Saturday, May 26, 2012

Challah Bread Daring Bakers Challenge May

I did it!I did it!I did it!I did it!
I finally did it!
Every month...I am besieged by self doubts...This is DIFFICULT and all that blah....
But Veni,vidi,vici!
Like Steve Jobs...I came,I saw, I conquered!
OK the photos are not the best I have taken...they put my SONY DSLR to shame...but my only excuse ,I was super,super excited!
Hubby dear watched me braid six strands of Roti dough,laughing all the time at my feeble attempts to get the six strands to come together in this beautiful braid. a study in concentration..sitting in front of the laptop at the dining table with six strands of dough...going nowhere...for half an hour....
With sweet child smirking...
and hubby dear asking if he will ever get fed and wondering if I intend making rotis from the same dough I was playing with...
Almost gave up already!
But then my name is Shalini...
One try with the right instructions...EUREKA!
That deserved a  victory dance...
If I would have put in so much effort into my books,I would have been a PhD already!

To those of you who are not a part of the daring bakers...
This was the challenge for the month of May 2012.

Challah Bread.
Bread could have been made without the braid...but then it would not be so magical...
Here is ...
A brief historical introduction:

Challah is a bread of celebration in Jewish tradition. At a time when white flour was considered a luxury, its use 

was reserved for either the wealthy or for festive events. In Judaism, the Sabbath is a weekly holiday, and 

therefore is a festive occasion. It was around the 15th century when Jews in parts of Austria and Germany 

adopted an oval braided loaf from their neighbors to make the Sabbath special. These fancy shaped loaves 

made with white flour were seen as a fitting way to honor the Shabbat (Sabbath), symbolized in Jewish culture 

as a queen, therefore deserving of the finest one can achieve. In honoring the Sabbath as a day of rest, two 

loaves are traditionally put on the table. This is generally seen as a representation of the double portion of 

manna provided to the Children of Israel on Fridays during their wandering in the desert after fleeing from Egypt. 

This double portion allowed them to maintain the commandment to not do “work” on the Sabbath.

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.

So thank you Ruth...I don't think I'll ever doubt myself again.

Yup, melodrama is my middle name!

You may not get the braid the first time, but the bread is super easy and TASTY!

So many people cant go wrong...It has eggs and whole wheat/atta ,oats and butter ...and a little flour.

And the goodness of poppy seeds and sesame seeds and nigella can do flax...or just herbs or 

garlic or whatever.

A bread is like a you dress it is your choice.

Try it, its almost addictive.

for the 

Challah Bread Daring Bakers Challenge 


you need

4 1/2 tsp dried yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup brown sugar(I used jaggery-gur) you can use regular sugar
3 eggs
120 gms butter-at room temperature(a little more than 1/2 cup)
2 tsp salt
2 cups whole wheat flour/atta
2 cups plain flour+ extra to knead the dough
1/2 cup quick cooking oats-I used Quakers
Additional flour about 1 cup to help knead the dough
1 egg beaten ...for the glaze
seeds to sprinkle-I used poppy seeds ,nigella seeds and sesame seeds

Start with a quick prayer on your lips...I did...I was terrified of making this into a no show!
Then place the yeast in the bowl and pour in the water.Quickly whisk and set aside 5 minutes while you gather the rest of the ingredients.
That's the yeast after 5 minutes...not super frothy ....and I panicked ..then I remembered that I had yet to add the sugar.
So in went the sugar...jaggery(gur) in my case and the eggs and the butter.
After I tried to mix them together...At least the jaggery(gur) dissolved.
Now pop in the flours and the oats and the salt.
Combine into a sticky thing that is on its way to becoming a dough.Tip it onto the work surface or a big dish like a "parat", knead adding more flour till the dough does not stick to your fingers. It took me almost 11 minutes...the secret to beautifully soft hands...knead dough!
The dough here did not magically transform to a golden yellow...the colour of the dough looked a little too sad ...thanks to the muddy brown jaggery(gur). So I went looking for some saffron...couldn't locate it,thus resorted to yellow food colour. You can of course skip the colour.But it looks pretty..
Kept safe and covered in an oiled glass bowl for 1 hour...till the dough doubled.
It did, and I went ahead and deflated its dreams...punched it..
brought it down to its knees again and left it alone ,covered for an hour.
And lo and grew even more...threatening an implosion/explosion!
Punch again ,re knead the dough and bring it out on to the flour dusted work top.
Now cut it into two equal halves and bring the baking tray, lined with AL foil or baking paper.
Now cut the one half into 3...
And further into 6 piece....6 strand braided bread here...2 loaves!Roll them out like snakes...preferably thin at the ends and fat in the centre.
Like so and lay them side to side...joining their heads...All the instructions I got from a video here...
Far right, far here mumbo jumbo..
And look...its coming together...yay!
Squeeze the ends under the bread and roll it like a baby...lift it ever so gently...
And place it side by side on the baking tray.Covered rest for an hour.
Doubled...see they touch! Now beat the egg and 1 spoon water for the glaze....and brush over...generously.
Sprinkle over the seeds in random order.Pre heat your oven to 350F and then pop the bread in.
I was pacing like an expectant parent outside the labour room...waiting for the bread...just popped over to chat with the neighbour and left the bread in about a couple minutes too long. Should have been ready in 40 minutes , I gave it bad...but other than the dark bits....It smelt AWESOME!
And the wait was killing ...we waited for it to cool before slicing the bread..see the texture and the crumb..aww!!
With cheese spread and butter...we had no words.
BTW this bread is to be shared with friends and family...we shared too with neighbours...
So Thank you Ruth! and Daring Bakers!
I had the most fun doing this months challenge and ...sweet child was taught  a lesson in perseverance!
And taste ...and history and culture!
Ready for the next challenge already!
Bring it on!!

