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Six-Word Saturday: 17 Elul, 5770

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out!

Last bake sale for this summer.  :-(

(tomorrow – if and when I get some sleep!)

Double the Basic Boule

words 001Going away for the rest of the week, so I just whipped up some no-knead dough for next Sunday’s final fun fair of the summer.  This is a double batch because the pletzl went so quickly last time.

(Here, once again, is the “Basic Boule” master dough recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.)

I also made a batch of my standard challah.  I’m working on converting the recipe to weight measures, but haven’t gotten it quite right.  Will post it here when I do!

(I have given the “experiment” challahs to grateful neighbours and haven’t even tasted it myself…!)

My favourite new bread tool!

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Yup, it’s a SCOOP!

Source:  Dollarama.

Cost:  $1.

It is a sturdy plastic scoop that does everything you could ever want a scoop to do.

And it feels like the ultimate bread snobbery that I have no clue what its volume is.  None whatsoever.

This scoop isn’t for measuring – it’s for SCOOPING!  The scale is for measuring, silly.  Hence – snobbery, since a year ago, I had never done anything but scoop and measure and approximate recipes by volume.

I just find recipes work so much better and more reliably by volume…

Six-Word Saturday: 12 Elul, 5770

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

Almost perfect Maggie Glezer sourdough challah!

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Tasted delicious, nice and fresh even the second day.  This is the real reason, I suspect, why I want to do more with sourdough – my distaste for “day-old” (ie made on Friday, eaten on Shabbos day) challah.  They say sourdough breads keep MUCH longer… to me, that means increased second-day (and even third-day with all these yamim tovim coming up) deliciousness!

Maggie Glezer’s Sourdough Challah – again, sigh

Preparing the starter, last night:

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It was supposed to triple in 8-12 hours.  Mine did it in four, so I set in the fridge before I went to bed and took it out again this morning.

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Waah-la!  Does that mean I’m bragging about my own sourdough’s super-rising power???  Let’s see how this challah comes out first.  

The challah dough is in the background; sour starter in the foreground – TRIPLED, as you can see.

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Merge the two blobs:  dough plus starter.

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Begin to knead.  Begin to understand why most recipes ask you to break up the firm starter, not add it all in one blob.  This “marbling” effect takes ten minutes of concerted kneading to distribute more or less evenly throughout the dough.  Ouch.

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Partway there – still some marbling.

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Finally done – or at least, my arms can knead no longer.

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Left it sitting too long – it was only supposed to have two hours, but we went to the playground and by the time I came back, it was closer to four.

Formed the challahs as quickly as possible, since they ideally require a 5-hour rise.

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World’s ugliest two-braid, alongside a nearly acceptable one.

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And now, we wait and let them rise.  I won’t be able to give them the whole five hours, because Shabbos is earlier this week.  But given the starter’s rising power (brag, brag, brag), perhaps I can cut that corner by just a little.


I baked them at around 5:30 – after a 3-hour rise.  I wasn’t sure if they had tripled in volume, as Glezer suggests, but a finger pressed in the fat part of the left challah left an indentation.  I didn’t know what that meant, but it was getting late and we needed the oven for other things.

The risen challahs:

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They retained their shape during baking a bit better than the last time

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Looking forward to taste-testing these once again this Shabbos!

Who wants BEATERS???

Once the Peanut-Butter Blondie is in the oven…

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…it’s BEATER time!!!

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Is there a better childhood baking memory?  I doubt it!

Can this be true?

Eek!  I’ve gotten sucked in by a Hebrew-Christian (aka Messianic) website!  I was originally searching for Shabbat Party songs and found online copies of an old magazine (no links, sorry!)… and also this fascinating challah recipe, loosely extracted from a PDF.  Haven’t found anything quite like it online.

Quick Knead Challah

Sabbath Bread

Makes two 2-lb. loaves or four 1-lb. loaves

Thursday afternoon or evening:

In a mixing bowl, combine:

  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 5 t salt

Whisk together and add enough whole wheat flour to form a soft dough, scraping the bowl and folding the dough over with a large spoon to blend in all the flour.  Cover and leave to sit at room temperature overnight.

