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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Lemon Cheesecake Challah

Yes, you read that headline right, Lemon Cheesecake Challah.  Seriously.  We could probably just stop there.  But why?  Here’s the story…. This weekend is the holiday of Shavuot.  This holiday, I lovingly refer to as the “stay up all night and eat cheesecake holiday.”  What’s not to love about that.  The holiday commemorates (in part) the receiving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. We stay up all night in anticipation of receiving the Torah (fun!).  And because G-d gave us the commandment to keep kosher in the Torah, all of our prior meat and dishes were suddenly rendered problematic, and we ate dairy until we could kasher things. This, among many other reasons, is why we eat dairy on Shavuot.  Of course, I don’t eat meat at all, so most of my festive meals feature dairy in some sort.

I found the recipe for lemon cheesecake challah on Smitten Kitchen. I used my regular challah dough because it is proven, but I followed their recipe for the cheesecake filling and the lemon curd.  Lemon curd may become my new favorite thing to make. If I’d known you could make something THAT delicious THAT easily, I would have made it before.

Now, technically, for motzi on shabbat, challah needs to be parve (neither meaty or dairy). So when I make dairy challah, I always make a loaf of “plain” as my second loaf, so that motzi can be over parve challah for the halachically minded among us.

Now, on to the challah…Using my regular dough, I rolled out a large rectangular shape.

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Then cut slits into the sides:

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I layered on the cheesecake filling, then the lemon curd:

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Then “braided” it:

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I brushed it with egg and sprinkled it with some nice, organic, coarse sugar.

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Then baked it.

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This is a beautiful and delicious recipe.  Happy Shavuot everyone!

Bacon challah!

Let’s face it, Jews love bacon. As much as we hate to admit it, we all want bacon.  Unexpected bacon is a happy surprise.  So what would be more delightful than a bacon challah?  I had to give it a try!

I started by frying up some of the delicious smoky fatty stuff…

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Once it it was cooled, i crumbled it and mixed it into my dough.  The finished product was a perfect bacony salty delicious doughy goodness!

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And bacon is parve, so this challah doesn’t even have the kashrut issues of some of my dairy ones!

Reduce Reuse Recycle.

A number of folks had pointed out to me a Halloween Candy challah in “Tablet” magazine.  I figured this was a great way to “recycle” the left over candy.  Or, I guess if I were more hipster, to “Up-cycle” the candy into something new and better!!

I started with a random assortment of candy (thanks Neelz and Greg).

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I chopped the candy into pieces, and made three bowls of it.  One of the Dove Milk, one of the M&Ms and one that was the assorted rest of the bunch.

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Then I rolled out the dough and added the candy.

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Made my “snake” and braided.

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It cooked up really nicely.

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Of course, we have a slight problem with it… all the candy is dairy, and, technically speaking, might make the bread fall into the blessing category of “mizanot” (food that is grain, but not bread) instead of “motzi” (bread).  So I made an additional loaf of regular challah to ensure we can make “motzi” on it (plus two to give to a friend).

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Finally, there is the issue that the candy is dairy and challah is supposed to be parve.  I looked up the kosher laws about dairy bread last night.  The gist is that ALL bread is supposed to be parve, so that one does not make a mistake and eat dairy bread with meat or meaty bread with dairy.  If you make a dairy bread, you are to make it in a different shape so as to clearly mark it as dairy and not get confused.  And you are to eat it all in one day.

Since the point of the law is to make sure you don’t get confused, and since my house has only a dairy kitchen, and I haven’t had meat in about 25 years, I don’t think there is risk of confusion over this bread.  AND if there might be, I think the green M&M shell melt that is CLEARLY visible on the outside of the loaf, will be a marker that this is not typical parve bread.  And finally, if we HAVE to, I guess we can eat the whole loaf in one day!  I’ll take one for the team with this candy bread!

Happy-week-after-Halloween!!  Hope you come up with creative ways to recycle your candy!