Monday, August 30, 2010

Greenstein's Challah

Not surprisingly, with the little I baked for Shabbat, I had plenty of time left in my day and the other madrichot were not back yet from their paper goods shopping. I made a last minute decision to make a batch of challah. This made me happy because I love to make challah and make it whenever I can and whenever I am home for Shabbat and because it allowed me to continue testing recipes in search of a super great one. As is normal for all cookbooks that dont really know about the broad spectrum of challot, this week's recipe is for an eggy challah. It seems that everyone's perception of challah is as an eggy bread. I wont go into it now, but it's not entirely true... In any case, in my ongoing effort to try challah recipes from all of my different cookbooks, this recipe is from George Greenstein's Secrets of a Jewish Baker. I made one batch of challah using all purpose flour. The challot had good flavor and good texture, not too eggy and sweet but not too sweet. It had a nice yellow crumb from my bright eggs which I always think is cool. Once again, I neglected to make my dough as firm as I like, I'll have to fix that on my next challah go-round. I think it would result in a better braid definition. From this batch I made three small loaves, with six, four and three strands. This would make an excellent challah for Rosh HaShana with or without the addition of raisins. I'm sending these breads over to Yeastspotting!

Plum Tea Cake

This past Shabbat was the first one spent with the new class of 2011. My fellow madrichot were responsible for purchasing food for the post dinner tisch and the kiddush the following morning. I had said that I wasnt going to bake because I usually bake alot and it puts me out of commission a whole day. But when we were going over what we were going to buy, I realized that there would be nothing homey, nothing special... and so, I caved and decided to bake. It seems I just cant resist.... I didnt bake a lot.. really I didnt. I made cinnamon babkas, brownies and peanut brownies and these Plum Tea Cakes. Plum may sound like an odd choice but our wonderful cook let me know that there were plums on the verge of going bad so instead of going to waste, I opted to bake with them. I practically didnt have a choice! This summer, as plums were at the height of their seasons, I featured a few plum recipes. I was looking for one I havent made yet and so I turned to Rustic Fruit Desserts. I found the recipe for Stone Fruit Tea Cake and having all of the ingredients on hand, proceeded to make it using all fresh plums. Easy to make, this cake turns out to be quite beautiful if a bit rustic looking. Everyone loved it, and personally came up to me to compliment me on it even though most could not identify the fruit that I used. In any case, this is a terrific recipe to showcase the fruits of the season.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


A is married!!!!!! The wedding was beautiful, as was she. I danced my heart out and truly enjoyed it. I came back at 1:30 because the bus broke down on the way back to Jerusalem. I am totally wiped out! Utterly exhausted! I've been trying to squeeze in some shuteye at any free moment that I can. I need sleep! But it was so nice to celebrate with a close friend here in the Holy Land. I'm hoping for many more of these soon! I figured since A just got married, I should hurry up and post this Linzertorte that I made for her Shabbat Kallah this past weekend. I really wanted to make a tart and something fruity as well and the linzertorte was the first thing to pop into my head. I dont use nuts enough in my sweet baking and so I looked at it as a good opportunity to incorporate them in a major way. Besides, who doesnt like hazelnuts? This was also a good opportunity to inaugurate Rose's Pie and Pastry Bible, a book I had wanted for ages and found in perfect condition in a used bookstore here in Israel for 70 shekel which is significantly less than the retail price. That was a great day for me. Back to the torte- you begin by toasting nuts and grinding them before completing the pastry. Most of it is then pressed into a pan, lined with jelly and topped with a lattice made from the remaining jelly. That simple. This tart was beautiful looking, all my friends were truly impressed and made sure to say so. I kept catching people cutting off little slivers and going back for more so I'm sure that was their way of saying they were impressed with how it turned out as well. Rose never disappoints!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mango Tart

