Playing with Color

I’ve done a lot of fun challot this year with bright colors.  From the rainbow one for Parshat Noah back at the beginning of the year, to the Flags this month, I’ve had a lot of fun with color. However, the color I’ve been using is a kosher food dye designed for coloring icing.  It isn’t really meant to be baked like my challah is.  The color ends up a bit browned on the outside, dulling it. So I thought I’d experiment with other ways to color the dough. Back in the fall I did the spices coloring the outside. I wanted to try to find a way to color the inside too.

Google gave me lots of suggestions for “natural” food dyes.  Beet juice was the most common one.  But I haven’t been able to learn to like beets, and wanted to try dying with things on hand. The two ideas I found that were ingredients I already had were blueberries and turmeric.

For the blueberries, it was suggested that I crush them and boil them. Then strain them.  So I did. The buleberries and turmeric simmering on the stove:

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Then I strained them:

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And had a bright blue water left over:

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I mixed the blueberry juice into one strand of the challah and the turmeric into another, leaving the third strand plain.

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The result wasn’t as saturated of color as I would have liked, but I could see how with more volume it could be.

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I was unable to taste either flavor in the dough.  Others at the table, with more nuanced palettes that I have, said they could taste the blueberry.

On a halachic note– in general adding fruit juice to dough makes the bread need the “mizanot” blessing instead of “motzi”.  When I do flavors that might render the challah “mizanot” I always make a second plain loaf to make motzi over.  This particular week I also made 4 challot for the mitzvah corps at our synagogue.  They go in the freezer and are given to families who need food assistance for some reason– a family loss or illness.

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Playing with Stripes

Last week I made the 4th of July challah.

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It’s all right, but a bit messy.  I would like to get better at stripes.  So I decided to refine the technique.

Last week I had used small bowls to dye the stripes.  They were messy and awkward.  So this week I sued plates with the dye.

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And let the stripes dry a bit once dyed.

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Then, wiping my hands between stripes, I placed them in the baking dish.

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This design is inspired by my love of open water swimming.

The final product ended up a lot cleaner looking:

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So clearly this technique is a step in the right direction.

4th of July Challah

My 6-year-old friend Mimi came over for shabbat during Memorial Day weekend.  She guessed the challah that week would be an American Flag.  It wasn’t. But I said I’d use her suggestion for the 4th of July instead.

So I rolled out dough and cut a flag:

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Then I dyed the red stripes and the blue field.

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My hands looked like this:

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But the final product looked like this:

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Pretty good. But the stripes are a bit messy. I’ll have to work on that.

Happy Birthday USA!

Canada Day Challah

Wednesday, July 1st was Canada Day. As a Canadian I needed to celebrate on the closest shabbat.  However, the truly closest shabbat is the 4th of July, and as an American I need a red white a blue challah on that day. On Friday, June 26th, I woke up to fabulous news.  SCOTUS had ruled on same-sex marriage, finally making it legal in all 50 states. Plus, this weekend was pride weekend.  What’s a gay-allied-dual-Canadian-American to do? I asked my friend Maxine, and she said go with the pride challah because she’s “more queer than Canadian”.  But I’m more Canadian than queer. So I made both.

First, my Canada Day Challah.  I decided to use maple syrup in the challah instead of honey. And I cut out a Leaf shape:

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Then the Pride Challah. I’d already made a rainbow one back in the fall for Parshat Noah.  So I looked for rainbow sprinkles at the store.  The only kosher ones had too many white ones in them to look rainbow.  I hit up the candy isle– skittles aren’t kosher and M&Ms don’t have purple (and do have brown).  So I used what I had on hand, the “gayest” thing in my pantry– the mulitcolored fennel sprinkles that I used back at Purim.

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The final products were beautiful and delicious.  The maple leaf, because of the amount of salt on it (that’s red colored salt I used) tasted like pretzel challah and was a big hit!

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Yom Ha’atzmaut Challah

For challah this week I turned to the Torah portion.  Then realized that it was the part of Leviticus about skin lesions and that would not make an appetizing challah.  Luckily, this week was also Yom Ha’atzmaut which is Israeli Independence Day, a much better idea for basing a challah.  So I brainstormed ideas. A flag challah was the first idea. And a map of Israel was the second.  However, the map idea seemed difficult, as which borders would I use?  So to avoid the political, I did the flag and a braid, with a strand of blue.

i wanted to try a new way to color the challah, so I made blue salt.  I took my blue dye and mixed it with coarse salt.  The outcome was beautiful!

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Tgat at then decorated the challaot!

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The challah was salty, but not overly so, like a pretzel not a salt lick!

Challah FAIL!

It was inevitable. At some point I was going to design a challah that would end up a total fail.  This was the week!

My friend Max (yes, the one who issued this challenge) and I volunteered to make the kiddush lunch for our community this week. We are members of the Kavana Cooperative here in Seattle. Kavana holds a minyon on Saturday morning about once a month. 40-50 people attend and someone volunteers to bring the lunch. It was our turn.

I thought it would be fun to make the Kavana logo as my challah. It looks like this

You will notice that it is a Star of David, but with the top triangle over the bottom one. I tried a new coloring technique. Instead of kneading the color in, I tried dipping the dough in colored water. It worked fabulously! Bright vibrant colors.

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However, the wet dough didn’t stick together very well. As you can see, the blue side was already rolling off. I stuck it back on before baking, but it wasn’t happy there…

 

This is what came out of the oven:

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Yeah, total fail! I couldn’t serve that to my congregation!

So I whipped up another batch, and made this instead:

 

imageWhich baked up perfectly!

 

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All was not lost, I sliced the colored challah and labeled it “Joseph’s Technicolor Dream Bread”. The kids loved it!