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Want, want, want… (ice cream bread?)

 image Hmm… maybe I’ve got time to make this before we go?!?!?!?

  • Three ingredients (two if you omit sugar, which sounds like a good plan)!
  • Three minutes (not counting thaw time)!
  • No kneading!
  • (Apparently) not too sweet!

… Holy Oh-Em-Jee, everybody – it’s ICE CREAM BREAD.

  1. Ice.
  2. Cream.
  3. Bread.

Step the First.  You thaw the ice cream.

Step the Second.  You stir in self-rising flour.  Okay, this isn’t exactly ONE ingredient, and I normally consider it an abomination, but I happen to have TWO bags of the stuff here that Ted bought by accident.

Step the Third.  Bake.

Step the Fourth.  Indulge.

The “secret recipe” is more of a ratio than anything else:

1 cup full-fat ice cream : 3/4 cup self-rising flour

Bake at 350° for 25-45 minutes (depending on how big a batch) until toothpick comes out clean.

This version recommends Triple Brownie ice cream, 1 cup : 3/4 cup and bakes for 25-30 minutes.  This version uses Butter Pecan, doubled to have 2 cup : 1 1/2 cup and baked for 45 minutes.

Play with it, let me know which you love best.  And I’ll report back here if I get a chance to try this before I move.

Sorry to fans of this, my most-neglected blog.  Israel is my big project at the moment and I suspect it will be a while before I am free to bake again regularly… :-(

Feel free to follow our adventures at my aliyah blog in the meantime!!!

Cheapo Make n’ Take Muffin Tote idea

park picnic (35)Came up with this concept on my way out the door with a bunch of piping-hot-from-the-oven Berry Smash Muffins this morning…

This Cookie Crisp box was on top of the recycle bin, still nice and clean, and it turns out it’s exactly the right height to fit these muffins.  And fifteen muffins fit perfectly into the box.  I slid them in, taped it firmly shut, and we were on our way! 

They arrived much happier than usual.  I also happened to have a pair of scissors, so I could cut it open in perfect “Kel-Bol-Pak” style.  As Jerry Seinfeld used to say, “what was the point of this?  Pretending your parents couldn’t afford a bowl?”

Separated at birth???

park picnic (34) 

I made the muffins without streusel, by the way, since it never seems to travel well anyway.  I also cut down the sugar a bit, to 3/4 or 1 cup instead of 1 1/3 cups.

So there it is – my token post to my much-neglected Bread Blog.

To see more of my currently overwhelming project, check out my aliyah blog!!!

More blueberry buns! (a poem)

bluebunsI don’t make these very often, so it always feel like an Occasion.  I got so exited that I took a bunch of pictures, but then I turns out I already blogged here about the process (you can perhaps forgive my memory lapse given that it was almost three years ago!).

Since I have included the pictures already in this post, I will take the liberty of writ out the steps in poetic form instead:

 

  1. Snatch a round wad of fresh, fresh, fresh, dough / That’s already had sev’ral hours to grow;
  2. Roll it out pancake-flat and round / With two tablespoons of blue-filling crowned;bluebuns (8)
  3. Fold it tight-closed like half of a moon / Fingertips pounce upon’t to form a cocoon.bluebuns (5)
  4. Peel it on up from its bed on the table / pinching as tight as your fingers are able;
  5. bluebuns (6)
  6. Pinch and pinch and pinch some more / Lest blueberry filling sploosh out on the floor;bluebuns (10)
  7. When the pinching time’s fully done / Lie it so gently next to your last bun;
  8. bluebuns (11)
  9. Now if, on the pan, a bun should crack open / Pinch ever more tightly and start in to hopin’
  10. bluebuns (3)
  11. Pinch one more time when all are at ready / Brushing with egg, your painting-hand steady,
  12. bluebuns (2)bluebuns (1)
  13. Sprinkle with sugar a bit oversized / That all of your bun-dreams may be realized.
  14. Now toast them all gently at three-fifty degrees / Half an hour, and beware of “burnt-hue disease.”
  15. Now cool on a rack and keep off grubby paws / For “Filling is Hot” comes with no escape clause.
  16. bluebuns (14)
  17. For ten to fifteen you will be forced to wait / But the reward for patience is sure to elate…
  18. As your teeth sink with joy in the prize that you’ve won / Your very own homemade blueberry bun!

