Sunday, May 15, 2011

Challah post

This is when we made challah. We've included general notes about making bread as well as Jewish-specific ones regarding taking challah when you use over 2.5 lbs/1.13 kilos of flour.

General Note About Making Bread and Taking Challah: When you make bread, you might have to take challah. General guidelines about taking challah: 2.5 lbs. and under you do not take challah; 2.5 lbs.-5 lbs., you take challah but check with your Rabbi if you say a bracha or not; 5 lbs. and up, you take challah with a bracha. If you have a question about how much flour you have used, refer to your bag of flour, or weigh it beforehand.

How to Do Hafrashat Challah (separating the challah): Once you have mixed the dough (or before, so your hands are still non-doughy), cut a piece of foil. When the dough is totally mixed say the bracha: “Baruch Atah Ado-nai Elokeinu Melech haOlam Asher Kidshanu b’mitzvosav v’tzivanu l’hafrish challah min ha-isah.” (“Blessed are You, Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to separate challah from the dough.”) and grab some of the dough (roughly a kezayis/1 oz.) with the foil (some people cut the dough with a knife; it's just what works for you, the point is you take the challah...). Some people them say, “Harei zeh challah.” (“This is the challah.” Then flatten it (so it burns better) in the foil, wrap it well, and burn it (you can burn it while the oven is on preheat). When you are burning the challah, burn it alone in the oven. Once it smells burney, it's pretty well done.

You can also use a plastic baggie instead of the foil, wrap the dough twice (ex: 2 baggies) and throw it out. But don't burn the pastic bag, because that will smell (and potentially kill the oven).

First Time Making Challah: Make sure you have lots of time. Making challah properly, from start to finish, takes about 4 hours anyway because you have to mix it and let it rise (and let it rise again if you want) and shape it and let it rise and bake it. It takes time. Don't be time-pressured. But you can do other stuff while the dough is rising.

General Bread Notes: Dough is very dependent on the weather. If it is more humid outside, the dough will be stickier. Don't panic! Just add a little less water or a little more flour or oil. It's ok! If you need your challah to rise and it's not, it might be too cold. You can do a bunch of things to help it rise: 1. Put it in the oven on LOW (turn the oven light on, or turn the oven on to about 150 degrees Fahrenheit/65 degrees Celcius and put the challah in) 2. Put a heat wrap (like the ones you put in the microwave or a hot water bottle pack) around the bowl. Cover/insulate well with towels or a blanket 3. Heat up a cup of water in the microwave for 3 minutes, push the cup to the back of the microwave and put the bowl with the dough inside. Microwave will be warm for about 60-90 minutes-ish. 4. Put the bowl of dough in front of a heater and insulate. Make sure the heater won't catch fire (this works better for steam radiators).

Honey-Egg Challah (aka Tamar's Challah)

Amount you don't need to take challah from (and likely fits in your bread machine):

¼ cup oil

1 oz. honey

1.5 eggs

¼ cup sugar

1.5 tsp. salt

4 cups bread flour (can use all-purpose and add gluten, but bread flour is better. If you don’t add gluten, the world spontaneously combusts. Not really, but it’s slightly less fluffy, which is fine)

2 tsp. yeast + ½ tsp. sugar + 1 cup warm water

Optional: 4 tsp. gluten

Amount you do need to take Challah from (and likely does NOT fit in your bread machine):

5 lb flour (about 16 cups)

6 tsp salt

1 1/2 c sugar or 1 c sugar and 1/2 c honey

6 eggs

1 c oil

5 tsp yeast mixed with 2 t sugar and 4 c warm water

Total flour: 5 lbs.

Directions for either amount:

Note: If using a bread machine, follow those directions-- something with the liquid on the bottom and the dry ingredients on top, I think, but check your bread machine's instructions because I don't really use it too much...)

Combine warm water, some of the sugar, and yeast. Let it do its thing for a few minutes and it will start to get a little bubblyish/foamy within a couple of minutes. If it doesn’t—don’t panic. Let it sit another couple of minutes. If it smells yeasty and is starting to get warm, even if you don’t see the bubbles, it’s working. If it does nothing thats bad; check the water to see that it's warm. If it is and the yeast is doing nothing, you might need to get new yeast.Mix flour, sugar, and salt; make a well (kind of a hole in the middle of the pile of the flour-sugar-salt mixture).

Add eggs, water (honey, if using), yeast mixture, and almost all of the oil (reserving some to rub on dough at the end) into the well.

Knead well.

(take challah (with or without a bracha) if appropriate)

Rub remaining oil on the dough and let rise in a covered bowl for approx. 1 hour, or until roughly doubled in size (again, if it’s not double the size but it’s getting bigger, don’t worry; let it sit a little longer. It's more important to have it double than let it sit for exactly 1 hour).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit (depending on how long your oven takes to heat up; you want to time it so that your oven is heated up just before you're ready to put the challah in to bake).

