Thursday, May 26, 2011

baking + baking = challah & muffins

So I'm not a baker.  I don't have the patience for it.  You'll see from my creations where I go wrong.  And I know flat out what my problem is...I get lazy!  I don't have the attention span for fine detail when it comes to the exact measurements required for this task, I'm too busy!  BUT I do love the taste & smell of freshly baked goods and I want to learn how to bake and make my goodies look pretty.  Practice makes perfect…I hope.
SO - I give it a run and have some fun…today we make:
Challah - a family fave.  My mom used to make this when we were growing up and every time I smell that challah in the oven I feel like I'm 5 again.  I've been making this recipe quite a lot lately.  I mean, do you know how good it is to wake up on a Saturday morning and have some sunny side up eggs + a fresh peice of challah?  It's pretty unreal.  And once it starts to get stale…go French toast on it.  A-mazing.
(Prize winning recipe)
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. warm water
1 pkg. yeast
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. warm water
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
3 1/4 - 4 c. flour
poppy or sesame seeds
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp water
Dissolve sugar in 1/2 c. warm water in a large mixing bowl which has first been rinsed with hot water.  Sprinkle yeast on top and let stand for 10 minutes.  Stir to dissolve.  Combine with oil, water, sugar, eggs and half of flour.  Beat well.  Stir in remaining flour.  Dough should be sticky.  Cover dough and let rest for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 10 minutes*, adding flour as needed.  Round up in a greased bowl.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Punch down, cover and let rise again until double, about 45 minutes.  Divide dough into 3 equal parts.  Shape into strands.  Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and braid loosely.  Fasten ends securely.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double.  Brush with beaten egg yolk (and water) and sprinkle with seeds.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Seriously, crusty on outside, fluffy and soft on the inside:  yum.  Now again, please excuse my ugly pics (yes I'm my own worst critic)…I didn't have Scott here to shoot for me today ;)
*regarding the kneading…damn it's a bizz.  It will kill your arms but woah, what a work out!  You must do it for the full 10 minutes.  Set a timer if you have to.  You can't skimp.  Here's what the dough should look like (though it should be smoother then mine) after your kneading is complete.
Now…onto Zucchini & Carrot muffins.  These came about because of a few things…
1.)  I had gluten free carrot muffins made for the brunch I did last Sunday…and from these I had leftover organic shredded carrots that I wanted to use up…
2.)  LM had a party for his last day of a class that he takes…and I wanted to bake a little treat that he could share.
So I thought, why not make muffins.  Easy, healthy and delicious.
I went on ol' Google and found a new site that is awesome!  Its called Real Mom Kitchen.  I'm always looking for new recipes to cook for my family and that's just what you'll find on this site.  I followed her recipe to a tee and my mini zucchini & carrot muffins turned out so great…I ate a dozen of them today.  Actually, I'm not kidding.  I ate 12 little muffins today.  Is that acceptable?
Stay tuned for postings to come from the memorial day weekend.  Dear friends of ours are coming out and we have a lot of cooking to do…should be fun and super tasty.  To all my pals livin in the usa…have a great long weekend!  And to all of my canadian friends + family…sorry I didn't say earlier…happy may 2-4!  xx