Enjoy!!!

Unafraid: zero-waste challah, the eco-happy way

Don’t know about you, but I was afraid of dough for a long time.  Afraid to let it touch anything, because it’s so darn sticky.  Afraid to let it rise uncovered, careful to set it on parchment or silicone when baking.  Careful that the challahs were spaced just so when I put them in the oven to bake, so they wouldn’t end up touching.  Careful, and afraid.

But just look at my challahs now!

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  • They’re naked, completely uncovered as they rise.
  • They’re bare-bottomed, sitting right on the table.
  • I’m not using a baking pan at all.

Experience and a couple of good tools have changed all that… mainly the little bench scraper in the back, which I’ve raved about here before.  Also, a baking stone – preheated properly, it’s hot enough when you put the challahs in that nothing will stick to it.  Even if it does stick, a nudge with the scraper is enough to dislodge it. 

Also, I oil the challah generously as I portion it, so that by the time I’m finished rolling out the “snakes,” the wooden tabletop is pretty much non-stick.  Not so much that the challahs slide around, or else it would be impossible to form them properly, but just enough that there’s no danger.  (I tell myself this is also good for the table.)

Because the challah strands are oiled, they’re less subject to evaporation and won’t dry out too quickly while they rise.  I also brush them generously with egg before baking, so hopefully, they’re still supple enough on the outside to allow for expansion.  (If they dry out enough that a skin forms, the outside of the bread will crack [DSC03447%255B2%255D.jpg]when the bread puffs up in the oven, leading to an unsightly “blowout” in an uncontrolled location, usually right above the bottom crust.  Ask me how I know this.)

I still use a lot of parchment paper and plastic and tinfoil and whatnot in my baking… but I am happy that another aspect of my challah-baking process has become both more masterful (cuz I’m unafraid!) and more eco-friendly.

Since I’ve ditched the plastic bags I used to rise the dough in for buckets, and reuse the buckets for challah storage, this means challah-baking has finally become a ZERO-WASTE process around here!

By the way, you don’t even have to waste water to clean dough buckets:  if you let them sit uncovered for a few hours between challah-making during the day and late at night after Shabbos dinner when the challah needs storage, then the small amount of dough in the bucket will dry onto the sides.  Just wipe it out firmly with a (cloth!) napkin and the bucket is ready to reuse.  (If flies are drawn to the challah bucket while it’s drying, drape a (cloth!) towel over the top.)

Hmmm… can you think of any other ways to bake eco-friendly?

Look what ELSE you can do with yeast!

In all the years I have been playing with yeast and homeschooling, I have never, ever thought to mix the two!  Luckily, Ms Frizzle did, and last month’s Magic School Bus science kit was all about bacteria and fungi. 

Oooey gooey fun!

For all the exciting details, please see the full post over at my regular blog!

IMG_00001032IMG_00001033  IMG_00001038 IMG_00001039

How many any other cool ways are there to use baking to teach science???

Pot pie with Sweet Potato Dumplings / Biscuits

File:SweetPotato.jpgWhen you want a chicken pot pie but are a) you only have one frozen pie crust (or don’t want to fuss with a top crust), and can’t even think of a b), why not make this EASY sweet-potato-dumpling topped version instead? 

(if you are enthused by this idea, see also this post about putting cornbread on top of chili)

You don’t even have to use meat! 

Putting a quick bread on TOP of a moist, savoury dish (whether it’s meat or dairy or even vegan, as I have been known to do with roasted root vegetables and tofu) compensates for all the downsides of quick breads – namely that they tend to dry out quickly and be less full-bodied in flavour, while lacking the exquisite texture of true breads.  Baked on top of a yummy filling – whether you have a bottom crust or not – the quick bread (dumplings, cornbread, beer bread or any quick bread you like) stay moist, absorb flavour, and add texture and substance to round out a meal.

