Monday, February 3, 2014

Egg Kichel (Bow Tie Cookies)




Egg Kichel 



Recipe, thanks to Inside the Jewish Bakery by Ginsberg and Berg.


Kichel  (Bow Tie cookies) often tastes like sugar coated cardboard. As a kid it was one of the few sweetened carbs that I could skip. With the advent of packaged "bow tie" cookies I think the product got even worse; however, leafing through Ginsberg and Berg's Inside the Jewish Bakery  a few years ago and reminiscing about many of the baked goods displayed I suddenly had an unexplainable yen for the kichel I never cared for. We delightfully found that home made kichel is delicious: crisp and not too sweet. I will make a comparison that some people will understand: it's like eating a sweetened version of chow-mein noodles (the wide kind). light, airy, crisp and way too easy to eat too many. 

Egg kichel, along with less than delicious honey cake and tasteles chiffon cake was, at one time, a mainstay of the "basic" Saturday kiddush at the end of synagogue services.  The odd thing is that although the "shul cake" as many people call it was often tasteless, if not stale, Jewish bakeries, whether European or Middle Eastern produce wonderful baked goods and sweets. Why an entire category of poor quality baked goods became the center of the table, celebrating the Sabbath bride, is beyond me. 

By the time I decided the bake the cookies (and go from the nostalgic reading of Ginsberg & Berg's narrative to reading the actual recipe) I had a "duh" moment - the full name of the cookie: eier kichel (egg cookie) of course means that this is an egg-ful cookie. Unlike an "egg cream," which has no eggs, egg kichel actually uses many eggs- they serve as the dough leavening agent. Think of it as Passover baking with flour. (There are Pesach kichel recipes, but they remind me of....yes......sweetened cardboard). 

Don't consider making Egg Kichel unless you: 1. are able to consume a great deal of cholesterol (there are 13 yolks in the recipe), 2. have a powerful electric mixer (the dough really needs to be kneaded until thick and stretchy) and 3. want to re-imagine an old fashioned food that is much better than the reputation it has. 


Choreography:
Assembly was similar to making bread with one short rise. Mix the ingredients, beat (knead) until a stiff stretchy dough results (sort of like thick silly putty). Rest. Roll out, cut, twist, place on baking pans and bake. Kichel must cool completely before storing. I'm freezing the batch pictured by double wrapping and placing in the freezer (for six weeks, which will still be fine). 

Equipment:
heavy duty mixer or stand mixer 
measuring cups, spoons
kitchen scale 
baking sheets
parchment paper (for lining the baking sheets)

Ingredients
1.5 oz (3Tbsp +1 tsp) granulated sugar
1 tsp table salt (NOT kosher salt)
4 large eggs
9 large egg yolks
6 oz (3/4c) neutral vegetable oil 
1.5 tsp vanilla 
16 oz (4 scant c) all purpose flour
18 oz (2.5 c) granulated sugar for coating 



Procedure: 
1. Pour eggs into the mixing bowl and on low speed blend the whole eggs and egg yolks
2. Add remaining dough ingredients and mix at low speed (KitchenAid speed 2) until the dough is very stretchy and shiney (this will take about 20 minutes).  I stop occasionally and use a flexible dough scraper or silicone spatula to scrape the dough and push down into the bowl.  

NOTE: the dough will resemble still "silly putty,"  very shiny and stretchable and pulling away from the sides of the bowl - keep mixing until you reach that point. 


3. Scoop up the dough, pat it into a ball, place onto a floured surface and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for at least 20 minutes - this rest helps the gluten relax and will make it easier to roll out. 


4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
5. On the floured surface pat the dough into a rectangle. Spread out approximately 1 cup of sugar on the work surface and roll the dough directly over the sugar.  The dough should be rolled to approximately 1/4 inch thick. Liberally sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top of the dough. 




6. Cut small rectangles  (approximately 2.5x1)  using a pizza cutter, bench knife or knife. 

7. Taking one portion at a time, twist the dough piece at the center and set on the baking sheet.  The dough will resemble a "bow tie." Repeat until the baking sheet is filled. Scoop up some of the sugar from the work surface and sprinkle onto the unbaked bow ties. The sugar will form a white sparkly- frosty crust over the baked cookie. 
Press each dough piece at the point of the twist, this will help prevent
the dough from untwisting as it bakes


8. Bake, one pan at a time, in the top 1/3 of the oven for approximately 20 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through the baking if the cookies are browning unevenly.  The cookies must be starting to puff and turn slightly brown before you remove them from the oven - otherwise they will deflate. 
9. Cool the cookies completely and store in a closed container (or double wrap and freeze). This recipe makes 6-7 dozen small kichelach (plural of kichel). 



These cookies are perfect when paired with a cup of tea....or something a bit stronger. 

Memories of eating kichel are welcome! Please leave comments below.