Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Apple Cherry Crumble

There are two things that make this apple crumble different than any other apple crisp/crumble that I've made before and posted here. (It's important for me to state this clearly so no one will accuse me of making and posting the same thing twice....) The first is that underneath all that delicious crumble, rests not just a mix of Granny Smith and Pink Lady, aka my new favorite, apples but cherries as well. The recipe I adapted called for raspberries, but since those cost an arm and a leg in this beautiful country, I decided to add the last remaining jar of sour cherries in my pantry. The second thing is that this crumble is completely whole grain. There is not a single grain of white flour to be found. The crumble is made with oat flour and whole oats and the filling has oat flour in it as well. Cool, huh? There are a few things to be cautious about. First, the people eating this just might not like cherries. In that case, use the raspberries, all apples, or find someone else who appreciates them more. Secondly, maybe it was because of all the water in the canned cherries and apples, or maybe it was because of the lack of thickening agent, but this crumble was mighty liquidy. So liquidy that I drained most of it off. You can handle this issue any way you please, I'm going to post the recipe as I made it. Not surprisingly, there were some cherries left in the pan at the end of the day, but on the other hand, my lover-of-all-things-fruit roommate called this her favorite thing that I made all year. So there you have it. At least at the end of the day, you'll feel virtuous eating a spoonful of this delicious crumble.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Herbed Fougasse

S told me the friends we were eating by for lunch were having a wine and cheese sort of meal and so she asked me if I would bake a bread for it. Of course I agreed and was so excited because it's not often that I get to bake bread these days if it's not challah. I wanted a bread that would go well with wine and cheese and would be just as elegant. My first thought was flatbread and my second thought was like turning on a light switch-- fougasse! French, fancy, and with a shape that looks like a ladder, appears to demand a lot of effort. Perfect! A scan through all of my cookbooks came up with many fougasses but none that appealed to me. Walnut fougasse? Olive fougasse? Not this time. I settled on a simple herbed fougasse from Sur La Table's too heavy to lift, The Art and Soul Baking. I was pleasantly surprised how not difficult this bread is to make. It begins with a biga that is left to ferment overnight and then all the remaining ingredients are added, including olive oil and dried herbs (my preference, no fresh rosemary and thyme in the shuk), and the rest is standard bread making. Shaping the bread was so much fun and I was so surprised that the shape held! S was so proud and impressed when she saw it, as were her friends. To quote her, the bread was crisp and wonderfully spiced and went great with the sharp cheeses and wine. A home run, I'd say. One note on storing this bread- do not cover in plastic wrap to store it unless the bread is cut. In that case cover only the cut parts. When covered with plastic wrap, some moisture deposits on the surface leaving some funky white spots. Otherwise, you should be good to go! I'm sending this over to Yeastspotting!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Apricot Almond Shortbread Bars

I spent this past Shabbat with one of my favorite people, S, in Tel Aviv. It had been way too long since I'd seen her, and I hadn't yet seen her new apartment, so I was really glad to see her. I asked her what I could bring her for Shabbat and one of the things she asked for was dessert. Knowing how difficult the decision would be for me, I asked her to be very specific and she obliged by telling me that she would like something with jam. Immediately, I knew the perfect recipe. I opened Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey to page 90 and there it was- the recipe for Blackberry Jamble Shortbread Bars. Except I made them Apricot Almond Shortbread Bars. And in half the quantity. But were they delicious and buttery and mm-mm good? You bet they were! The recipe feature ground almonds in the crust, to punch up the flavor. (I walked around the shuk and walked into some stores to ask if they had ground almonds. They said no but that they could grind some on the spot. Freshly ground almonds? Can't beat that!) I also had some leftover slivered almonds from the Golden Lemon Almond Cake, so those made an appearance here, too. As for apricot? It's just good. I thought it would be a nice, light accompaniment to the almonds. And I was right. S really enjoyed them and when she brought over the rest for lunch (I bailed because I was feeling waaay under the weather), she came home with an empty pan. Home run! Feel free to substitute any flavor jam and any kind of nut. This a terrific base shortbread bar recipe that just welcomes your imagination. If you're going to halve the recipe like I did, use a 9x9 inch pan and not an 8x8 pan. There will be a lot less wasted dough. 

Mocha White Chocolate Brownies

One of my faaavorite girls from last year, N, called me up and told me that she would only come visit me if I agreed to bake. She thought she was bribing me... I planned to agree to get her to visit and not bake. Well, I agreed, she came and I thought I was going to get out of baking..... and then I ended up baking. Something about girls serving their country..... Anyway, I whipped up these brownies quite fast actually so it was really no big deal in the end, end they made a lot of people happy. The recipe comes once again from the Israeli More Chocolate book and they while they are called Mocha Brownies they also feature some nougat- ground  hazelnut yumminess. The girls told me they couldnt really taste the hazelnut element but they could taste the mocha. Who knew a teaspoon of espresso powder would go such a long way? Not me. The white chocolate was a nice contrasting addition. Some of them commented that when the brownies were in their gooey fudgey state, the white chocolate was a nice crunchy contrast. Personally? I dont like serving goop, even chocolate goop, so I stashed them in the fridge to firm up. Best trick in the book- fudgy brownies with out the nauseatingly goopy texture. I mean, if I wanted raw batter, I could just lick the spoon. Next time, I'd add the hazelnuts to make them more unique and to make the nougat flavor pop. Was anyone disappointed that they were missing? Pretty sure not!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Baked Cake Donuts with Chocolate Glaze

Shortly after my last effort with the yeasted baked donuts, I got my donut pans, all the way from America. Perfectly round cavities, large and small, to make the perfect baked donut. To put them to use, this past Tuesday, my in day and usual baking day, I whipped up a batch of these cake donuts from the Doughnut book, my new authority on donuts. (I reallllly wish I had a means to fry donuts, because the variations are all so tempting but most dont use the baked donut base recipes. You're bound to fail if you bake something meant to be fried... Trust me, I know.) I can't tell you how easily this recipe came together. The batter whipped up in just a few minutes and baked in about the same time. While the donuts were baking, I threw together the chocolate glaze, which was deeply chocolately and satiny. The dipping was quite fun- I felt so professional!! I double glazed just because I had a lot extra and didnt want too much waste. The lucky eaters of the six donuts really liked them and even went back to double dip in the yummy glaze. I sort of felt like I was pulling the wool over their eyes by giving them donut shaped cake, but no one really complained. Points for being healthful, anyone? I considered throwing on some sprinkles as a real throwback to my childhood, but I decided against it. Maybe next time. Just look at those donuts, though. Arent they picture perfect?!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hazelnut Croquant Chocolate Cake

My friend L is getting married in a just a few weeks (!!!) and as per the usual fashion, a group of friends got together to throw her a bridal shower the other night. I immediately volunteered to bake something and asked L what she likes. Her first response? Chocolate! After all the fruit that's been going around here lately, chocolate was [shockingly] a welcome response. So chocolate it was. Since most of my books dedicated to chocolate are not here, I turned to my hebrew volume simply titled More Chocolate to look for a recipe. I chose a recipe for hazelnut mousse squares but then rethought my choice after realizing how expensive it would turn out to be. Having already purchased two of the big elements of the recipe, one being the chopped caramelized hazelnuts, I decided to use a recipe that called for them and so chose instead the Hazelnut Croquant Chocolate Cake. This cake is a rich, flourless chocolate cake that has the hazelnut croquant folded in. It is topped with a white chocolate coating and garnished with some more croquant. Sound decadent? That's because it was every bit as rich and delicious as it sounds. Since we were so few at the party, I brought home three quarters of it and let my girls go at it. They were not disappointed. All around, tasters thought it was delicious. The cake itself is simple to make, especially since I used store bought croquant instead of my own. Definitely a make again cake, when the right special occasion pops up.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Golden Lemon Almond Cake