(Technicality:  FYI, “quick bread” is the term used to describe any non-yeasted bread, including soda-risen breads, fruit/veggie breads like banana or zucchini loaf, coffee cakes and the ilk)

The only catch with this recipe is advance planning:  you’ll need to bake the sweet potato ahead of time.  To get two cups of mush, you could use one very large sweepo or two mediumish ones.  Scrub them up, poke them repeatedly with a skewer (save the skewer!), stick them in the oven at any temperature (350-400) and poke them after an hour, then every half an hour until they’re soft all the way through.  Allow to cool, then peel and mash.  If you haven’t planned ahead, you can microwave the sweepo – scrub, poke, place on a plate with a paper towel and nuke it for 10 minutes, then check every 4 minutes until it’s done.

Here’s the recipe for the dumplings.  It’s really just a quick biscuit dough, but I like the fact that it contains so much sweet potato – yummy and better for you that way:

Sweet Potato Dumplings / Biscuits on a Pot Pie

(recipe makes enough to put half on a pot pie and bake half as 6-7 freeform biscuits on the side)

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups sweepoes, mashed (see above)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp table salt (don’t use kosher salt for small quantities like this, but if you must, cut it in half)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil (you could use half or all butter for a yummy dairy version if you wanted)

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Fill a homemade or frozen pie crust in any way you like – veggies, chicken, whatever you want inside, with any sauce or seasoning you enjoy. (*see below)
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
  4. Add oil to mashed sweet potatoes, then add dry ingredients and stir until mixed (don’t beat or overmix, but there shouldn’t be any white clumps left).
  5. Drop dough in generous tablespoons onto your pot pie, using another tablespoon to help.  Cover most of the surface, leaving some openings.
  6. Drop remaining dough by tablespoons onto a cookie sheet or baking pan lined with parchment.
  7. Bake biscuits for 15 - 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Bake pot pie an additional 15-20 minutes until golden brown and sizzling.

I wasn’t going to include the pot pie filling recipe, because it’s not really a recipe, but I thought it might be helpful to somebody.  Please accept this in the spirit of “take it and run with it and play with it” rather than as strict, literal instructions.  :-)

* Pot pie filling – Meat or Vegetarian:

Here’s what I used last night:

  • Onion
  • Frozen veggies (any:  I had tail ends of beans, peas, corn, broccoli, spinach, and a bag of mixed veggies)
  • Cooked chicken or turkey (I had a frozen baggie of chicken saved from making soup over Pesach.  It was NOT a big baggie – you don’t need much.)
  • If you prefer a vegetarian/vegan version, roast a bunch of root vegetables along with some cut-up (extra-firm) tofu and substitute those (you can add beans, too) where I mention chicken below; use pareve soup mix or storebought veggie broth instead of chicken soup.
  • A few tbsp of flour
  • Wine (white is probably best, but I had zinfandel) – splash or more, to your own preference.
  • Chicken broth, leftover chicken soup, or water / soup mix.
  • Salt, pepper to taste.

What I did:

Fried onion until translucent, then added frozen veggies.  Stirred until veggies had just thawed, then added chicken.  Stirred just until chicken started to thaw, sprinkled with flour and stirred for a while.  Added wine, stirred it a bit, added soup, and simmered gently until thickened.  Seasoned with salt & pepper to taste – and it was done!  This was maybe 10-15 minutes minutes, start to finish.

(sweet potato image © Petr Kratochvil, c/o Wikimedia)

Wish I’d taken pictures, but you’ll have to take my word for it that this looked and smelled amazing coming out of the oven…

Schlissel challah: Witchcraft, divination or… good clean bread-based fun?

image

In answer to the question in the title… well, my vote is with the latter (cast yours below in the Comments section!). 

When I posted a reminder on facebook last night to think about including a key in the first post-Pesach challahs (see this old post to find out why), somebody posted a link to this article (“Shlissel Challah – The Loaf of Idolatry?”) and someone else recommended this one (“Serious Segulah or Pagan Piffle?”). 

