Friday, May 25, 2012

Stuffed Pizza Challah

While we were making our Savory Braided Challah for Shavuot, I left some dough aside because we can't make Pizza Challah without enjoying a real treat... Stuffed Pizza Challah.

Roll out your dough from Pizza Challah into a long, thin rectangle.
Place fresh mozzarella slices on the strands. You can also use shredded, but we enjoy sliced for pizzas at home, so that's usually what's in the house.
Roll the dough, keeping out air bubbles.
I even added a bit of cornmeal to the bottom of the baking pan.
Make sure to tuck in the ends and try to make sure you really seal the roll, otherwise you'll end up with this... {which is necessarily a bad thing, actually}
Don't forget to egg wash and sprinkle with garlic powder and parmesan! Bake as normal. You may need to foil this bad boy as the inside can be a bit doughy while the outside gets a bit dark.
We're looking forward to diving into this challah during Yom Tov with a lasagna dinner.
Hag Shavuot Same'ah from our bayit to yours!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Savory Braided Challah for Shavuot

I'm on a kick, haverim.  I'm loving this dairy-filled, cheesy, oozing challah adventure of pre-Shavuot cooking. And, yes, that sentence was ridiculous.  But so is this challah.

Basically,  took two of our favorite challot and braided them... together.  Parmesan Roasted Garlic Challah + Pizza Challah = Major Shavuot Love. So, I set to work.

For the Parmesan Roasted Garlic Challah, I needed some roasted garlic. To roast the garlic, I put an entire bulb into my teeny-tiny LeCreuset, spritzed with a little olive oil spray, and baked at 425 for about 50 minutes (until I could pierce it with a sharp knife).
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In the meantime, I headed out to my garden for a bit of fresh basil for Pizza Challah. Can I just say... I'm over the MOON that it's gardening season.
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For the loaves, I chose even-numbered braids {You can find my challah braiding methods here}.
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The braids ultimately looked much more impressive when they were pre-bake than after the bake. The pre-bake really shows the orange color of Pizza Challah.
You could still see the color change on the ends of each challah.
And definitely inside!
I'm really happy with these challot. They're a marriage of two really delicious challah recipes. And, they're a bit ridiculous, which reminds me a lot of another marriage that is coming up on almost two years.
Hag Shavuot Same'ah from our bayit to yours!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Challah Decorators

This past Friday a friend of mine brought over a few helpers for some extreme challah decorating.
Lots of sprinkles were involved.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Shavuot Recipe Book: Dairy Challot

It's almost time for Shavuot! Do YOU have a favorite dairy-delicious challah? Something extra special for your holiday table? We're working on a few more recipes in time for next Saturday night! Who's excited?!?
Pizza Challah Parmesan Roasted Garlic Challah
JalapeƱo Challah Nutella Challah
Sprouted Wheat with Milk and Honey Dairy Challah {new!}

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Raisin Challah

Yes.  You read that right.  Raisin Challah.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, "Raisins ruin everything."  But you know, every so often you just have to take one for the team.  And by the team, I mean the Hazz and the lovely residents of the retirement apartments that he visited this afternoon.

When The Hazz was asked to sing some Shabbat songs and hang out with the residents at a local apartment building, he of course said yes.  Then they informed him that he had to bring the challah.  So, he turned to me and asked, "Can you make an extra challah?"

Can I?  I'd LOVE to make an extra challah.  We thought about it for a moment... would the residents like sesame seeds or poppy seeds?  Honey?  Finally, The Hazz pointed out, "You know what... how about raisins." I tweaked my Basic Recipe and Half-Batch Recipe and came up with something sort of in the middle size-wise.

