Posts Tagged ‘challah’

Week 31: Za’atar Challah

za'atar challah

za'atar challah -- notice the specs of za't.

I’ll do two favors for you.  First, and these are in no particular order, if you don’t know what za’atar is, here’s info.  Second, I’m saving you (and by “you” I mean the couple of people that enjoyed the za’atar challahs) the steps of dipping your plain challah into a za’atar and olive oil mixture.  You’re welcome. Use the time I’ve saved you by paying it forward.

Week 28: Peanut Butter-Cinnamon-Banana Challah

Peanut Butter-Cinnamon-Banana Challahs

Call it what you will… I call it a cop out.  A delicious cop out, but a cop out nonetheless. Cop out cop out cop out. What’s the origin of that word? Anyway, take the Peanut butter challah recipe, mash in some bananas from the banana challah recipe, and add a dash of cinnamon, and there you have it! Some claimed it was “oddly delicious”.  I don’t think there’s anything oddly about it.  It was delicious.  How could it not be… I made it :)

Week 24: Spinach Challah

Spinach Challah along side a Pretzel Challah

Remember how delicious Popeye made canned spinach look?  And then we found out that spinach is really kind of gross at times.  And canned spinach is really really gross all the time. Fortunately, the gross side of spinach doesn’t rear its ugly head in this week’s challah recipe.  The sweet deliciousness of the challah is accented by a mild spinach flavor and bright green color.  It’s really quite pleasant.  And healthy(ish)! I took a whole bag of fresh spinach and wilted it down to around a cup of cooked spinach.  You can use frozen, well drained spinach as well.  Just please don’t use canned spinach.  It’s not the same.  I added the cup of spinach to the normal challah recipe, which then required a little extra flour to compensate.  That’s about it. Green challah. Perfect for St. Patricks Day, and for the episode of Popeye where he was training for a marathon.

Week 22: Chocolate Strawberry Challah

chocolate and strawberries challah -- not as good as it sort of looks

Eww… This one was an epic failure.  I don’t even want to talk about it.  bleh. Valentines day is all about chocolate dipped strawberries, right?  So, shouldn’t a challah of chocolate and strawberries be the perfect pre-Valentines Day challah?  You’d think so… right?  Am I really the only one?  I guess there’s  a reason for that. Anyway, it did not turn out well.  I used frozen strawberries rather than fresh, because I didn’t have any fresh ones, and when they defrosted they turned to liquidy mush.  I think, more than anything else, that’s why the challah was a failure.  The strawberries sort of broke down and made the rest of the challah soggy. I made the chocolate challah (cocoa powder added to the normal challah recipe), with some chocolate chips and the strawberries.  That’s how I did it.  And I tell you this purely because if we don’t learn from our mistakes we’re bound to repeat them.  If only the Oscars host-selection committee took as diligent notes as I do…

Week 21b: Cornbread Challah

football-shaped cornbread challahs

It’s Superbowl Sunday, and what goes better with the Superbowl than Chili!  And what goes better with chili than cornbread!  And what relevance does cornbread have with this site? When it’s challah! So, there you go.  Cornbread challah. I switched out 2 of the 8 cups of flour with cornmeal and added a little honey — maybe a tablespoon or so, and bam! Cornbread challah.  Yep, it was that easy!  And that good!  A little gritty, as cornbread sometimes is, but otherwise it was just like my son  — awesome :) Since it was baked for a Superbowl party, of course, I baked the mini challahs in a football shape.  It was well received.

Week 19: Pesto Challah

forgot to take an "after" shot, but here's the pesto dough, post-first rise, after deflation

Pesto… Mmmm… Conjures up images of the good kind of Italian restaurants — the kinds that give a pesto concoction to dip bread into rather than marinara.  The goal this week was to create a challah that would take you back to those magical days before calorie and carb counting were on your radar, and you could actually enjoy a trip to an Italian restaurant (Fettuccine Alfredo Challah would be the appropriate accompaniment on that fantasy). The first challenge I faced was finding pareve (non-dairy) pesto, since we want to keep these challahs as “shabbat dinner-friendly” as possible.  Pesto is expensive enough as it so… Trying to find a Kosher, pareve version would be the financial ruin of this hobby.  So, I did as any resourceful wannabe chef would do —  I looked up a pesto recipe and cut out the cheese.  I made the pesto out of fresh basil, olive oil, garlic and walnuts (pine nuts were also crazy expensive).  Put them all in a cup and took the hand blender to them. Pesto Challah, simply put, is the normal challah recipe with around eight heaping tablespoons of non-dairy, homemade pesto!  That’s it! Such a simple recipe… such simple elegance.  As I ate it, I could picture the Chianti bottle with the candle sticking out the top.  It was like dipping challah in a smooth and rich pesto sauce.  Not overpowering, but also not as understated as some of the other flavors I’ve made.  Non c’è male!

