September 8, 2007
Goodies that make you want to challah
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Meanwhile, peel, quarter and core apples. Cut each quarter lengthwise in half. Then cut each slice crosswise in half for medium apples and in thirds for large, ending with large, squarish chunks. Measure 4 1/2 heaping cups of chunks (reserving extra for another use) and transfer them to a covered container.
After fermenting, sprinkle dough and work surface with flour. Cut dough into two equal pieces, keeping one piece covered while working with the other. Roll out dough into a 16-inch square about 1/8-inch thick. Scatter 1 heaping cup apples over center third of dough. Fold up bottom third to cover. Press dough into apples to seal around them. Scatter another heaping cup apples over lower half of folded and filled dough and fold top of dough over both layers to create a very stuffed letter fold. Press down on dough to push out air pockets and to seal dough around apples. Roll dough up from short side into a chunky cylinder. Push dough into a bowl, smooth side up. Cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with other piece of dough, using a second bowl. Let both doughs ferment for about one hour, or until slightly risen and very soft.
Oil two 8-inch round cake pans. Using as much dusting flour as needed, pat each dough half into a roughly round shape, keeping smooth side intact on top. You will not be able to deflate dough much because of apples. Slip dough into pans smooth side up and cover well with plastic wrap. (The loaves may now be refrigerated up to 24 hours, which will intensify flavor.) Let loaves proof until they have risen over edges of pans, about 30 minutes (or up to 90 minutes if previously refrigerated.)
Arrange oven rack in lower third position and preheat oven to 350 F.
When loaves have risen and do not push back when gently pressed with a finger but remain indented, brush each with generous tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons sugar. Bake until very well browned, 45-55 minutes. (After the first 40 minutes, switch the pans from front to back and bake 5-15 minutes more.) Remove loaves from oven, unmold and cool on a rack.
Makes two 9-inch round challahs
Always Perfect No-Egg Challah
From "A Taste of Challah" by Tamar Ansh, www.tasteofchallah.com
16 to 17 cups freshly sifted white flour
4 3/4 to 5 cups warm water
1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups sugar (see Note)
2 ounces fresh yeast or 3 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon salt
In a small pareve bowl or measuring cup, mix 1/2 cup boiling water and 1 cup tap water. Test with your finger to make sure it is very warm but not boiling. Water that is too hot kills the yeast activity.
Add 1/4 cup of the sugar to this water and then the yeast. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes to make sure the yeast starts bubbling. This means the yeast is activating. If the yeast doesn't bubble, it means the yeast is not good; discard, and start again.
In a large mixer bowl (or you can do this by hand), place in this order: oil, the remaining sugar, 2 cups warm water, salt, 8 cups flour. Mix very well until a thin batter forms. Add the bubbling yeast mixture and mix again. Add the remaining flour slowly, one or two cups at a time, until it is all mixed in.
Keep adding a quarter cup of water at a time to the dough until a pliable, smooth, and non-sticky consistency is reached. If the dough is too firm, add a bit more water and also 2 more tablespoons of oil. If the dough is too soft or wet, add a bit more flour, even if you have to go over the 17-cup limit. You will use about 5 cups water total. Climates, different flours, and different yeasts all make a vast difference in this stage.
Grease your hands or a large plastic spatula with a fine layer of oil. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix the dough at the very bottom of the bowl to ensure that all the flour is well mixed into your dough and that it is uniform in texture throughout. If there is excess flour on the bottom of the bowl, you may need to add a bit more oil to the bottom of the bowl before remixing. Use a little oil rather than water in order to keep the dough from becoming too sticky. In general, in order to keep your dough pliable, nonsticky, and smooth, use small amounts of oil on the outside of the dough, not extra flour. Too much flour dries out the dough, whereas the fine layer of oil keeps it from sticking and makes it easier to work with, helps it rise better, and enhances its overall taste.
Makes six large/ eight to 10 medium-sized or 30 to 35 small challahs.
Note: For sweeter challahs, add another 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar.
Sephardic Pumpkin Bread (Pan de Calabaza)
From "A Blessing of Bread: Recipes and Rituals, Memories and Mitzvahs" by Maggie Glezer
1 envelope (0.25 ounce) or 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
About 3 3/4 cups bread flour, divided
2/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, plus 1 pinch for glaze
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg, plus 1 for glaze
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
Sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)