I spent this past weekend by my sister and her husband in Neve Daniel. I always so look forward to going there for the feeling of home and family and for the awesome food that my sister makes. She made this awesome butternut squash pizza that I'm still craving as we speak. Anyway, she asked me to bring dessert and since the evening meal would be dairy, I had the leisure of making a dairy dessert. In truth, I really wanted something simple and clean and so decided to finally make the Golden Lemon Almond Cake from Rose's Heavenly Cake. It also helped alot that this cake is made with turbinado sugar as I have a massive Costco sized bag of it in my pantry and I'm trying to make a dent in it. I know I must be the last person in the world to try it, but I suppose better late than never. I made only two thirds the recipe and baked it in my kugelhopf pan which turned out to be perfect, with the exception of some browning issues. So easy to put together, this cake was moist beyond belief and pretty lemony, thanks to the abundance of lemon-sugar syrup brushed all over. My sister thought the cake was good and really moist, but noted that she didnt taste the almonds. Sadly, she couldnt really enjoy it because she got really sick Friday night and didnt want to take any more chances with food. I brought the cake back home though where the girls really enjoyed it and polished it off for me.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

One Bowl Apple Cake

Alright, here it goes. The one bowl apple cake. The last apple related post for a while. I pray that that's true. The search for apple inspiration brought me back to one of my first cookbooks, my dear favorite, the Baker's Companion. The first recipe in its cake section is this one bowl apple cake. This cake should really be called Chunky Apple Cake because the recipe itself calls for a ton of apples, nuts and dried fruit. I decided to omit the nuts and dried fruit, and as it turned out, the full amount of apples was wayyy too much. The batter was hardly a batter and it barely held together with all the apples. At this point, I started to get nervous but figured things would take care of themselves in the oven. And they did. I could see where the juices from the apples seeped into the cake for a nice touch and the cake itself turned out to be a big hit, with a nice, moist, almost juicy interior due to the hefty amount of brown sugar. The recipe says that this could be frosted with caramel frosting and although I was too lazy to whip it up, I will admit that I think for this served-from-the-pan, rustic cake it would be gilding the lily. Frosting is just too fancy for this down-home apple cake. Do make it soon.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Simple Banana Bundt Cake

Never in my life did I think I'd say this, but I think I'm tired of all these fruit related baked goods. I think what I'm saying is, bring on the chocolate! This post is once again banana related and the next is apple. So help me, I don't want to deal with either of them for a long time! Even though my roommate stashed her bananas in the freezer, releasing me from banana recipe limbo, one of my girls next door told me she had ripe ones and do you want to bake with them? I couldn't say no, lest they meet the garbage can, so I accepted, having no idea what I was going to do with them. With a sigh, I flipped through my cookbooks and settled on the SIMPLEST BANANA CAKE RECIPE EVER! Coming from Roland Mesnier's Basic to Beautiful Cakes (a bargain books purchase!), this cake was simple, easy and plain, used oil and was not a duplicate of any recipe I had previously made. Check plus for Roland Mesnier. All you do is mix some dry ingredients together, beat eggs, sugar and oil for five minutes, add everything else and bake! The cake is lightly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg to let the banana really shine through. To maintain the clarity of the flavor, I declined to add chocolate chips, banana's classic partner. The resulting cake was super moist but...... despite the heavy greasing, it stuck to the pan. That could be because his instructions are to turn the cake out immediately. I think I would wait about five or ten minutes or just bake it in my favorite springform pan. In any case, it was nothing that a little patching up couldnt fix. Besides the girls loved the cake. As always, that's all that matters.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Maple Oat Bread

This past Shabbat we had our annual Shabbaton in the Old City of Jerusalem. We stayed in the adorably quaint place and although it was blustery and rainy, we still had a nice time. I tend to like having these "together" weekends because there's little to do to get ready, leaving lots of time to bake if I so desire. So was the case this weekend when I decided to bake a loaf of bread. The bread of choice was a Maple Oat Bread from KAF's Whole Grain Baking. I made the dough the night before and shaped it the next morning. I let it rise in an oven with the light bulb on while my roommate and I went to the shuk to go pick up candy for the weekend. Waiting for me upon my return was a nicely risen loaf and a weepy student who needed me to clean her head from lice. I know, not a pretty thought when we're discussing food. (Just so you know, her head was totally clean. Although I found nothing, she double checked yesterday and thankfully, the checker found nothing. All I can say is, the life of a madricha is never dull.) Anyway, I had shaped the loaf into three touching rolls in a loaf pan because I figured it would be an easy way to separate them, considering I would not have access to a knife to slice it with. So how did it come out? I can tell you straight away that because of my time constraints I didnt bake it quite as long as I should have. The loaf didnt suffer, it was just nice and soft and chewy. The dough itself was quite fragrant, heady with maple. The baked loaf also tasted nicely of maple although next time I would reduce the amount of maple extract because using too much leaves an unpleasant aftertaste. I used half margarine and half oil and omitted the nuts from the loaf because I was out of them but all in all this was a really delicious loaf of bread, quite a special Shabbat treat. Sending this to Yeastspotting!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I wish I could be proud of myself and say that all the bananas are done. All of my bananas are done and I used them quite creatively, I must say, but my roommate has black bananas sitting on her shelf and she insists I do something with them... Sorry to say, this may not be the last banana post you see around here although trust me, I wish it were. I'm so sick of banana related recipes that I'm ready to go back to apples. That, my friends, is saying something. The good news is that this is a new recipe and a real cookie! With bananas! And it's not soft and smushy! The wonders of Martha Stewart. The cookie goes together as easily as any other cookie recipe but wow, the reviews these babies got. The girls LOVED them. That could be because I told them that they were a tad bit virtuous, due to the oats, whole wheat flour and bananas, or it could because of the massive, melty chocolate chunks in there. All I know is that I didnt make enough of these. Once again, lesson learned. I omitted the nuts for the sake of the girls with allergies and because I find that generally younger people are resistant to nuts. If you're looking for a different way to use bananas, as I always am, this winning recipe has your name written all over it. No need to thank me.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Whole Grain Banana Chocolate Chip Squares

I know right now you're thinking, these have to be the ugliest homeliest bars to ever grace the blogosphere. You know what? You're probably right. While these bars may not score any blue ribbons on their humble looks alone, I can assure you that these banana chocolate bars, made with whole grain spelt flour, will win you over. Yes, you have to let these bars sit overnight for best possible texture, but you're rewarded with a sort of dense, moist, almost fudgy texture, what my girls pronounced to be, delicious and amazing. When one of my roommates tasted these she asked me what made these bars so sweet. I answered the usual, sugar and brown sugar and then I realized that the sweetness of the spelt really made an appearance here. If you're looking for an alternative banana recipe that incorporates whole grains look no further.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Financier Style Vanilla Pound Cakes

As Chanuka winds down, I finally have a chance to post. Things have been pretty busy around here this Chanuka. Yesterday, the girls went to Sderot to throw a carnival for the kids there and today we went on a bit of a strenuous hike, even for me. Although, come to think of it, anything that involves climbing and mountains is strenuous for me. Even so, the girls are all out and I'm savoring the quiet and the most recent episode of Glee. Back to this post. This past Shabbat, which was also Chanuka, I had the great pleasure of spending it with a family I really love in Efrat. M taught me five years ago at Midreshet and we're still in touch. I love her kids and being in her home because I'm so comfortable there, it's as if I'm with my own family. Anyway, whenever I go, I try to bake something because my parents always taught me that you can't go anywhere empty handed-- even from the dining room to the kitchen! I've brought the easiest chocolate mousse pie and chocolate chip cookies and inspired by my donut venture, I decided to make donuts again. Well, this obviously isnt a donut post. I made the mistake of baking a donut that was meant to be fried..... lesson learned! I had my roommate taste them and I decided they werent up to snuff. So into the bin they went. But what to make?! Fortunately, I had been browsing through my blogroll and noticed that the Heavenly Cake Bakers were making Financier Style Vanilla Pound Cakes. Bingo! Equipped with a pan that took me ages to find in Israel, I set out to making them. And these dainty little tea cakes were easy as pie. I was a bit nervous to bring a container of these meager looking cakes but then M reassured me that she loved the fact they were miniature. And so I was able to rest easy. The only thing I did differently from the recipe was to add a bit of vanilla bean paste to punch up the vanilla flavor. Oh, dont be alarmed when the batter curdles a bit. It's meant to be that way. Perfect with a cup of tea, these cakes are deliciously adorable.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cinnamon-Sugar Baked Donuts