STILL Thursday afternoon or evening:

Next, put 5 eggs into a small bowl.  Whisk together with enough whole wheat flour to make a soft dough.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Late Friday morning:  (frankly, that’s a little control-freakish… I mean, who cares if it’s LATE or early on Friday morning?)

Take egg mixture out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature OR if you want it to warm up faster, place it in an oven that has been warmed to 170 degrees and turned off.  Leave it in the oven for about a half hour.

On Friday afternoon:

  1. Dissolve 3 T active dry yeast in 1/2 cup warm water.  Whisk in enough flour to make a soft dough.
  2. Turn last night’s sponge and egg mixture out together onto a well floured counter.  Top with yeast mixture.  Coat well with flour and knead until well combined, using a dough scraper and flour to keep the dough from sticking to the counter.  Kneading will take about 3-5 minutes.  Add flour as needed until the dough holds its shape but is not dry.
  3. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for about 1 to 1-½  hours.
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead again for about 5 minutes.  Dough should be smooth and stretchy.

(instructions omitted for portioning & forming the challahs)

So… other than this publication’s iffy assertion that challah is served with salt because Jesus mentioned salt (okay!), I’m wondering if this recipe could possibly work…

I have so many questions I’d ask this offensive, faceless, kinda-defunct website, if only I could!

  • Olive oil?  Really?
  • A yeastless sponge (though I like the idea of leaving it at room temperature)? 
  • An egg “sponge” left overnight in the fridge to… do what, exactly? 
  • Wouldn’t olive oil impede anything the sponge is trying to do? 
  • Without yeast, isn’t it really just a super-long autolyse, not a sponge at all?  But if it’s an autolyse, why is there salt?
  • Is the water necessary if I use instant yeast? 
  • Only 3-5 minutes’ kneading before bulk fermentation? 
  • Kneading for 5 minutes right before forming the challahs?

Finally, I certainly wouldn’t use all whole-wheat as the original suggests.  Maybe half? Maybe some spelt (don’t think I have any left, though…)?

I’m intrigued.  The honey intrigues me.  The olive oil intrigues me.  The long sponge stage intrigues me.  Maybe I’ll try it… but maybe I’ll ask the smart folks at The Fresh Loaf first just to be sure it’ll work – and be worth the effort.

Six-Word Saturday: 5 Elul, 5770

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out!

Auntie Sally’s Challah and Buns?  Yummy!

The challah itself was very nice, both at supper and the next day.  And despite her admonition NOT to use it for blueberry buns, well, they were yummy, too.

I guess I should call to thank her…!

Toronto-style Blueberry Buns

bunnsdone 2010-08-13 002Apparently, this is a Toronto thing – or at least, an “east-coast” thing (it Toronto on the east coast?). 

From searching the Internet and looking at other blogs, it seems this is something special that we do here – nestle blueberries and sugar in a yeast bun – and a delicious thing it is indeed.  If we can’t be famous for our bagels (yuck), at the very least, we have excellent taste in blueberry yeast desserts.

I have always wanted to recreate my Bubby’s, but my mother’s are excellent as well… really, any are, as long as the blueberries aren’t grossly undercooked, as a few have been that I bought at Hermes, a local bakery. 

Frankly, I use canned pie filling, but if you have a source for nice, fresh local berries, use those instead.  This would probably work with many kinds of berry, but I’m closed-minded and believe blueberry is the best and only kind.

I used to think it would work with any challah recipe, but that’s not true.  You need the richest, almost brioche like dough, or else it just tastes like your bread and fruit have collided in a most unfortunate mishap.

For this, I used my Auntie Sally’s challah recipe, even though she swore it would not work for blueberry buns.  I think she just doesn’t like blueberry buns.

Portion 900g of dough into ten 90g balls.  I’m proud of these because I rolled them one-handed.  Not just rolled, but tucked and tightened.

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Preliminary rolling and flattening, then rest.

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Roll nice and thin.  This rich, silky dough was excellent to work with, and I had just the right balance between traction on the table and release so the circles wouldn’t stick.

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Add 3 tsp or so of blueberry pie filling to half of circle.