Punch down and shape.

(optional: Let dough have a second rise for 1 hour/until approx. doubled in size)

Let rise ½ hour on a covered baking pan (or in a challah pan if you have those). If you want to add anything like chocolate chips/raisins/craisins/other to the challah and have not yet, now would be the time; I do not add anything in this recipe because it's really good without add-ins.

Sprinkle on poppy seeds/sesame seeds/oatmeal/cinnamon-sugar/za'atar/anything else you want to

Bake until crust is medium brown (can spray with Pam after a few minutes to make the top crusty) and challah feels light (pick it up. If it jiggles or is heavy, it’s not done). You can also turn it over (pop it out of the pan if using a pan) and tap the bottom. If it sounds kind of hollow, it's done. Rolls need approx. 20 minutes, braided challahs need approx. 35-45 minutes, and pull-apart challahs need approx. 25-35 minutes.

Note about this dough: It is a very, very soft, sticky dough. Don't panic because it sticks to your hands and the other dough(s) did not...that's normal. I usually sprinkle LOTS of flour when shaping the dough.

Sticky-sticky dough:


Shaped and rising:


The finished product:

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Been a while since we posted. Not that we haven't been baking, we've just been neglecting the blog. So-- renewal of blogging shall now commence. Updates of our other baking adventures will be posted shortly. Or at least that's the plan.

So-- Black Bottom Cupcakes. This is a recipe that Elkie wanted to try to a while, so now we did. They. Are. Were. Are. Awesome.

from Black-Bottom Cupcakes
The Great Book of Chocolate, David Lebovitz

Yield: 12 full-size or approximately 30 mini cupcakes

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, regular or reduced fat, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup unflavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the filling: Beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the chopped chocolate pieces. Set aside.

Make the cupcakes:
1. Adjust the rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F (175°C). Butter a 12-cup muffin tin, or line the tin with paper muffin cups.
2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients, stirring until just smooth. Stir any longer and you will over mix the batter and end up with less-than-tender cupcakes.
4. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon a few tablespoons* of the filling into the center of each cupcake, dividing the filling evenly. This will fill the cups almost completely,** which is fine.
5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed. These moist treats will keep well unrefrigerated for 2 to 3 days if stored in an airtight container.

Our changes:
-For the filling we used Israeli cream cheese (Tara, גבינת קרם שמנת- טבעי- gveenat krem- teevee, 5%)
-We used Israeli cocoa; we don't know if it Dutch processed cocoa or not, but the cupcakes came out flat-topped
-We baked it on 180°C for more than 25 minutes-- closer to 30-35. They were raw-ish after 25-27 minutes, so we put them back in.
-Lauren accidentally added vanilla to the filling. Don't know if it changed anything, but it tasted good.
-It says you can fill the cupcake cups almost or totally all the way. We did about 80% full and they were over the top (but not overflowing) and overflowing. We recommend filling them about 70% full, no more. Unless you want overflowing, in which case-- fill away.

Before baking:

After baking:

All in all, these were good but we don't plan on making them again. The texture was weird. Maybe when we're in America and can buy definitely non-Dutch processed cocoa and Philadelphia cream cheese that's not the equivalent of $8/box-- then we'll see.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

From SmittenKitchen, adapted a bit: Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Yield: They said 12, Smitten Kitchen got 18, we got 16.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup crisco + 1 Tbsp. (or 3 tsp.) of water (butter substitute)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (white sugar)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup minus 1 Tbsp. + 1 Tbsp. lemon juice (buttermilk substitute)
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

Prepare the buttermilk (mix the soymilk and lemon juice and let sit for about 10 minutes/until it curdles-ish)

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°C


In one bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a second bowl, cream the crisco, granulated (white) sugar and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Mix in the buttermilk gently; do not overmix. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the apple.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups and sprinkle the other 1/4 cup brown sugar on top. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 205°C/400°F and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool and eat.

We forgot to take pictures along the way...actually, no, we didn't think to because we didn't decide to make a blog until the muffins were already baked. So we have after pictures:

3 of the final product

The end...

...the middle...

...and back to the beginning. They were goooooood.

How "Our Camera Fell Into the Muffins" Got its Name

It's quite simple: While trying to take a picture, the camera decided it wanted to taste the muffins. So it did. Except it was on a baby tripod that didn't know how to balance, so it fell. And we ended up with a name for our blog.

This is a food blog. Yet another food blog. This one is American, Israeli, and everything in between-- American ingredients, Israeli ingredients, hard-to-find ingredients, imported ingredients, and figuring out how to fake it when we can't get the actual ingredients that we need. Mostly non-dairy stuff, but you can pretty much substitute in dairy.