Saturday, June 30, 2012

S'mores Challah

Yesterday was a little different than usual because instead of having Lindsey make the dough I had a chance to make the dough. It took a long time for us to figure out what kind of challah we would have for shabbat this week. I have been dying to make a s'more challah for over a week now. We felt that it was the perfect summer challah. Just like original s'mores we were definitely left wanting s'more.

Recipe: (makes 2 loaves)
3/4 cup of water
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 tbsp honey
3 jumbo eggs: 2 for dough and 1 for egg baste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tbsp sugar
4 cups of flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
Mini marshmallows
Semi sweet chocolate chunks
Crushed graham crackers

Look we had twin eggs today!!!
First, pour the warm water, yeast, and honey into a large bowl. Then mix it lightly with a wooden spoon. Let the ingredients sit for about 10 minutes, or until you see small eruptions. I'm not really sure what it means for the yeast to erupt so I just waited for 10. The challah still comes out perfect so no need to worry.

Next, add the eggs and vegetable oil, but make sure to mix the egg yokes and whites together before pouring them into the bowl.

Add the sugar and flour to the bowl but remember to add the flour cup by cup and mix it in as you go. You will probably need to adjust the amount of flour you use based on if the dough is no longer sticking to your hands. You can use the four cups as a guide and add or subtract from there. It is important to add the salt after the second cup of flour because the salt prevents the dough from rising.

Now you will need to kneaded the dough a little and then make the dough into a ball. Once it is in a ball shape place in the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Allow the dough rise for about an hour or more. You will know when it is ready for the next step when the dough has doubled in size.

Before Rising
Once it has doubled

Once the dough has doubled you will knead the bread again to eliminate all the air bubbles. Add some chocolate and marshmallows into the dough now. Warning the Marshmallows are a pain in a the butt to work with! They don't want to stay in the dough so you have to push them in hard. They also get really sticky and get stuck to the counter when rolling them out. You will also add more chocolate and marshmellows later when making the strands.

Before we made the strands we crushed up our graham crackers. We decided to use 6 cinnamon graham crackers and had more than enough. You will want to cover you graham crackers in wax paper and crush them till they look like dust. The best way to crush them is just by bashing them with your hand.

Roll the strand out and flatten them so we can add more chocolate marshmallows and graham cracker dust. First sprinkle a layer of graham cracker dust on top. You can choose to make that layer as thick or thin as you like. We decided to go thinner because we didn't know how it would taste. Then you will add chocolate and marshmallows on top of the graham crackers.

Next we pinched the strands closed so we could start braiding them. It important to make sure that the strands are completely closed so that the good stuff doesn't ooze out. We chose to make a three strand challah because the strands were thicker with all the stuff inside it. The marshmallow that we had previously added to the dough made it hard to pinch the strands closed. This is because when the marshmallows got wet it repelled the dough.

Once it has been braided let the challah sit for about 10 minutes. During this time you should set the oven to 350 and butter the cookie sheet that the challah will bake on. Now place the challah on the cookie sheet. After the 10 minutes have passed you finally baste the challah with your remaining egg. You will want to make sure that you mix the yoke and white together before basting. After basting, feel free to sprinkle graham cracker dust on top of the challah.

Challah with Graham Cracker sprinkled

Place the pans into the oven and let them bake for about 30 minutes and 350 degrees or until internal temperature is around 170 degrees. Usually we bake our challah for 30 minutes but this time we only baked it for 28 minutes. To make sure they both cook the same way you should switch the top and bottom pan after about 15 minutes.

The only thing left to do now is eat s'more.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Heart Shaped Challah

We thought that the perfect way to execute an original recipe was to also create an original shape.

Start off with 8 balls of dough. 2 of the balls should be slightly smaller.

Roll out the balls as shown below.