Chanuka is in full swing! I'm writing this on the fifth sixth night, having just lit the candles after a long day, including dinner at my sister's. Unfortunately, not all has been happy and festive. The worst fire this country has ever seen broke out before the weekend up north in the Carmel area. Much land has been destroyed and too many people have been killed. It was finally put out and today we finally got such much needed rain. Hopefully it wont let up any time soon. But I suppose I should just keep things light in tone... In the Chanuka spirit, I baked these Cinnamon-Sugar Baked Donuts last week. Truth be told, it's about time I made donuts. Years ago, I bought a donut cutter and have never used it. A while ago I acquired the new and adorable book Doughnuts by Lara Ferroni. I also ordered donut pans and finally received them today, but also found donut pans in Israel. So I figured it was about time. On my day in, I finally got to work. The recipe for these baked donuts is an easy one to put together. It might even become my new all purpose sweet yeast dough. The dough rises for an hour, gets shaped, rests and is baked for ten minutes. They are then dunked in margarine and coated in cinnamon and sugar. I originally tried to go for an Entenman's type donut by rolling them in powdered sugar but no one went for them. So I redunked and coated in cinnamon-sugar. They were quite successful and kept the Chanuka spirit alive, in my room at least. These donuts are headed for Yeastspotting. Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Peanut Butter Muffins

Happy December! There's lots of excitement going on around here as tonight is the first night of Chanuka. To me, this holiday is family time and while it saddens me that for the fourth year in a row I will be without my family, I am consoled by the fact that I am in Israel lighting and celebrating with my girls. In any case, besides for all of the Chanuka hullabaloo, I've been baking a bit because I've been in and so had the time. I'd been meaning to make muffins for my roommates for breakfast-to-go as a means of finishing up the last of the buttermilk sitting in my fridge. I made these muffins, used up all the buttermilk, but sadly, these didn't make it to the end of the day and so there were none left for my dear roommates. At least they got eaten. So what did I make, exactly? I made Peanut Butter Muffins from KAF Whole Grain Baking. Delicious and (somewhat) nutritious, made with whole wheat flour. I made the recipe as is, initially opting not to make the glaze. When my first two tasters commented that there wasnt enough peanut butter flavor in the muffin itself, I quickly corrected that by whipping up the optional glaze. From then on, these didn't stand a chance. The recipe makes 12 nice sized peanut butter muffins and just enough glaze to top 'em all. You can choose to top these with chopped peanuts, but I think that garnish is more than necessary for these simple muffins.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Midnight Mocha Pie in Cafe Au Lait Crust

Warning : If you're not a fan of coffee and gooey things, this pie is not for you. This unassuming pie before you is the whole grain Midnight Mocha Pie in Cafe Au Lait crust from King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking and it shouts mocha. I've been wanting to try it and try my hand at making a whole grain crust and I finally had all the ingredients on hand. I put it together two nights ago and let my girls dig in last night. This is a take it or leave it kind of pie- either you like coffee or you don't. The girls who don't like it didn't appreciate this pie but the girls who did really thought it was delicious and told me so. So there you have it in terms of how it was received. Some notes about the pie itself.. As I said, I really wanted to try my hand at whole grain crust and making it was no different than a regular one. The crust features barley flour, oat flour and regular flour. I must not have let it chill long enough because it broke on me when trying to put it in the pan. No harm done, because all you do is patch it back together. The filling comes together fast and then bakes in forty five minutes although my center wasnt jiggly as the recipe indicated. In any case I let it chill overnight in the fridge. The center was still a bit gooey the next day, but I'm not sure anyone really minded. The changes I made were the result of pure laziness- in the crust, I just added the espresso and cream instead of dissolving it, and in the filling I didnt have coffee liqueur so I just added more cream and about 1/2 tsp of coffee extract.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mostly Pear and Apple Cranberry Crisp

It is my strong belief that pears are the most underrated, delicious fruit. Apparently they pale in comparison to the apple. I'll admit that they are a bit unassuming, but if you take a bite out of a perfectly ripened pear, you'll discover its mellow sweetness and be won right over. So why are there so few pear recipes to be found? I honestly have no clue, but I think we should change that. A couple days ago, there were pears served for dessert at dinner and a whole container was left behind. So I gathered the pears in the hopes of making something with them. Most of my pear research was fruitless (pun intended!) until yesterday when I found a recipe for a simple Pear Crisp in Carole Walter's Great Pies and Tarts. It pretty much fit the bill until I realized that I didn't have enough pears and had to add some.... apples (sad face) to make up the difference. This crisp was easy to make- it comes together in just minutes, and disappears in about as much time. Even in these not so cold days here in Israel, a warm fruit crisp is quite comforting. The only major things I changed were omitting the fresh lemon juice because I was out and not melting the margarine for the topping, opting instead to just rub it in. One less dirty dish to wash. And there you have it- Pear and Apple Cranberry Crisp for those who were not out celebrating Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Admittedly, here in Israel, I don't celebrate Thanksgiving like Americans do in America. Cheesy as it sounds, there's much to be thankful for every day and we have feasts like these every weekend on Shabbat. So to me, Thanksgiving and all its trappings are unnecessary for me. Not so for the girls. I went to Neve Daniel last night to babysit for my niece while she and her husband were at a wedding and I came home this morning to see my bed covered with signs begging me to bake pumpkin pie. They were so cute that I couldnt resist them and so today, I did indeed bake the pumpkin pie you see here for my creative girls. (In the process, I sliced my finger open when I opened the can of pumpkin, but I soldiered on. No biggie.) The recipe I used was from my newly acquired Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts that I found in a used book store. I made her pate brisee recipe and used the leftovers to cut out small circles to decorate the crust with because I don't have any leaf cutouts. The filling is simple and the only changes I made to the recipe were to use half turbinado sugar and half dark brown sugar instead of all brown sugar and non dairy cream instead of dairy. That's it. Baked for about an hour, cooled for about an hour while I napped, and then served perfectly sliced slices to my eager girls who were so excited and thankful that I actually took the signs seriously and made them pie. That, my, friends, is the magic of giving. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread

I spent a wonderful Shabbat with friends in Bar Ilan. It had been a very long time since I had been there and seen them so it was about time. They asked me to bring something and of course I volunteered to bring challot, the ones I just posted and I told them that if I had time, I would bake dessert also. One of the desserts I made was this Gingerbread, into which I tossed some chocolate chips. As it turned out, since no one relied on me, someone else made dessert thus allowing me to bring back a full pan of gingerbread to my ravenous girls. One of my girls kept coming back for more cake, which is always complimentary. A few words about this cake. You may notice  some dust on the pan but that isnt dust. It's flour. This cake, from Bakewise, is mixed DIRECTLY in the pan. There are chocolate versions of this cake, I believe to be called Wacky Cake. The dry ingredients are placed in the pan, whisked, topped with the wet ingredients, mixed and baked. And there you have the easiest gingerbread ever. The recipe calls for vinegar, ostensibly to act as the acid to aid the baking soda's rise. I didn't have any on hand so I omitted it. This very well may be the reason that the cake turned out wonderfully dense and moist as well. Overall, quite the success given the circumstances.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Jewish Holiday Baker's Ultimate Challah

