Honey White Challah

I’ve been so busy lately that the Daring Bakers completely slipped my mind and I hadn’t done it for a couple months. I finally remembered to check on this month’s challenge and was super excited when i saw it was challah!

The braided challah, which is made with eggs, is the Jewish Sabbath‑and‑holiday bread. It is surrounded by folklore and tradition and loaded with symbolism. On festive occasions a blessing is said over two loaves, symbolizing the two portions of the manna that was distributed on Fridays to the children of Israel during their Exodus from Egypt.

Honey White Challah

Challah is made in various sizes and shapes, all of which have a meaning. Braided ones, which may have three, four, or six strands, are the most common, and because they look like arms intertwined, symbolize love. Three braids symbolize truth, peace, and justice. Twelve humps from two small or one large braided bread recall the miracle of the 12 loaves for the 12 tribes of Israel. Round loaves, “where there is no beginning and no end,” are baked for Rosh Hashanah to symbolize continuity. Sweet challahs with honey or raisins are baked during the festive season to bring joy and happiness.

The name “challah” is derived from the Hebrew word used for “portion” in the Biblical commandment “of the first of your dough you shall give unto the Lord a portion for a gift throughout your generations.” Jews were biblically commanded to separate from their doughs one twenty‑fourth and give it to the kohanim (priests) every Sabbath. (source)

 Honey White Challah

Honestly, I didn’t really know (or remember) the significance of challah although I’m sure I was taught it in Hebrew School.

I’ve actually made Challah before but was really excited to give it another shot. Since Nate likes bread with his dinner on a daily basis, I knew it wouldn’t go to waste.

While Nate was in California last weekend, I whipped up some of the dough and let it rise in between my wedding crafts (i made our cake topper!). It was super easy, and having the first rise in the fridge overnight was a huge time saver.

Honey White Challah

The Challah recipe I used was a honey white version and it came out just slightly sweet and as doughy and delicious as my favorite grocery store version. If you live near Shoprite supermarkets, they happen to have the absolute best challah. Anyway, this was pretty darn close!

I should have added raisins but couldn’t be bothered at the time. Luckily it wasn’t dry at all and was able to hold up on its own.

Blog-checking lines: May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

Honey White Challah

Honey White Challah

From Tammy’s Recipes

Print this recipe!

makes 2 gigantic loaves


1 ½ cups (360 ml) warm water, separated
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) (15 gm/½ oz sugar
2 Tbsp. (2-2/3 packets) (30 ml) (18 gm) (2/3 oz) dry active yeast
½ cup (120 ml) honey
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) oil (light colored vegetable oil, or olive oil if you prefer)
4 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. 7½ ml) (9 gm) (1/3 oz) salt
5 cups (1200 ml) (700 gm/25 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, plus more as needed (up to 8 or 9 cups total)
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water

In mixer bowl/large mixing bowl combine ½ cup warm water, 1 Tbsp. sugar and 2 Tbsp. yeast. Allow to proof approximately 5 minutes until foamy.

To the yeast mixture add the remaining water, honey, oil, eggs, salt and 5 cups of flour. Knead (by hand or with your mixer’s dough hook) until smooth, adding flour as needed. Knead for approximately 10 minutes.

Transfer dough to a clean, oiled bowl, turn to coat or add a bit more oil on top. Cover bowl with a kitchen/tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 ½ hours (**optionally you can have the first rise in the fridge overnight, which is what I did to save time. The next morning, remove from fridge and allow to come to room temp then move on to next step).

Punch down the dough, divide it into two sections. Use one half to make each loaf (shaped or braided as desired).

Place loaves on parchment lined or greased baking sheets, cover with a towel, allow to rise 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Brush tops loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with seeds or toppings here if wanted.)

Bake loaves 30-40 minutes until done.

Cool on wire racks.

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
Once cooled, challah loaves which will not be eaten right away (or in the next couple of days) should be bagged in heavy duty freezer bags. Remove excess air from the bag before securing it tightly (tying a knot or using tape). Put the bagged loaf/loaves into the freezer as soon as possible to ensure fresh taste; frozen challah will keep approximately three months.

Originally I started this blog because I loved the idea of being able to share my favorite or newly-discovered recipes with others. I love that you can usually know that if a recipe is posted on a blog, it’s a good one and making it won’t be disastrous.

But in posting to my blog for the past 11 months (WOW, has it really almost been a year since I started this thing?!), I realized it has an even better purpose. It has become a place to which I can go to find my favorite recipes and keep things organized.

Before putting in fridge…

For the past couple years, I’ve started new traditions about things that I make on certain occasions. One of those occasions is Christmas Day when I bake cinnamon buns. Last year I scoured the internet searching for a bun that could be made the day before and simply baked in the morning. I combined several recipes, pulling the best parts of each: dough, filling, frosting. They came out perfectly.

So I was upset this year when I realized that I had printed out the recipe last year but hadn’t written it down to save anywhere. I, luckily, had an email trail of when I sent it to Nate and his mom to check it out.