Weave the strands in an over under pattern. As it turns out I didn't take enough pictures, but start out with the bigger strands and end with using the 2 smaller strands. When you are done weaving, tuck under all the ends to create a clean shape.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mocha Chunk Challah

You are probably wondering to yourself, wait is it Friday already? Well unfortunately the week is just starting, but that does not mean that we cannot have challah. Today was one of those rainy days where you don't feel like leaving the house, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out a new recipe. After all, according to Rabbi LeighAnn, calories don't count when the food is Jewish, so you never have to feel guilty when eating challah. Okay so maybe this doesn't exactly fall into that category because we are not eating the challah on Shabbat, but we can pretend.

Anyway, we decided that we wanted to make a mocha chunk challah. I'm not exactly sure how the idea of a mocha chunk challah came to be. It was our mom that made me think of it, probably because she cant survive a day without Starbucks. We have never made a coffee flavored challah before, or for that matter ever heard of one so we had to be real creative.

Recipe: (makes 2 loaves)
3/4 cup of Cafe Mocha from Keurig
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 tbsp honey
3 jumbo eggs: 2 for dough and 1 for egg baste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tbsp sugar
4 cups of flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 cup Nestle chocolate chunks

We started off by making Cafe Mocha flavor coffee from Keurig in the smallest amount it could produce, to have the strongest taste. That ended up being a little under 3/4 cup of liquid, so we filled the rest of the measuring cup with water to be at the 3/4 cup mark. If you don't have a Keurig you can probably substitute for any cafe mocha flavored coffee.

We then put the coffee in the fridge to speed up the cooling process, as we want the liquid to be at room temperature. Once the liquid was warm, we put it in our big mixing bowl, added the yeast, and honey, lightly stirred the ingredients and then waited to see small bubbles. These bubbles let us know that the yeast is working, if you listen closely you can even hear a sizzling noise. It takes about 10 minutes for this to happen after mixing the ingredients.

Look how there appears to be a ring around the mixture. That is because all the bubbles have moved to the inside.

Combine 2 of the jumbo eggs with the vegetable oil and mix until the liquid appears consistent throughout. Add the the big bowl and mix those ingredient together. Then add the sugar.

Add the flour cup by cup, mixing after each cup. The recipe calls for 4 cups of flour but you may need more or less depending. You will know when you have added enough flour when it no longer sticks to your hand. After about the second or third cup of flour add the salt. We don't want to add the salt too early because salt kills yeast and the presence of the flour prevents this from happening.

Kneed all the ingredients and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let it sit for at least and hour, as we want the dough to double in size.

After the dough has doubled, add the chocolate chunks. This recipe makes 2 challahs. I usually find that the chunks end up dispersed more evenly when the dough is divided in half and then 1 cup of chunks is added to each half. After the chunks are added, braid the challah whatever way you would like. We decided to do a heart shaped braid and a four strand braid.

Butter the baking sheet and place one challah on it's own sheet. We found that when baking 2 challahs, they come out looking better when on different sheets, and then switching which pan is on top half way though. Crack the remaining egg into a bowl and mix the whites and yoke. Then glaze the challah with the yoke. We decided to sprinkle some sugar on top of the challah, do this only after glazing the challah.

Sprinkling the challah with sugar
Put pans into the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until internal temperature is around 170 degrees. Remember to switch the top and bottom pan half way.


Hmmm Hmmm Hmmm Yummy!
We were worried that we wouldn't be able to taste the mocha flavor. So far we have only eaten the four strand challah, which in my opinion has way too much chocolate. The chocolate sort of over powered the mocha but you could still taste a hint of it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

White Chocolate Wonderful Challah

Shabbat came early this week in our house because Jenn has orientation and leaves with mom tomorrow morning. We decided that instead of me baking the challah by myself on Friday, we would make the challah on Wednesday and bring a loaf to our Aunt Andi who lives in Ohio. Let's just say I am very jealous that she gets to go to Ohio. I have been home from college for about 2 weeks now and would have loved to go visit some friends. But anyway, it is great that Jenn gets to go to college orientation and get excited for her freshman year!

