Posts tagged katherine sacks

New ways to celebrate Thanksgiving

New ways to celebrate Thanksgiving

Planning your Thanksgiving menu? This year forgo the staid staples and try something new. A rich mushroom tart and tangy cranberry compote are sure to please; just a few more recipes to add to your turkey day favorites.

mushroomtart

Earthy mushrooms, rich Piave cheese and salty Speck give this tart a lot of flavor.

Thanksgiving comes only once a year, giving us a reason to cook lavish meals, splurge on expensive ingredients and eat extravagantly. It presents quite the conundrum, as many a cook(and a chef), make the same dishes every year, cooking the turkey, stuffing and potatoes just the way Mom may have. Others praise the holiday for the culinary epitome that it is, refusing to waste this cooking opportunity on already-been-there recipes? This year change your menu completely or just add a few newbies to the old favorites. Cook the turkey in a way you never have, add a few new side dishes, and ignore the apple for a different flavor pie all together.

In my family, Mom always made Thanksgiving dinner the same. My sister had to have her mashed potatoes and gravy, my dad wanted the deviled eggs, and Mom’s turkey was always a bit on the dry side. After my first year in culinary school(when I thought I had conquered all there was to know in the world of food), I decided it was my turn to make the meal. I roasted my first turkey covered in a butter and herb soaked cheesecloth(a trick I had seen on Martha Stewart, in fact). My sister turned her nose at my rosemary and roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and Mom still made those deviled eggs, but that first year gave me the boost of confidence to keep trying new things when it came to turkey day. Since then I’ve stuffed the turkey with oranges, made polenta stuffing, shredded root vegetables into latkes, and baked pie after pie sans apples or pumpkin, just to name a few.

Of course I know more than a few friends who have the same meal every year. Part tradition, fixing the old staples keeps the guess work out of cooking and generally pleases the masses. However, if you look around your larder this year and realize its time for something new, try to change up your menu. Use beer-soaked rye bread for the stuffing, smoked potatoes instead of mashed and orange meringue pie for dessert.

This rustic tart, with its deep flavors, is the perfect addition to your new Thanksgiving Day menu. Earthy mushrooms, cooked with lots of sage, sweet sautéed onions, and salty Speck(German-style bacon), make for the perfect flavor combination to celebrate Fall with. Bored with canned cranberry jelly? This cranberry compote gets a kick of life with pomegranate seeds and a splash of Bourbon. You can even make it ahead of time, saving you time on the big day and you can jar enough to use into the new year. Easy recipes, these two are just the beginning of your new Thanksgiving Day cuisine. The possibilities are endless, and thankfully, you have every year to try something new.

cranberry and pomegranate compote

Orange juice and burboun brighten this cranberry compote

Mushroom and Speck Tart
Savory pastry dough
1 white onion, small diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch sage
2 pints mushrooms, thinly sliced
vegetable oil
1 cup Speck or thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/8 inch cubes
1 cup shredded Piave, or Parmigiana Reggiano
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt
pepper
fluted pie pan with removable bottom

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Remove pastry dough from the refrigerator and, on a floured surface, roll the dough out into a 13-inch circle. Carefully lay the dough into the pie pan and press into the corners of the pan and the sides until the pan is covered evenly. Using a a sharp knife, slice the excess dough off the edges. Dock the dough, making small holes with a fork in the bottom. Place a sheet of wax paper inside the pie pan and fill with baking beans or weights. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove and set aside to chill.

2. Heat a heavy-duty medium saute pan over high heat. Add a small amount of oil, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Add a portion of the mushrooms. In cooking mushrooms, it is important not to crowd the pan, to use high heat for good, caramelized flavor, and to not season the mushrooms until the end(otherwise the leak out water and will become soggy from steaming). Cook the mushrooms on one side, then shake the pan to cook the other. When both sides have a nice brown color, add salt and cracked black pepper. Remove mushrooms onto a plate and repeat until all mushrooms are cooked. If pan starts to get dirty, add a good amount of oil and let the mushroom speck cook off. Carefully remove oil and wipe the pan clean. Continue cooking mushrooms in the above method.