Week 18: Garlic-Rosemary Challah

rosemary sprigs embedded in mini rosemary-garlic challahs

This is the first time that I’ve tested one version of the recipe on Wednesday night, and completely adjusted it for the “Gameday” bake.  Here’s my story: We’ve all had a variation of a garlic-rosemary bread, where you practically dig through the loaf to find the whole cloves of roasted garlic.  That’s what I was aiming for when I started out on Wednesday afternoon.  I put a full head of garlic in the oven to roast (google it and you’ll find instructions).  The house smelled amazing!  When the garlic was done roasting, I squeezed it out of the head and had lots of mushy but delicious garlic to work with.  I made the normal challah recipe, adding a tablespoon of fresh chopped rosemary to the mix, as well as the full head of garlic.  When it was time to braid the challahs, I tried a few different things, ranging from no extra rosemary, to a sprig of it, to an entire rosemary stem baked right into the middle of a loaf.  I wanted to see whether it would add flavor without getting in the way… Yadda yadda yadda, they came out of the oven and not only did the sprigs and stems of rosemary get in the way, but the garlic cloves were gone!  No cloves!  None!  WTF? Round two: I had two issues to deal with.  First, how do I get the garlic cloves to remain intact in the final challah, and second, what do I do about the rosemary sprigs that looked really pretty, but where a real pain in the neck to eat around? To address the garlic issue, rather than roasting the full heads of garlic, sqeezing them out and adding them to the dough as it was being mixed, I peeled the garlic, roasted it (I think I burned it a little… sorry to those who got bitter garlic!) and placed 5-6 cloves of roasted garlic into the center of the loaf as I was braiding it.

whole garlic cloves were delicious treasures at the shabbat dinner table!

Regarding the sprigs — I added a little extra finely chopped rosemary to the dough and then cut back on the rosemary sprigs and stems, using them as a very basic and simple garnish sticking out of the center of the challahs, where they could easily be pulled out and discarded, rather than having to eat around them. The results?  Brilliant!  The cloves were there, just as I was hoping (though, a little burnt, as I mentioned).  The rosemary taste was great, and the sprigs were elegant without being irritating.  Another successful adventure in Challah!

Week 15: Gingerbread Challah

Gingerbread Challah Men

Tonight is Christmas eve.  What better flavor to make for all of us Jews on Christmas eve than something-that-goes-well-with-Chinese-food Challah!  That was actually my original intention for this week.  I posted the question to my Facebook friends, and the top two contenders were sweet and sour challah, and the bold and interesting suggestion of soy-ginger challah (other suggestions were fortune cookie challah, fried rice challah and kung-pao challah).  I took a shot at sweet and sour, and it actually turned out well.  But I’ll get back to that another week. This week’s challah of the week is officially gingerbread!  Yum! The first attempt was on Wednesday, when I made a half batch of gingerbread and a half batch of sweet and sour (but I’ll get back to that another week).  I looked up a gingerbread cookie recipe, and decided that cinnamon, ginger and molasses were the keys.  Oh crap… No molasses in the house and pouring raining outside.  So, no molasses in the first batch.  But brown sugar has molasses, so that’s at least something. Right? I took the usual challah recipe, added a good helping of  ginger (powdered) and cinnamon (also powdered) and replaced the white sugar with brown sugar (plus a little extra… you know… for the molasses).  The results were positive, but not incredible.  They tasted awesome, but were a little on the dense side, and by the next morning, my gingerbread  challah men were more like stones in shapes that vaguely resemble heavy-set humans.  Even my 15-month old son wouldn’t eat them, and normally he’ll eat “lallah” til the cows come home. So, today is Friday. It’s Christmas eve. And if I can’t get the gingerbread challahs right on Christmas eve, then, um, well, let’s just not even think that way… I followed the same recipe as above, but added some molasses (boy does that smell funky), and in a hail mary, last-ditch effort to resolve the denseness issue, I added some mashed potatoes!  Ya! Mashed potatoes!  I just blew your mind, didn’t I?  But I remembered how good the latke challahs were, and that they were still moist and delicious 3 days later… So, I’d be foolish not to add mashed potatoes to gingerbread challah… right…? The results — fluffy and exactly as I was hoping!  The gingerbread challah men are delish, and the cinnamon rolls that I made with the extra dough are a-ma-zing!  We might just have to make this again next week!

Week 14: Maple Challah

This was a busy week.  My desire to adventurate (is that the correct usage?) in challah was trumped by my desire to meet deadlines in my real job, so I was only able to make one quick batch, just to see how maple challah would work.  And work we both did! I replaced sugar with brown sugar, added a tablespoon of maple flavor and around a quarter cup of maple syrup to the standard challah dough recipe.  The dough turned a rich mahogany and smelled of IHOP. I made one large challah and a bunch of minis, and after 15 minutes (the usual mini baking time), the minis were still pretty raw.  Left ‘em for another 3 minutes.  Still not looking done.  Left another few minutes.  Still not quite there.  When all was said and done, I think the maple minis cooked for somewhere between 22 and 25 minutes, and weren’t at all overbaked. The full-size challah was a different story… Since I put it in with some other flavored challahs, which cooked in the normal amount of time, the full-size maple came out raw in the middle.  The problem is, until you’ve had raw challah, you probably have this notion that raw challah = raw cookie dough.  It doesn’t.  It’s pretty gross, actually.  I think the full-size challah probably would have taken somewhere around 35 minutes, which is kinda crazy. Nevertheless, maple is delicious.  It’s subtle, like the peanut butter was subtle, but definitely worth making again.  And, like many of the flavored challahs, the essence comes out when the challah is completely cooled.  I might even venture (venturate?) to say that they benefit from a relaxing overnight stay in a ziplock bag. Can’t wait to see how maple challah french toast will taste!

Experiment – Jelly Donut Challah – SUCCESS!

Ok, so it’s not really that much of an experiment… but it was so good, I had to share it with you. I took the basic original egg challah dough and created some 2-ounce minis (that’s the size of all my minis).  After they baked and cooled, I took a knife and cut a small slit in the bottom of each.  I used a cake decorating piping tip and ziplock bag to inject normal strawberry jam into the middle (if I had a syringe, I would have used it, but the piping tip was adequate). I then made a batch of normal glaze (powdered sugar, a dash of vanilla and water) and drizzled it over the top. It was simply amazing!  The taste was spot-on with a jelly donut and the fresh, soft challah was easily mistakable for a real donut.  I’d HIGHLY recommend you try this next chanukah!