Monday, May 28, 2012

Honey White Challah and Cinnamon & Sugar Challah (DB)

May’s Daring Bakers' was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

I was eager to try this recipe, and made one honey white loaf and one cinnamon & sugar loaf.  The honey white was good, but the cinnamon & sugar loaf was to die for! The recipe was easy to follow, though I had to add about 1 extra cup of flour before the dough wasn't too sticky to work with.  I was rather concerned as I was adding so much extra flour, but in the end I still had fluffy loaves with a nice crumb.

To create the cinnamon and sugar filling, I used 2/3 cup brown sugar (packed) mixed with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon.  After separating the dough into three equal pieces, I simply rolled each piece into a rectangle and then spread 1.5 tablespoons of softened butter on to each rectangle.  I then spread one-third of the cinnamon and sugar mixture on to each one and then rolled the rectangles up lengthwise. Then I simply braided the three rolls like I did with the regular honey white loaf.

The result was a bread that basically tasted like a delicious cinnamon roll, sans icing.  I realized as I was getting ready to put the bread in the oven that I was out of eggs, so my loaves were without egg washes, but I brushed them with a little bit of milk to add just a little more color to them.  The cinnamon & sugar loaf didn't last very long in our household, and I will definitely be making it again.

Thanks, Ruth, for hosting this month.  If you'd like the recipe, you'll find it posted below, and on Ruth's blog.

Honey White Challah
from Tammy's Recipes

1 ½ cups (360 ml) warm water, separated
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) (15 gm/½ oz sugar
2 Tbsp. (2-2/3 packets) (30 ml) (18 gm) (2/3 oz) dry active yeast
½ cup (120 ml) honey
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) oil (light colored vegetable oil, or olive oil if you prefer)
4 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. 7½ ml) (9 gm) (1/3 oz) salt
5 cups (1200 ml) (700 gm/25 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, plus more as needed (up to 8 or 9 cups total)
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water
  1. In mixer bowl/large mixing bowl combine ½ cup warm water, 1 Tbsp. sugar and 2 Tbsp. yeast.  Allow to proof approximately 5 minutes until foamy.
  2. To the yeast mixture add the remaining water, honey, oil, eggs, salt and 5 cups of flour. Knead (by hand or with your mixer’s dough hook) until smooth, adding flour as needed.  Knead for approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer dough to a clean, oiled bowl, turn to coat or add a bit more oil on top.  Cover bowl with a kitchen/tea towel.  Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 ½ hours. 
  4. Punch down the dough, divide it into two sections.  Use one half to make each loaf (shaped or braided as desired).
  5. Place loaves on parchment lined or greased baking sheets, cover with a towel, allow to rise 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  7. Brush tops loaves with egg wash.  (Sprinkle with seeds or toppings here if wanted.)
  8. Bake loaves 30-40 minutes until done.
  9. Cool on wire racks.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hungarian Shortbread (TWD)

I'm a day late posting, but this week's Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia recipe was hosted by Lynette of 1smallkitchen and Cher of The not so exciting adventures of a dabbler…: Hungarian Shortbread.  This shortbread recipe is very similar to most traditional shortbreads - made with flour, sugar, and a lot of butter.  However, instead of rolling out the dough, half of it is grated into the pan and then topped with fruit preserves, and then topped with more grated dough.

The dough recipe was simple, and the results quite delicious.  However, I think I spent a good 30 minutes grating all of the dough! It kept getting too soft to grate so I'd have to put it back in the fridge to chill while I grated the other ball of dough. So, while these were buttery, crumbly, and delicious, I'm afraid I won't be making them again simply because I cannot put myself through another 30 minutes straight of grating again!

Thanks to Lynette and Cher for hosting; you can find the recipe on their blogs here and here.  Make sure you check here, too, to see what everyone else thought of these sweet, buttery treats.

* Recipe notes:
- I used a 13 x 9 inch pyrex pan to bake my shortbread.
- Instead of 8 oz of fruit preserves, I used 16 oz.  This seemed to be a good amount.  I think 8 oz would result in a layer of fruit preserves that was too thin.  I would recommend using at least 12 oz.
- I had to bake my shortbread for an extra 15 minutes before it was golden brown on top.  Some bakers noted that the bottom layer seemed undercooked but I did not have this problem since I baked mine longer.