Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bread Baking Challenge #6- CHALLAH, jewish bread

My very one kind a  round breaded CHALLAH,: SOFT AND CRUNCHY IN THE SAME TIME!

A chunk of bread, a good, creamy, aged cheese and red wine.... divine!

CHALLAH, the braided bread of Judaism, is a Celebration bread of God Goodness and wealth.
The bread is separated into 12 parts that is celebration of 12 tribes of Israel.
There are many way to Brade a Challah, simple, double, (Celebration Challah) but I am going this time to try, round Challah, that looks AMAZING. The way to do it is here.

I read the recipe and it is a standard bread recipe , a little sweet bread recipe. So I decided to use my bread machine for mixing the dough and first rise.

I started mixing together, flour, salt, yest and honey, in the bread machine pan.

I beat 2 eggs and 2 yolks with vegetable oil and I added to flour mixer, to bread machine pan

I added 3/4 + 2 tbs warm water. The recipe ask for may be more, but I used this amount of water.

I set up the bread machine to dough feature and after 2h, the dough was smooth and raised.

The dough was a little too sticky, I incorporate a little more flour, and I left it to rise again, for one more hour.

After 2 rise, I divided the dough in 4 pieces and I start to make long ropes:

As the model show in the "the Jewish woman" to make a round rope I started to braid the 4 long ropes:

Brade first on the left side, braid on the right side and then put it together to form a ball. I put on a parchment paper and on a cookie sheet, to rise, about 1 hour

NOTE: utube  video how to do it:

Once was raised, I brushed with 2 egg whites ( the 2 yolks I used for the dough) and sprinkle with poppies seeds generously (I love white bread and poppies seeds!)

Bake 45 minutes at 350F, and the round CHALLAH bread is perfect: the wonderful aroma in the house, the shiny top and the black seeds make all the difference!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

EGGPLANT stuffed, as we call "little boats" CORABIOARE DIN VINETE

Today was another summer farmers market, and I was happy to find many kind of eggplant, that I use in so many way.
My first thoughts was to bake little boat of stuffed eggplant, that we all, in my family love.
It is very easy to make and they look amassing, when you bring them ,baked, to the table.


3 (1/2-pound) eggplants
1 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
2 cups chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound lean ground lamb or beef
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
3 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
3 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into julienne strips


1.Halve 2 of the eggplants lengthwise, dip in boiling water for few minuts,score their pulp deeply with a sharp knife, being careful not to pierce the skins, and with a grapefruit knife scoop out the pulp, reserving it and leaving 1/2-inch-thick shells. Sprinkle the shells with 1 teaspoon salt and invert them on paper towels to drain for 15 to 30 minutes.

2. Ground the blenched  eggplant pulp with the ground meat (beef ,sheep, chicken,alone or any combination of it as you like it!)
3. Stir in the parsley, mint,  salt and pepper to taste

4. Divide the filling among the shells, mounding it.

5. Arrange the stuffed eggplants in a large baking dish  and cut ripped tomatoes edge on top of the stuffed eggplant shells.

6. Sprinkle salt and pepper over tomatoes, add some olive oil, to coat eggplant.

7. Bake at350F for 40 minutes, and serve.


My cooking pictures:
I carve a blenched, half eggplant, with a knife and scoop the middle of it

With help from a mixer I mix ground beef and the scooped eggplant,

enough to fill up the "little boat"

You set up rows of sliced, very good tomatoes, ( in the middle of summer and from your own garden can be)

add salt and sprinkle with a good oil, bake for 45 minutes, until the meat is cooked.

All you need is a very good chunk of bread!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bread Baker's Challenge #2 GREEK CELEBRATION BREAD

Today I am baking a GREEK CELEBRATION BREAD #2 from my BB Challenge. In his book, Peter Reinhart has a whole discussion about this bread being used for all Greek holidays. They add an colored egg for Easter in the middle of it, they add a golden coin for New Year Day in the name of St. Basil celebration. For Christmas, they use different dry fruits, red and green color.
Romania, (from were we are originally from) is very influenced by Greeks. My grandfather came from Greece to Romania, to study, he met my grandmother and he never went back. We have a "Celebration Bread" too, for all the holidays, breaded, with raisin and lokum (Turkish) or/and walnuts. I am very intrigue to see the result, because I was pretty sure that Romanian Celebration Bread is Italian Panettone, because I didn't know anything about Greek bread.

