Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ancient Grain Challah

Necessity is the mother of invention. This week I wanted to use up a started bag of King Arthur Ancient Grain flour blend  and also needed challah for Shabbat.  The blend is gluten free, but the following recipe is certainly not : the bread has white whole wheat, bread and all purpose flour blended together with the ancient grain blend.  The resulting dough is less stretchy than more traditional challah dough. After the first rise I  deflated the dough by hand and noticed that it felt a bit "grainy."  The color of the dough is "beige" rather than yellow or white. The texture is not quite traditional challah, not quiet artisan bread. The crust is a bit thicker and a bit crusty. The loaf slices wonderfully, the bread makes very satisfying sandwich slices.

Choreography/ Notes:
A longer, slow slow first rise improves the texture of the dough.  I mixed the dough, drizzled oil into the bowl and turned the dough so that the entire dough ball was covered with a slick of oil. The dough was then covered with plastic wrap and left in the refrigerator for 8 hours. It rose nicely, albeit a bit slower than challah usually does. As I mentioned, the dough is not as stretchy as traditional challah, but allowing the dough to come to room temperature helped improve the workability of the dough.

kitchen scale
measuring cups, measuring spoons
electric mixer (optional, but helpful)
baking pans : 3 medium loaf pans or two large loaf pans or parchment lined baking sheet

4.5 tsp instant yeast (2 packages)
2.5 tsp kosher salt
15 to 16 oz warm water  (2 scant cups)
4 large eggs
8 oz ancient grain blend - I used King Arthur Ancient Grains blend, but would appreciate feed back if    anyone uses another mixture.
8 oz white whole wheat flour
10 oz bread flour
10 oz unbleached all purpose flour
4oz (1/2c) honey
4 oz (1/2c) olive or vegetable oil plus approximately 2 Tbsp to grease the bowl
1/4c soy or almond milk
1/4c brown sugar mixed with a Tbsp or two of hot water
1/4c old fashioned oats
spray oil to grease the pans
small amount of cornmeal or flour for dusting the bread pans

1. Weigh and measure the ingredients. Warm the water. For details on yeast and measuring you can click this link. 
2. Combine the oil and water and eggs. Measure and combine the bread and all purpose flour
3. Pour the ancient grain blend and white whole wheat flour into a large mixing bowl.
4. Add the salt at one edge and cover with a bit of the flour and add the yeast on the opposite side of the bowl.
5. Pour the water over the yeast and start the mixer on low speed.  If you are mixing the dough by hand, use a wooden spoon to start mixing the yeast/water into the flour.
6. Pour the oil/water/egg mixture into the bowl and continue to mix.
7. Add 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture and blend in at low speed or continue to mix with a large spoon. Continue to blend in the remaining flour and mix for 3-5 minutes until well blended and pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
8. If you are mixing by hand you may need to turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in the final 10 oz of flour.  The dough will be firm, a  bit sticky and not particularly stretchy.
9. Pour 2 Tbsp of oil along the edges of the mixing bowl and turn the dough around so that the dough ball has a thin layer of oil all over it.
10. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours.
11. Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for 30-60 minutes before working with the dough.
12. Deflate gently, turn several times and divide/shape. The dough will make 3 medium loaves, 2 large loaves or approximately 18 (2 oz) rolls. Click on this link to see several examples of bread shapes.  Prepare the pans by spraying with spray oil and sprinkling with cornmeal or flour
13. Mix the brown sugar, water and oatmeal to make a thick paste. Smear on the top of the bread. Let rise in a draft free spot (a slightly warm oven or a proofing box is perfect) for about 45 minutes.
15. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Load the bread into the hot oven, lower the heat to 360 degrees and bake for 30-45 minutes. Check the bread after 30 minutes, the crust will be be dark and golden. Internal temperature, if you're inclined to use a thermometer, should be approximately 190- 195 degrees.  I like to very gently push on the top of the crust a bit to make sure the loaf "feels" done.
16. Cool in the pan for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely before wrapping and storing. The bread should be double wrapped in plastic if you are freezing.  It will stay loosely covered at room temperature for 2 days.