One person wrote, “the origins of shlissel challah is completely avodah zarah [idol worship].”  Ouch.  One commenter in a thread of one of the posts above wrote that a prominent rav “called this shlissel challah minhag "ridiculous", a violation of nichush [divination], and told his wife not to "dare" do it.”

I read the articles – really, I did.  I love fascinating new information.  I love controversy.

The first article (“Loaf of Idolatry?”) made me sad, partly because his article claims to be all scholarly but he doesn't really prove his point at all.  It’s full of footnotes and nicely formatted, but it mainly lacks substance.  Just because Christians did it did something in Europe doesn't mean they started it (he says that they did it, but not that we didn't).  As one commenter pointed out, we do have (and I had seen but then forgotten) bread stamps from the time of the 2nd bais hamikdash.

imageAs for the charge of nichush [divination], this is totally NOT the intention of that prohibition, which (in my limited understanding) is more against auguring by natural signs.  Like whether, if a rodent sees its shadow, winter will end sooner, or later, or whatever.  We’re not allowed to say the ending of winter has anything whatsoever to do with the cloud conditions over Punxsutawny Phil.

The author of the first paper (“Loaf of Idolatry!”) also claims those who use a key view "a die-cut piece of brass as an intermediary between them and the Almighty." Just so you know where he’s coming from.

There’s a reflex these days, in the religious community, against doing anything that smacks of “what the goyim do.”  I was even told at one point that it might not be such a good idea to decorate our houses with greenery at Shavuos (a well-documented and longstanding tradition) because it’s too similar to the Christian practice of bringing a tree and garlands into the house in December.

In the case of this article, I remain unconvinced.

That said…

I am most definitely against placing too much faith in segulos [auspicious deeds or objects], which has been way abused, if frum magazine ads are any indication.  There are always people willing to prey on the gullible or desperate by selling “charms” in various forms. 

But if you think of the key as an object to help us focus our kavannah [intentions] at a particular time of year... I say yea… and yay (cuz it involves bread, which I love)!

IMG_00001014There’s a BIG difference in mindset between thinking, "this holy key will 'unlock' my income!" and thinking, "I hope this key symbolizes good things to come" (presumably with effort and prayer).  To me, this is a lot like what we do with various symbolic foods at Rosh Hashanah.

Israeli blogger Ester from Kosher & Frugal DID post a sensible warning we should all keep in mind: 

“Keys are often made of metals than can IMG_00001013leach out into food if baked.” 

More from Ester: 

Transform Pesach brownies into… something else

brownies (2)If your family is sick of Pesach brownies, or never liked them in the first place, or you’re looking for something a little shmancier, why not turn regular brownies into… well, this little compact-brownie terrine-thing that I don’t have a name for? 

(If after reading this post you know what it’s called, please leave a comment letting me know!)

It reminds me of those 5-layer Pesach bar cakes that you can buy for ridiculous prices in stores… only much, much cheaper.

I use two cast-iron loaf pans, which is nice because they’re heavy, thick and sturdy, but I imagine any two pans the same size will work.  (cast iron is also nice because it kashers for Pesach nice n’ easy when I self-clean the oven…).

This is not so much a recipe as a technique I hope will inspire you to great heights of deliciousness.

  • You may want to line your loaf pan with plastic wrap before you begin for ease of removal.  I forgot – doh!
  • Bake two square pans of Pesach brownies (recipe below, or Ester has a good one at her Frugal and Kosher blog).
  • brownies (6)Cut brownies in half and place one half in the bottom of the loaf pan. 
  • Brownies may crumble; that’s okay.  Just spread the pieces out evenly and squish any crumbles in to fill the cracks.  It’s okay if it looks a bit messy; it will hold together after hours of compaction.  (is that a real word???)
  • Sprinkle brownie layer with kosher l’Pesach liqueur.  Any flavour you like will probably work – I used chocolate.
  • brownies (7)Top with another brownie half.
  • Spread with melted seedless jam – I like raspberry.
  • Top with another brownie half and top that with liqueur one more time.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and add second pan.  Weight it down and leave it for several hours (or overnight?).
  • Remove from pan if it comes out easily – if it doesn’t, leave it in the pan and slice/serve it from there.
  • When it’s done, you can melt chocolate and spread a hard coating on the outside to make it more like the cakes you buy in the store.

brownies (4)   

Brownies Recipe (copied & pasted from this thread)

These are fudgy and gooey in the middle and always a big hit. You can never have enough. They are best served with vanilla ice cream.

