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Ted's erev-Shabbos Apple Galette

I love a man who bakes!!!

They were delicious, too!
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Our Annual Gingerbread House

gingy 027From this (assortment of motley house-pieces)…

gingy 038 to this!  (triumphant gorgeous finished house!)

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…in a single evening, with kids helping and everything!

More steps and photos on my other blog over here.

Six Word Saturday: 21 Kislev, 5771

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

Gorgeous challah, fluffy-soft… no SALT!!! :-(

gingy 018Sad but true.  And we were taking it to neighbours’ for supper.  I just gestured to keep on sprinkling more more more salt… but salt sprinkled is NOT the same as salt incorporated in dough.  Blah.

Sourdough Cornbread Math for Vegan Night

Once again, I am happy and amazed that bread – even the BEST breads – can be made not only pareve, but also completely vegan.  That’s because I have declared “Vegan Vursdays” and tonight, we are hoping to have bread with soup – a classic combination that’s perfect for a day like today.

I found this recipe for Sourdough Corn Bread that looked good (though I might not go so far as to shape it into bread bowls), except it calls for starter at 100% hydration.  The starter that I’ve been building up all week is more of a stiff starter (I estimated 50, but that’s probably not right, either).

At The Fresh Loaf, I found this primer explaining the math of how to convert recipes to use a stiffer or thinner starter, but it started giving me a headache.

So – always my father’s child! - I broke it down using a spreadsheet.  You just plug in:

  • quantity of starter called for, at what hydration
  • flour and water quantities from the recipe
  • how much starter you HAVE, at what hydration

And it does the math:  how much extra flour or water to add (or remove) to/from the recipe to obtain hopefully similar consistency.

Here’s what it came up with! 


I used my updated quantity of flour, but only about 425g total water instead of almost 500g.  The original recipe says to hold back some of the water, and I’m glad I did.  The corn flour / cornmeal may have had something to do with this, because it absorbs water differently.

I actually didn’t have what I’d consider corn FLOUR – what is that, anyway?  But I had Bob’s Red Mill stone-ground cornmeal, which contains the bits that are usually not included in cornmeal, so I think it’s roughly equivalent, if quite a bit grittier.  When it comes to cornbread, I don’t mind gritty.

Took some kneading to work in the starter completely.  If I hadn’t been so discombobulated today, and had the luxury of time, I probably would have broken it up more and maybe even stirred it well into the water before I started.  But I eventually got it evenly distributed into the dough:

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What I ended up with is a very moist dough that should benefit from a couple of stretch and fold operations in the next hour before I actually shape it into loaf/loaves (haven’t decided yet on the final portioning/shaping).

Wish me luck!!!  It’s been a terrible day in almost every other way… at the very least, I deserve good bread.  Right?

Nutella Pound Cake – why didn’t *I* think of that???

marble 004I have been having a bit of a pound cake thing going lately, but I had never made pound cake before and thought it would be a huge potchke. 

Then, earlier this week, as if reading my mind, the GourmetKosherCooking blog posted a recipe for Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake – perfect!

Super-easy to throw together (providing you have enough butter!)… and utterly decadent and delicious.  Don’t tell anybody, but we ate it for breakfast!

(Chocolate for breakfast:  just one more way we’re preparing for aliyah!)

Six Word Saturday: 14 Kislev, 5771

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

Time to dust off the sourdough!

No excuses… life is as “back to normal” as it’s gonna get, and there’s no reason I can’t bake good bread this week!

(plus, now that I used up the last of the spelt, I have some nice whole wheat flour my sister gave me last week… and some rye to use up and some oat flour and… OMG, Pesach is coming!!!)

National Homemade Bread Day!

Did you know?  It’s today, November 17th!  I had no clue…

And yet, I woke up, made a yummy baguette, and later served four pizzas to my family.  Just like any ordinary week.

Sure feels nice that we don’t need a special day to honour home-baked breads!!!

Six Word Bread Saturday: 7 Kislev, 5771

 Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

Breads I forgot to blog about!

…Like Wednesday night’s excellent rye-licious loaf!  Exactly the same ryelicious formula as the first time, and it worked out beautifully.  I even used corn starch – properly, this time! – to phants 001create a lovely crusty sheen on top of the loaf.  Yes, it’s peanut-shaped, the result of a mis-handled transfer from peel to stone… but I’m getting the hang of it, really I am.  And yes, there was a bit of a blowout on the side.  I don’t know why my slashing is so unsuccessful lately.  But inside, the bread was perfectly baked and absolutely luscious with Alton Brown’s beef stew.