Other interesting BreadandBabka challah recipes you might like to try include:
Pumpkin Apple Challah  , Challah Bread Pudding , or Challah with Za'atar and Apricots .

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Quick to make "Creamsicle" (orange-vanilla) Sorbet

It's warm outside and if you're lucky enough have freezer space to keep the mixing bowl of an ice cream maker frozen, then you can enjoy this sorbet within an hour.  Some of the richer ice creams and complicated sorbet bases require mixing, heating and cooling. Some, but not this one!

The base of this sorbet is a can of room-temperature coconut milk (light or regular, but NOT canned coconut cream). Add sugar, orange juice, a bit of flavor-boosting and your more than halfway there. Use either fresh or NON-reconstituted juice or a combination of both. Reconstituted OJ just doesn't work as well as a flavoring component in this recipe; small flecks of fruit make it visually interesting and more delicious. I prefer LorAnn oil bakery emulsion as the flavor enhancer, but don't let that stop you, extracts will work.

This sorbet scoops well with or without the optional addition of a tablespoon of vodka.

a mixing bowl or 4 cup measuring cup for mixing
mixing spoon, measuring spoon, measuring cup
ice cream maker of your choice

1 can (about 13 oz) coconut milk at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Approximately 1-1/4 cup orange juice - preferable at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bakery emulsion from LorAnn Oils
2 tsp orange extract or orange bakery emulsion from LorAnn Oils
1 Tbsp vodka (optional)

1. Combine the sugar and coconut milk. Mix well, the sugar must disperse into the liquid.
2. Add the orange juice to equal 3 cups of liquid. Mix well, make sure there is no sugar settling at the bottom of the mixing bowl.
3. Mix in the flavorings.
4. Chill in a freezer for 30-45 minutes.
5. Pour into a chilled mixing bowl of your ice cream maker and process according to directions.
6. OPTIONAL: when the mixture is just about ready (thick, slushy) add the vodka and continue to mix.
7. The sorbet will be the consistency of soft-serve, I like to freeze it for an additional hour or two before serving. Let the sorbet stand at room temperature for a few minutes for easy-scooping.


If frozen desserts are your thing, try BreadandBabka's Blueberry-Lemonade Sorbet

Monday, June 1, 2015

Oregano Pesto with Walnuts and Orange

Oregano Pesto with Walnuts and Orange 

It's springtime and a few days of very warm sunny weather has sped the growth of oregano in the garden. Oregano is a great plant for edible gardening: it's a beautiful ground cover, will flower if left untrimmed and best of all is reliably perennial to zone 6 and often survives winter in zone 5 if you protect with mulch. Once established it thrives on neglect and doesn't require regular watering. The key to a constant supply of fresh leaves is to keep it trimmed and avoid flowering. 

OK, so you don't want to grow your oregano, but you do want to try this pesto. Buy a package of fresh oregano, you'll need a loosely packed cup of leaves.  It's easy to remove the leaves from the stem by sliding your finger along the stem moving from the bottom of the stem toward the end with the new growth. The leaves will easily separate from the stem. 

Pesto is a versatile condiment associated with Italy, but also has roots in Southern France (pistou). The origin of the preparation dates back to ancient Roman times, where a mortar and pestle (hence: pesto) were used to hand grind herbs, cheese and nuts. Although it's now typical to use "Genovese" type basil as the herb base in pesto, any herb can be used.  I never prepare pesto with cheese, you can always add grated Parmesan if you'd prefer.  

Serve Pesto along with pasta or spread thinly on slices of crusty bread. You can dilute the mixture with a bit of oil and cream to make a creamy sauce.  I like to  make an oh-so-easy baked chicken by spreading pesto on chicken and baking. Spread pesto on a piece of salmon fillet, spray oil on foil, wrap the fish and bake or cook on the BBQ.  You can also create a vegan sauce by mixing pesto with a bit of oil and lemon or orange juice. Pesto is wonderful served over rice.  Try cooking barley, saute an onion and mix the barley with the onion and a few tablespoons of pesto.  You can always use it to make the garlic-pesto-yogurt sauce that accompany chard patties.  You'll soon realize that the possibilities are endless. 

Preparing pesto is quick and easy. It takes longer to organize the ingredients than to whir them in a food processor. I don't grind the mixture by hand, but it might be interesting to try your hand using a mortar and pestle. 