1 cup oil

4 eggs

2 cups sugar (I used 1 3/4)

1/2 cup potato starch

1 teaspoon vanilla (don’t have vanilla yet – drat)

1 cup cocoa

1 bag (2 cups) chocolate chips (I used only 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and pour into a 9-inch round or square baking pan. Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes – until top is cracked.

Okay – you’ve read the recipe.  What would you call this dessert????

Annual Homeschool Matzah Bake 5773/2013

Once again, we had some friends over for what’s become an annual pre-Pesach ritual:  home matzah baking!   Not kosher-le-Pesach, of course, but still… fun.

Recalling pitfalls from previous years, I vowed to:

  • have enough rolling pins this year (everybody wants to roll!)*
  • mix the dough by hand (no mixer – too sticky and, surprisingly, slower)
  • no pasta roller – it produces more professional results but also, surprisingly, slower

(previous years’ posts:  5772, 5771, 5770 (just us, no friends))

I also pre-measured the flour and water, so each bowl had 1 cup of flour, with 1/3 of a cup of water standing by to pour in.

*NOTE:  To make sure I had enough rolling pins, I went to Home Depot yesterday and bought a 4-foot dowel (maybe 1.25” diameter?) and had them slice it into 4.  With a bit of sandpaper, a good washing, and a final oiling step, I had four perfectly useable kid-size rolling pins, for maybe $7-8.  (I did try Dollarama first but they had no rolling pins of any description, and I certainly didn’t want to end up with those horrid plastic ones.)

 IMG_00000945 (1024x575)

With the kids, I talked about all the yummy things we put into challah… like eggs, sugar, honey, oil, yeast, salt.  Mmm!  And then I told the kids – we don’t use ANY of that in matzah.  It’s like the opposite of tasty bread.

I also showed them what flour is made of – not just wheat flour, but all five of the grains that are traditionally considered “chametz” at Pesach time.  I expanded the “chametz museum” from last year’s edition a little bit by going to Noah’s (natural food store nearby) and buying 10-35 cents’ worth of each of wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt, in as whole a form as I could find (they only had rye flour):

IMG_00000923 (1024x575)

Naomi was dressed for the occasion in her brand-new apron from Uncle Richard.  She didn’t plan her outfit – everything just happened to co-ordinate perfectly.  Me with my Martha Stewart daughters… sheesh.

 IMG_00000924 (575x1024)

And then… well, the next little while was a blur, but eventually (not within 18 minutes, because my oven was broken; yay, the guy came to fix it this afternoon!), we all had some yummy black-bean spread on the matzah we’d made by hand.

 IMG_00000933 (1024x575)

And then… we did it all over again with another friend in the afternoon!

 IMG_00000937 (1024x575) 

Happy Pesach, world!!!  Best wishes for a kosher and wonderful yom tov.

Love from the entire MamaLand administration, staff and volunteers (namely me).

Note:  for a full recipe and further instructions, you can visit Amital’s blog here.  Thanks for sharing your link!

Happy Baking Moment

IMG_00000879Last Shabbos, Ted made brownies from a mix… and Sara came over and decorated it, all professional-like:

IMG_00000877 

Happy happy chometz, nestled in its parchment… little suspecting Pesach is on its way!

Is this normal –?

image

Thursday night truly begins only when I do my challah calculations and print out the week’s customized spreadsheet.  I have spreadsheets like this set up for about 6 challah recipes and a few other breads (a sourdough cornbread, the chocolate sourdough I use for sufganiyot and a few more recipes that need scaling up or down at various times.

Every week, it’s a new printout.  I feel bad wasting the paper, but I feel like I have a clean new formula to work with.  What I should do is just keep a copy of the recipe, scaled for x2, x3, x4 etc (x3 makes 5 challahs, plus a bit; that’s what I’m making this week).  I have one hanging around from Rosh Hashanah that has something like x9 on it, and that was half what I ended up making, I think.