4. While the mushrooms are cooking, heat a second, medium-sized heavy-duty saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic and sage and cook slowly to release the sugars in the onion. When the onions start to become translucent, add the speck. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms and season well with salt and pepper, removing sage. Turn off heat and stir in the heavy cream and half the cheese. Place the tart shell on a half-sheet tray and fill with the filling, topping with the remaining cheese. Bake for 15-20, until the tart shell and melted cheese are golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Slice and serve warm.

Cranberry and pomegranate compote(make 4 4-oz jars)
2 pounds fresh cranberries
4-5 pomegranates, seeds removed(you can find them pre-seeded at some grocery stores or if you don’t want the extra work, and the extra crunch in the compote, substitute with 1 cup pomegranate juice)
16oz sugar
2oz sure-jell or pectin
1/3 cup bourbon or whiskey
1 cup orange juice
1 tbsp cinnamon

1. Place the cranberries, pomegranate seeds, and orange juice in a stock pot over medium heat. Add 3/4 of the sugar and stir. Allow to come to a boil and simmer until cranberry skins begin to crack. Whisk together the remaining sugar and pectin and slowly rain into the pot. Allow to come to a boil again, cooking for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add liquor and cinnamon.

2. Place in jars and process using the boiling-water canning procedure and store in a cool, dark place. Or allow to cool to room temperature and store in the fridge(if you are planning to use it quickly)

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Farmers Market Fall Splendor

Farmers Market Fall Splendor

Pumpkins, apples, parsnips, oh my! Chilly autumn weather brings a whole new crop of produce to celebrate.

Santa Monica farmers market pumpkin

Pumpkins at the Santa Monica Farmers Market

With the last of the hot, dry days of summer, juicy peaches and floral strawberries came to an end. Fall brings around a whole new group of fruits and vegetables to the farmers markets. Old favorites preserve through the winter months, sharing tables with short-seasoned, lesser known varieties. From apples to persimmons to litchi-like longans, fall’s produce splendor is worth celebrating about and certainly cooking with.

winter squash

Winter Squash at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market

Chilly days mean root vegetables are coming into full flavor. “The freezing, frost gives a floral sweetness to root vegetables,” says farmer Alex Weiser, who sells beautiful parsnips, multicolored carrots, and fingerling potatoes. “It’s the terrior,” he says, meaning the vegetables gain their flavor specifically from their environment.

Weiser Family Farms parsnip

Parsnips from Weiser Family Farms

When it comes to persimmons, it’s just that frost that farmer Jeff Rieger worries about. This bright, orange fruit is available from mid October until the first freeze, when the fruit becomes soft and mushy. You can find several varieties at his Penryn Orchard stand, including fuyu, chocolate, maru, hachiya and the tanmopan, which have a strange acorn shape and are eaten when very soft. Penryn also has wonderfully tart and sweet pomegranates this time of year, available from September through November, although “they must be picked before the first rain or they will split and burst from juiciness,” says Rieger.

pomegranetes

Penryn Orchard Pomegranates

Not so commonly thought of as a fall fruit, this time of year look for Walter Hole variety of avocado, a Mexicola type. This very dark skinned avocado has the highest oil content of all avocados and you can eat the dark black skin, which has a fennel like flavor. They are available into December.

Another lesser known fall fruit is the longan. This small, round, brown shelled fruit is similar to a litchi in flavor and texture. Peel back the shell and eat the jelly like, clear fruit inside(be careful of the seeds). Available from the end of October through November, they are grown in tropical areas. Californians can find them from Ventura County’s Mud Creek Ranch.

Longan fruit from Mud Creek Ranch

Longan fruit from Mud Creek Ranch

Of course the iconoclast fall fruit are apples. See Canyon produces some of the best in the Los Angeles area, using dry farming methods so that the fruit only receives ocean air and rain water. This produces a high sugar content apple with a richer flavor profile. Each week, Sea Canyons choices are different, but favorites include the ginger gold, braeburn, and splendor varieties. The season usually runs from late August, sometimes into late February.