One of my closest friends and her husband came to visit Israel this week and I had the greatest pleasure of spending an entire morning with her, just catching up on our lives. We walked around town, window shopping and picking up odds and ends, checking out shoes, and scarves and hats. A good friend, she put up with me popping into all the used book stores that I saw. She was the one responsible for this latest find, the now out of print The Jewish Holiday Baker, by Joan Nathan. This is a book I've wanted but couldnt get and here it was, in almost mint condition for only 45 shekels. The day just kept getting better. Naturally, the first recipe I chose to make was The Ultimate Challah. I know I rave about all the challot that I made, but these really are The Ultimate Challah of the sweet persuasion. This recipe will now be my go to sweet/egg challah. I just couldnt stop eating it, especially the middle parts which were slightly doughy. The dough kneaded so beautifully and braided so easily; they held their shape beautifully- just look at how they turned out. They also kept really well into Shabbat afternoon. These really are challot to be proud of and they'll probably grace many a table. This recipe uses only one kilo of flour but yields three nice sized loaves. Feel free to double it if desired. Don't be surprised if things are quiet on the challah front from here on out... These challot have been Yeastspotted!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Apple Butter Monkey Bread

The apples are FINISHED! There are none left! And all because I just decided to throw them into a pot and  turn them into apple butter. Problem solved! (I've learned my lesson- no more apples!) What to do with the apple butter, you ask? Make Apple Butter Monkey Bread! This recipe is adapted from one from the Macrina  Bakery Cookbook. When I saw it, I thought, brilliant! Monkey bread and a way to get rid of those annoying apples. It took me a while to actually get to making it because boiling down the apples is a bit of a process. I slightly adapted her dough recipe and decided to shape the monkey bread to be more monkey bread like, instead of using her suggested method. I also totally forgot about her topping for the end bread and I also considered making a glaze for it, but I just got too lazy. This bread made my room smell so glorious and fall-like. (Although here in Israel, with the lack of rain and cold, it's still summer. In November. I call it schizo weather.) The way I shaped this was just to roll jelly roll style, cut into small pieces and dump them into the pan. I just let the girls rip away large pieces. I'm pretty sure it was a big hit based on how fast it disappeared... This bread is going to Yeastspotting! See you there!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cherry Lattice Pie

I've been wanting to make a cherry pie for AGES and last week, I finally did. When I say AGES I mean I've been thinking about it for at least a month. For me, that's a long time for a baking itch to go ignored. In fact, the jars of sour cherries that I picked up on a whim have been sitting on my pantry shelf just waiting for me to put them to use. Eventually, I couldnt think of any reason not to, laziness not withstanding, so I set about making the pie crust. I was very excited to try my hand at making a lattice, and using Rose's Pie and Pastry Bible as my guide, everything about making this was as easy as.... well, you know. As with the apple galette, I  used the flaky pie crust which yields enough for a bottom crust and a lattice. Pie crust is pretty much easy to make, its just the waiting time that makes the process seem long and dragged out. As for the filling..... it is definitely not the season for fresh cherries here in Israel so I used the canned sour ones that are packed in syrup. I drained them very well and reduced the sugar a bit so it wouldnt be too sweet. Add some thickener and salt and almond extract, leave to macerate as long as you can and you have fresh cherry pie filling, not that gunky stuff from a can. The lattice was soo fun to make and it's so easy, pretty much just over and under and done. The whole pie is put into the fridge to chill the fat so that the crust holds up and doesnt fall. And then it gets baked. And then devoured. I allowed the pie to cool for a good three hours but after that, it was a goner. And I mean, in less than five minutes. Gone. All my work. I heard it was delicious so I'm not complaining. It seems I have a thing for pies, so I'm not going to wait too long before I make another...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mountain Meadow Chocolate Fudge Cake

I stumbled on the recipe for this cake while I was thumbing through Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey, looking for a way to use up some of the buttermilk that was sitting in my fridge. I succeeded with this one because not only does it have buttermilk in the cake but it has buttermilk in the frosting too. I was also excited about it because this cake reminded me of a Texas sheet cake, you know the one with the cracked chocolate frosting over a huge chocolate sheet cake? Well, I've always wanted to make it and I figured this was as close as I was going to get. Since we had a meeting coming up, I figured why not bake this easy cake. Assembling both was pretty simple and straightforward, with a lot of dirty, chocolately dishes to deal with in the end. Other than that, and the fact that I didnt bother really measuring the sugar for the frosting, just added by sight, there's not much to say in terms of the baking. How did it turn out? Well, already by looking at the color of the finished cake I knew it wasnt going to be as chocolately as I hoped. Instead, this moist cake became a vehicle for what everyone deemed an amazing frosting. Although, people did think the frosting was rich and the cake was not so that they formed a good balance. I think the frosting will go in my back pocket and either I'll use a different cake recipe to go beneath, or just add some dutched cocoa powder to the cake to replace some of the flour.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Banana Feather Loaf

As I mentioned in one of my more recent posts, I hadnt been feeling well in the last couple of days. I thought I was better yesterday but was unexpectedly hit with a wave of nausea. Anyway, the staple food item of someone sick is toast. Now, I love bread but as I watch what I eat I reserve it for Shabbat only. I decided however, that being sick was a case for leniency. The only catch was that I didnt have any bread around. The likelihood is that I wouldnt have touched store bought bread anyway because after baking my own for so long, store bought just wouldnt do. As it happened, I had one lone banana left sitting in my fridge and it hit me that this would be THE perfect time to make Rose Levy Beranbaum's Banana Feather Loaf. So I got to baking. Wow, was I impressed. This bread is dangerously good. Living up to its name, the crumb of this loaf is indeed very light and extremely moist. Its crust is crunchy and crisp and so good. The bread retained the fragrance of banana and while some banana flavor remained in the crust, it was gone by the next day. I made this as a regular sandwich loaf with no steaming and no stone. I also omitted the milk (no dairy bread!) and used oil instead of butter or margarine. Sometimes, I think it pays to be sick. This bread is going straight to Yeastspotting!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Banana Split Coffee Cake

I like bananas. I buy them by the bunch from the Shuk. Invariably, they all go bad before I can eat them all. And so I bake with them. A quick sweep of this blog will show you that I've baked ALOT of banana baked goodies so it's a miracle that there are still original recipes to try. This latest one is the Banana Split Coffee Cake from King Arthur Flour's Baking Companion. Essentially it is a banana chocolate marble cake. Banana and chocolate are a classic combination but more than that, it used buttermilk (needed to use up) and oil (healthier!) so this really was a winning recipe. Nothing too complicated here- just mixing half the batter with melted chocolate, half the batter with mashed banana and layering. I didnt bother with the glaze because I was just too lazy, but it was fine without it. I might make one if I were bringing this to a party or a meal but my girls were none the wiser and perfectly content to eat any cake at all. Thankfully, I had little trouble unmolding this bundt from its pan, due to the large amount of PAM I sprayed the pan with. The cake was moist and soft and wonderfully good. One of my girls called it heavenly. This cake really lives up to its name and would be
PER-FECT with a cup of coffee.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Aunt Dot's Dutch Apple Cake