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And then there were Thursday’s (vegan night) Scallion Pancakes.  Super, super easy, this is a boiled-water-and-bread-flour dough that mixes up quickly and it’s ready to roll after only about half an hour.  Yes, I truly am obsessed with flatbreads these days – I can’t wait for the next Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day book, which is all about flat!  (hey, I just noticed they have a new British release – using weight measurements and British cooking terms, presumably, along with the WAY more palatable, “Artisan”-free title, “Five Minute Bread.”)

scallions 002I got into a nice rhythm with these little cakes (I’d probably make them double the size next time!):  roll flat, brush with oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and onions; roll up into a cigar, coil the cigar; roll flattish again with a rolling pin, then fry on the cast-iron skillet.  As you can see, though, we were BAD VEGANS, eating pareve but not animal-free Tomato Egg Drop Soup from Kosher by Design:  Teens & 20-Somethings.  It was yummy soup, but there’s nothing quite like egg drops in an egg-drop soup.

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So that’s it – our week in bread!

Bake Bread Bold with “Stretch n’ Fold”!

Stretch and fold!  I heard the term many times before I actually tried it myself.  Now, I do it all the time… and it’s improved my breads considerably.

The stretch n’ fold is especially useful in developing a very wet dough, when you can’t or don’t want to do a lot of kneading.  It’s incredible when you

The wetter the dough, the more you will need your trusty dough scraper, and perhaps a floured surface, but the goal here (as I understand it) is to incorporate as little new flour as possible.

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Before I say anything about stretching and folding, though, I want to add a big NO:  just say no to PUNCHING down the dough!  (hey, that rhymes)

Even if a recipe says you should do it, and even though I did it for years, few legitimate bread recipes will ask you to pummel all the rise out of your bread.  The bread has been working SO hard to rise that you’d be shooting yourself in the foot to handle it so roughly.

Worse, I used to interpret “punch down dough” as “knead it all over again, at great length.”  Hmm… a recipe for tough, dense, chewy bread if ever I’ve heard one!  If you like that kind of bread, well, fantastic… but I don’t. 

Nowadays, I treat dough more cautiously.  I’m not afraid of it (no matter how wet and gloppy it gets, I trust my floured hands and bench scraper to keep things tidy!) – but with a little respect for the work that’s already taken place.

Now that you’re convinced here’s how you do the stretch n’ fold with your own dough!

1) After your dough has had some amount of time to rise  (an hour or so, or as specified in the recipe), turn it out gently (using your trusty teeny bowl scraper!) onto a wooden surface.  (sorry – forgot to take a picture of this step)

2) Press, pat and spread the dough gently – you don’t want to lose all those bubbles, just redistribute them a bit – into a roughly rectangular shape.

scallions 004

3)  Pick up one short edge of the dough – use the scraper if you have to – and bring it up about 2/3 of the way down the length of the rectangle, like you’re folding a letter.

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4)  Now, pick up the other short edge and fold it so it completely covers the rest of the dough.  You’ve just folded the dough in thirds, like a letter!  The dough now looks like a (smaller) rectangle.

scallions 009

5)  Now, we’re going to do it again.  Pick up one of the short ends of the rectangle (using the scraper again if you have to), pull it away from the rest of the dough, and then fold it 1/3 of the way back. 

6) Grab the other short end, stretch it the same way, and fold it 1/3 of the way back.  It won’t look like a letter now, it just looks like a big fat folded blob of dough.

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7)  Return letter-folded dough back to bowl, cover with lid, and allow to rest for at least another 45 minutes to an hour, until the dough has had a chance to smoothe out, relax, and rise a bit more.

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Enjoy your own yummy bread!

Yummy chocolate-chiffon pie!

DSC08429 My mother’s mother used to make chocolate chiffon pie… it was one of her hallmark baked things, along with her Neapolitan Cake.  I don’t  have a recipe, but I do know that she used gelatin in hers; many chocolate mousses call for it because it lends the mousse a longer-term room-temperature stability that whipped cream or egg whites alone cannot reproduce.

I tried to make it once using the only kosher gelatin I could find:  fish-based gelatin, which I believe came in little silver packets, from France.  It was terrible.  The gelatin tainted the pie with a sour tang that I tried to convince myself was “lemony,” but let’s be honest… it was quite simply foul.

Fast-forward to last year, when I noticed that Kolatin kosher gelatin was once again on the market.  It used to be all over the place here, back when I first started keeping kosher, but I don’t remember seeing an unflavoured gelatin at the time. 

(Being new to keeping kosher, I may have just not noticed it; there’s a lot I used to take for granted.)

imageAnyway, I have been looking for the products here, and when I found out on Thursday that they were available at Sobey’s and Kosher City here, I sent Ted on a mission.  He returned with about ten packets of various flavours of Jello (sorry, Kraft, but it’s all Jello to me!) (and sorry, Ted, but strawberry is the only authentic jello flavour!), along with two packages of unflavoured gelatin.