Sea Canyon apples

Fujui apples from Sea Canyon

Even with old fall favorites like apples and squash, a trip to the farmers market during the autumn months is sure to reveal a new variety, or better yet a new product. Head to your local market and ask farmers about a product you’ve never tried. In the colder months there is so much more to cook then plain old carrots and potatoes, just go see for yourself. And bring home some of that fall splendor to make dinner tonight!

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Spice up Apple Pie with Persimmons

Buttery, flaky pie dough enrobes crisp apples to create the perfect slice of pie. Sweet persimmons and rich coffee rum syrup give a twist to this fall classic.

 

Persimmons at the Hollywood Farmers Market

Fuyu Persimmons at the Hollywood Farmers Market

Nothing says fall like apple pie. This year, try a variation on the classic by adding persimmons. An orange-red, pumpkin-shaped fruit, persimmons are available from October through December. Fuyus are the hard variety, sweet and crunchy like an apple. They can be eaten raw or cooked into jams, purees and baked goods. The heart-shaped persimmons are called Hachiya and should be eaten when they are very soft to the touch. They fruit can also be pureed and makes wonderful cookies.

Persimmons have a sweet, earthy flavor that adds depth to this apple pie. Adding a rum and coffee syrup brings notes of spice, earthiness and tang, giving a more complex flavor overall.

 

Persimmon and apple pie

Persimmon and apple pie

Apple and Persimmon Pie
Pastry Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup ice water

For the Filling
5 apples of your choice, Pink Ladies work well
5 medium size fuyu persimmons
1/4 cup spiced rum
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cup +2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp instant coffee powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp clove
1 tsp nutmeg
1 egg

1. Stir together flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the cubed butter, and using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut the butter into the dough, creating small pieces of butter mixed with the dries.

2. When the butter is fairly incorporated, add half of the ice water and mix together. Add more water until the dough just holds together. Form a ball with the dough, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3. While the dough is chilling, cut the apples and persimmons into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat the rum with the 1/2 cup of water and dissolve the coffee powder and 1 cup sugar in it. Add the liquid and spices to the fruit. Set aside.

4. Pre-heat then oven to 425 F with a sheet tray in the oven. Remove dough from the refrigerator and cut the ball into two pieces, re-wrapping one piece and placing it back into the fridge. Lightly flour your workspace and roll the dough out to 13-inch round. Spray a pie pan with cooking spray and lay the dough into the pan, pressing down into the corners of the pan. Trim the overhang of the dough with a pair of kitchen shears, leaving a 1/2-inch rim. Place the lined  pan in the refrigerator and remove the second piece.

5. Re-flour your work surface and roll the second piece of dough out to a 13-inch round. Whisk the egg together, and, using a pastry brush, lightly coat the dough. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp sugar. Using a round cutter or cup, cut out circles of the dough.

6. Remove the lined pie pan from the fridge and place the apple filling into the pan, pushing down to create an even, flat top surface. Carefully lift the dough circles with an offset spatula and layer them onto the top of the pie, like fish scales. Cover the entire pie.

7. Place the pie on the hot sheet tray and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 350 F and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Cool pie to room temperature. Freeze to enjoy later, or slice and serve with vanilla ice cream on a chilly fall day.

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Whoopie! for a grown-up Halloween treat

Whoopie! for a grown-up Halloween treat

Celebrate the haunts and horrors of Halloween in grown-up style. These spicy, pumpkin whoopie cakes, filled with a chocolate stout cream, are frighteningly good.

Oatmeal stout lends a rich, earthy undertone to these chocolate-filled pumpkin whoopie pies.

Oatmeal stout lends a rich, earthy undertone to these chocolate filled, pumpkin whoopie pies.

Chilly days full of changing, colorful leaves and warm, apple cider speak of the lush hills of the New England countryside. A Pennsylvania Amish tradition, whoopie pies are a favorite all over the Northeastern states, combining fluffy cake cookies with a creamy center. These treats are most commonly made with a chocolate cake outside and marshmallow center, reminiscent of another sweet treat, Oreo cookies.