Today is a bit of an off day for me.... I didnt sleep well last night because I wasnt feeling well.. and still this morning, no change. Needless to say, I slept the morning away... and most of the afternoon also. I figured I'd blog a bit, but I haven't gotten around to it until now. It's five eight thirty p.m. I hate being sick. Anyway, last night, before I came down with whatever's bugging me, I managed to turn out two cakes, one being this apple cake. This recipe comes from Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters, a book of baking recipes collected from old cookbooks or pamphlets. Being a fan of finding cookbooks, both old and new, in used book stores, this book, with all of its recipes and their accompanying stories, is extremely appealing to me. This is only the third recipe I've made, but so far so good. Back to the cake. I'm not entirely sure what makes this cake Dutch but it was a snap to put together, the most difficult part being  peeling and slicing the apples. Scented with vanilla and topped with cinnamon sugar, it was light and pretty and moist. The only changes I made were to use cream instead of milk which added a level of richness, because that's what I had on hand and to bake this in my springform pan. Love those pans! Really though, this cake couldn't be simpler and will help you make a dent in your apple supply...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mama's Challah

Another weekend, another Challah recipe. I spent this past Shabbat by my sister in Neve Daniel and she specifically requested that I make challot. Never one to turn down a request to make challot, I pulled out Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters to make their Mama's Challah. Here are my notes on this recipe. I used one kilo and the recipe yielded two giant challot and one nice sized roll. I used 1 tbsp instant yeast instead of two packages of quick rising. I used the three tablespoons of sugar but found it barely sweet so next time would add at least another. Also, I used the one tablespoon of salt called for but would up it by at least another half. The dough really handled beautifully- it kneaded and rolled like a dream. The final breads had amazingly fluffy texture-- a trademark of good kneading and good challah. I omitted the seeds from the top but I think they would add a lot to this recipe.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Caramel Brownies

Finally. Caramel brownies. I've been waiting and waiting to make these. I've searched every candy store that I see for mehadrin caramel candies so I could make them but have found none. So when I bought a jar of dulce de leche for a birthday cake and needed to use some of it up, I thought, it would have to do in place of caramel candies. (It should be noted, that dulce de leche is much simpler to work with than the candies..) In the end, it worked remarkably well. I gave a few to my sister who stopped by as a birthday treat and served them at our weekly meeting. The general consensus was that these were caramelly and delicious and... simply divine. I'm pretty sure that means these were a hit. I adapted this recipe from the Fatwitch Cookbook recipe for Caramel Witches. I dolloped on the dulce de leche and swirled it around. Next time, I'd swirl a bit less so that there would be pockets of caramel or I'd consider pouring half the brownie batter, spreading with caramel and topping with the remaining batter. Either way, you'll have people begging to scrape the pan clean.... Now.. what to do with the remaining dulce de leche....

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Banana Crunch Cake

Have I mentioned yet how exhausted I am? We just returned from an amazing three day trip to the Golan and boy am I tired. And sore. In a good way. The trip was really terrific, the Golan is just stunning and so full of history. I miss it already. So that's where I've been for the last few days and I'm only getting a chance to post this cake now. I made this cake the same day I made the apple cake and although it finished second, because it was dairy, it was in no way second rate. Made with whole wheat and oat flours, some bananas and buttermilk, and finished with a crunchy oat topping, this cake turned out moist and tender. Although not everyone could discern strong banana, everyone agreed that it was delicious.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fresh Apple Coffee Cake

In case you were wondering, these past few days have been a bit hectic. I started volunteering weekly at the local soup kitchen, which always exhausts me and then on Friday, one of my girls had to go to the emergency room. I was with her all of Friday and spent Shabbat in the hospital as well. I visited her again for a while yesterday and went today to the soup kitchen. I'm basically zonked. Thank G-d, she's home and her eye, the reason she was hospitalized, is on the mend. On top of that, the school is going for a three day trip up north. This is going to be a craaaazy week. Amidst of all this, I have a pile of apples on my counter, super ripe bananas in my fridge and I've been receiving numerous complaints that I haven't baked in ages. So yesterday, in need of some serious down time, I baked. Two cakes. The first one was this Fresh Apple Coffee Cake from Beth Henspberger's the Bread Bible. I'll just admit straight off the bat that this is an underused book. It hides behind a whole other row of books so I never see it but for some reason I pulled it off the shelf and was reminded that it has a coffee cake and quick bread chapter. It was there that I found this recipe... and other inspirations for a later date! Anyway, I had all of the ingredients on hand for this recipe so I set out to make it. Not only was it easy, but it was delicious! When I came back from the hospital, this cake was gone as in gone  and all of the girls bombarded me with, That was amazing, that was delicious! So I'm going to take their word for it. To me, this cake really is a good with coffee-cake as opposed to the other apple cake on this blog. While both good, this one is both lighter in color and texture and just screams for coffee or tea. Honestly, I have no notes to make about this cake because I made it exactly as is, and it turned out perfectly. I hope it will for you, too.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rustic Apple Galette

I finally collected enough apples to bake something substantial with. I had my heart set on making a pie but yesterday when it came to actually putting it together, I was too tired to put together a two crust pie. Thinking about it rationally, it's not much more work, considering you're making a double batch of pastry in one go, but it made perfect sense to me. I opted instead for the pie's more rustic counterpart, the galette, which is slightly less work but equally impressive. I used the galette recipe from Rose's Pie and Pastry Bible and truthfully, it couldnt be simpler. There arent even pictures to document each step because it was so simple. I made one of her crust recipes and chilled it. I sliced Granny Smith apples and tossed them with lemon juice. I rolled out the chilled dough, which was a pleasure to work with, into a large circle, and mounded the apples inside, not bothering to form them into a fancy pattern. I think it's more rustic, anyway. I sprinkled some sugar over the top, topped with some margarine and chilled the galette for a good half hour while my oven preheated. Here is where I think the secret to success lays. The last time I attempted a galette, I didnt chill my assembled tart long enough, which meant the fat didnt have time to thoroughly solidify so when it hit the heat, the fat continued melting before the crust had time to set. This time, I was wise to my mistake and let it chill. The proof is in the picture. I was rewarded with a beautifully set crust that didnt tear or rip or leak apple juices all over. I chose to leave the galette in all its rusticity, which meant omitting the apricot glaze. No one minded. They were just happy I baked. It disappeared literally in minutes, the girls offering profuse compliments, leaving but a few flakes of pastry behind.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fatwitch Blondies

My dad left us last Thursday but not before spending some more time shopping for presents for the family back home. My younger sister put in special requests for ANYTHING I COULD THINK OF, which if you know me is quite difficult because I put a lot of thought into buying gifts for people. That translates into me never being able to find just the right thing to suit the person and then no one is satisfied. My dad ended up picking up some cool jewelry but I thought that a good gift would be one that comes from me not from a store. I decided to bake up some cookies and send them back home to my sister. I chose to make the blondies from the Fatwitch book. (Having tested a bunch of recipes from the book, I can safely declare it a solid book with both classic and more fresh recipes that deserves a place on any shelf. My only gripe is that the final products as I make them don't resemble their cookbook counterparts.) The only change I made to this recipe was to substitute golden syrup for the molasses, which added a caramelly dimension to this otherwise homey cookie. I layered the cooled bars in parchment and placed them in a container and tucked them away in my dad's suitcase. My sister sent me an email upon receiving them saying that they were so good and still so fresh! A gift much appreciated, I guess. Like all the other Fatwitch recipes, these are simple to make. You can use the original molasses or you can try the golden syrup version. Either way, someone somewhere will be happy to eat these.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hamelman's Challah

