Tuesdays with Dorie: Challah

Oh, Hello!

I know its been a while. I’ve been baking. but not blogging or taking pictures. Life has been  CRAZY. My boys started kindergarten in August. So, I’ve got three kids in three different classes, and that means 3 different teachers who want my time. Which is a lot. Plus, I’m training for another marathon, and planning another Ragnar Relay. so, I’m busy. But hopefully I’ll be back here more often. Gotta get back into the habit..

So, that brings us to this week’s assignment: Challah. I’ve baked this one before, and I bake challah almost every week for french toast or for my synagogue. My standard recipe is from Marcy Goldman and uses fresh yeast. This recipe isn’t really all that different except that it uses milk and butter. Which makes this bread delicious. BUT it makes the bread dairy (duh). But people who keep kosher don’t mix meat and milk, and challah is traditionally served at shabbat dinner. In most homes Shabbat dinner is a meat meal–soup, roast chicken, etc. And so a bread with milk and butter in it just won’t fly.

I mixed it up this morning when I realized that we were running low on french toast. I managed to get it all kneaded together before we left for school and popped it in the fridge to rise. In the evening I braided it, let it rise and baked it off.
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of course, my house smelled delicious.

I sliced into it today to taste it with some butter. It was delicious. Tomorrow it’ll turn into about 20 slices for French toast.

To see some other lovely examples of this challah, visit the LYL post at Tuesdays with Dorie

 

Tuesdays With Dorie: Savory Brioche Pockets

This weeks assignment was to make ‘savory brioche pockets’. Brioche pockets filled with carmelized onions, mashed potatoes, goat cheese, chives and asparagus tips.
I made the brioche on Thursday, let it rise overnight and made the ‘pockets’ on Friday and enjoyed one for lunch with a big salad on Friday.
The brioche is not difficult, I made it once before when we made the pecan sticky buns. I liked the brioche much better in this application than I did in the sticky buns. That was just TOO sweet and TOO buttery!

Make the sponge
let it rise
make the dough–incorporating all that butter never seems like its going to work
knead it forever
let it rise
deflate
Rest in fridge for at least 8 hours. Mine got at least 20 hours

I decided to make 4 pockets and turn the balance of the dough into loaves of brioche

The recipe suggests cutting circles out of the dough and forming them into circular pockets. I’m more familiar with making borekas, which are an empanada style pocket, and its all one piece. I went with what I knew
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I cut off a piece of dough, rolled it out into a round (okay, they usually look like amoebas.) On one half of my amoeba, I layered onions, the potato/goat cheese/chive mixture, and two lightly cooked asparagus tips. Then, I folded the empty half over and sealed it up and put it on a sheet to rise. I made 4 in total and put three of them directly into the freezer for future good eating (tomorrow, perhaps, or maybe for dinner tonight)
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When it had risen long enough, I brushed it with some egg wash and sprinkled on some poppy seeds and coarse salt. Into the oven it went. Out came deliciousness
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I didn’t forget about the other 2/3 of the dough! I divided it into 12-roughly equal sized blobs and put 6 into each baking tin. I put both tins in my ‘proofing box’ (the microwave with the door cracked open so the light stays on)and popped them in the oven when I ran out of time. What came out were some of the most amazing bread I’ve ever baked. Really–more like cake than bread. One of those loaves went into the freezer too.
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It was insanely delicious with butter. Insane!
You’ll be able to see other people’s work at the LYL (leave your link) post at Tuesdays With Dorie. Carrie at Loaves and Stitches is our host for the week, and you’ll be able to find the recipe at her blog.

And you should totally make this. It was a really satisfying-and fancy-lunch. It wasn’t difficult. If you’re not into the ‘pockets’ just make the brioche. It’s really good too!

Tuesdays With Dorie: Rustic Potato Bread

So, I made this bread a few days late. The post was ‘due’ on the last day of passover. So, I made it yesterday.

For such a beautiful loaf of bread, it was incredibly simple to bake. I wish I had read the instructions completely before getting started, because then I would have known that the dough starts out crumbly….like a pie crust….and then miracously comes together like a bread dough. I added a few tablespoons of water while it was still crumbly, and then ended up having to add extra flour while I was kneading it. No big deal. I don’t think it affected the flavor one bit. I halved the recipe and did the whole thing by hand. My mixer is much too big to bother with for only one loaf of bread. I didn’t mind, kneading it was my arm workout for the day–I couldn’t get to the gym since I was home with a sick child.

After two short rises, I ended up with this beautiful loaf of bread.
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It was delicious plain, and with butter.
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I’ll definitely be making this again. it was easy, delicious and impressive looking!

