Rosh Hashana 5772: Muesli Challah

Muesli Challah

I love researching the history of food, and one of the foremost experts on the history of Jewish Food is Gil Marks. I am going to have the immense honor of dining with him and hopefully picking his brain a bit. His entry about Challah in his book, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, explains the different traditions of the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities for eating bread on Shabbat: whereas Ashkenazi communities had little access to white wheat flour, and so reserved it for the challah on Shabbat, the Sephardi world had easier access to white flour, and so the difference between weekday and Shabbat bread was not so much in the type of flour used, but in different variations of the bread itself, including adding sesame seeds, or even switching to whole wheat flour.

After reading this entry in Marks’ encyclopedia, I wondered if my ancestors would think that my festive challah made from whole wheat, rye and white flour would be fitting enough for our holiest holidays, and I hope the answer would be yes. I have a recipe for muesli buns that I thought would make an interesting challah for this year’s Rosh Hashana, and it didn’t disappoint. It might be a bit unconventional, but I am an unconventional kind of girl. I also made my tried and true challah for the plain eaters in the family.

This year, as every year, we celebrated Rosh Hashana with family and friends in Jerusalem. It was an interesting group as we represented the best of the Israeli table, one that represented several different countries: Israel, Holland, England, Germany, France, the Philippines and the United States. We thought of loved ones we missed who are no longer here or are far away, we laughed, and we thought of all of the things we want to do to make this year more sweet, more healthy, more prosperous, and most importantly more peaceful.

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life and we hope you have happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful new year.

Chag Sameach,

Baroness Tapuzina and Mr BT

Muesli Challah

Yield: 2 medium loaves

500 grams (4 cups) whole wheat flour

300 grams (3-1/3 cups) rye flour

300 grams (3-1/3 cups) all purpose flour

30 grams (2 tablespoons) salt

50 grams (2 ounces) fresh yeast

740 ml (3 cups) cold water

100 grams (3.5 ounces) raisins

100 grams dried figs (3.5 ounces), cut into quarters

100 grams prunes (3.5 ounces), cut into quarters

100 grams hazelnuts, roasted

100 grams Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced

400 grams mixture of flax seed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, etc.

Honey for drizzling on top

Add the flours and salt to a mixer with a dough hook and mix until combined. Crumble the fresh yeast over the flour mixture and add the cold water. Mix initially at low speed and then increase the speed to medium until the dough separates from the sides of the bowl. The dough will still be a little sticky. If the dough is too dry, add water, a tablespoon at a time. Lower the speed and add the dried fruits and hazelnuts. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with a towel or cellophane, and let rise for about 1 hour until it doubles in size.

Punch the dough down and place on a clean, floured, work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into eight pieces, hand-rolling each piece into a long snake, and braid into two loaves with four strands each. Brush each loaf with honey and sprinkle the seed mixture on top.

Place each loaf on a lined baking sheet, cover with a towel, and let rise for about 30 minutes.

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 180C (350F). This bread freezes well.

For buns: Make half a recipe and divide the dough into 12 pieces and bake for 15 minutes.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2011/09/29/rosh-hashana-5772-muesli-challah/

Makroud – Date and Sesame Biscuits

Makroud and Qamar el Deen

I wanted to make a traditional Ramadan dessert this month, a recipe that called for mahleb, which is an aromatic spice made from the seeds of the St Lucie Cherry (Prunus mahaleb). The stones are cracked to extract the seed kernel, which is ground to a powder before it is used. It adds a lovely flavor of bitter almond and cherry to breads, cakes and biscuits.

I found a perfect date and sesame biscuit recipe called Makroud that is made by Israeli Muslims and Palestinians. There are several variations of Makroud that are also made in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, but this version is not as sweet.

Mr BT and I would like to wish all of our Muslim friends Ramadan Kareem.

Makroud

Makroud – Date and Sesame Biscuits

Yield: 70 to 80 biscuits

(Date and Sesame Biscuits)

Adapted recipe from the Safadi Family of Nazareth in The Book of New Israeli Food: A Culinary Journey by Janna Gur

For the dough:

500g (3-1/2 cups) whole wheat flour

15g (1/2 oz) fresh yeast

240ml (1 cup) corn oil

120ml (1/2 cup) olive oil

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

1/2 tablespoon mahleb, freshly ground in a mortar

220ml (1 cup) lukewarm water

For the filling:

500g (1lb 2oz) pressed pitted dates

60ml (1/4 cup) corn oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch ground cloves

For the coating:

450g (1lb) sesame seeds

For the dough:

Place the flour, crumbled yeast and spices in a large bowl. Add the corn and olive oils and stir until well combined. Gradually add the water and knead the dough for 2-3 minutes into a soft smooth dough. Set aside.

