A guest blog from the Domestic Goddess herself:
Last year, I purchased a beautiful cookbook, “Breaking Breads,” written by the Israeli author/chef/owner of Breads Bakery (NYC) and Lehamim Bakery (Israel). The cover photo inspired me to bake his challahs for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana. I bake them with a 3-inch (9cm) ramekin in the middle in order to retain the shape. The challah can be served with honey in the ramekin for easy separating and dipping. The recipe below is an adaptation of the original and makes 2 round challahs.
1 2/3 cups cool room-temperature water
1 tbsp. plus 1 3/4 tsp. active dry yeast
7 cups Best for Bread or unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for shaping
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
5 tbsp. olive/canola/grapeseed oil
1 large egg + 1 tbsp. water for egg wash
1/4 cup each of sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and poppy seeds
Pour the cool water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the bread hook. Add the yeast and whisk into the water. Add the flour, eggs, sugar, salt and oil.
Mix the dough on low speed to combine the ingredients, scraping the bowl as necessary. Increase the speed slightly and knead for about 4 minutes until a smooth dough forms.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about a minute by stretching the dough, then round it into a ball.
Lightly oil a large bowl and sprinkle with a little flour; place the dough in the bowl and sprinkle with a little more flour and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set it aside for about 40 minutes at room temperature or until the dough has risen by about 70%.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and gently pull the dough into a rectangular shape.
Use a bench scraper or sharp knife to divide the dough into 2 equal pieces.
Then divide each piece into 3 smaller equal parts crosswise so you end up with a total of 6 pieces.
Set a piece of dough lengthwise on your work surface and use the palm of your hand to flatten the dough into a flat rectangle; then fold the top portion over and use your palm to press the edge into the flat part of the dough.
Fold and press 3 more times-the dough will end up as a cylinder about 7 inches long. Set aside and repeat with the other 5 pieces.
Gently roll each cylinder back and forth to form a long rope about 12-14 inches long with tapered ends.
Repeat with the remaining 5 cylinders.
Lightly flour the long ropes.
Pinch the ends of 3 ropes together at the top, braid the dough, lifting each piece up and over so the braid is more stacked than it is long, making it fatter and taller in the middle. When you get to the end of the ropes and there is nothing left to braid, join both ends of the challah together to form a circle around the oven proof ramekin/bowl.
Repeat with remaining 3 pieces of dough. Place the challahs on parchment paper-lined rimmed sheet pans, cover them with a kitchen towel, and set them aside in a warm, draft-free spot to rise until the loaves have doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400F with racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. To make the egg wash, mix the egg and water together in a small bowl. Gently brush the surface of the loaves, taking care not to let it pool in the creases of the braids. Generously sprinkle the loaves with the seeds.
Bake at 400F for 15 minutes then rotate pans and bake for another 15 minutes, covering the challahs loosely with aluminum foil for the last 5 minutes to prevent excessive browning.
Remove the loaves from the oven and set them aside to cool completely on the sheet pans. Fill the bowl with honey and enjoy.
Best wishes to all for a sweet Shana Tova from www.thescienceofbaking.ca!
Apple Crumb Cake from Docmarvy himself
My friend, Elaine, gave me a recipe for a Blueberry Crumb Cake (possibly a future post) and for Rosh Hashanah I modified it to become an Apple Crumb Cake. This cake is prepared in a loaf pan, freezes well, and is a wonderful accompaniment for a Rosh Hashana or Sukkot dinner. Feel free to use any kind of apple but I prefer Granny Smith as they are a bit tart, retain their texture and shape in baking, and this recipe is quite sweet to begin with. This cake represents simplicity as it isn’t an ornate festive cake but it tastes absolutely delicious.
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar + 1 tsp. granulated sugar, divided
1/3 cup olive/canola/coconut/grapeseed oil
2/3 cup orange juice
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. baking powder
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour + 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced (approximately 1 1/2 apples)
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the Topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, add the eggs, 1 cup granulated sugar, oil, orange juice and vanilla and mix until well combined. This can also be done by hand (says Max who has made the blueberry crumb cake at school without an electric mixer).
In a separate bowl, whisk together the baking powder, 1 3/4 cups flour and salt. Add to food processor and pulse until just combined.
Toss the diced apples with the lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tbsp. flour. Fold in the apple mixture with a spatula.
Pour batter into the loaf pan and sprinkle with the combination of brown sugar and cinnamon.
Bake for 60-65 minutes.
Science Fact of the Week:
In celebration of the new year, our facts surround apples and honey. Apples are rich in phytochemicals. They have been linked to a decreased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and asthma. Maybe an apple a day does keep the doctor away! Honey on the other hand is often used as a cough suppressant to soothe the throat. Clearly this is meant to be a healthy holiday.