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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Whole Wheat Challah Bread

   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.

I love that this recipe has whole wheat and oats in it.  I love the excitement when bread comes out of the oven and looks this good!!

2 (.25 oz.) packages (4½ teaspoons) (22½ ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) warm water (100°F/38°C)
½ cup (120 ml) (100 gm) (3½ oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup (one stick) (120 ml) (115 gm/4 oz) margarine or unsalted butter – room temperature
2 tsp. (10 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) salt
3 large eggs
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) whole wheat flour
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) all-purpose flour
½ cup (120 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) rolled oats (Old Fashioned work just fine!)
Additional flour for kneading (½ to 1 cup) (120 to 240 ml) (70 to 140 gm) (2½ to 5 oz)
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water for glaze

1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Allow to stand about 5 minutes until creamy/foamy.
2. With paddle attachment beat 3 eggs, sugar, margarine (or butter), whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and oats into the yeast mixture. Or, if mixing by hand (ok, spoon), combine eggs and margarine/butter with yeast mixture until well mixed. Add flours and oats and mix until it becomes difficult to mix.
3. Once combined, switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding flour as/if needed. If kneading by hand, this should take about 10-12 minutes.
4. Form dough into a round, compact ball. Turn in oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen/tea towel. Let rise in warm area (I put it in the oven with the light on) until doubled, approx. 2 hours.
5. Once dough has doubled, punch down. Recover with towel, allow to rise again for an hour, but even 30 minutes will be fine if you’re in a hurry.
6. Punch the dough down again, divide in two.
7. Shape each half as desired (3, 4 or 6 strand braid, rolls, etc.). Place shaped loaves onto parchment covered baking trays. Cover with the towel and allow to rise another hour.
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
9. Brush loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with vanilla sugar/sesame seeds/poppy seeds/other topping here if desired)
10. Bake 30 to 40 min. until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
11. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool before serving.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lea's Napa Valley Inspired Granola

 This Granola recipe is my first try at creating something special for Lea.  As I looked over the ingredients she wanted me to incorporate I realized that many of the ingredients are produced in the Napa Valley.  It gave me inspiration to do something fun:

1 1/3 Cup Toasted Pecans
3 Cups Old Fashion Oats
1/2 Cup Flax Seed
1/2 tsp Coriander
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
3/4 Cup Coconut
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Honey
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/4 Cup White Wine
1 Cup Dried Cherries
1 Cup Mission Figs cut into fourths.
 Toast the pecans first for about 10 minutes. 
 Add olive oil, honey and vanilla into a bowl and microwave a minute
 Add oats, flax seed, coriander, brown sugar, coconut and the toasted pecans.  Mix together then add the oil mixture.  Lastly add the White Wine.  I used a dry Reisling.
 Spread the granola on a baking sheet and bake about 40 minutes.  Start by stirring every 10 minutes.  After 20 minutes stir every 5 minutes until toasty brown.
 In a seperate bowl add the cheeries and figs
This is the granola out of the oven.  Once slighly cool add the granola to the dried fruit and mix together.

Fun facts that I learned while doing this Granola for Lea. 
90% of the worlds pecans come from the United States.  California is the 2nd largest producer next to Georgia
I used Olive Oil in this Granola as the Napa Valley is a great producer of Olives.
Mission Figs were first produced in San Diego California and are now grown in the Napa Valley.
Cherries are grown in the Napa Valley and some of the cherries make it into different cherry wines.
Napa Valley is most famous for it's wine production so in honor of the Napa Valley I added wine to the granola. 
Honey is produced in abundance in the Napa Valley.
When I was choosing a spice to add to the granola I researched where most spices are produced.  Few are produced in the United States.  Coriander is produced in the United State in cooler climates like Oregon and in Canada.  I decided to use the coriander in honor of a North American Granola homage.  The flax seeds are native to Canada where it is a large crop for that Country.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cinco De Mayo Cheesecakes

 I made 10 cheesecakes for our Mother/Daughter Banquet at Church today.  I made 2 of each of the following.  I invented the flavors special for the theme!
 Mexican Hot Chocolate Cheesecake.  I made a chocolate shortbread crust with a chocolate and cinnamon cheesecake filling.  Topped off with marshmellow fluff and mini marshmellows and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

 Strawberry Lime Cheesecake.  I made a vanilla shortbread crust with a filling that I used strawberry freezer jam given to me by Lauren, I also did zest and juice of one lime.  The cheesecake is topped with freezer jam, a dollop of whipped cream and a strawberry.

 Key Lime Cheesecake.  This has a graham cracker crust with cheesecake including all the traditional ingredients in a key lime pie, topped off with homemade key lime curd, a dollop of whipped cream and a sugard slice of lime.

 Atomic Fire Cheesecake.  I can't take credit for this one.  My friend Jodie had a dream years ago and dreamed this recipe and she shared it with me.  A graham cracker crust with a cinnamon laced cheesecake, topped with cayenne pepper chocolate ganache.  I decorated it with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

 Tres Leche Cheesecake.  This has a vanilla shortbread crust with a thin layer of caramel on top of the crust and then milky, creamy cheesecake topped with whipped cream and peach pie filling.