciting work opportunities and to begin work on my PhD in musicology.  On the home front, this is going to result in either amazing healthy eating or complete gluttony.  This week, we've enjoyed margherita pizza, zucchini chocolate chip muffins, and Martha Stewart's Honey Whole Wheat Bread.  I actually followed the recipe out of Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, however, the linked version is just about the same.
Since we're just a family of two, I halved all the ingredients.  I know the purists out there will tell me I should have dragged out my kitchen scale and weighed for more accuracy (the Baking Handbook uses both weights and cup measures), but I was being lazy.

My favorite thing about this recipe was making the flour well.  It was a nice method, but to be honest, I'm not really sure what the purpose of it is.
honeywheat1 honeywheat2
I'm still not sure I have the crust quite right.  I'd like to try doing steam baths and water washes in the oven, but I don't know if my oven can be that fancy.  Since I'm not a big fan of whole wheat challah, but I am a fan of wheat bread, I'm hoping this will make the challah a lot special on Shabbat.

Do YOU save white flour for Shabbat?  Have any go-to non-challah breads or baked goods?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Housekeeping - Shabbat at Camp!

Sorry for the lack of post this past Shabbat... we were "up north" visiting camp and returned to this from our garden...

Has anybody ever made a yeast dough zucchini bread? Do we think zucchini challah could be possible? Perhaps that zucchini moisture could replace the egg? Thoughts?