We decided to make a white chocolate wonderful challah this week. Our mom's favorite peanut butter is White Chocolate Wonderful by Peanut Butter & Co. so we decided that we should be the first people to make a white chocolate wonderful challah. To make this challah even better, we added white chocolate chips. We changed a few things around from last week's challah. I'm not sure if those changes made the challah taste better or just a different type of tasty.

Recipe: (makes 2 loaves)
3/4 cups water
2 tsp active dry yeast
1.5 tbsp honey
3 eggs: 2 for dough and 1 for egg baste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1.5 tbsp sugar
3-4 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
White Chocolate Wonderful by Peanut Butter & Co. (below)

First, pour the water into a large bowl. Make sure the water is warm. Add the yeast and honey and then lightly mix with a wooden spoon. We don't have a wooden spoon so we usually use a big plastic spoon. Let the ingredients sit for about 10 minutes, or until you see small eruptions.

Add the eggs and vegetable oil, making sure to mix the egg yokes and whites first before combining with the rest of the ingredients.

Add the sugar and flour. Be sure to add the flour cup by cup and mix as you go. You may need more or less than 4 cups of flour, I ended up using more than 4 cups. Basically you want to add the flour until the dough is no longer sticking to your hands. Add the salt after around the second cup of flour because salt kills the yeast and which would prevent the dough from rising.

Make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly kneaded then form into a ball and place in a bowl and cover with the bowl with plastic wrap. I usually just use the bowl we originally used to mix the ingredients to minimize the amount of cleaning. Let the dough rise an hour or more, as we want the dough to double in size.

When the dough has doubled, knead the bread again to get all the air bubbles out. Add the white chocolate chips. We did only a cup but I think 1 1/2 cup or more is better. You will also use more later when adding the peanut butter.

Roll the strand out like usual, but this time we flatten them. You make choose to make a dent in the roll for the filling. We did one challah with a dent and one without and did not see much of a difference. Add the peanut butter and spread it along the strand with either a spoon or your finger. Jenn decided to use her finger so I kept having to yell at her to wash her hands cause she kept licking them, obviously no self control. We weren't exactly sure how much peanut butter to use because we didn't want it to ooze out, so we did enough to just cover the strand. We then added white chocolate chips to the inside.

We chose to do a three strand challah because the strands are thicker when filled. This causes the challah to be bigger than usual and we fear our challahs would be GINORMOUS if we did more than three strands. To do a three strand challah, braid like you normally would with three strands.

After braiding the challah let it sit for about 20 minutes. While you wait, butter the cookie sheet and then place the challah on the sheet. This would also be a good time to set the oven. After the 20 minutes, baste the challah with the remaining egg. Making sure to mix the yoke and whites before applying to the braided challah.

Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 or until internal temperature is around 170 degrees.

This challah looks about a million times better than last week's challah! Maybe our best yet!

I mean look how amazing the inside of this challah looks!

And of course Bailey helped to clean up!

The Mystery of the Banana Chocolate Chip Challah

The mystery of the Banana Chocolate Chip Challah has officially been solved. Our challah was deflated last week for 2 reasons:

1) The yeast did not sit in the water and honey long enough to be activated and create eruptions. Last week we added the yeast to the water and honey and then continued to add other ingredients. This week, we waited about 15 minutes between adding the yeast and adding other ingredients.

2) We added the salt before adding the flour last week. As it turns out, salt kills yeast. We needed to add some flour before adding the salt.

Basically we had a mushier matzah last week. Don't get me wrong it still tasted good, but I kind of felt like I was in Egypt with my dough that did not rise.