Prepare the ingredients before blending: separate the oregano leaves from the stems, roughly chop walnuts, zest a small orange, squeeze the juice, peel the garlic cloves .  All ingredients are processed at once in a food processor until they form a smooth paste. 

1 cup loosely packed oregano leaves 
zest from one small orange 
1 oz orange juice 
3/4 c roughly chopped walnuts 
2-4 cloves garlic (this will depend on how much you do or don't love garlic)
2 oz olive oil - you can increase the olive oil by 1/2 oz increments if you want a thinner mixture
large pinch Kosher salt  

Add the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and whir until it forms a smooth paste. 

 Scrape into a covered container. Store in the refrigerator, use within 2-3 weeks. 
Yield approximately 1 cup.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mikah and Alex's really delicious Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Mikah and Alex went berry picking! Strawberries are available from Maryland to New Jersey during May- June and if you have had homemade fruit pie you know it's worth the effort. For those ready to take the plunge, summertime is the best time to experiment with all sorts of berries and summer stone fruit.  Count yourself lucky if you can find New Jersey strawberries, blueberries or peaches. @JerseyFresh!

Pie crust directions from Williams-Sonoma are below. If making the crust is a bit more of a project than you want to undertake, buy a frozen deep-dish unbaked pie crust. The filling will make one deep dish pie. 
The rhubarb was available at the farm they visited as well. 

3 1/2 cups chopped Rhubarb 
2 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
2/3 - 1 cup of sugar
4 Tablespoons Cornstarch 
1/2 teaspoon of salt 
dash of cinnamon (optional) 
zest of one lemon (amount optional) 

Chop the rhubarb, measure out 3 1/2 cups and put it into a large mixing bowl. (One stalk is about 1 cup.) Same for the strawberries. Add in 2/3 cups of sugar (1 cup if you like your pie sweeter) and the rest of the dry ingredients and mix everything up. Your pie filling is ready to fill the pie crust. 

Alex used this recipe for the pie crust:

If you're looking for another fabulous summertime fruit dessert , try Blueberry Spice Crumb Cake

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Quick Savory Biscuits (non-dairy)

These are, if not the easiest, then among the easiest biscuits to bake. 
Chopped scallions and coconut oil create a delicious moist biscuit - you won't miss the butter. 

The dough is hand-mixed, using either a pastry blender or an inexpensive flexible dough scraper, which can be purchased through King Arthur Flour.  The trick for making flaky light biscuits is to avoid working the dough too much. Mix as lightly and as little as possible in order to NOT build up long gluten strands.  The entire process, start to finish can be done in under an hour assuming 2 baking sheets, which will allow you to bake batches of biscuits one after another. 

There is no baking powder or salt in the recipe because self-rising flour has salt and baking powder incorporated in it. This dough uses two leavening agents, baking powder in the self-rising flour and instant yeast, a leavening technique you'll also find in Chinese Steamed Buns  The "shortening" is solid coconut oil, although you can always use butter if a dairy biscuit works for you. 

several pieces of scallion, trim root end and cut off top of green parts if they are not firm. 
2.5 tsp (1 package) instant yeast
1/4 cup warm water 
21 oz (5 full cups) unbleached self rising flour. I like to use King Arthur brand 
1 cup coconut oil (do not melt, use as solid shortening) 
5 Tbsp granulated sugar 
2 c coconut (or soy) milk at room temperature

1. Finely chop the scallion. Measure off 1/4- 1/3 c and set aside.
2. Dissolve the yeast in warm water and let stand, it will begin to bubble.
3. Mix the sugar and scallion pieces into the flour.
4 "Cut" the coconut oil into the four, using a hand pastry blender or flexible dough scraper.
   Work the dough until the coconut oil is broken into very small pieces no larger than the size of peas.
5. Combine the dissolved yeast and "milk," stir to disperse the yeast and pour into the flour/coconut mixture
6. Turn the flour gently, incorporating the liquid until just mixed. Do not overwork the dough.
7. Cover the dough and set aside. The dough must rest between 15 and 30 minutes. You may need to adjust the dough by adding a tablespoon or two of additional flour. Be careful not to add too much flour! While the dough rests it will continue to absorb additional liquid.
8. Preheat the dough to 415 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
9. Wet your hands. Loosely scoop a heaping tablespoon of dough and lightly shape into a ball. Flatten slightly and place on the parchment paper. Repeat. Leave about 2 inches between the dough pieces on the baking sheet, the dough balls will increase by about one-third in the oven.
10. Slip the baking sheet into the oven. Lower the heat to 400 degrees.
      Bake in the upper third of the hot oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until lightly golden. Yield: between 2 and 2.5 dozen depending on how large the dollop of dough.