For the filling:

Mix the pressed dates with the oil and spices until it becomes a soft, malleable paste.

To assemble:

Divide the dough into balls the size of a fist and divide the date paste into the same number of balls. Both the dough and the date balls may be dripping with oil: this is normal.

Preheat the oven to 220C (425F).

On a large work surface, sprinkle a generous amount of sesame seeds. Flatten a ball of dough into a round the size of a pita. Flatten out a date ball and place it on top of the dough. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top and turn the dough over and roll out to the size of a dinner plate. The sesame seeds will prevent the dates from sticking to the work surface. Turn the dough over again, date side up and roll the dough to form a log shape. Repeat with the remainder.

Cut the logs into 5cm-wide (2-inch) biscuits and place on baking sheets. You do not have to place them too far apart because they do not spread. Bake for 10 minutes until they are golden brown. Serve slightly cooled or store up to a month in a sealed container.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/08/16/makroud-date-and-sesame-biscuits/

Pre-Rosh Hashana Breakfast

I love weekend breakfasts. It is our time to talk about something interesting or just look at each other lovingly without saying anything at all for a couple of minutes. It is our time to read an interesting story or listen to early music. It has become our weekend ritual. So, in preparing for Rosh Hashana last week, my husband decided to make a lovely herb-potato frittata to go with the Whole Wheat Apple-Walnut Batard I made for the weekend.

My mother is a addicted to cookbooks and every time I go back to the States for a visit, I usually find one or two new ones on her cookbook shelves. She had the shelves custom made when she renovated her kitchen umpty-ump years ago. One visit, I spied a new cookbook that I quickly fell in love with. It is called The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Writings from the French Countryside. The author, Amanda Hesser, wrote a lovely book about her year adventure that she spent as a cook in a seventeenth-century chateau in Burgundy. What I love about the book is that it is separated into the four seasons. She is a beautiful writer and really takes you on a visual trip to the French countryside. The recipes are quite precise and I find them easy to follow.

Apple-Walnut Batard

The texture of the batard is really nice. The only complaint I have is that either the bread did not rise enough or the recipe calls for too much filling. Next time I am going to gently knead the filling into the dough and see if it works out better. It turned it out more like apple-walnut stuffed bread. In spite of that, the bread is still appley and delicious, and it goes especially well with a thin slice of Gouda.

Apple-Walnut Batard Slice

Whole Wheat Apple - Walnut Batard

Yield: 1 Batard

Starter after 12 hours

Simple Bread Starter

1/2 teaspoon dry yeast or 25g (1 teaspoon) fresh cake yeast

2 tablespoons warm water

1/2 cup water, at room temperature

1 cup all-purpose flour

Whole Wheat Dough

1/2 teaspoon dry yeast or 25g (1 teaspoon) fresh cake yeast

1 tablespoon warm water

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon milk

1 recipe Starter (see above)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt

1/2-3/4 cup rye flour

Bread Dough

1 recipe Whole Wheat Dough (see above)

6 tablespoons raw sugar

2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

All purpose flour, for shaping

Whole wheat flour, for rising

For the bread starter:

Make the starter one day ahead. In a small bowl, stir the yeast into the 2 tablespoons of warm water and let the mixture stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining water and the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth, 2-3 minutes. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let ferment in a cool place, 8-12 hours.

For the dough:

n a medium mixing bowl, stir the yeast into the water and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Then stir in the olive oil, milk, and Starter, stirring to break up the latter.

Thick as Paint

Dough Forming Ball

he texture should be that of house paint. Add the whole wheat flour, stirring to mix, then the salt and the rye flour, adding it 1/4 cup at a time and stirring to mix with a wooden spoon until the ingredients begin to clump together in a large ball.

First Knead

Turn out onto a floured board and knead, incorporating the remaining flour, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Use a pastry scraper to help lift and clear the dough from the work surface so you don't need to add to much flour. Make sure to work quickly, as whole wheat flour tends to stick more readily than white, and slap the dough against the work surface from time to time - this develops tenacity in the dough. Place the dough in a tall oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Then proceed with filling the bread dough.

Caramelised Apples

Prepare the filling. In a skillet (preferably an iron skillet) large enough to hold the apples, heat half of the sugar over medium-high heat until it melts and begins to bubble. Carefully, add the apple slices, spreading them out to cover the base of the pan. Saute until the apple begins to color, but is not cooked through, about 3 minutes. You should do this over medium-high heat because you want the apple to color as quickly as possible without burning the sugar. Adjust the temperature as necessary, and remember the sugar holds its heat well, especially in an iron pan. Sprinkle the uncooked sides with the remaining sugar and turn them over. Once they are well browned on the other side, 5 to 7 minutes, remove to a plate or bowl to let cool.