Deflated Challah :(
Inflated Challah :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Challah

We started off the morning trying to come up with what kind of challah to make this week, and did not expect to start a blog. When I come home from college, I love to make challah from scratch to celebrate Shabbat. We figured that if we were going to make a new challah each week then we might as well share our experiences with everyone else. Like we have said before we are NOT challah experts, just 2 girls who enjoy baking.

The hardest part about choosing what challah to make is that everyone has to agree on it. With three people in the house, this is often the hardest part of the whole challah experience. Banana chocolate chip seemed to be our best choice this week. Bailey and I had to get all the ingredients and then we started our challah.

Bailey waiting in the car at the grocery store

Recipe: (makes 2 loaves of challah)
3/4 cup water
2 tsp active dry yeast
1.5 tbsp honey
2 eggs: 1 for dough and 1 for egg baste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 bananas)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3-4 cups of flour
1 cup chocolate chips
Amount of banana and chocolate can be adjusted based on how much banana and chocolate you like. Our mom LOVES chocolate so ours is very chocolaty

Start off by adding very warm water to a big bowl (like the size below). Add the yeast and stir together with a wooden spoon. When bubbles start the rise the yeast has been activated. 

Add the honey, 1 egg, vegetable oil, bananas, sugar and salt. Add the flour, mixing after each cup of flour. You may need more or less than 4 cups of flour depending on how sticking the dough is. When the dough can no longer be mixed with a spoon, star kneeding the ingredients together. Roll into a ball and cover with saran wrap. Let rise for 1+ hours, or until the ball has doubled in size.

After the dough has risen, add in the chocolate chips and kneed together. This would be a good time to set the oven to 350. Then braid the challah, view our Braids and Shapes page for different braids.

Butter the cooking sheet and then place the braided challah on the sheet

Beat the remaining egg with a fork and baste the challah. Place in the over for 30 minutes or until internal temperature is around 170 degrees.

And tada! It was so good we had to have a piece when it came out of the oven. It was super doughy, chocolaty and sweet.

So maybe our first challah wasn't exactly the prettiest challah but it tasted amazing. Hopefully as the weeks go on, the challahs will start to look a little better. I also think that we should have used a little more banana so that it stands out a little more.

This is what the challah is actually supposed to look like, thanks of our friend Jordyn who used our recipe.

Five Strand Challah

Step 1: Divide the dough into 5 equal balls.

Step 2: Roll out the strands.

Step 3: Place four of the strand together, then place the remaining strand in the middle of the other strands and pinch together at the top.

 The strands are labeled left to right, the same way Hebrew is read.

Step 4: Place strand #1 over strands #2, #3 and #4.

Step 5: Bring strand #5 to the middle over strand #1 and #4.

 Step 6:Twist strand #4 and #5 by bringing strand #4 over #5.

Repeat steps 4-6: Smush the challah together and tuck the ends underneath.

Four Strand Challah

There are two different ways to do a four strand challah braid. In both versions, start out by dividing the dough into four equal balls.

Version A:

Step 1a: Roll out the balls and pinch together at the top. The strands are labeled right to left, the same way Hebrew is read

 Step 2a: Place strand #1 over strand #2

 Step 3a: Bring strand #3 all the way to the right, over both strand #1 and #2

Step 4a: Bring strand #4 over strand #1. This is the same as step 3 except starting from the left side

Step 5a: Place strand #2 over strand #1 and #4. Again, the same thing as step 4, except from the left side

Version B:

Step 1b: Same as above, roll out the balls and pinch together at the top. The strands are labeled right to left, the same way Hebrew is read

Step 2b: Again the same, place strand #1 over strand #2

Step 3b: This step is different. Bring Strand #4 over strand #3 and #1

Final Step: Repeat the previous steps. For version A this would be 1a-5a and for version B 1b-3b.

Version B has less steps so it may be a little easier. However, version A is more dimensional while version B is flat. When finished, tuck the ends underneath the challah to create a cleaner look. We usually smush the challah together to make it shorter and fatter (B is smushed, A isn't).

Version A
Version B