This October, celebrate Halloween in a grown-up fashion by making this twist on the traditional whoopie pie. Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout is the perfect addition to the rich, chocolate cream filling for these spicy, pumpkin cake cookies. The whoopie pies are easy to make and sure to be a favorite at holiday parties or with trick-or-treating adults. Make some ahead of time and keep a batch in the freezer so you’ll always be prepared for a sneak ghost attack!

Pumpkin whoopie pie with chocolate stout cream
For the pumpkin pies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp pumpkin spice, or 1 tsp each of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg
2 tsp ground ginger
6oz butter, melted and cooled
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
15-oz can pumpkin puree
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature

For the chocolate stout cream
1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
3/4 butter, room temperature
1/2 cup Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, room temperature
2.5 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature

1. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices together.
2. Whisk the brown sugar and melted butter in a large bowl until smooth. Slowly mix in the oil and then add the eggs, one at a time. Add the puree and mix until smooth.
3. Sift the dry ingredients into the mixture, alternating with the milk. Fold until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
4. After one hour, preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a sheet tray with baking spray, line with parchment and spray the again. Spoon the batter onto the tray in 3 tbsp sections, trying to make round scoops(each tray should fit 11-12). Wait ten minutes and bake the cookies in the top section of the oven for 20 minutes.
5. Remove cookies from oven and pull parchment off tray on to a cooling rack or work surface. Rinse tray with cold water to chill, then spray and line with parchment and bake another round of cookies. Repeat until all batter is baked.
6. While cookies are cooling, prepare filling. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa together. Cream the butter and sugar mixture using the paddle attachment of a hand held mixer or stand mixer until light and fluffy. Stream in the stout and mix until completely incorporated. Mix in the cool, melted chocolate until smooth. Remove bowl from mixer and set aside.
7. When cookies have cooled, scoop the cream filling onto the flat side of half the cookies. Top with the other cookies. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to eight hours, or store in the refrigerator for up to three days.

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You can can, can’t you?

You can can, can’t you?

Stretch summer into chilly days by preserving the last of the farmer’s market peaches in this rich jam. The dark caramel base and rosemary add earthy, malty flavors perfect for the fall.

caramel peach jam

Canning is one of those kitchen projects that’s a bit intimidating. With worries about the equipment, temperatures, amounts of thickener and the actual process, it’s no wonder that canning has such a fraughtful reputation. However, preserving homemade jams, pickles, fruits and vegetables is fairly easy and a wonderful way to enjoy your produce all year round. It’s a good idea to start with small batches(between 3-5 pounds of product) and to make sure you have all the proper tools ahead of time. You’ll need jars with lids and screw bands and a boiling water canner, which you can make by placing a rack on the bottom of a large pot. Make sure your pot is large enough to allow the jars to be covered by one-inch of water.

The last of California’s peaches are still available at a few farmers markets. This jam turns the summer fruit into a fall favorite by adding dark caramel and nutty rosemary. Be careful, as the rosemary flavor can get quite strong, so taste the jam as you make it and remove the sprigs as you prefer.

Rosemary Peach Jam, (makes 4-0.5l jars)
2 quarts of peaches, washed, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/8 inch pieces
7 cups of sugar
50g of pectin
2 springs of rosemary
boiling water canner or pot with rack
tongs or canning tongs
funnel
sheet tray
thick dish towel

1. Fill a large, heavy duty pot with water and place over medium-high heat to boil.

2. Place a second large, heavy duty pot over medium heat and heat for several minutes. Combine 1 cup of sugar with the pectin, mixing completely. Scale out a second cup of sugar and sprinkle enough into the pot to cover the bottom in a thin layer. Allow sugar to melt and turn a golden color and sprinkle more sugar into the syrup. Continue to add sugar, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon and being careful not to let the sugar burn. When the entire cup of sugar is in the pot, cook the caramel syrup to a dark, amber color.  Add the rosemary sprigs, fruit, and last five cups of sugar. This may cause the caramel to harden slightly, but it will melt back down.

3. As you cook the fruit and sugar, mash the peaches against the bottom and sides of the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and slowly rain in, or sprinkle in, the pectin/sugar mixture. Remove the rosemary, and continue cooking(and mashing), bringing the jam back up to a boil. Allow to boil for five minutes, then turn off heat and let the jam sit while you prepare your jars.

