Thursday, March 31, 2011

Homeschool Matzah Bakery – Lessons Learned

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Today’s homeschool matzah baking was slightly less successful than next year’s.  More chaotic and fun, though, because friends came over!

It’s always cool to do matzah ahead of time, because Pesach is basically the one festival that I don’t do any challah-baking for.  So it feels nice to be able to do something bready, albeit not specifically for the holiday.

Our “matzahs” aren’t kosher for Pesach, of course, but I strive for realism by setting an 18-minute timer just before the water is added to the flour.  Last year, I think I got three batches finished and out of the oven by the time the timer went off – though not all of it.  This year, there was one batch, and even that was not really properly baked.

Still – they were delicious (if a little hard on the teeth!) for lunch with cream cheese – or mine with just butter and salt.  And a few lessons learned for next time / next year:

  • Use the food processor.  I did it that way last year; VERY fast to mix!
  • Make thinner matzahs.  Last year, I did it to the “6” position on the pasta maker… this year, I only did 5.  That was partly because the dough was too wet; therefore…
  • Drier dough.  I let the kiddies knead it by hand, which I thought would be more educational than the food processor.  The drawback is that to get it kneadable by  hand, it had to be wetter.  That’s great for bread, not so great for the pasta roller.  Today’s dough would not have rolled out thinner than a “5” without getting hopelessly sticky (ask me how I know!).  And thin matzah is important because it leads to…
  • Crispy matzah!  Some of this year’s were too thick and therefore, still floppy when we had to pull them out – they were on the verge of being burnt.  Thinner matzah = crispier matzah, possibly also with the addition of…
  • More heat!  This year, as it was last year, the oven was at 500 degrees; I may try 550 in future to try for that superfast superhot bake that “real” matzahs receive.
  • Meanwhile, it’s time again to check out this cool, puppet- and Torah-filled documentary about how matzah is made.  2000 degrees:  amazing!  Oh, and here’s another post from last year’s homeschool matzah bake!

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    Purim Onion-Poppy Ring

    Onion and poppy – how do I love thee!  Let me count the Jewy ways to your Jewish Jewy goodness.  Whether it’s on a pletzl or a bagel or here, there is something utterly old-world and PERFECT about the combination.  Whereas lemon-poppy strikes me as innately goyish.  Strange!

    I already did a step-by-step for this recipe last year, but what the heck… Maggie Glezer lists this as a “beginner” bread in her Blessings of Bread book, but I really don’t think so.  In terms of the dough, it’s simple; in terms of technique – hardly.  So here we go!

    Two ballies… basic “Czernowitzer Challah” recipe from the book.

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    Become two snakes…

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    Become roadkill.

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    I used purple onions this year, and judging from the pics, they’re not as finely diced as last year.  Or perhaps last year, I fried them… I dunno.  I did use butter last year and for whatever reason, I opted for oil this year.  I wouldn’t say the loaf suffered at all from being pareve instead of dairy.

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    Shmear half on each roadkill snake.

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    Roll and pinch them up into snakes again.

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    Cross the snakes in the middle and get ready to wrap and roll!

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    Let’s do the TWIST…

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    And now twist the other end… it’s getting a bit messy where filling has started to goober out the end.

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    Pinch the messy ends together and try to make it look slightly elegant.  Fail.

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    Aaaagh!  Using all of your seven  hands, transfer the soft, floppy, falling-aparty wreath shape to the baking pan to rise and cover well.

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    Fully risen, time to shmear with egg wash.

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    Sprinkle with poppy to disguise how messy the loaf looks.

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    And bake to perfection!!!  Notice it’s come open in a few places.  Once again, nobody complained.

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    Mmmm… realize it might be helpful to see the inside before it’s all gone and take a quick shot before digging in.

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    Another delicious, simple Purim seudah made complete with delicious bread.

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Six Word Saturday: 14 Adar II, 5771 - PURIM Edition!!!

    Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

    Baking a Purim storm around here!!! 

