I’m not a huge fan of figs, but I happened upon the Smitten Kitchen fig challah recipe and knew my spouse would love it. For this challah, you make a fig paste using dried figs, orange zest and juice, and water.

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The fig paste is then spread on the challah:

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And the challah is shaped.  I chose a twisted ring because I thought it would be pretty:

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It was beautiful:

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Our guests compared the filling to that of a fig newton cookie.  It was sweet– which must come from the dried figs, as there was no sugar added. And the bread was cake-like.  Even as someone who doesn’t appreciate figs, this was a good challah.

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One guest suggested it would be a good one for Rosh Hashanah and I enthusiastically agree.  I may have to put it in my regular RH rotation.

Chimichurri Challah

My friend Michael sent me this recipe to try out. I don’t have access to ramps here in Seattle, as I understand they are best when foraged.  So I googled for substitutes and found a suggestion of green onions.  I made my basic dough, instead of using theirs, then used the food processor to make the filling:

  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

I rolled out the dough and spread on the filling:

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Then rolled it into a tube. I quickly realized that it wasn’t going to stay closed for me to braid. So I coiled it into a beautiful round.

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It was delicious and eaten quickly!!

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I had some of the filling left over, and my spouse ate it on tortilla chips the next day, then asked me to make more for the next shabbat.

Fall Foliage (again)

Round two of the fall designs.  In creating this design I googled “fall bread” and found some amazing ideas.

This is the one I attempted to emulate (although she uses negative space and I used positive):

 

Mine isn’t quite that spectacular, but I had fun and learned in the process of doing it.

First I cut a leaf stencil out of paper.  Then I used it to sprinkle spices onto the bread. I used paprika, turmeric and a curry mix.

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I learned that if I tapped the paper onto the bread, and tapped the spice into place, that it stuck a lot better:

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The bread was beautiful before baking:

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After baking, the colors were a bit more washed out.

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Though you can still see them:

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What I learned, if I try this again… use only one layer of egg wash, or even a wash (like olive oil) that would help the spices stick but not darken the bread when it bakes.  And use your finger to tamp the spice down to hold it in place.

I had feared that the spices would be strong and make the bread in-edible.  They did not.  They flavored it nicely without over powering. Next time I’ll try this coloring technique on braided bread.

Round braided challah for Shabbat Sukkot

For Shabbat sukkot I wanted to try a new round braid.  It is one I’ve seen and thought was really beautiful, but had not figured out how to make.  I looked at a few tutorials on the web, and figured it out.  Here is a pictogram of the steps.

Start with four strands of challah and put them in a simple weave, each over one and under one in each direction.

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Take the unders and, in a counter clockwise direction, put them over.

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Do the same thing in the other direction.

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Then this is the key (and I couldn’t photograph it, one handed) gather the ends and pinch them together, then flip the entire thing over, and you will have a beautiful braided round challah, that looks like a large knot.

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One of the things I love about this round braid is that it hides the ugly underneath it and looks amazing!

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Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!

Oh Honey!

This Shabbat is Yom Kipuur, so no challah this week. But here’s some AMAZING honey cookies to tide you over….

I am not a huge fan of honey cake. I find it dry and not all that interesting.  So a few years ago I went looking for a different sweet treat for the new year clebrations.  I found these honey sugar cookies!! They come from  BakingBlonde’s Blog. Thank you to her for these cookies.  I’ve made them for three years now and they are delicious.  But really, how can you go wrong with a cookie that starts with a half cup of butter, a half cup of sugar, and a half cup of honey?!?!?image

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Yum!!

How sweet it is!

Rosh Hashanah starts tomorrow (wednesday) at sunset. This year, with a Wednesday start, we have the much maligned “three day Chag” that means the two days of RH go right into shabbat and we never leave sacred space, for three days.  This is both wonderful and tricky. Although you can cook on Chag, you can only cook for shabbat if you follow specific rules. We have an electric oven, so all the bread baking has to be done ahead of time.

Challah for Rosh Hashanah is typically a sweet challah, filled with raisins or fruit and glazed with honey.  I’m not a fan of raisins, so I use craisins instead, and chocolate chips!!

Adding the Chocolate Chips!

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A round challah

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Fresh from the oven!

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