It seems it's been ages since I took the time to post. Things have been crazy here. The new group of girls arrived two days ago and between getting them settled and adjusted and all of the orientations that are happening around here, I haven't really had a second. I've been going to bed late and getting up earlier than usual and I'm EXHAUSTED! That's why I'm relieved to report that while the girls are going on their first tiyul today, I'm going to be at A's wedding! She's getting married tonight!!! I'm soooo excited and can't wait to dance with her. Which brings me to last Shabbat which was the weekend that her friends, myself included, spent with her- the last weekend before she becomes a married woman. Or course, I put myself on dessert duty. Happy to have alllllll my books back in one place, I set about to do the usual research. The first recipe I came across seemed perfectly seasonal, easy, and beautiful. This Mango Tart comes from Israel's premiere culinary magazine, Al HaShulchan. It is basically a baked tart crust, spread with jam, topped with fresh mango slices and then baked. That simple. Some of my girls had moved in that night and as I had extra components, I made them individual tartlets. They LOVED this summery dessert. Use only the freshest mango available. I got my perfectly seasonal fruit from the Shuk- LOVE the shuk! Feel free to use any complimentary jam flavor- I used apricot here, but an orange marmalade or a mango jam would work just as well.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Reinhart's Challah

Shavua tov! And what a busy week it's shaping up to be. Mind you, it has barely started. This beautiful Sunday morning begins with packing! That's right. This week, I am finally moving out of Neve Daniel and back into SFW. If that werent stressful enough, we have to prepare for the girls' arrival, which is next Monday and we're pressed for time. If that weren't stressful enough, A is getting married next week and this weekend is her Shabbat Kallah, the weekend before she gets married, spent with all her friends. I'm helping to organize it and that means baking for some of it. AHHHH! Where is the time?! If only things were spread out a bit more..... it's good to be busy. Anyway, as I mentioned in one of my last posts, I want to try out different Challah recipes as much as I can. A great place to start is my vast collection of cookbooks. I like knowing that I use them... it sort of excuses buying more. So this past Shabbat, I opted to use Peter Reinhart's recipe from the Bread Baker's Apprentice. I found the recipe, or what I thought was his recipe online, and made it. As it turns out, it was his recipe with two adaptations. The first change was to increase the salt and the second was to preferment some of the flour, something I have never seen done with a challah recipe. I'm not sure how differently it would have come out without the preferment but let me just say, I LOVED THIS CHALLAH! And Im not a fan of egg challah. I couldnt stop eating it! It was not too sweet, just the right texture and overall perfect. I deliberately made the dough firmer than last time, and just like I thought, the braiding was beautiful and the crumb was lovely as well. I double glazed the braids and because of that and the eggs in the dough, the challot had the most beautiful color and sheen. This challah is a keeper. Definitely bookmarking this one. If you decide youre too lazy for the preferment, omit it and just combine all the ingredients together. These Challot have been Yeastspotted!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Reinhart's Whole Grain Anadama Bread

Ages ago, when I first acquired The Bread Baker's Apprentice, I made the Anadama Bread. I was recently reminded of this as I was going through old blog posts and adding recipes that I hadn't posted then. I remembered that Reinhart included a whole grain version of this delicious bread in his Whole Grain Breads and I decided that since I had all of the ingredients on hand, this would be the second bread made this week. Since I own the book but wont have access to it until next week, I searched for it online and found it. Of course, I didnt read that the recipe listed only yielded one loaf. I thought it would yield two, so I halved it, thus making a quarter of the recipe, which in the end turned out to be plenty for one person and the freezer. I was wondering why all the quantities seemed non existent- I guess I was half brained that day. Oh well. That's what you get when you try to put two breads together at the same time. Anyway, this recipe used his epoxy method which involves a soaker and a starter, both easy to assemble the night before. In this bread, I really like that he uses a soaker because it really brings out the corn flavor. It is the starring flavor in the resulting bread, in such a good way! I really enjoyed it and the whole grain aspect made the rolls hearty and sturdy. I actually preferred these to the challot. Once the soaker and starter are made, everything else is standard procedure and quite easy. The dough handles beautifully and rises like a dream. It is possible that I let them overproof slightly so watch them carefully.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Reinhart's Transitional Whole Grain Challah

