Friday, January 25, 2013

Repost: Tree-Shaped Challah for Tu Bishvat

On Wednesday for Tu Bishvat I shared with you a great challah from my friend Rabbi Phyllis over at Ima on (and off) the Bima.  I liked her idea that we could extend Tu Bishvat into Shabbat, at least for challah shapes.  So, I decided to make my own tree-shaped challah.

I basically managed to take my worst, most blurry shots of challah ever. Oh well. You get the point. I started with three really long strands. Then I braided them without really closing off the end. At the top, I coiled them a la Croatian Star Challah or Parting of the Sea Challah.
tree__1 tree__3
I decided that there weren't enough co
ils, so I added a few more. (My strands were actually a bit too long, so I tore them and used the ends as the additional coils). I'm thrilled with the result.
I think it will be really fun to tear apart the strands.
Shabbat Shalom from our bayit to yours!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Piña Colada Challah

First of all, I want to thank all of you that have kept The Challah Blog in your readers over it's somewhat lengthy hiatus these past few months.  As I've alluded to a few times, we have had some very emotional times with the extended illness and hospice-care of a beloved family member.  That, coupled with returning to school to begin my PhD studies, has created a bit of a void in creativity for baking and a need for basic, safe, and utterly delicious "plain" challah (challah is never really plain, is it?).

However, we're slowly getting back to creative recipes and lots of fun times.  I hope you'll all have us back again.  We're glad to be here.
This week's recipe has been in our queue for quite some time. A friend of ours who teaches, mom of four, and teacher in the religious school at our synagogue suggested it to us many, many months ago. And, Yael, you were right! It was great!

I admit, I was definitely a little skeptical at first, because I was worried that this challah would be a bit too sweet. Another friend pointed out that sweetened pineapple wasn't terrible different from adding raisins (shudder!) to dough... just an added sweetness, this time with a bit of tang.

But, it was the coconut that surprised me. The coconut was actually quite mild in the dough itself, almost completely melting away. And on top of the bread, it was DELICIOUS. It crisped up, tasted nothing like those awful Passover macaroons, and was really a treat. I'm excited now, because I feel like the discovery of coconut in challah opens up a few new doors for us... Almond Joy or Mounds Bar Challah, anyone? I think they're coming soon! Here's what you'll need for Piña Colada Challah...

A challah recipe of your choice -- for these proportions, I used one half of our half batch recipe... about 1 1/2 cups of flour. You'll want to adjust proportions accordingly.

For the 1 1/2 c flour dough, you'll need...
1/4 c plus about 2 Tbs sweetened flaked coconut (from the baking aisle)
1/4 c (about a handful) dried, sweetened pineapple, cut into about raisin-sized pieces

I think this recipe might also benefit from a splash of rum to make it truly Piña Colada-flavored. However, I've never introduced alcohol into bread, so I'm not sure where else you'd need to adjust proportions.
Chop your pineapple into small pieces with a large, sharp knife.
After your dough is risen and ready to be braided, plop the pineapple and 1/4 c coconut on your dough and knead by hand. Have extra flour on hand in case its sticky (it will be).
Using a sharp knife, divide your dough into the number of strands you'd like to use. Braid as normal.
pina_colada_03 pina_colada_04
After the egg wash, top your challah with shredded coconut. When baking, you'll probably want to foil the top of the loaf near the end (last five minutes) to prevent over-browning.
Enjoy with your tropical self, and be proud of a very unique challah. In this coooold winter weather up her in Wisconsin, this challah reminds me of summer!
Shabbat Shalom from our bayit to yours!