I could say cool before serving, but they really are just as delicious when hot from the oven. Instead I'll just say, enjoy!

Other baking powder biscuits on the blog: "Buttermilk" Biscuits and Veggie "Bacon" Biscuit Sandwich

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cheese Filled Babka (Apricot- Cheese or Chocolate- Cheese)

Babka comes in so many variations it would be a hard to list them all. I usually bake non-dairy babka, and this recipe started out as my seeking a non-dairy babka-like dough that could be braided or have a braid-like effect. After several iterations, inspiration from a King Arthur flour lemon braid and feedback from friends, the recipe evolved into a delicious not-too-sweet apricot-cheese filled babka. I guess I've figured out what recipe I'll bake for Shavuot lunch this year.

This project takes about 4.5 hours from start to finish. There is an extended 90 minute first proofing and a shorter 30 minute second proof period. Otherwise, you'll be involved in prep and baking.

I sometimes pay attention to having ingredients at specific temperatures and found that in this recipe it really does matter. If you have no time to bring your eggs to room temperature, submerge them in warm tap water for 3-4 minutes. The cheeses will blend easily if brought to room temperature as well; you can do this by leaving the cheese on the counter while you gather your dough ingredients. By the time the dough is mixed and proofed the cheese will have warmed up sufficiently.

Take your time rolling out the dough. This dough rolls out well; however, if you over work it, like all gluten rich dough, it will begin to pull back. Take your time if this happens. Walk away from the dough for five minutes or so and then resume rolling out. Roll the dough out on a well flour-dusted sheet of parchment, which will allow you to shape and move the unbaked dough onto a baking sheet with almost no disturbance to the filling and desired shape.  You will have 2 long loaves supported by parchment paper on a 9x13 sheet pan.

The shine on the baked babka is created by brushing the hot baked babka with syrup. This is a step where I'll cut corners and use ready-made vanilla syrup.

a large mixing bowl
mixing spoon
flexible dough scraper
measuring spoons, cups, kitchen scale
rolling pin

Sponge (starter dough) 
6oz (3/4c) warm water
1 Tbsp instant yeast
2.5 (full half cup) bread flour

6 oz (3/4 c) slightly warmed almond milk
.7 oz (1/4c) ground nuts (NOT nut flour)
2 large eggs, beaten
4 oz (1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp) sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp Buttery Sweet Dough flavor (from LorAnn Oils) or vanilla extract
22 oz (5 full cups) all purpose flour
additional flour for dusting the work surface

Apricot -Cheese filling:
16 oz farmer cheese *
16 oz cream cheese (full fat or low fat)
12 oz good quality apricot preserves
4 oz diced dried apricots or other dried stone fruit (peaches, mango) or a combination
3 Tbsp flour

Or Chocolate-Cheese filling:
14 oz Israeli Chocolate Spread (if you cannot find it, Nutella will work) *warm in the microwave for       20 seconds - this makes it easier to blend into the cheese
15 oz farmer cheese
16 oz cream cheese (full fat or low fat)
2 oz sliced almonds

Syrup Glaze:
1/3 cup simple syrup (1/3 cup water , 1/3 cup water) or a ready-made lemon or vanilla syrup

*Farmer cheese is an unripened cheese similar to a drained  drier cottage cheese. In this recipe it cannot be replaced by ricotta cheese.  If you cannot find farmer cheese (or farmers' cheese) in stores, there are instructions at: Nourished Kitchen.

1. Make the sponge by mixing the flour, yeast and water. Mix well.

Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm draft-free place for 20-30 minutes. The mixture will be very bubbly and smell yeasty.