Baking nirvana!  Naturally, my first project was tackling the chocolate-mousse pie.  The recipe I used was Susie Fishbein’s, from the Kolatin website.

I made Ted go out (again!) and buy a special chocolate-cookie crust, because the plain graham ones we had Just Wouldn’t Do.  And I changed the recipe slightly, keeping out a bit of the white whipped “cream” so the top would be a white layer on top of the chocolate layer – just like Grama used to make it.

It was incredible.  Even pareve, made with Nutriwhip, my pareve topping of choice, it was incredible.  The pie was mostly gone in minutes after supper last night, and completely demolished by the time Ted & I went to bed last night.

So what’s next in gelatin-land???  Well, my first thought was to try making the homemade marshmallows that Shoshana of Couldn’t be Pareve is always going on about.  But then I thought maybe I’m not that ambitious.

We shall see… and I will definitely keep you posted about this and any other exciting new developments in… well, not Breadland, and not even Cakeland… but don’t we all love to venture into Pieland from time to time???

Six Word Saturday: 30 Cheshvan, 5771

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

Delicious challah… better the next day!

DSC08430Now that is an accomplishment, because I usually don’t like challah very much by Saturday afternoon. 

I made last week’s amazing Super Wonder Challah.  I ran out of bread flour, so it was perhaps a little softer than last week.  That made it very hard to braid.  Didn’t help that I doubled the recipe and ended up with enough to make three HUGE loaves (>2lb) that spread like crazy in the pan. 

So in the end, it was not as picture-perfect as last week, but absolutely just as yummy – if not more so.  And today, even yummier!  Hooray for pre-fermentation; definitely works for me, though it’s a mystery why prefermenting HALF the flour can make the bread tastier than prefermenting all of it (I usually make the entire batch on Thursday night, let it rise, and fridge it overnight).

DSC08431Elisheva said that this was the closest to storebought challah that I’d ever made.  She meant it as a compliment… perhaps realizing that I’ve never liked storebought challah very much.

I also want to add, for people who don’t like or can’t have egg:  this was the richest, most delicious eggless challah ever.  I can’t believe there’s none in there.  And it doesn’t even call for a ton of sugar – it uses LESS sugar than my Rosh Hashanah challahs did, and I swear, it tastes sweeter.  More magic.

Hopefully, I’ll post the recipe later on this week or – more likely – at the last minute next Thursday night!

p.s.  Have you entered my free Cooking Disaster Contest???  One day left (24 hours, give or take) to win a free Cooking by Design cookbook!

Yummy sweetie bread!

This was yesterday’s bread component of a bread-and-soup meal.  In the morning, I mixed up the oatmeal-honey bread from 200 Fast and Easy Artisan Breads: No-Knead, One Bowl, to bake in the afternoon. 

I wanted to do something a little MORE with it than just a straight loaf, so I decided to do a filled, swirled raisin loaf. 

Oh – I was proud of myself; I didn’t have brown sugar for the swirl, so I took white sugar and used the mixer to beat in a couple of blobs of molasses… the result was identical.  While I was mixing, I beat in a bit of butter and cinnamon as well.  Spread it on the loaf, sprinkled with raisins, rolled up, allowed it to rise, then baked it. 

As you can see, I knew there was a problem as soon as I took the loaf out of the oven.  The seam of the swirl hadn’t been on the bottom, or shifted during rising, and suddenly, I had buttery raisin glop goobering out of the bread and even a bit over the side of the pan.


Definitely asymmetrical – not the most beautiful swirl loaf ever, but this was my first attempt.  Oops!


It was very, VERY yummy however.  Hit all the “cinnamon bun” buttons with a fraction of the calories.  The oats were not noticeable in the final bread, but gave it a softness and sweetness that definitely sang out “cake.”

And it was all only slightly surreal served alongside the “main attraction,” which was broccoli soup!!!  The kids couldn’t believe I was giving them dessert for supper… still; they can’t all be dense, underbaked super-sprouty experimental spelty wheat loaves.

Easy Quick Tortillas

As you know, I’m a sucker for flatbreads of all kinds.  This was my first venture into tortillas, but they’re basically the same as many other “ethnic” flatbreads I’ve made in past.  Yum, flatbreads!

Here’s the recipe I used to create these easy, quick tortillas for tonight’s ground-chicken burrito supper (shh… don’t tell Elisheva, who requested burritos, but they were basically soft tacos).

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Too small to hold in all that fillingy goodness!  Next time, I double the recipe and make them twice as big!!!

p.s.  Soft tacos is something I’ve avoided since keeping kosher (yes, that does mean almost 20 years), but I’m happy I did this at last… they don’t really, REALLY need cheese and sour cream, and the lettuce adds a nice touch).

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