Yield: 2 medium to large sized loaves

1 c water
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp honey
2 eggs plus 1 more for egg wash
1/3 c vegetable oil
2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
2 c bread flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 generous handful of raisins - we used Trader Joe's golden mix

See my Basic Challah Recipe for a complete method. Honestly, this recipe is nearly identical to the full batch and I'm slightly embarrassed really calling it a "recipe" at all. But because I've been soooo against raisins since starting this blog, I really felt the raisin challah deserved it's own post.
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I don't mix the raisins in until right before braiding, but you can definitely add them before the first rise.
I try to keep the raisins inside each strand when braiding as much as possible.
Unfortunately, my beautiful {yet still terrible, ew... raisins} challah suffered a bit of an accident in the oven. Well, that is... during the turning process. Halfway through a bake, I rotate my pan 180 degrees. Somehow, that involved dropping my two challot onto the open oven door and nearly breaking the raisin challah. It survived because the bottom stayed intact, but it still was a sad, sad day!
Luckily, it tasted just great! {so they tell me...}
I still picked out all the raisins when we served it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shavuot Recipe Book: Dairy Challah

There are many stories that explain the tradition of eating dairy foods on Shavuot, but none are truly conclusive.  Some simply connect it to the idea from Exodus that the Israelites would leave Egypt and go to the land "flowing with milk and honey."  Here's another interesting tidbit if you like gematria...
A sage discovered that the initials of the four Hebrew words in Numbers 28:26, which describe the sacrificial meal offering on Shavuot, spell mei halav (from milk), suggesting that dairy food is the acceptable dinner for the festival. At Sinai, the Israelites were considered to be as innocent as newborns, whose food is milk. {Source}
Cool, right?  There's more on that link that talks about halav (milk) having the same gematria value as the number of days that Moses spent on Mount Sinai... a stretch?  Perhaps, but I do love puzzles!
(Yup!  That's a puzzle.  We're become a little... obsessed with puzzles.)

I've made challah with milk before... Sprouted Wheat with Milk and Honey Challah included milk because I read (somewhere) that milk helps relax the wheat.  I wasn't honestly convinced that it made much of a difference, but it was a fun experiment anyway!

This recipe will yield one large or two medium-size loaves.

2 1/4 instant yeast (1 packet)
3 c bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 c milk, slightly warmed (I used skim)
1 heaping tbsp basswood or other dark honey
2 eggs plus 1 more for egg wash

This challah was the first one that I actually used instant yeast like one is supposed to use instant yeast... I just mixed it in with the flour. Normally, I've been afraid of that and proof it just like active dry yeast, although you don't have to do that.

Mix together the yeast, flour, and salt.  Can you spot the yeast here?
Yeah, me neither.

On the stove in a small pan, warm the milk and honey, stirring constantly. Add the milk/honey mixture and the eggs to the flour/yeast mixture.
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Blend with a wooden spoon and then knead by hand or on the stand mixture until a ball forms.
While you're mixing, you can use this time to catch up on your favorite shows... Downton Abbey, anyone?
Let rest in an oiled bowl for about an hour and a half or until doubled in bulk.  Braid as normal and allow to rest an additional 20-30 minutes.  Egg wash and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Now, here's the part where I get honest.  I have no beautiful pictures of this challah to share.  I got a little... cavalier... with my challah shape.  I read a lovely little story in Maggie Glezer's A Blessing of Bread on Ladder Challah.  Glezer writes:
The ladder-shaped challah, which is served on Shavuot, the holiday that celebrates the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai, symbolizes spiritual ascension and Mount Sinai because the Hebrew words for "ladder" and "Sinai" have identical numerical value (as shown in the mystical study of Torah called gematria).  {A Blessing of Bread, 79.}
So, I set to work.  I started with a flattened disk and added the rungs.
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It looked pretty great! I was very proud.
And oh dear. What a disastrous result.
With the popularity of Pinterest, there have also appeared a lot of Pinterest Fail Blogs that will show a picture of the goal and the picture of one's own result with the phrase, "Nailed it." I think I nailed it.  Oy.

Luckily, I also made some rolls that DID turn out quite lovely.  This challah has a sweetness to it that's a bit unexpected.  It also has a darker color, which I suspect is from the basswood honey.  It's a bit tough to work with... I think it's the lack of oil.  But, overall, I wouldn't change a thing.  It was a really nice dairy challah!
We'll be tweaking our Shavuot recipes over the next few weeks!  Have a recipe to share?  A request for something special?  Send to it me at themrs {at} thechallahblog {dot} com or leave a comment here!

Friday, May 4, 2012

View of Shabbat - May 4th

We decided to go "traditional" today... when my Mom is visiting and we're having chicken and potatoes... our basic challah seemed the best match!
Wishing you a restful and wonderful Shabbat from our bayit to yours!