So what are you baking today????

Mango Sutra Revisited! Mango Rabri! with Saffron

Mango,Mango Mango...
Mango fever has rubbed off here in Ranchi..
Its gone totally Viral!
Thank God, its by passed my house...there is something about the king of fruits that just makes me want to go bow to chocolate.
The @Fat Free Mango Cake was so desirable that we tried an egg less version for ova avoiding friend Ritu...but it just did not rise to the occasion!
This old recipe I dug out from the archives of compensate...
This sits with a halo around its golden self...
Admit it, it looks really pretty ...and my photographs are getting better!
Desi, to the core this is!
Rabri is totally desi...Nothing but evaporated milk...and anyone from North India would be familiar with it.
I have memories of me daddy dear also has a leaning towards all things sweet...and the familiar call after lunch.."Where is the p-u-ding-ding???"
His favourite Shahi Tukra involved too much work and too many calories...but when it was made ...Fried bread dunked in hot sugar syrup..topped with rabri...Heavenly!

I resorted to making rabri when sweet child was perched like a little monkey on my sweet dish that does not need a baby sitter.
For me Mango Rabri was born when more people turned up for dinner and the bowl of Rabri seemed a lot wanting...brainwave...chop mango into the Rabri....

So to pass on some of my valuable pearls of experience...

Mango Sutra Revisited! Mango Rabri! with Saffron...

you need

3 litres full fat milk(try to not use UHT)
8 tbsp caster sugar
750-800 gms ripe sweet mangoes
1 pinch saffron(optional)
1/2 cup almonds ,soaked and peeled and sliced
A truck load of patience

Start with the full fat milk in a wide pan.
Keep the pan or kadai on simmer and let the milk evaporate it does...scrape the dried milk from the sides back into the milk and let it reduce further.
Stir every 15 odd minutes taking care the rabri does not burn.
You'll need to let the milk cook at least three hours till it reduces to about a third of its original volume and has thickened.
Let it cool in this pan itself after scraping off the dried cooked milk from the sides...this mes amis is a labour of love...but the rewards are fantastic.
Now scrape out all bits into a will look lumpy and thick.Again a little less will this much satisfy 15 people???OMG!You can chill it for an hour at this stage.
No worries...start with the blending or puree-ing...till it is smooth!
Now the sugar...add half and then taste after you add more...too much sugar will kill the mango ...that is sweet too. Heat 1 tsp milk and soak the saffron , you can add it at this stage.
Mango and saffron is a winning combination!
Now finely chop the mangoes ...
Pour them into the rabri jus and all.
Mix well...see the bowl is now fill.
Add in the almonds..
Add the saffron at this stage ...clean the bowl ad dot with the left over saffron.
Top the Rabri with  silver "vark" and a few left over almonds.
The Rabri ...ready for the dinner table.
And the final picture...but the proof is in the eating...yum yum yum!
If you love desi sweets and mangoes...this one is a winner!
Pretty Divine I must say!

So what are you baking today???

Coming up...a surprise....

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mocha Muffins -Coffee and Chocolate go Hand In Hand!

After all that mango madness which I was oddly detached from,Gimme a "C"...any day.
"C" for Chocolate...
"C" for coffee....
And when they are together..
you make my day!
Coffee and chocolate are food ...I needed this after all that mango mania.I made these the day before I started the mango madness in all my friends...and dumped them in the fridge.
And after the third mango cake(yes the piping gel one was the second...the third one is an egg less version of the same case you forgot my ova-avoiding friend Ritu) I thankfully retrieved the cuppie from its Tupperware guardian and sat down to this manna from heaven.
A glass of cold coffee to give me company...the familiar smell of warm chocolate and coffee and the slurp of sugar less bitter cold coffee.
Could not have asked for any thing better.(Yes, I drink my coffee without if I don't get enough already!)

Simple, Solid , Reassuring and Uncomplicated!And did I mention healthy??
Just like your  man...when you need him the most.
For all you guys who love chocolate...think Goddess Venus!

for the 

Mocha Muffins -Coffee and Chocolate go Hand In Hand...

you need

3/4 cup whole wheat flour/atta
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup /60 mils strong black coffee
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup buttermilk(can subs with cold milk + 1tsp vinegar)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/soda bicarb
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup walnuts chopped-optional( I never use any...too many nuts floating around me to risk biting into another)

Muffin tray out and lined...
And oven pre heated to 190C/375F.
Start with the beautiful eggs and the ground sugar.
Looks straight out of Dr Seuss
What say?
Ever let your imagination run wild???And then people wonder if I am totally sane when t hey see a smile on my face...
The dream shattered...and the eggs and the sugar beaten.
That's the coffee-strong!
The dry stuff...before they are to be sifted.
The beaten eggs...
Once you are happy with the eggs and the sugar, blend in the coffee liquid and the dry stuff three batches. Add the vanilla and you are done.
Ready, in the safety of the paper cups...into the oven for 14 to 17 minutes.
And they are done.
All fragrant and aromatic....
The extras...
When your body is screaming for something familiar...and the only thing it understands is caffeine...dont deny it...give into these heavenly mocha muffins.
You can drink your coffee and tea and milk without sugar....have your toast without the butter or cheese...but these are totally worth it!
If you watch Sony TV and have any affinity to any of the soap operas that play the whole may have heard this title track....the serial is nothing to write home about...but then...this track is lovely.
Worth a listen.
This is what mocha muffins are all about.
Coming home to something dependable.

Away from the alien taste of fruits...and totally about what we were meant to eat!

So what are you baking today???

Until the next

Until the next


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