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Challah

Challah Bread

Challah Bread

As most of you know I love baking bread. Well it could be said I just love baking. I think if I had a library it would mainly feature cookbooks as well as cake decorating books. I was reading up on food52 and came across the challah bread. I have always liked it and so I started reading the multiple ones on both quantities and method as well. All the recipes make two loaves and are easily halved if you would like to make only one loaf. I finally settled on this one.  One thing that I would always encourage you to do is read the recipe in full. I tried her method for braiding the bread but after three tries I gave up and tried a three braid with the six braid. On my second try I checked youtube for a video and used this one which was really good.

 

Ingredients

Makes 2 loaves. Prep time : 15 minutes. Resting time : 2 hours. Baking time : 30 minutes

  • 1 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • large eggs (use 2 for a less richer loaf)
  • tablespoon salt
  • cups all-purpose flour

Method

Put the warm water and sugar in a glass container and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the yeast, stir and let it rise for about 5 minutes. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and oil to incorporate.

Put the flour and salt in a stand mixer. Turn on the mixer and add the water mixture, followed by the egg-oil mixture. Knead the dough until it has all come together and when pressed with a thumb leaves and impression. Put your dough into a well oiled bowl and cover with a dish cloth. Let it rise for an hour in a warm place. It will more than double in an hour.

Using a scraper gently take the flour out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough for a bit and then form it into a ball. Divide the ball into two equal halves. Cover one half with the dish cloth. Divide the other half into 6 equal portions. They come out to a little under 5 oz each. Working one at a time roll each ball into a log about 12″ in length. I do this by rolling the log back and forth starting from the middle and extending to the sides. Once you have all the logs rolled out you are ready to braid them.

To braid watch this video : Braiding your Challah bread

After you have done the first loaf, place it on a lightly floured surface of either the pan you are going to bake it in or on your paddle. Then start on the second loaf. After they are both done cover with your dish cloth and let them rise for another hour. They will again rise a fair amount.

Heat your oven to 350. I used a stone in my oven so that goes in before I turn the oven on.

Before placing your loaves into the oven brush them with milk (You can use egg whites but I prefer milk). Once your oven is ready using your paddle transfer the loaves into the oven or place the pan into the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the tops are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let it cool before cutting it . (I normally share the second loaf)


Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee

So here is another dessert I made for the New year’s party – Creme Brulee. I love CB and so many people do. The nice crispy top with a delicious custard inside. I must confess that I have one of those little blow torches which so helps the whole process. Creme Brulee is really easy to make – it just seems like a really difficult dessert. It has just a few ingredients and you just blend and bake.

Now you do not need to have a little blow torch for just this particular task because that is really the only task that I have used it for . However, if you are a kitchen gadget nutter like me you can get it from Bed bath and beyond or keep looking at Home Goods they always turn up there. If you do not have a blow torch just put the custards in a cold oven and then turn on the grill. The torch helps the sugar brulee very evenly.

I used little shallow cups  that I got from Cost Plus. They did not say oven safe but I tried them out and they worked perfectly. They have a little lip at the edge that looks very pretty. The recipe that I used below fills 8 of them. You can use ramekins and I think a 4oz – 6oz ramekin will work.

I used a fresh vanilla bean as I have quite a few of them but you can use vanilla extract as well. If you use vanilla extract two teaspoons should do the trick.

I always use sea salt in most of  my desserts. I like the taste of it better. However, if you do not have sea salt, no worries, just use the salt you have.

Recipe

  • 2 vanilla bean
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup confectioner’s (icing) sugar
  • 3 cups heavy cream (double cream if you are in the UK)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of sea salt

Method

Heat the oven to 275°F.  Split the vanilla bean down the center and scrape out the seeds. This is best done on a cutting board. Add the seeds to the egg yolks. Add the confectioners sugar and salt and whisk all of them together.

While whisking add the cream in a stream. Whisk until well blended.

Pour the mixture into the 8 cups. Put the cups into a larger baking tray. Mine fit nice and snugly together. Then pour in boiling water around to come up halfway up the sides of the cups.

My cups were quite shallow so I baked them for about 30 minutes. If you have deeper ramekins where the custard is about 2inches or more deep you must bake it for longer. You will know when it is done by jiggling the cup a little, the custard will be jiggly but not liquidy. Once you take it out and let it cool it will firm up more.

Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and remove the cups from the dish. I used a pair of silicone coated tongs to accomplish the task. Let the cups cool down and then refrigerate them.

To make the sugar crust, put a light dusting of granulated sugar (that is regular sugar) evenly on top of the custard and then blow torch it. Just make sure you have an even light layer of sugar. You can toss out any excess sugar you might have put on. The coating of sugar is very very light. If you are using the blow torch then just go back and forth over the sugar slowly you will see it start burning.

Decorate it and serve. I decorated mine with raspberries.