After the first rising, punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape into a loose round loaf and let rest for 15 minutes. Lay a dish towel on top of a baking sheet and rub a thick layer of whole wheat flour into to it so the dough will not stick to the towel.

Apple-Walnut Filling

Using as little flour as possible to keep the dough from sticking to the board and your hands, pound out the loaf into an oval, 1/2 inch thick. Spread the cooled walnuts and apples evenly over the dough.

Batard Second Rise

Working lengthwise, roll the dough into a log, as tight as possible. Pinch the seam to seal it, and transfer to the dish towel, seam-side up. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

A half hour before baking, heat the oven to 220C (425F), and place the baking stone in the lower third of the oven. Place a small pan of water on the lowest rack.

When the dough is ready, invert the risen loaf onto the baking stone and bake until risen and browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the pan of water after the first 15 minutes. Test the loaf by tapping on the bottom of it with your knuckle. If it sounds hollow, it's done. Remove to a baking rack and let cool completely before slicing.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/10/01/pre-rosh-hashana-breakfast/

Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement

Tomorrow at sundown begins the observance of and twenty-five hour fast during Yom Kippur. The meal before the fast should be simple, not too rich and not too spicy. It is better not to make the meal with garlic or hot peppers.

At the completion of the fast, it is better to eat something that is not too hard on the stomach, so we usually break the fast by eating biscuits (cookies) and crackers, and of course some water, but not too fast or you will upset your stomach.

A Yemenite co-worker told me today that I should drink a glass of fresh pomegranate juice before the fast, it will make the fast easier. I just happen to have some pomegranate juice and I am going to try it.

I found a very interesting Saudi Arabian food blog called Arabic Bites. Two sisters share their recipes from the region. I have really enjoyed reading the blog and I decided to make one of their recipes for the break-the-fast, Cardamom Biscuits. They are actually Iraqi biscuits called Klejah and they are not too sweet, just a perfect end to the fast.

Hope that you have an easy fast. Gmar Chatimah Tova (May you be sealed in the book of life).

And to my Muslim friends, Ramadan Kareem.

Time to Bake Bread

I have been under the weather since last Friday and I stayed home today. The dinner I planned to make on Sunday night (see Spanish and Italian-Inspired Shabbat Dinner) has been postponed until Friday night. Yes, I am still making the matza fritters! And, I will post the photos.

I am really not a very good patient. My colleagues accuse me of being a workaholic. Maybe they are right…. I called work three times today and checked my office email three times. My name is Baroness Tapuzina and I am a workaholic.

So, how does one cure being a workaholic? Bake some bread. Since Pesach is officially over, I decided we needed a loaf of bread, so I got my stashed away flour and put it back in the kitchen. I decided to make my quick and easy whole wheat walnut bread and my husband came in and said, “How about making it with 50% whole wheat and 50% rye?” So I did.

What I like about this recipe is that it is very versatile. You can do half whole wheat, half all purpose or rye flour or all whole wheat. I also have made it with pumpkin seeds or walnuts and raisins. Use your imagination.

Whole Wheat Walnut Bread

Yield: 1 lb (450 g) loaf

1 1/4 cup (300 g) whole wheat flour, plus a little for dusting

1 slightly rounded teaspoon salt

1 slightly rounded teaspoon dried yeast

7 oz warm water

1 level teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon walnut oil or olive oil

1/2 cup (110 g) walnut pieces

1/2 cup (110 g) dark or golden raisins (optional)

Lightly grease a 12 x 10 in (30 x 25.5 cm) baking sheet or line it with a silpat liner.

Put the flour, salt and yeast together in a mixing bowl. Whisk the warm water, brown sugar and walnut oil until the sugar has dissolved. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and either mix by hand or using the dough hook of your electric mixer. Mix to form a dough, adding a further tablespoon or two of water if it appears too dry. The dough should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl and yet not be so soft that it clings to your hands and sticks to the work surface.

Either stop the machine and knead for approximately 5 minutes by hand or until elastic or knead in your electric mixer. If possible, avoid using any additional flour because, as you knead, the dough will become more elastic and less sticky.

Press the dough out into a rough 12 inch (30 cm) square, and sprinkle the dried fruit and nuts over the surface. Roll up the dough, like a jelly roll and then knead briefly again to distribute the fruit and nuts evenly. Shape the dough into an oblong or round and place on the baking sheet and cover with a piece of oiled cellophane.

Walnut Bread Dough

Let rise in a warm place for about 1-1/4 hours or until the dough has almost doubled in size. Put two or three slash marks in the dough or mark with an X.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and bake for approximately 35 minutes.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/04/10/time-to-bake-bread/

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