I start with a cup of POOLISH that I kep it refrigerated over night,

I added all the ingredients,flour,honey, salt, 2 eggs, beaten, lemon zest,

milk, yeast,oil. We are not used with all the spices from the book for this bread, I chose to use only vanilla and lemon zest.

I use first the paddle, low speed, 2-3 minutes, just to mix everything.

I change the paddle with the hooks and I used for 10 minutes at medium speed.
The dough become smooth, and was nicely, silky, not sticking to the the wall, and taking a shape.

After 2h rises I poor the dough on a flowered surface,

and divide in 3 parts; one big, the future bread, and 2 small, which we will use for decor. For now I will put in put in refrigerator, until the round brad will rise again, for 90 minutes.

After 90 minutes rise, on a parchment paper, brushed with egg wash, I start build the decor.

First, from the 2 small parts, I made a rope, put on top of the bread, cut the end of it and make curls

Egg wash the rope and the bread, and the celebration bread is ready to bake; 40 minutes, 350F

O my goodness! This is a wonderful, soft, not very sweet bread... The house is full of vanilla and lemon aroma, like would be when my mother bake and bake for days for Christmas or Easter...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bread Baker's Challenge #1 ANADAMA BREAD

baked bread challenge # 1- ANADAMA BREAD

The origins of this bread it is diverse and confusing, there are so many stories about. Peter Reinhart in his book make sense saying it is possible to come from a lonely, unhappy man in Rockport, MA who's wife left him, one given day. All remain in his lonely house was some flour, corn meal,and molasses. He start making "ANA DAMN'ER!" bread from all of this.

At the end, after I baked this bread I was surprised as good was the taste and texture of cornmeal into each slice. I definitely will make again, maybe changing the shape AND THE METHOD OF BAKING...


SOAKER: (overnight)
1 Cup corn meal (preferable coarse)
1 Cup water

4 ½ cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoon yeast
1 cup, lukewarm water
1 ½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons butter

The evening before baking I mixed one cup cornmeal and one cup water, and leave it cover until next day.

A day before baking, soak corn meal in water, leave overnight at room temp.

Next day, mix all the ingredients, and knead for 10 minutes to become light, elastic dough. This operation can be done by bread machine.

Butter a bowl and put the dough, covered with plastic wrap, at room temp until it double in size./ about 90 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl, divide in e and shape as 2 loafs.

 Proof them again, 60-90 minutes, until they double in size.  As an option, at this point you can refrigerate the loaf up to 2 days, leave them to warm for about 4 h before bake.

Heat the oven for 350F, put the loaf to bake, after 20 minutes, rotate the loafs 360 degree, to be baked evenly, for about 20 minutes more.

They are done when they sound hollow, and crispy.

 I started adding the corn meal to a mixer, and flour, and salt and yeast and mix well with the paddle first.

I cover the dough and leave it to rise for 1 hour.

The dough riced nicely, I add Vermont maple syrup ( I didn't have molasses in the pantry, and I figure it that Maple syrup it is a "New England " product, to be in the same team as our poor left alone man from Mass).

I add butter and start mixing for a heavy dough to form.

Mix everything with the paddle, of a stand up mixer.

Change the paddle with the hook to mix the dough, thoroughly for 5-7 minutes. Or you can knead manually for 5-7 minutes.

I buttered the bowl and put the dough, covered to rise again, for 90 minutes

After 90inutes, the dough is well raised, fluffy and beautiful, ready to be shaped.

 I start giving a long shape and rolling around.

I brushed the bread with egg wash, score the bread and add poppy seeds and caraway seeds

I covered  the bread with ceramic wrap, and a towel, to be protected from currents and have a stable, warm environment for one hour.

My #2, ANADAMA breads, all raised, ready to bake:

Bake at 350F for 40 minutes.

Another option of shaping the bread,  would be to bake in a form ( as Peter Reinhart describe in his book)

This brings a soft hearty bread that I prepare it with some butter and fresh made apricot preserve. Delicious!! Bone appetite!


I remember in Romania falls in  my childhood were full of apples, italian prunes, grapes and watermelons.... When Grapes were  avail...