4. Heat the oven to 250 Farenheit. Remove the lids from jars and place the jars in the boiling water for five minutes. Remove carefully with tongs and place on sheet tray. Place the lids and funnel in the boiling water and boil for five minutes, then remove and place on tray. Place tray in the oven to dry and keep the jars warm. This step can be done ahead of time or during the jam making process.

5. Remove half of the water from the pot and place the rack on the bottom or place the water in the boiling water canner. Carefully remove jars from the oven and, using the funnel, fill each jar with jam, being careful not to overfill. Fill to just under the rim.

6. Gently screw on the lids, making sure they are secure but not too tight. Place the jars inside the pot on the rack so they are not touching. Carefully fill the pot with more water so the jars are covered by one inch of water. Do not pour water directly on top of jars, but on the sides.

7. Bring the water back up to a boil. When boiling, cover the pot and start a five minute timer. Place a towel on the sheet tray. After five minutes, use the tongs to remove the jars individually and place them on the towel-lined sheet tray. Do not allow the jars to touch. If the jars have been properly canned, the seal on the lid will be sucked in slightly and will not bounce back when pressed. If the lid is not sealed, return the jar to the canner, repeating the above process.

8. Allow the jars to cool completely at room temperature before moving. When cool, store jam in a cool, dark place. Wrap with ribbon and mark with tags for gifts or enjoy the jam on buttered toast.

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Gourmet’s Gone

Gourmet’s Gone

With the closure of Gourmet magazine, an icon in the food industry is lost. Is print publication too quickly becoming a thing of the past?


Staring down at the October issue of Gourmet magazine, my heart is heavy with the knowledge that this is the second to last issue to be printed. The mega-publishing company Conde Nast announced this week that it will close Gourmet with the November issue, and sent its 180 employees, including famed editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl, packing.

This is a move sure to sadden many food readers. First published in December 1940, Gourmet stood apart in food journalism. Reading its pages, full of award-winning writing and photography, was like slipping into a carefully planned foodie’s dream. Each issue told endearing stories of culture, taking readers to a farm in Italy, a beach in the Caribbean. Gourmet‘s stories spoke of food history, told of the restaurants, chefs, and people who formed and changed the industry. The recipes that came out of the illustrious test kitchen were smart, creative, and inspiring. You never had to question if a recipe from Gourmet would work, it just did.

I first read Ruth Reichl’s memoir, Tender at the Bone, in high school, and I fell in love with Reichl’s charming, sophisticated food writing. She made me want to write about food. With each successive novel, I learned more about the woman and became more enthralled with food writing and working with Reichl. When she took over as Gourmet‘s editor in 1999, she brought the charisma of her writing into the magazine. Reichl enhanced the face of the magazine, making it truly the front runner in food journalism. Each issue was a gift; there was always a story to fall into, a menu to dream about, a recipe I had to get into the kitchen and try. With the creation of gourmet.com in 2008, suddenly there was a definite online place for food information, with articles I could spend days reading. Gourmet could be trusted, unlike so many other publications and websites. It wore creditability like a crown.

The magazine was the forerunner of long form food journalism. Each issue contained intense, well researched, and thought out articles on the future of food, politics of the food industry, and seasonal recipes and ideas. Like a beacon of standards in the food writing sector, Gourmet‘s pages never fell to the glitter of celebrity chefs, trends, or quickly written, poorly researched prose. It’s closure leaves a hole in food journalism that no other magazine has yet to fill. Conde Nast will focus their food coverage in their additional food magazine, Bon Appetit. Recipe and trend based, the magazine is full of pictures and light, casual articles. While Bon Appetit is necessity in the food world, it is not the behemoth of Gourmet.