This year, I wanted to share this amazing recipe with you…and now I know that next year when I go to bake these tasty treats again, I will be able to find the recipe in the spot where I now have all of my favorite recipes listed, my blog :)

Overnight Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Frosting

Print this recipe!

makes 1 dozen rolls

1 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 cup white sugar
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 Tablespoons butter, softened

4 oz.  cream cheese, softened (1/2 of an 8 oz container)
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 Tbsp milk

Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Add the butter and stir until melted; let cool until lukewarm.

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the milk mixture. Add the sugar, 3 cups of flour, salt and eggs; stir well to combine. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 8 minutes.

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 10x 14 inch rectangle. Lightly brush the far edge with water. In a small bowl combine the filling ingredients and sprinkle/spread evenly over the dough. Roll up the dough into a log (it should have the length of the long side) and seal the seam.

Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces; place the pieces in a greased 9×13 inch baking pan, or 12 inch deep dish pizza pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rise overnight. *note that they can be put in the fridge for longer than just overnight. I usually put mine in around 4pm.

The next morning, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Take the rolls out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes-1.5 hrs. I think that they’re better if they sit out for longer than 30 min because they still have to rise a bit. Don’t expect them to rise a ton sitting out, as they do most of their puffing up while in the oven.

Bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden. Meanwhile, combine the frosting ingredients; set aside. Spread the frosting over the rolls when they come out of the oven. Enjoy hot out of the oven!

This month’s challenge was to make sourdough bread! I had heard terms thrown around in the past about sourdough “starters” but had no idea what this actually involved. It’s pretty gross, actually. You basically mix water and flour together and let it sit in a warm place for a while, while “feeding” it every day to keep it alive and well. It ferments and bubbles, and eventually becomes so aerated and bubbly that it takes the place of yeast in the bread recipe!

It’s pretty amazing, actually, that you can create something that’s alive from just flour and water. My starter became my little pet for the week, as I had to take good care of it, make sure it didn’t starve and wasn’t too cold or hot. It was my baby.

Unfortunately I didn’t plan it very well. You were supposed to grow your starter for 4 days and then make the bread on day 5. I knew I wasn’t going to have time to make it til I got down to Nate’s mom’s house for Christmas…so I stuck my starter in the fridge. I checked with the Daring Baker’s forum to make sure this step was ok and they assured me it was fine. I was just told to “freshen” the starter the day before I’d be using it.

On Friday I carefully packed up my starter to take to work with me, as I was going to be leaving on the train to Delaware directly after work. I knew it would be fine since it was meant to be at room temperature. The next night, in preparation for making the bread on Sunday, I freshened the starter. I think I must have added the wrong proportion of flour to water, though, as it seemed thinner than it was before. This was mistake #1 I think.

The next day I followed the directions, making the leaven and letting it sit for 4 hours to bubble. I think something happened in this step because 4 hours later I looked at it and there was no bubbling going on. I should have just given up here but I wanted to keep going.

I made the dough, but added 1/2 cup more water than I was supposed to. Oops! I tried to cover it up by adding more flour but knew this was the beginning of the end.

I left the dough to rest but it didn’t really bubble or increase in size. Because sourdough bread doesn’t use yeast, the doubling in size and aerating is kind of important. However, I knew I needed to finish what I started so I could at least get pictures of my sad attempt at sourdough…so I persevered.

When I went to put the dough on the sheet pan, I realized that it was waaay too thin and would never hold a loaf shape on a pan. I knew the bread wasn’t going to come out correctly at this point, but I put it in a cake pan instead and hoped for the best.

The bread did rise in the oven a bit, but for the most part it remained dense. When I took it out of the oven it felt like a brick.

In the end, the bread tasted a bit like sourdough but had a dense, doughy consistency rather than being light and airy. I kind of enjoyed it as I like doughy bread, but since it was most certainly not correct, I threw the rest out.

I thought about saving the rest of the starter to attempt it again in the future, but I really don’t think I have the patience. Hopefully the next challenge will go a little better!

Blog-checking lines: Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

This recipe is long and involved. Rather than type it all out here, I will link you to the Daring Bakers site when it’s up.

This month brought another challenge to my kitchen thru the Daring Bakers.

You may be curious what exactly a Sans Rival is. It sounds like some sort of enemy.  Luckily, this wasn’t a 10 hour long process, but instead a fairly simple dessert.

A Sans Rival cake is a popular Filipino dessert. “Sans rival” means “without rival” and any Filipino will argue with you that this is true. Although it’s one of the most popular desserts in the Philippines, its origins are certainly French. In the 1920’s to 30’s there were many Filipinos who went abroad to study. A good number went to France and learned many French cooking techniques which they then brought home. A Sans Rival is made with layers of dacquoise, typically using crushed cashews, with very rich French buttercream frosting. The dacquoise is allowed to bake and dry to a crispy layer so that there is the crunch of pastry and nuts with the buttery, silky frosting.