Anyway, I do waste the paper, and it may not be normal, but it feels good to start fresh each week… so there.

This is the basic “reliable challah” (eggless) that I make when somebody orders challah (I occasionally and VERY informally sell challah to friends in the neighbourhood…. if you live nearby and are interested).  It always comes out the way it’s supposed to come out.  I have scaled back the salt a bit based on comments, and it can come down a bit more from what’s shown here.

Here’s what I’m making this week…

Reliable Challah, X3:
0 g starter, of 0g needed
plus 1200 g bread flour = 10.5 cups (approx)
825 g ap flour = 7.25 cups (approx)
1119 g water = 4.75 cups (approx)
219 g oil
210 g granulated sugar up to 240g for yom tov
0 g = 0 large egg(s)
45 g kosher salt
30 g yeast
TOTAL: 3648 g = 5 x 680g challahs, 0 x 450g challahs, and 4 x 60g rolls

My trick the last couple of weeks has been pre-fermenting the dough with a “yeasted autolyse.”  Which basically means I dump in everything but the salt and all-purpose flour and let it sit as long as I want.

Sounds simple?  It totally is.  Sitting for a while before the salt is added actually lets the flour begin the hard work of gluten development – completely untouched!  This means that your dough will need less kneading when you finally DO add the rest of the flour and the salt.

(edited to add: this is not a good “overnight” step because, with yeast and without salt (which inhibits yeast growth), your dough is likely to rise uncontrollably out of its container; what I do is mix it, fold some laundry, then add the rest of the flour and the salt… like maybe an hour later?)

Most autolyse techniques call for just flour and water, no yeast, no nothing.  But that’s just too many steps for me, and this one seems to produce a very tasty challah with almost no extra work.  If you have time and want to play around, by all means, just throw the flour and water together alone first.  But I like my way.  And it’s definitely Thursday night now, and I’m tired. 

Maybe I’ll do try it the “right” way next week.

What’s with all the POPPY -?

My big culinary surprise in Israel: poppy seeds are everywhere, disguised, in baked goods.

Now, I like poppy seeds plenty, in their place.

I like them generously sprinkled on bagels, pletzel and challahs. I will even tolerate them in mango dressing and lemon cake.

But I do not eat poppy-seed hamentaschen, and it is a very bad surprise indeed to bite into what you think is some sort of chocolate dessert bar, only to realize that the “chocolate” is poppy. Or, the next night, into a piece of “banana cake,” only to realize that the speckles are not banana, but poppy.

I think my issue is with dry, salty poppy seeds as a condiment (yum) vs wet, mushy poppy seeds as the main event (yuck!).

Why are they so wildly popular over there, anyway???

You will notice I refrained from – in the jolly Purim spirit – calling them “poppy”-lar?  ;-)

Hamentaschen – 3 ways

IMG_00000779Coming back from Israel just yesterday, I wanted hamentaschen that reflected all that we’d enjoyed there, culinarily.  I didn’t quite hit the mark, but I did come up with two cute variations…

I used my usual dough recipe from Second Helpings, Please (image below), though I don’t love it because it tends to misbehave in unpredictable ways.  It has never come out the same way twice in twenty years (sigh, I feel so old saying that, but it’s true – the cookbook was a wedding present at my first wedding, and the children of that marriage are now far closer to 20 than to zero).

This time, I did it in the food processor, where, of course, it totally jammed and made a sticky mess.  Ultimately, I added a lot more flour than usual and they came out okay.  It doesn’t taste like it usually does, but it worked.

image

I always do one batch with a classic prune filling – or, as my baker sister likes to say, dried plums.  It just sounds so much swankier that way.

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For the variations, I decided to do a halva filling like this one from Modern Manna, inspired by the awe-inspiring variety of halvas in the machaneh yehudah shuk:

IMG_00000197 (1024x575)

I made my filling with ordinary techina (tahini) that we had sitting in the fridge, mixed with a sugar-water syrup, but I also sprinkled in a bit of Starbucks instant coffee powder.  That may have been a mistake, because it actually masked a bit of the halva flavour.  Oh, well.  (you can see the basic recipe here)

The filling was gooey going in, but actually firmed up nicely, as promised, once baked.