Check out the other loaves of potato bread that were produced this week at our Leave Your Link post. The recipe can be found at Dawn’s blog, Simply Sweet. While you’re there, make sure to look at the picture of the “high heeled shoe cupcakes” that she made. They’re stunning. She has the recipe for the bread, or you can find it on page 138 of Baking with Julia.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Foccacia

This week’s assignment was to make Foccacia, a delicious Italian flat-ish bread. It was relatively easy, but required lots of time–but very little attention.
The dough was easy to put together, water, yeast, salt, olive oil and flour kneaded together for about 10 minutes to make a beautiful dough. Then an hour and a half rise. Then it was folded up on itself to deflate it, and then another short rise. Then the dough was divided into three lumps, placed into an oiled ziplock bag, and stashed in the fridge for a 24-36 hour rest.
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The long cold rise produced lots of tiny bubbles and a tangy flavor. Of course I forgot to take a picture of the dough after it came out of the fridge. It had risen again, and you could see the matrix of bubbles in the dough.

When I was ready to bake it the next evening I pressed it onto a parchment lined baking sheet. The recipe called for chopped fresh herbs, which I didn’t have–so I used sea-salt on two of them and magic salt on the other.
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Magic salt is a delicious combination of kosher salt, garlic, rosemary and sage. It all goes into the food processor to chop up the garlic and herbs with the salt and then it’s poured onto a rimmed baking sheet to dry (either by leaving it out or in a low oven–I had to use the oven for mine because it was extremely humid when I made it). The salt can be used to flavor roasted vegetables, meat, and apparently Foccacia. It was the clear winner for me over the one that just had olive oil and sea salt.
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The bread didn’t have the loose bubbly texture I expected–the bubbles were small and evenly distributed– but I’m not sure it mattered. It was light and heavily flavored with olive oil, salt and herbs. I would definitely make it again, and I wonder how it would work as a pizza dough. Perhaps as a loosely made pan/Sicilian pizza.

I served the bread with dinner one night last week. Leftover lasagne, the foccacia and collard greens with garlic.
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Check out the host’s post on this recipe at Sharmini’s blog, Wandering Through. The recipe can be found there, as well as on page 143 of the book.
And take a look at the Leave Your Link link (LYL) at Tuesdays with Dorie. If you’ve got a hankering for good bread, and an excuse to make this (and a little bit of time) you should.

The next Tuesdays With Dorie will feature Boca Negra. All I can say about that is wow. Stay tuned for that one!

Tuesdays With Dorie: Bagels

This week, our assignment is to bake bagels. I’ve done this before, though not from this recipe.

I have used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe a few times, which came from Peter Reinhardt (the bread baker’s apprentice, I think). Like this recipe, it’s also a two day affair, but it uses a sponge, then you make the dough, then rise, then make the bagels and let them chill out in the fridge until the next morning.
This recipe is simpler. There’s no sponge, and it is nice to eliminate a step. I put the dough together before making dinner on Saturday night. It only took a few minutes and I didn’t take any pictures because you’ve all seen me make bread dough before.

I decided that I’d finish the bagels before lunch on Sunday. I divided the dough in half and left one half in the fridge while I produced bagels from the other half. I divided that half into 5 roughly equal pieces, and made a ‘purse’ before making a hole in the middle and then shaping them into bagels:
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I placed the unboiled and unrisen bagels on a floured towel
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before boiling them off, a few at a time. I let them boil for about 30 seconds on each side once they floated to the surface
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Then they rested and drained for a moment on a non-floured towel and then onto the parchment-lined baking sheet they went to be brushed with egg and then topped (or not)
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They went into a 500 degree oven with some ice cubes and water to produce steam, the temperature was immediately turned down to 450, and they baked for 25 minutes. Then the oven was turned off and they sat for 5 minutes. And then the oven door was opened and they sat, still in the oven, for another 5 minutes.

And then I began the process again with the second set of bagels that were still to be shaped.
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Then I had to re-heat the oven for the 2nd batch. Really, my biggest problem with the recipe is the part where I had to keep the oven door open for 5 minutes. Its still summer here in Florida and that really heated the kitchen up. Clearly, the next time I do this, it will be the dead of winter, when I don’t mind extra heat in the kitchen. But on a 90 degree (or more) day, I really don’t want to be heating my kitchen up like that.

Other than that complaint, its a good recipe. The next time I make them, I’ll add whole wheat flour into the mix.

I sliced the un-eaten bagels and put them in the freezer the same day I baked them. Since then I’ve been taking one half of a bagel out every morning, letting it defrost slightly and then toasting it a little. Then I butter it, cut it in half and put it in Dorothy’s lunch box. I ate half an onion bagel the other morning for breakfast, toasted with cream cheese. It was still delicious.