In such troubling times, newspapers and magazines in every sector are facing the chopping block. Ad revenues, the stone upon which publications stand, have fallen by the wayside in the gloom of the recession. With periodicals being sold, turning to publishing exclusively online, and facing the chopping block completely, what is the future for publication and journalism? Online publication is instantaneous, can be quickly edited, changed, and updated. News can be reported around the clock; the front page of a newspaper can change its headlines hourly if need be. Still, holding an issue of Gourmet, circling recipes, feeling the print, means something to readers, doesn’t it? Are we heading too quickly to a time when print will cease to be? With the closure of Gourmet, and newspapers and magazines around the country, it looks that way. And this reader, for her part, is very sad about it.

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Bakin’ Challah

Bakin’ Challah

With its familiar rich, tender crumb, Challah bread is a dough steeped with Jewish tradition. In this whole wheat version, honey lends sweetness, while tart raisins add a chewy bite.

Whole wheat Challah bread

Inspiration from the recent Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah lend itself to this moist, sweet Challah recipe. Challah is a traditional braided bread, eaten on the Sabbath and holidays by Ashkenazi and by most Sephardic Jews. The six-legged braid of the traditional loaf represents the six challot that Moses was to place before the Lord.

Observant Jews recite three blessings prior to their meal on Friday evenings, and the last blessing is over two covered loaves of challah, giving thanks for the bread of the Earth. As Joan Nathan states is her book, The Jewish Holiday Baker, “On the Sabbath, the bread becomes a symbol of holiness…[t]he blessing over the bread at the beginning of every meal connects the Jews continuously to the food that grows in the earth and to God.”

The traditional Rosh Hashanah challah is braided and then rolled into a circle, a symbol of the year’s cycle. A honey glaze is sometimes added, with hopes for a sweet year. An easier method is to shape the portions into loaves, and bake in loaf pans. The dough can also be braided and left as a long loaf.

Representing religious and historical significance, Challah bread is an integral part of Jewish life. Families make the bread each week before the Sabbath or purchase it from a Jewish bakery.

Of course, many non-Jews enjoy the rich bread as well, and bakeries around the world prepare Challah in many ways, adding honey, raisins, seeds, saffron, cardamom, or other flavoring agents to increase flavor. Challah is a sweet bread, perfect for toast with jam or in making french toast. An egg bread similar to brioche, it is enriched by oil instead of butter or milk. This recipe uses a portion of whole wheat flour and honey, for a sweet, earthy flavor and raisins plumped in orange juice, for a tangy chew.

Whole Wheat Challah recipe
*makes two loaves

1 1/2 tbsp instant yeast
3/4 cup warm water, 90 degrees Farenheit
1 tbsp sugar
5 eggs, room temperature, +1 for egg wash
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp salt
4 cups AP flour
4 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup raisins, soaked in warm orange juice and drained
Poppy seeds or sesame seeds for garnishing

1. In a medium sized bowl, or bowl of stand mixer, combine water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes, until yeast is frothy.

2. Combine the eggs, honey, salt, vanilla, and oil in a second bowl. When yeast is frothy, add the egg mixture to the yeast. Add one cup of flour at a time, until all the flour has been incorporated. When you have a shaggy dough, turn out onto board and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, at least 10 minutes. If using a mixer, mix with dough hook until smooth. Soak the bowl in hot water during kneading process to prepare for proofing.

3. Grease the bowl with a small amount of vegetable oil and place dough inside, rolling over to coat both sides with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm space to proof to double in size, 1-2 hours depending on your kitchen. You can also proof inside a warm, but turned off oven.

4. Punch dough down, by pushing down on the center of loaf, to release gas build up. Cover and proof for another thirty minutes.

5. After proofed, knead raisins into dough. Divide dough in two pieces and shape as desired, either in loaves or breads. If braiding, divide dough into six pieces and roll into logs. Stick logs together at one end and braid. When finished, stick dough ends together to seal. Keep as long braid, or bring ends together for a ball shape. Place on a greased sheet, with two inches between the loaves or in  loaf pans for normal loaves.

6. Beat egg with 1/4 cup of water. Brush onto loaves. Let rise one hour.

7. After the third rise, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and re-brush the loaves with egg wash and honey. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds if desired. Bake in the center rack of oven for 40-60 minutes, until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Cool loaves on rack. Once cooled, you can freeze loaves for future use, or store wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator.

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