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Fold over and press shut tightly with thumb or fingers.

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Roll the half-moon onto its long side, roll over the seam and press it flat… though it never stays for me.

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Pinch the ridge shut if it needs it, and pinch the ends tightly closed.  Ideally, the buns will stay closed during baking, to keep all that yummy filling inside.  Mine never do.

Here’s the distinctive “ridge,” characteristic of the “Toronto blueberry bun.”

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A pan of them, ready to go in.  Brush with egg yolk and sprinkle with sugar, as coarse as possible.  Big grains look lovely against the baked surface.  I don’t have coarse crystal sugar, so I used coconut sugar.

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Bake about 20 minutes at 375°.  Cool on a rack.

Drat – the first batch opened up, though the filling stayed put and didn’t drool everywhere, like it sometimes does.

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I suspect they are popping open from oven spring.  Probably if I let them rise a bit longer before baking (ie longer than ZERO), they’d remain sealed better during baking.

Indeed, the second batch, which had a slightly longer rise, stayed mostly closed (see first photo at the top of this post).

Patience; I suppose with blueberry buns as with so much else, patience is the key.  Though naturally, I didn’t wait to taste one – mmm, delicious!

Making Auntie Sally’s Challah, Part 2

Continuing on from last night, when I made the dough, I first watched this challah-making video by Ciril Hitz to study up on the 2-braid challah technique:

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Making snakes – and breaking in my new rolling pin.  Sure beats a wine bottle, hands-down!

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Quick preliminary roll, then rest.

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Whoops, forgot to take pictures.  I rolled the snakes out to their full length and formed two 2-braid challahs.  Unfortunately, the first two snakes were much too long, and made an unattractive, too-long, too-skinny challah.  So I rolled it up into a crown!

The second was okay, but I could have closed the bottom end better.

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Now, spray with oil and cover up with a towel (NOT plastic wrap!) and let them  rise while I bake blueberry buns!

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Sprinkle with streusel (=krishkelach!), then bake 1/2 hour.

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Pull them out and realize that the oven was still at 375° from the blueberry buns.  :-o

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Guess we’re having super-dark challahs this Shabbos…

Despite how they look, they really aren’t burnt.  Not quite.  And I have to say, they smell just like my Bubby’s.

Making Auntie Sally’s Challah

Here it is… I’m making this old family recipe (or at least, an old family-member’s recipe) as I said I would this Shabbos, and although I have said all along that I don’t like an eggy challah, hers is a delight to knead, as are many rich doughs. 

The texture of this dough is quite supple:  smooth, even a bit glossy.  There’s a sheen that doesn’t quite come across in these pictures.  More like Silly Putty than Play-Doh, if that’s helpful.

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It’s a very heavy dough:  with four and a half eggs, a cup of oil and a cup of sugar, I mean that quite literally.  I was surprised that it seemed to tire my hands out a bit quicker than other challah doughs.

Here, Ted continues to hold the camera (those are his pictures above) and pretend to be impressed while I demonstrate the Gluten Windowpane, stretching out the dough into a rectangle to reveal – gasp! – my hand on the other side! 

Besides being a cool trick, this shows us that the dough is ready for its first nap.

This recipe calls for THREE rises – 1) resting the dough, kneading again, 2) resting again, kneading again, resting again, THEN finally shaping the challah.  Phew!

Oh – before I forget, here’s the formula that I used this evening:

  • · 8 cups of flour = 1120g
  • · 1 cup of sugar + 1 tsp for proofing yeast = 200g (+ 1 tsp!)
  • · 1 cup of oil = 220g no, I measured and this was more like 210g
  • · 1 tsp salt = 4.8g
  • · 5 eggs, divided: 4 for the challah, 1 white for the challah, 1 yolk reserved for painting the challahs at the end
  • · 4 tsp yeast = 24g
  • · 2 cup of water, divided: 1 cup (240g) to proof the yeast, 1 more (240g) “if you need it.”

It was too dry, so I added 2/3 cup of water – too much!  Then added just a “sprinkle” of flour so I could keep on kneading, and it was just right.