As I mentioned in previous posts, pop's is here in Israel visiting. Yesterday, we spent the day doing errands in town, visiting the shuk, but mostly just spending time together. He leaves Thursday... not too excited about that. But let me tell you about this Challah. Once I knew that we were spending Shabbat together, I immediately wanted to bake challot. Nothing new right? You see, my dad and I have an interesting relationship when it comes to challah. I've been baking challot for about six or seven years, starting way back when I was in high school. Those were my early baking days and I knew nothing about bread at all. The recipe I made every week was a honey whole wheat, not necessarily the best loaves to make when you're starting out. Sure enough, my loaves would come out dense and shapeless. I would bring them to the table and my dad would lift one up and start swinging it as if it were a baseball bat. He used to crack many a joke at their expense. Sad times. I always say, it's lucky that I didn't take offense and quit challah baking because these days, my challot are light and fluffy and beautifully braided. I havent really been around New York enough to show him that my challot are really good so I jumped at the chance. Of course, there was a lot of pressure on to make sure that these wouldnt flop. For some reason, I decided to try another new challah recipe and this week, it was Jeffrey Hamelman's Challah from his awesome book, Bread. I made only half a recipe because we were only going to be four adults and two was more than enough. The only adjustments I made were to round up the sugar and oil to a full tbsp and to use Israeli all purpose flour. I also glazed the breads with egg white, so as not to be wasteful. How did they come out? They were just barely sweet with a nice chewy, if a bit dense, texture. The crumb was nice and yellow and the breads held up in the oven and sliced like a dream. These were perfect with savory toppings as well, which in my book, always adds a few points. Once more, these loaves are headed over to Yeastspotting!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fatwitch Brownies

Earlier this week, my dad, sister, brother in law and niece piled into my sister's car and drove way up north for a day trip. The plan was to go to Caesaria and then visit some family on the way back. In between, we went to Ikea and got lost quite a bit. But Caesaria was the highlight. Beautiful, clean beaches.... so relaxing and so beautiful. Since we were having such a long day, I figured I should bake something for the road. I decided to make the classic Fatwitch brownie. Now, I should have known that no one eat them- my father eats candy, my sister had a cold and couldnt taste anything, and I pass on the sweets these days. My brother in law had a couple but that still left me with plenty of extra brownies. So I brought them home and cut them in half for the girls. They had smelled them baking all the night before and couldnt have then so they were more than happy to devour what was on the plate. A few notes about the brownies themselves. The recipe calls for a little more than 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Thinking this wouldnt be chocolatey enough, I subbed two tbsp dutch cocoa powder for two tbsp of the flour. When the brownies came out of the oven, I thought they were going to be cake like, but as they cooled, they settled into a dense fudgy brownie that actually looked quite like the picture. I cut the brownies into twelve humongo ones, so you might want to cut them into sixteen squares. Overall, I think these brownies are right up there with the Baked ones, also known as my favorite brownie. So that's not too shabby. 

Oatmeal-Craisin-White Chocolate Bars

The second recipe I tried from the Fatwitch cookbook was the Oatmeal Cherry Bars. Except I didn't have cherries, I had craisins. And once you have oatmeal and craisins, there needs to be white chocolate. So in the white chocolate chips went and out came Oatmeal Craisin White Chocolate Bars. I figured since their drop cookie counterparts are always so successful, these should be, too. And they were. I came home that night to crumbs and more compliments for these than the White Chocolate Bars. These bars are much easier to make than cookies because it doesn't involve creaming, the fat is melted and the rest is just as simple as stirring everything together with a spoon or spatula. Be sure to let these cool for an hour lest they fall apart on you. Don't worry if the cookies feel to hard to cut through, a bench knife should do the trick. These would double nicely as a quick breakfast for those in a hurry. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chocolate Covered Chocolate Shortbread

Now that the holidays are over and SFW is in full swing, our weekly meetings with our sweets loving director M have resumed. I asked her what she wanted for the meeting and she immediately responded, anything with chocolate. Of course. But I was running low on eggs and so my options were narrowed significantly. Thankfully, I remembered that shortbread is made without any eggs and it is so simple to make. I used the Chocolate Shortbread recipe from the KAF Cookie Companion (they have a whole chapter devoted to shorbread) but decided to take a page out of Carole Walter's cookie book by opting to dip the shortbread sticks into chocolate melted with a bit of oil. The only thing I did differently was bake the cookies in one 9x13 inch pan instead of two 9 inch pans and from there cut them into sticks. If you're going to dip into chocolate, or white chocolate, make the recipe ahead of when you need it because it takes ages for the chocolate to dry. That didnt deter anyone from eating them at the meeting. I left the rest of them at home while I went to meet my dad and came home the next day to an emptied tray. And compliments. Fudgy and chocolately. Obviously they weren't fudgy but I think dutch process cocoa just does miracles for baked goods. So there you have it, delicious chocolate shortbreads. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

White Chocolate Bars

There is A LOT of posting to be done and very little time right now. My dad finally came to visit (!!!) and we spent all day together up north. I'm exhausted right now but taking the time to update before I go spend Shabbat with him at my sister's and fall even more behind. Anyway.... My friend S took a trip to America and of course I used that as an opportunity order books.... have I mentioned this already? Anyway, when I spent Shabbat with her in Tel Aviv, I picked them up. One of the books I ordered is the newly released Fatwitch Bakery Cookbook. I immediately began reading through them and mentally bookmarking recipes. So far, I've made three which I'll eventually get around to telling you about. I made these White Chocolate Bars the same night as the Oatmeal Craisin Bars, left them for the girls and went off to see my dad. When I got home the next days, both plates were completely emptied, save for a few crumbs and some plastic wrap. The White Chocolate Bars were easy to make although they look nothing like their picture. They were thin, golden brown bars that were sweet from the white chocolate. The top was nice and crackly and cooked in less time than the recipe stated, so watch them carefully. It's possible that beating them more would give them more height. But the girls were happy and so was I. Except when they called these blondies. Which they are obviously not. See for yourselves. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

KAF'S Whole Wheat Challah

I spent Shabbat in Tel Aviv with one of my closest friends S, who just up and moved there. Besides for the fact that it was SWELTERING over there and I didnt cool off until well after I returned to Jerusalem, I really enjoyed spending it with her and seeing the city and meeting some of her friends. Obviously, I was going to use the opportunity to bake challot and this week's recipe comes from KAF's Whole Grain Baking book, which I realllly like, if you didnt know that already. The original recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour, but as I have no idea what that is in Israel, I went ahead and used regular whole wheat. The dough needed more flour than the recipe stated and instead of using white flour I used whole wheat which accounted for the resulting density in the loaves. Thankfully, the loaves, while on the denser side, were not at all dry. The braiding held beautifully and the flavor was nice and hearty a bit nutty with a lovely sweetness from the honey. I kept going for more, although between you and me, when it comes to bread, that's not too difficult. When I get around to it, I'd like to try this again with more white flour in the recipe and see how it turns out. Until then, these challot are off to Yeastspotting once again!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Almond Plum Tart

Things have been happening so fast in terms of holidays that it's hard to keep up with posting. I turn around and it's Erev Shabbat again. While I'm waiting for my laundry to finish its cycle, my challah dough to rise and my episode of Top Chef Just Desserts to load, I figure I'd post this tart that I made last week, when the first days of the holiday began. As previously mentioned, I offered to bake for my sister and this is the tart I made. The recipe for this Plum and Almond Tart comes from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert and couldnt be easier to make. My sister called this tart simple but good. I thought it was beautiful and "simple" to be a compliment because it fits right into the premise of the book, recipes that are simple but fresh, using few ingredients but highlighting them at the same time. Making this tart is as easy as dumping a few ingredients into a food processor and slicing some fruit. If you dont believe me, check out the photos...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Whole Grain Spice Bars