Because of the nasty cold that I caught last week, I decided to cancel my plans to go to my brother for the weekend and opted instead to stay home and rest up. Thankfully, it was both peaceful and restful and full of reading, which I've been doing a lot of this summer. As is my usual, I like to make breads for Shabbat because that is the only time I allow myself to enjoy it. So I decided to make two breads, both recipes from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, a book I own but don't bake enough from. This recipe is his Transitional Whole Grain Challah- he might call it 50 percent in his book, I dont remember- this is not completely made with all whole wheat, that recipe is for a different time. This post also marks the return of Challah Chronicles and I hope that I'll have many more this year. I've decided that every cookbook I have, bread books or other, contain Challah recipes and although I have recipes that I love, I decided I want to test each one and see what happens. So stay tuned on that front. Back to this week's Challah... The recipe calls for making a soaker and a biga the night before, which was easily done. The next day, the rest of the dough is put together quite easily. Everything after that is standard challah baking procedure. My final dough was rather annoying to work with and the loaves themselves didnt look too beautiful, not something I'm used to. I think because of the summer heat and the high moisture in it, I didn't add enough flour to make a firm dough. So next time I would add enough flour to make a firmer dough. The crumb was nice and soft due to the eggs and had a nice flavor with undertones of honey. Happily, it wasnt too eggy or sweet that it couldn't be enjoyed with savory applications. This bread has been Yeastspotted.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Yesterday, I went into Jerusalem to see my friend A who is getting married in a couple of weeks. She was moving into her beautiful new apartment in Katamon and it was nice to catch up before the big day. I brought her these cookies that I made specifically for her. You see, last week was her bridal shower, and like any good friend I was supposed to attend. I had even baked these cookies for her the morning of. So what happened? Well, I had just come down with the nastiest cold whose symptoms involved bad headache, toothache.. I could go on and on. It was really unpleasant and I could barely move I was so sluggish and unwell. Thankfully, A understood and although I am still recovering from it, I decided to deliver these cookies and her wedding gift. What would I do with an enormous amount of cookies sitting around the house? A loved them, thought they were amazing. After eating a few, she decided they must be stashed in the freezer for fear she wouldn't fit into her wedding dress. All that said, let me tell you about the recipe. The recipe comes from Shirley O Corriher's Bakewise, a book that I own but have mostly consulted for the science and haven't yet used for the recipes. Again, glad to fix that. She recommends that the dough be made the night before, which I did for the sake of convenience. Her recipe calls for oil, a plus, and corn syrup to keep them nice and chewy after baking. Her recommended technique for coating the cookies is to first roll in granulated sugar and then powdered sugar, stating that the first granulated sugar helps the powdered sugar adhere better. Well, I decided to test this, and the results were identical. I continued doing it her way just because I already had the sugar out in a bowl and decided not to waste it. Next time, I might do without that step. This recipe makes a boatload if you use a smaller scoop.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Birdseed Rolls

Shavua tov! After spending a quiet Shabbat here in the yishuv, I'm looking forward to a more active week. Firstly, E is making aliyah on Monday so I'm going to greet her flight! Greeting flights of new immigrants is really exciting and emotional and it's going to be quite nostalgic, as I made the same move almost three years ago! Also this week is A's bridal shower. Stay tuned for either a Brownie Puddle Tart or Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.. I havent yet made up my mind which direction I'm going in.... Anyway, as readers know, Shabbat is not only my favorite day of the week because of the rest and reprieve from the busy world that it grants, but because it is also the day that I allow myself to indulge my love of bread. While I'm at it, I like to try something new while making use of my many cookbooks. In this case, I made fresh rolls to enjoy, adapting the recipe from Marcy Goldman's Passion for Baking. She calls this recipe Birdseed Bread, although to me that sounds a bit unappetizing! The recipe yields two loaves but I halved it to yield six nice sized rolls. Here's what I changed: I omitted the lemon juice, which to my mind is a bizarre addition, omitted the baker's caramel, which I didnt miss at all and only used sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. The bread was not only easy to make but turned out soft and delicious, even to the next day, without being reheated! The crumb was a light brown from the whole wheat and rye and mildly tasted of honey. I think next time I would add the flax and omit the sunflower seeds- I'm not sure I like them in bread.. they have too much bite. Maybe I should chop them next time. Anyway you make them, they really are easy and delicious. I'm sending these over to Yeastspotting! Knock yourself out over the weekly collection of yeasted goodies.