Final dough weight: 2205g.  (technically, 205g more than my scale can take!!!)

Project Welcome Home With Pretzels (WHP)

The big kids are coming home tomorrow, so I hauled out my trusty soft-pretzel recipe (it’s also a decent “in-a-pinch” bagel recipe!) this afternoon to whip some up for Elisheva, because it’s been impossible to find the frozen kind in the stores lately. 

Okay, not just for Elisheva; also for me.  I love these!

Here I am, rolling the snake, twisting and flipping it into the classic pretzel shape!  Easy as pretzels!


(if you aren’t seeing this animation, it could be because your browser – or blog-reading software – doesn’t support animaged GIFs… try Firefox or IE for best results)

Waiting under the fruit-fly umbrella… sigh.  I hate those things!  The good news is that they’re almost gone!

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Dip in the solution.  I don’t measure, just dump baking soda into this pan of warm water.

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Then bake – they only need about 7 minutes! 

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They come out of the oven looking dry, but when they’re cool enough, you dip them in butter and they turn shiny.

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The recipe yielded ten pretzels for me, but next time I’m going to try harder to divide the dough into 12 portions.  It could go further and I prefer a skinny, as opposed to puffy pretzel (bagels, too; much prefer skinny with a big hole to puffy and cakey).

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The best part about bread blogging is getting to eat the results while revisiting the process.  Mmm…  Easy, fast and fun.  I wouldn’t change a thing about these.

I know from past experience that they are not AS wonderful the second day, but being a proper yeast dough, they’re not terrible… and they usually don’t last that long around here anyway.

In summation, I officially declare Project WHP a success!

Auntie Sally’s Challah – the recipe, the whole recipe, and nothing but the recipe

imageThere were originally two parts to this post: a rant and a recipe. But I split it because I want to keep this blog more or less on topic – if only to demonstrate that I really CAN stay on-topic. Really, I can!

Click here for the story behind the recipe or some of the snarky comments may leave you wondering.

Auntie Sally’s Challah Recipe (update: now in metric!)

  • 8 cups of flour = 1120g
  • 1 cup of sugar + 1 tsp for proofing yeast = 200g (+ 1 tsp!)
  • 1 cup of oil = 220g
  • 1 tsp salt = 4.8g
  • 5 eggs, divided: 4 for the challah, 1 white for the challah, 1 yolk reserved for painting the challahs at the end
  • 4 tsp yeast = 24g
  • 2 cup of water, divided: 1 cup (240g) to proof the yeast, 1 more (240g) “if you need it.”
  • Krishkelach = what I generally call streusel; a floury, sugary, oily concoction to sprinkle on top at the end. Or sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are okay. Poppy seeds are WRONG. Bzzzt!

Steps – roughly, as she described them to me:

  1. Mix yeast, 1 cup water, 1 tsp sugar in a bowl and allow to proof for 15 minutes. I may do this step out of sentimentality, even though I’m aware that my yeast – the same one she uses – no longer needs proofing.
  2. Mix – and here, a food processor is WRONG. Mixing by hand is the ONLY way. I assured her my food processor only holds 5-cup recipes or smaller, so her challah will be forever hand mixed. My sister Sara helpfully suggested the folly of hand-mixing when dealing with batches in the realm of hundreds of kilos.
  3. Cover with a towel. Plastic wrap is WRONG. The French word for a bread-covering towel is couche, which also means “diaper” despite certain French-speaking members of my family begging to differ. (couche (f) = n. layer; coat (as of paint); nappy, diaper)
  4. Let rise fully once, then fold down and return to bowl.
  5. Let rise fully a second time, then fold down and return to bowl.
  6. After the second rise, form the challahs, sprinkle with the aforementioned krishkelach (NO POPPY SEEDS!) and bake. What temperature? No clue! I’d assume 350° for however-long. Probably 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the loaves.

Again, to read the rest of the post and get more of a sense of who Auntie Sally is, click here.

Six-Word Saturday: 28 Av, 5770

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out!

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Not about bread at all:  oops!

But I hope you enjoy this delicious photo of homemade ricotta-kale ravioli as much as I enjoyed making it and EATING it last Tuesday.

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