Last week, I decided to head into Geula, one of Jerusalem's Hassidic neighborhoods. I had never before really appreciated it, as the culture it so different from mine, but these days I just find it fascinating. So off I went, to find some clothes, and just wander around and explore a bit. I did end up finding a dress and a blouse! and picking up some music, for some reason Im obsessed with Hassidic music... it's beautiful... Go figure. Anyway, while I was wandering around, my eye caught a Croc store. After going in without buying anything, I noticed a health food store. Now, there are some stores, like book stores, that I just can not resist going into. Health food stores are under that category because you just never know what you're going to find. And besides, lots of our conventional baking ingredients in Israel fall under the category of health food. Like maple syrup. Dont ask-I suppose it's just not so common here. And you can tell by its hefty price tag. So in to the store I went. I browsed around a bit and then noticed an entire back section of the store where they stocked all of their flours. Let me just say, was I surprised. They stocked every flour that I have ever wanted to lay my hands on but didnt think they had in this country. I came home with oat flour and... BARLEY FLOUR!!! and spelt flour as well. But they had everything! This store in Geula is a well kept secret and let me say, I will be going there ALOT. So naturally, what was one to do with all this flour? Get to whole grain baking, that's what! And so I went home and pulled KAF's Whole Grain Baking off the shelf and got to researching. Flours in hand, I bookmarked many recipes. I should say here that I decided to boil down the remaining apples to applesauce and I used most of it in a recipe that I had my eye on. Only I should tell you that it is very adapted and doesnt really resemble the original recipe. The original recipe is for Cinnamon Apple Bars with a PB Glaze but I didnt have cinnamon chips, I omitted the glaze and my girls told me they couldnt taste the applesauce but loved the spiciness. And so I dub these, Whole Grain Spice Bars. One of my girls called these bites of deliciousness and my roommate kept remarking on its moist texture. I was nervous about these because they were so crumbly. Perhaps they need to be held overnight before cutting. Turns out, my nerves were unwarranted. So there you have it. Bars that wont win any prizes for their humble looks, but delicious (and whole grain!) nonetheless.

Whole Wheat Dried Cherry Bread

This past week we began observing the holiday of Sukkot. The defining characteristics of Sukkot are building a hut like structure, in Hebrew a sukkah, where we eat and sleep and the four species, but that's for another time. In any case, the first day of the holiday I spent by my sister in Neve Daniel. Of course, I looked at that as an opportunity to bake and so I did. I offered to make a bread and a dessert. The tart is for later, but the bread I settled on was a whole wheat loaf from Hamelman's Bread. The original recipe calls for hazelnuts and currants, but I just used dried sour cherries. I think nuts would be a nice complement also, and so next time I would add some with the cherries as well. The bread, which I made by hand, is made with a preferment, and is easy to put together. The cherries were a tad bit stubborn when it came time to knead them in, but I knew that the rising would take care of that and it did. The bread itself had an even crumb and had a delicious crust and nice chew. It was not sweet at all and that is where the brilliance of the cherries come in. The cherries added the perfect sweetness. It was quite lovely. I made only half a recipe, and even that was too much. Once again, my slashing needs work. It wasnt terrible, but just not deep enough. Anyway, this bread is off to Yeastspotting, once again!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Macrina Bakery's Challah

This Shabbat the High Holy Days culminated in the observance of Yom Kippur. Not only is it a commandment for Jews to fast on this day of atonement and teshuva, but it is a commandment to eat the day before as well. And so, before the fast comes in, Jewish families everywhere sit down to a proper meal. As we were once again going to be in SFM and eating our meal there, I decided to make a single challah to enjoy. I figured that even if we were going to be fasting on Shabbat itself, I might as well make one anyway and of course try a new recipe in the process. :) This week's recipe comes from the Macrina Bakery and Cake Cookbook and isnt it a stunner? The dough was easy to put together and handled beautifully. I let the dough ferment overnight in the fridge and shaped and baked the next morning. The recipe calls for only 2 1/4 cups flour (plus more as needed to make a firm dough, as per my tastes) and so two eggs indeed makes it a bit rich. With three tablespoons of sweetener, it was sweet but not too sweet and it was nice, soft and doughy in the center, just like I like it. The final bread also has the most beautiful color and varnish that I've seen on a bread in recent memory. Overall this challah was YUMMY. As for the shape? It's deceptively simple. You make a three strand braid, elongate it slightly and knot it. Done. Sending this over to Yeastspotting!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

KAF's Gluten Free Sandwich Bread

This year, one of my girl's presented me with a serious food challenge. She is the first girl I have met in my time here who has a gluten allergy due to a disease called colitis. I flipped out when I heard that! How on earth do they manage to stay away from all things bread?! I may only allow myself bread on weekends and holidays, but to have to go without bread forever??? To me, it's inconceivable but if it improves someone's health and quality of life.... I also felt bad that while everyone else can eat my baked goods, she can't. And so, I decided that I would make her some gluten-free goodies. Not all the time, but as a special treat, now and again. And so I conducted a ton of research and found out a lot of fascinating things about celiacs and gluten free baking. I became possessed by the research, scouring blogs and various web sites for promising recipes, finding many promising leads. So I went to the health food store in search of xantham gum, the one ingredient without which all of this gluten-free baking couldnt be done. Lo and behold, there in the Israeli health food store my eyes spotted the words (in Hebrew) "ksantam gam" and below it in English, xanthan gum. Bingo! I then proceeded to stock up on some gluten-free flours. The first thing I made her were brownies, as they are simple and chocolate- a good gluten-free choice. They were not only simple but well-received, if a bit fudgy and gooey. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever heard anyone complain about that.... My next challenge was bread. I remembered seeing a blog on the KAF Baker's Banter and went back to theirs. It looked really good and so I set out to make it having all of the ingredients on hand. Let me just say- gluten-free is a whole other ball game! It was refreshing not to worry about over beating the flours but it was also oddly goopy but didnt really stick to much. It was a really cool experiment. I gave A, the girl I'm baking for the loaf with the warning that gluten-free is not my niche and it's not my fault if it's bad. She took a piece off while it was hot and said that it was pretty good for gluten free. Afraid to taste it, I declined but then thought better of it later. I had her bring me a piece and I thought, that was it really good. I wouldn't even say good for gluten-free. I liked it! It was kind of nutty and a bit sweet... I was a fan. I would definitely make it again. The only changes I made were to use a bit of white rice flour instead of all brown, margarine instead of butter, and soy milk instead of regular and I used a hand mixer. This is impossible to make without some sort of electric mixer. Consider yourself warned. This bread is off to Yeastspotting!

Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Lots to catch up on the blog and now that Yom Kippur is behind us, (more on that later) I'm going to get started. In the spirit of having to use leftover fruit.... One of my girls generously gifted me with two browning bananas. I thought, that's so sweet... but what the heck am I going to do with them?! And so they sat on my counter for a few days, getting nice and brown, until I found this  recipe in KAF Whole Grain Baking, a book that I had been revisiting and scanning for some gluten-free inspiration (more on that later, too!!) This recipe for simple banana bread is tucked away at the back of the book, why I'm not sure, but it spoke to me anyway. Firstly, it calls for all whole wheat flour, I used regular and not white whole wheat. Also, in addition to some brown sugar, the recipe calls for honey. I must say that this is the EASIEST banana bread I can recall making. It came together in less than five minutes. I added chocolate chips instead of walnuts because the whole wheat was too virtuous. And because E likes it that way. Anyway, my eager tasters pronounced this amazing and delicious. I'm guessing the whole wheat didnt interfere at all :) My only caveat is to bake this baby through! Mine was a bit underdone in the center. You might get thrown off by the dark coloring, but if you're nervous, tent the top of the loaf with foil. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dutch Apple Pie Bars