2. Add the dough ingredients to the bowl with the bubbling sponge, adding the liquid ingredients first and the ground nuts and flour, in two additions, last. Use a flexible scraper, mixing, scraping and turning the ingredients until a dough forms. A soft dough will form as you mix the dry ingredients. Make sure everything is well blended.
3. Continue to mix and turn until the dough easily holds its shape. Add a bit of oil to the bowl, turn once or twice and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest and proof in a draft-free place for about 90 minutes. The resulting dough will be almost doubled and feel puffy.

4. About 15 minutes before the dough finishes its proofing period make the cheese filling by mixing all of the ingredients in a bowl.  The cream cheese and farmer cheese will be easy to mix if you've allowed them to reach room temperature. If they are still cold, use a mixer and mix well. Fold in the fruit and preserves. Add the flour and mix in well. 

Prepare the baking sheet by lining it with a piece of parchment paper. If you are using a jelly-roll pan, press along the edge and fold to cover the entire surface. 

Preheat oven to 390 degrees. 

5. Gently deflate the dough and divide into two equal parts. Use a kitchen scale if you have one.


6. Use a piece of parchment to line the work surface and dust liberally with flour. Shape one piece of dough into a rectangle and proceed to roll into a rectangle that is approximately 16 x 12.

7. Using the dough scraper as a straight edge, mark a line along the length of the rectangle one quarter in from both edges. Do not pierce the dough. Then, cut vertically along the edge every inch or inch and a half, piercing the dough to create short strips emanating from the center of the dough.

 8. Spread 1/2 of the filling along the middle section of the dough. Spread so that the filling is relatively smooth.

9. Fold the edge on each end over the filling.

10. Alternating sides, fold one strip over the center and press onto the dough on the opposite side. Alternate sides as you work, pressing the edge onto the dough. Work along the entire length of the dough.
11. Gather the edges of the parchment and using the paper to support the shaped loaf, move the entire loaf onto the baking sheet.

12. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Let the loaves rest for 15-20 minutes.
13. Slide the baking sheet into the oven. Lower the heat to 375 degrees and bake for approximately
      40 minutes, until golden brown.

14. Remove from the oven and brush the hot loaves with syrup.  Cool completely before slicing.

Looking for a another recipe with cheese?  Try Veggie "Bacon" Cheese Biscuits
And don't forget the ultimate Chocolate Babka  ! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Shaved Fennel- Orange Salad

I avoided using fennel bulbs for a long time, mostly because it smells like licorice (think: GoodnPlenty Candy) and I really really don't like licorice. It turns out that the odor is stronger than the taste, and fennel adds a great crunchy element into a green salad.

The salad ingredients here are more proportion than a recipe. Fennel blends beautifully with citrus and this salad has citrus fruit (oranges) as well as a citrusy-lemon-olive oil-cumin dressing. The dressing is a simplified Syrian-Jewish cumin salad dressing.

The prep does take a few minutes, so I have started to prep and chill the salad components several hours before serving. Several weeks ago I prepped the ingredients prior to Shabbat and dropped the unassembled salad components to the home of friends where we were invited to Shabbat lunch. The "kit" worked very well when mixed 24 hours later.

Equal amounts of thinly shaved fennel bulb, mixed baby greens and peeled, sectioned oranges.
A few very thin slices red onion (optional)

Freshly squeezed lemon juice and a very fruity olive oil (proportion of approximately 3:2)
Ground cumin, to taste (start off with 1/4 tsp and go from there) .

1 Use a mandolin, if you have one, to thinly slice the fennel and red onion. Bag the vegetables separately in zip lock bags and chill if you are not using immediately
2. I use boxed mixed baby greens
3. I've tried several different types of oranges including clementines, mandarin and blood oranges. The blood oranges are by far the most interesting for their taste and color. Peel, section and half each section. Store in a zip lock bag until you mix the salad ingredients.
4. Dress at the last minute, this salad doesn't improve by marinating the vegetables and fruit.

Prepare the salad ingredients
Mix the dressing ingredients, shake well (taste to correct)
Dress the salad and toss
Serve chilled

For another easy to make delicious salad, try my version of Waldorf Salad