Challah013crop_2Brownies and charoset and challah oh my!

By 9:30 this morning I had a kitchen full of friends, a pan of brownies cooling, a batch of challah rising and a charoset assembly line in motion.

Why? Jack requested m&m brownies for our Shabbat dessert, I volunteered to prepare Moroccan Charoset Balls for our Women’s Seder this weekend and Molly selected this week’s new challah recipe from one of my favorite new books, Meredith Jacobs’ The Modern Jewish Mom’s Guide to Shabbat. I’d prepared "Meredith’s Challah" from the Modern Jewish Mom’s website a few weeks back and was very pleased with the results so was very excited when Molly selected "Adrienne’s Challah" which the Modern Jewish Mom touts "won the best-tasting challah at my shul."

Adrienne’s Challah is unique for several reasons.

It yields four small loaves, so if you’re reluctant to bake on a weekly basis you can bake once, freeze and have challah for a month. I’ve yet to freeze a large challah because I haven’t seen a zip-loc bag big enough to hold one, but these little loaves would easily fit into a gallon-size bag. The loaves are ideal for portion control, smaller families, and just right for wrapping-up to share.

The recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar per 7 cups of flour which is the same amount I’ve used for recipes with 12 cups of flour so it is a sweet treat. Especially when you choose to follow the tantalizing option of adding 1 tablespoon of brown sugar-mmmmm.

Lessons learned this week:

Each recipe teaches me something new. In the past I’ve always measured the water first in my measuring cup, added the yeast, stirred it, let it rest, then poured the mixture into the flour, scraping in the stray yeast that clings to the cup. This is messy, awkward and leaves a gloppy measuring cup behind. Adrienne suggests pouring the yeast into your mixing bowl, adding the water and letting it proof right there in the bowl. Aha! Why didn’t I think of that? Genius.

The recipe calls for glazing the bread with a beaten egg yolk for that glossy finish we love. I also tried a tip I read in the book of drizzling the top of the challah with honey- recommended instead of an egg-wash- but combining both created a shiny, golden brown crust.

I’ve read about the benefits of using "bread flour" and was skeptical, flour is flour, but after trying it this morning plan on stocking up on it. They don’t carry it most grocery stores but it is really worth a try.

Recipe review

Emily- "This tastes like frosting!"

Molly- "Sweet, delicious, moist and fluffy"

Jack- "Great! It looks great and it tastes great too"

Special thanks this week to Tobi and Dana for helping me to prepare the charoset and then washing up the mess while I braided away.

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