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    (blah… the cherry ones all popped open… so none going out in the packages this year)

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    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Hamentaschen Baking Day with Sara

    Two recipes – my classic Second Helpings, Please (Hamentashen Cookie Dough, p. 199) recipe, and Mommzy’s fascinating and EASY Cake-mix Hamentashen.

    Here is Sara’s magical spoon-shaped hamentash, along with several of her less-creative triangle-shaped hamentash:

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    The spoon-entash poofed up a bit so it doesn’t look quite as cute fully-grown, but it was still (I think) delicious.

    These ones have cherry filling.

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    My cake-mix cherry hamentashen turned out fatter than Sara’s… she has lavash on the brain and rolled them thinner than we were supposed to, which was fine because hers looked professional and mine looked, as usual, kinda goofy.

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    Then, I set her to work making some prune ones.  I’m sure I was doing something really urgent at the time that prevented me from making hamentashen – maybe like taking pictures?

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    Anyway, Sara, if you’re reading this, they turned out delicious…

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    … not that my family will eat a single prune hamentash.  Oy, vey.

    Anyway, I think they’re delicious!

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    Six Word Saturday: 8 Adar 2, 5771

    Why the weird dates? Click here to find out!  And by the way – OMG, the real Adar is almost upon us!  If you know or care what that is…

     

     

    Ending Shabbos… by preparing for Shabbos!

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    (getting next week’s candles ready; I’ve started doing this BEFORE I put the candle holders away for the week and I love it!!!)

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Six Word… umm… Saturday: 30 Adar 1, 5771

    Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

    Moment of infamy, shouted at the Shabbos table:

    “The challah has a bite missing!”

    Which would be fine or, if not fine, the end of it if said child had not chosen to clarify for the guests:  “a mouse must have eaten it.”

    Yup, our rodent guests are still with us, and probably multiplying by the week.  It is no longer safe to leave ANY food out, especially in plastic bags.  And the trap-kill-poison campaign has wound down; the baited traps that worked well at first are no longer effective at all.  It must mean they’re getting too much food elsewhere to care about what’s in the traps… but how??  It’s all locked up now, I’m certain of it.

    Argh.  So unjust.  So frustrating.  And, in this case, so humiliating.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    OMG – TWO special birthday desserts???

    schoolin 016Today’s my sister’s big 30th birthday, but we celebrated on Sunday.  In lieu of CAKE (so cliché!), I made two desserts:

    Tiramisu (recipe here)

    and

    Chocolate molten cakes (recipe here)

    The tiramisu was perfect – we’ve made it many times before.  She asked if it was “real” tiramisu; apparently, she’s had the “not real” (surreal?  unreal?) kind before.  This is as real as I can get it; there are now several brands of kosher mascarpone available.  That’s the special cheese you need to make the creamy layers.  Kosher lady fingers have been around forever.

    As for the molten cakes, they were a bit TOO molten.  The recipe says to keep them in the fridge and then bake them (at 450) for 6 (?) minutes before serving.  I baked them exactly as long as it says to, plus an extra couple of minutes, plus a couple of minutes to firm up in the individual dishes, and they were still soggy.  Soggy but amazingly DELICOUS, like the best, gooiest brownies in the universe!  I just think I’d bake them 12-14 minutes next time to get them a little more firm around the edges so they could stand up on their own on a plate.

    So many Jewish food, baking and cooking blogs are all about the pareve, but sometimes, you really NEED a dairy dessert.

    Thankfully, Abigail requested my mother’s special “filo pizza,” so there you go; a dairy birthday meal, with a perfect dairy finale.  As for the filo pizza, I don’t really love it.  She makes it at Shavuos, and it’s okay surrounded by a bunch of other stuff.  As a main course, it’s TOO.  If you know what I mean.

    Oh – just to push the whole thing over the top, we ALSO served ice cream on the side.  Because we have ice cream at every birthday.  The one time I tried doing something a little different for one of my sisters, she sulked the whole evening, so even if we didn’t exactly NEED ice cream, there it was on the table, for whoever wanted it.

    Surprisingly, we are not a family of blimps.  The way I describe us, you’d think we were some sort of butter gluttons.  Anyway, no, that’s just me.

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