  IMG_00000782

However, I was not entirely delighted with these, because the baked filling tasted a bit too much like peanut butter.  For all the (okay, small) effort I’d put in, I probably could have just used Skippy.  Weird.

IMG_00000778For an encore, on the same theme, I decided to do a batch inspired by the oodles of delicious, soft, fresh marzipan (in Hebrew, “martzipan”) that’s found in every candy shop and grocery store.  I had some yummy homemade almond paste in the freezer already (I use this recipe and freeze it in logs, instead of buying, because it’s WAY overpriced here!).

I cut off bits of still-frozen almond paste and added pareve chocolate chips for good measure:

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Now, this was the same dough that I used for the prune and halva hamentaschen, and I promise, I pinched them shut just as well. 

But for some reason, these ones ALL popped open:

 IMG_00000784

Still… once you’ve got almond paste, you really can’t go wrong.  Right?  Open-faced hamentaschen – why the heck NOT?

What are your hamentaschen variations this year???  Oh, yeah, and HAPPY PURIM!!!

Pineapple upside-downishness...

Posted from my new BlackBerry PlayBook (so many mixed-capital letters!) because it takes decent pictures and I can get them up here right away.  Yay!

Here’s tomorrow night’s pineapple upside-down cake – a vintage classic.  I admit, I have never loved pineapple anything, but we had the bottle of cherries sitting around,and the funky visual appeal of this cake is irresistible (indeed, I was moved to make this by a picture on a facebook friend’s profile). 

Haven’t tasted it yet, but the recipe is pasted at the bottom of this post if you’d like to try it yourself.

A big plus of this cake is that it’s “naturally” pareve, ie no messy recipe adaptations required.  A big minus, in some folks’ opinion, is that the main “moistener” is mayonnaise… well, that and boiling water.  If you can get past the idea that you’re eating mayonnaise cake, another plus is that you don’t need to add eggs.  You can also try part-mayo and part-yogurt or sour cream or buttermilk if you want a dairy cake.  Probably any of those would work fine to provide that “tangy” element.

You can’t really tell here, but this is the cast-iron skillet before I poured the batter in.  My pareve skillet (still pareve, despite an “issue” last week!!!) is 11” in diameter, and I’m glad I didn’t try this in a smaller pan.  It was exactly the right size, no spills whatsoever.

I know a good cast-iron pan is non-stick, but I stayed on the safe side and both sprayed and lined the skillet first!  I spread a base of some leftover coconut-milk caramel aka dulce de leche I’ve been raving about, sprinkled with a bit of brown sugar.  Then, I arranged the pineapples and cherries decoratively on top.

Poured in the batter and baked about 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Here’s what it looked like, coming out of the oven:

I was nervous about the “big flip”.  When I tried it last week with cornbread, it turned out not to be baked enough and batter goobered out everywhere – not good.  This time, I put the flat pan overtop of the skillet so the transition would be foolproof.  No problem!  Peeled off the parchment paper, and voila!

(see the steam coming off the top?)

Here’s the recipe, but I remind you, I haven’t actually TASTED the cake yet.  I just

WHITE MAYONNAISE CAKE
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. boiling water
1 c. mayonnaise
1 tsp. vanilla

(Add 4 tablespoons cocoa to make Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake.)

Sift sugar, flour, soda, and salt twice (I pulsed the dry stuff well in the food processor).

Mix in remaining ingredients (I mixed them in a separate bowl first, then pulsed them into the food processor until evenly mixed).

Pour into greased 13 x 9 inch pan (I used my skillet).

Bake 35 minutes at 325 degrees.  (I did 40 at 350… no biggie either way)

I haven’t done the frosting step, but wanted to preserve it here just in case I want to try:

While baking prepare frosting. Melt 1 stick butter. Add 1 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 cup coconut and milk to blend (1/4 cup or less). While cake is warm, spread frosting on top. Place under broiler until bubbly and brown.

Ess and enjoy!

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