If you like bagels (and lets face it, who doesn’t?) you should try to make your own at least once, and this is a good recipe to start with. I’ve baked bagels at least 3 times now, and my kids and husband get a huge kick out of it. You can find the recipe on page 87 of Baking With Julia, and check out our host for the week, Heather, who blogs at Heather’s Bytes. She’ll have the recipe posted as well. There will be lots of delicious bagely posts at our home base, Tuesday’s with Dorie.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Whole Wheat Loaves

This week’s task was to make Whole Wheat Loaves (recipe on page 83 of the book). I couldn’t have been more thrilled to bake this. I’ve been baking all of my family’s bread since July, and I was curious to see if my people liked this recipe better than the potato bread I’ve been making. It was delicious, but they prefer the more time consuming Potato Bread.

I baked this bread right before leaving to spend the weekend with my parents so that I could spend time with my Nona. She decided a few weeks ago that she wanted to stop eating. Thankfully she is eating again, but I still felt like I needed to get up there and spend some time. I was able to spend two great afternoons with her, make a dinner for my parents, and help them clear out their garage a bit and move some stuff into their storage locker. It was a good visit.

I didn’t even look at the recipe before getting down to bake it. I was lucky that I had everything on hand. The recipe calls for malt extract, which is an unusual ingredient that I’ve used in my bagel making exploits. I used this. And I keep it in the refrigerator.

I didn’t take a single picture of the process of making this bread. It was a fairly straightforward operation. Soften yeast in water, add the flour and the rest of the ingredients and knead it together. Done. I did get to make the bread with my sous-chef, Dorothy. And she had a great time kneading the dough.
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I made myself a sandwich to take on the airplane, and only ate half of it because my parents were taking me to the diner, and I was looking forward to sharing a grilled cheese and salad with my mom. But, it was hard to stop eating the PB&J
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On Monday morning I sliced up a loaf of bread for the boys lunches. Its a nice, tightly grained loaf of bread, and it isn’t too…..earnest. I like it because it doesn’t contain any dairy. I might not make it very often (because my biggest critic is a fan of the other bread) but I’ll definitely be making it again.

Take a look at Tuesdays With Dorie for the LYL post for lots of my fellow blogger’s examples of their breads. And also look at our hosts for the week: Veggie Num Nums and The Family That Bakes Together. They’ll both have the recipe posted in case you want to give this a try. You totally should.

Baking for the Soul: Challah

There’s no easy way to say this, my grandmother (Nona) is almost 90 and not doing very well. She’s in the hospital refusing to eat and drink and take her medications. Some people eat when they’re sad, today I’m baking. Challah. There is nothing more comforting to me than a house that smells from freshly baked bread.
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Challah is an egg-enriched bread that is served on Shabbat and Holidays. Its slightly sweet and very delicious. It makes great french toast. The recipe that I use is from the Ratner’s Meatless Cookbook. Ratner’s was a famous dairy resturant in New York. I was lucky enough to eat there once in high school. I’m fairly certain that I made sure to taste their challah, and I’m also fairly certain that I remarked that the one we make is better—even though its from their recipe.

My mother made this recipe when I was a kid, not quite every week, but very frequently. And while we don’t ‘do’ shabbat every weekend, I make this quite frequently. Its actually the only recipe in the book that I’ve ever used. The book opens quite naturally to the challah page. Over the years I’ve found challah recipes that I like and use every now and then….a whole wheat challah that makes enough for several weeks of challot, a lovely pumpkin challah for the fall, and a wonderful recipe in the Baking with Julia book, but I always come back to the original recipe. This one from Ratner’s.
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I mentioned that this is an egg-enriched bread. Most challah recipes that you see call for one or two eggs. Not this one. This recipe calls for 2 whole eggs and then 1/3 cup of egg yolks. Today it took 5 yolks to fill 1/3 cup (but I was using eggs from my friend Tisha’s hens–it usually only takes 3 or maybe 4 to fill 1/3 cup with ‘large’ eggs) This is a very rich bread
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Challah
Delicious. This challah gets rave reviews whenever I serve it to guests or bring it to someone else’s house. Makes one large or 2 smaller loaves.

2 packages active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp)
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup whole eggs (usually 2)
1/3 cup egg yolks (usually 4)
7 Tbs vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
4 1/2-5 cups all purpose flour
1 egg, well beaten, for wash
sesame or poppy seeds (optional, for topping)

  1. In a large bowl, soften yeast in the warm water, add a little bit of the sugar to get things moving. Once the yeast is active, stir in eggs, yolks, oil, remaining sugar and salt. Add enough flour to form a stiff, sticky dough.
  2. Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic. About 5 minutes
  3. Place in a greased bowl and turn to coat. Let rise, covered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk. About 2 hours
  4. Punch down, knead again and divide dough into strips. Braid into one or two loaves.
  5. Cover and let rise again until doubled…about 45 minutes. Brush with egg wash and top with seeds, if desired.
  6. bake at 375 until richly browned. bake for 35-40 minutes for one loaf, less for two. Cool thoroughly before slicing
  7. This bread freezes really well. Wrap in saran wrap and then aluminum foil. I’ve kept loaves in the freezer for months and had them emerge just as delicious as the day they went in.