Another year at SFW means more of our cook's delicious meals which means more leftover fruit at mealtimes. And you know what that means. Into the oven they go. This month, the fruit of choice has been apples. I've been collecting a few apples at a time a couple of days ago finally put them to use. As with the bananas, it's been hard to find new and exciting but girl-friendly ways to use them- how many apple cakes, pies, and crisps can you make? If we were talking crisps, my roommate from last year would say ALOT but.... it was time for something else. And so, the research began. I liked the idea of apple bars and found a few promising recipes in the cookie books on my shelf. The recipe I settled on was the Dutch Apple Pie Bars from the King Arthur Cookie Companion. Of course, I couldnt leave it completely alone. Instead I made some alterations based on my laziness these are time consuming as it is!) and what I had, or didnt have, on hand. How did they fare? First of all, I objectively dont know how you can go wrong with a bite size apple pie. And indeed, I left them in my room, untouched, and returned to a mostly empty pan- see picture below. The compliments I received on them were glowing-- these homey bars were quite a winner. The apples are cut in a dice, and the long bake softens them up into a nice smooth filling. The girls really loved them. Keep an eye on how much sugar you add, a couple of girls commented that they were a tad too sweet. So what did I do differently? Well, I omitted the cream from the filling, the almond extract from the topping, and instead of melting the margarine for the topping, I just cut it in to the flour to make a more crumbly topping. Feel free to do it either way. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Streusel

Happy New Year! Jewish New Year, that is! We got back from a long three day stay in Shaalvim where we spent Rosh HaShana and Shabbat. It was intense and difficult what with wakeup and all, but the davening was beautiful and meaningful, even at 630 in the morning! This Shabbat was also E, my roommate and friend's twenty third birthday. (I'm sure not the best way for her to spend it...) I told her awhile back that she could choose anything she wanted for her birthday and she said banana bread with chocolate chips. To me, that's not a birthday cake... but for her birthday, her wish was my command, so I started collecting bananas and when they had gone bad, I froze them. I knew that there was no way things would be fresh until her birthday so I told her that the cake would have to be earlier. I dont think she was too bummed. So what did I make? Certainly not banana bread! I didn't have chocolate chips on hand and instead improvised something alot better which I think will become a signature. I decided to go with a banana cake baked in a 9x13 pan and topped with chocolate streusel. I have made streusel topped banana cake before, but I think the chocolate streusel was a stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. I recalled that the Tuesdays with Dorie group had just made a banana cake that was extremely flexible so I started there. I also remembered that Carole Walters had a recipe in her most recent book for chocolate streusel. And so, I put them together and this happy marriage became E's birthday cake, which she loved. It took a while for this to get finished because we kept it secret and it was also dairy, so people who had eaten meat couldnt partake of it. But it was finished the next day and everyone who had thoroughly enjoyed it, leaving but a few crumbs left in the pan. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Peanut Butter Oreo Bars

Feeling stressed on Sunday, I knew that the thing that would relieve it all would be a good bake. But what to bake? That question always seems to add another layer of stress. One of the second years encouraged the peanut butter option. Seriously though, I have encountered more peanut butter and peanut butter baked goods last year and in the last month than I have in my life. It seems all these girls like to eat is peanut butter anything. Anyway, with a jar of peanut butter in hand, I set out to do some research. This was a particularly hard call to make seeing as my M.O is generally not to repeat recipes but once you've made PB everything, it's quite difficult to avoid. Still determined to bake, I flipped away through my cookbooks finally setting on a recipe from Paula Deen's Just Desserts. This is a book I picked up many summers ago and have kept on the back shelf until now. This is its first use. The original recipe makes a huge pan of peanut butter bars with a glaze. I, who can't leave well enough alone, decided to switch it up a bit. I omitted the glaze and the oatmeal from the recipe and instead added a full sleeve of chocolate sandwich cookies. My thinking that the marriage of peanut butter and chocolate is a winner led to the thought that who doesnt love a sandwich cookie? Boy, were my instincts good on this one. Not only did these run off the plate, some girls had as many as eight cookies! These were truly loved and I think that this is going to become a signature cookie for me. I will say that the cookies should be chopped on the smaller, less chunky side to ease spreading into the pan. This batter was a bit difficult to spread but is totally doable. The result is a generously sized batch of thin and chewy bites of peanut butter deliciousness. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

As I mentioned in the previous post, when I asked my sister what she wanted me to bring her for Shabbat she  said Orange Almond biscotti. Apparently, she had a craving. Unfortunately, I couldnt get my hands on oranges in time to make them so I asked her for an alternative suggestion. Without missing a beat she said, Chocolate Almond Biscotti. My response? Excellent choice. And so I popped open the Cookie Companion to the chapter devoted solely to these beloved Italian cookies and chose the recipe simply titled, Chocolate Almond Biscotti. Easy to make, biscotti are a twice baked cookie that are perfectly suited to a dip in your morning coffee, or whenever you're in the mood for a crunchy bite. The only suggestion I can offer is to chop the almonds on the smaller side so that they don't tear up the cookies when you're trying to slice them.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

KAF's Challah

Another weekend, another challah. I spent this weekend at my sister's in Neve Daniel. It was so nice to spend a relaxing weekend away from work with her and family. Not to mention how cute my niece is.... Anyways, I asked what I could bake and she requested biscotti, as she had a craving, but more on that later. I also offered to bake challot, for reasons that readers of this blog know about already. (Anyone getting sick of seeing challot on the blog?! Don't answer that...) The recipe I chose this week is from the King Arthur Baker's Companion, my well loved and often used go-to baking book. I hadn't planned on using the recipe from here but stumbled upon it when I was looking for biscotti recipes and I figured, why not? This is the second recipe that I have seen thus far that uses a sponge. Let me say, this is quite untraditional. Normally, everything goes into a bowl at once. The sponge ferments for about forty five minutes, so really it was not a big deal at all. After that, everything goes into the bowl. The dough was a pleasure to knead and rose nicely also. It braided nicely as well and aside for my too tight braiding, the loaves were beautiful. I had never before used an egg white glaze but it works pretty well, although the result is more matte than with an egg yolk finish. As for the challot themselves, I really liked them. Alot. For an egg challah, they were not overly eggy at all and although there was more sugar than Im used to for this amount of flour, it wasnt too sweet either. It also had a nice doughy flavor that I havent had in a while. The texture was terrific, nice and fluffy and oh so delicious. It seems that I'm becoming an egg challah convert..... The recipe indicates that this makes one loaf, which would be quite large. I made one large six stranded loaf and one smaller three stranded loaf. Braid as you please! And check out this week's Yeastspotting!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Out of This World Brownies with Oreos

Inspired by The Brownie Project where one blogger posts about her adventures with brownies (I should have a Challah Project! Hmmmm) I planned to make brownies for the first in Shabbat. Except I wanted to make brownies with chopped cookies in them. However, my roommate, who went shopping for my ingredients, returned cookie-less. And so, it was plain, regular brownies for Shabbat. Delicious ones, according to all the tasters, but not what I had in mind. So when I went shopping with my sister for her baking adventures and I found imitation Oreo cookies, I snagged a couple of packages and brought them home. These brownies would be made! Fast forward to yesterday when I had to get ready for another wedding. (The wedding was awesome, by the way. Casual and relaxed with a great band, great food, great friends and great weather!) Before I got ready for the wedding though, I decided to whip up a small batch of brownies, as I only had two eggs left! I noticed on The Brownie Project that its author, Megan, had tested these brownies and in searching for a brownie recipe for Shabbat noticed them too (but rejected them for some reason). It seemed like a promising choice and indeed this recipe was perfect for what I was looking for. So yesterday I pulled Desserts by the Yard off the shelf and got to baking. These brownies are pretty standard in technique- beat eggs and sugar, and melted chocolate and margarine, fold in flour. I folded in a bunch of chopped cookies and spread them in the pan. I think I underbaked them because when I cut them they were insanely fudgy. I popped them into the fridge and instructed my roommate to serve them at curfew while I was at the wedding. One of the second years told me I outdid myself with these. Indeed, I came home to an empty plate. I suppose that speaks for itself? Make these- they live up to their name.