As usual, however, it didn’t come out exactly as planned. While the flavors were delicious, I somehow didn’t get my meringue to completely crisp up. It was still tasty but we had to eat the center portion with a fork and knife :)

I did a slight variation on the original recipe. While the host, Catherine, already altered the traditional recipe by adding cocoa powder to the meringue, she kept the original cashew nuts as the flavoring for the frosting.

Because I made the meringue chocolate, I thought what better nut to pair with it but peanut! I used chopped peanuts around the outside and also substituted peanut butter for part of the butter in the buttercream frosting. I have to say that the frosting was an awesome combo…definitely a great idea, if I do say so myself. I seriously couldn’t stop sticking my finger in and eating it straight up.

If you do nothing else but make this peanut butter buttercream, you won’t be sorry. I think I may make a double batch of it to top a regular old chocolate cake.

Blog-checking lines: Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

• Brushing the parchment paper with some oil will help you to peel it off after the dacquoise is baked.
• Do not grind the nuts down to a fine flour/powder. This recipe is better with the nuts in a grainy/sandy grind.
• It is important to peel off the parchment within a couple of minutes of it coming out of the oven. Certainly while it is still warm.
• After removing the paper, return it into the warm oven to dry out more as the oven is cooling down. You want crunchy layers.
I halved the below recipe and rather than cooking the meringue in cake pans, I piped it into four 6-in circles on parchment lined cookie sheets 

Sans Rival:
Servings: 12
10 large egg whites, room temp
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) cream of tartar
¼ cup (60 ml) (20 gm) (2/3 oz) Dutch processed cocoa (optional and not traditional)
2 cups (480 ml) (240 gm) (8½ oz) chopped, toasted peanuts

Note: You will need four layers which will mean that you might have to bake in two batches. Be sure to use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.
1. Preheat oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
2. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides really well.
3. In a large clean, dry glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy (2 mins.). Sprinkle with cream of tartar. Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time, continuing to beat now at high speed until stiff shiny peaks form. (about 7-10 mins.)4. Fold in nuts, reserving enough to use for decoration.(Note the more finely ground for folding into meringue. The coarsely ground for is decoration of finished cake.)5. Divide meringue into four equal parts. Spread in pans, evenly to edges. If doing batches, use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the meringue from the baking pans while still hot; allow to cool slightly. Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm, it is difficult to remove sometimes when they have completely cooled.7. When cool, trim edges so that all 4 meringue layers are uniformly shaped. Set aside.

French Peanut Butter Buttercream:
(recipe by Me)

5 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
2 sticks (10 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until the yolks have doubled in volume and are a lemon yellow.
Put the sugar and water in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat, stirring the sides down only until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup reaches 235°F/112°C (or thread stage).
3. With the mixer on high, very slowly pour the syrup down the sides of the bowl, until all has been added. Be careful as the very hot syrup could burn you if it splashes from the beaters. Continue beating on high until the mixture is ROOM TEMPERATURE (about 15 mins). Still on high, beat in the soft, room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time. Add peanut butter after you beat in the butter. Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.

Set bottom meringue on cake board with a dab of butter cream to hold it in place. Spread a thin layer of buttercream and then place another meringue on top. Repeat with a thin layer of buttercream, meringue, thin layer of buttercream, meringue, and finally buttercream the top and sides. Decorate with reserved nuts.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. It is easier to cut cold. May freeze.

Nate, his mom, and I are up in Cape Cod this weekend for the marathon. He’s taking a break from his usual full marathons and only running the half. Yeah, this is like a piece of cake to him. Meanwhile, I doubt I could even run 1 mile right now.

I totally forgot about posting this for the Daring Bakers today so I’m getting this post up quick.

In case you were wondering, Povitica (pronounced po-va-teet-sa), is traditional Eastern European dessert bread that is usually served during the holiday season. It is also known as Nutroll, Potica, Kalachi, Strudia, just to name a few.  I’m not sure if it’s related to Babka, but it seems very similar to that as well. Each loaf is filled with a sweet filling and rolled, and weighs an amazing 2.5 pounds!

The traditional filling for this bread is an English walnut filling, but other typical fillings also include apple/cinnamon, apricot preserves, and a sweet cheese (like cream cheese). I chose to make one traditional and one with a chocolate twist on the traditional.

The recipe called for ground walnuts, but I used chopped, and it really messed up the traditionally-filled one. Rather than having a sweet paste in the middle, the sugar got absorbed by the dough and I was left with just a nutty bread.

For the chocolate one, I replaced one cup of the nuts with a cup of dark chocolate chips and decreased the sugar amount by half. It was mighty tasty!

You’ll have to excuse me for not writing much, as we’re about to head out to get dinner! Anyway, I took off work today and tomorrow so I’m psyched for this long weekend :)

Blog-checking lines: The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

The recipe was long and detailed, but if you’d like to make the recipe, visit here