SOUPER BOWL

This year and most years I could really care less about the superbowl. No Dallas Cowbows? Pshhh. No Beyonce? Uhhhh. Snowstorms +the season finale of football a Twin Peaks binge are two good enough reasons to sit on the couch for the entirety of an afternoon. (Couch sitting is even more justified if you went to the gym earlier that day.) (Add two cuddly cats and an attention-deprived dog and you have the most ideal of couch sitting situations.)

Since I am currently half-assing another Whole30 and had no real plans to watch the sports game, I didn’t deem it necessary to binge on chips and dip and other snacks of their kind. Also, I do not have any of that in my house. Also, I am pretty poor until payday. So what do you make when all you want is a damn fine cup of coffee and something else just as warm? And your refrigerator boasts ingredients like Russian kale & ground turkey & a few tomatoes that you need to hurry up and use? All signs point to soup…er…stew. Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Skillet Stew

1 pound ground turkey

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 large red onion, roughly chopped

4 ripe tomatoes, diced

6 cloves garlic, diced

1 bunch Russian kale, roughly chopped

2 strips uncured bacon

4 cups water

seasonings to taste: oregano, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, s&p

*cast iron skillet* or a medium sized pot

  1. In a large cast iron skillet or soup pot, skillet preferred (hence the name) on low-medium heat, begin to fry you bacon. Add garlic and onion. Stir around until the garlic turns golden.
  2. Add squash and let cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add kale, tomatoes, and seasonings. Stir.
  4. Add water, cover skillet and let simmer on low for about 2 hours. When your butternut squash is nice and tender you are done.

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Three days later and I am still living off this stew. Three days later and I still have no idea of what went on during that halftime show.

(Bring on baseball season!)

This is also Whole30 apropros. The mug cake I made later that night, however, was not. Souper!

Stupid Simple & Vegan

Way back in the day I used to flip-flop between being a carnivore and a vegetarian. I even dabbled in veganism for about a month. It was actually during my first month of grad school. I’d amble around Denton with my nose in the air because I was smart, didn’t eat animal products, and rode a bike. Then one morning I woke up to yet another eggless breakfast and realized it was a life I did not want to live.

Fast forward four years and I am doing yet another Whole30. This means no dairy, among other things. Eggs are okay. But this post will actually focus on potatoes. Of the mashed variety. The vegan mashed variety! Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Vegan Mashed Potatoes

12 small, organic red potatoes cut into quarters

2 tsp coconut oil

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 tbs garlic powder

s & p to taste

  1. Rinse and quarter your red potatoes. Boil in a pot of salted water until soft- about 20 minutes.
  2. After draining the potatoes, place in a bowl or the original pot. Add the coconut oil, coconut milk, and garlic powder. Mash away.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Blogging a recipe that is this simple is actually really weird for me. It’s like posting about how to put on socks and then calling myself a fashion blogger…

BUT

Some people don’t know how to make mashed potatoes? Or maybe they don’t know coconut oil easily replaces butter? Whatever. I quickly added these vegan mashed potatoes to a very non-vegan fried egg and even later, I topped my stuffed peppers with ’em to make shepherd’s pie. Potatoes are pretty damn versatile and my go-to comfort food while on a Whole30. And, when paired with eggs, they make up 1/2 of the breakfast power couple! (Even when they are mashed!)

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The End.

Dutch BAE

Another post a long time in the making:

 

If you know me, you know kids and babies and little people altogether are not my thing. I prefer dogs and old people. That being said, the Dutch Baby is the only baby type I will welcome into my life with arms wide open.  And unlike the real deal, this breakfast/brunch/anytime delight takes way less than 9 months to make.

I did not have the slightest notion of the Dutch Baby’s existence until I stumbled upon Amber Wilson’s lovely Instagram feed. Talk about a life changing event! Here is the 15 second rundown: pancaky-crepey-custardy-popoveresque deliciousness.

After re-introducing the cast iron skillet into my culinary repertoire, I went searching for the recipe. Camille Styles blogged her DB recipe on my birthday, how serendipitous! I used her recipe my foundation, making small changes here and there.Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

Dutch Baby

Ingredients:

3 eggs at room temperature

2/3 cup milk, 2%-whole works best

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon white sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup flour

1-2  tablespoons unsalted butter

*Note: cast iron is a must for Dutch baby makin’

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and place your cast iron skillet towards the back on the middle rack.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk your eggs for about 2 minutes until nice and frothy.
  3. Add in your sugars, milk, salt, and vanilla. Sift in the flour and whisk all ingredients until smooth.
  4. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Take your cast iron skillet out of the oven and coat the surface with butter. Quickly pour in the batter and pop the skillet back into the oven. bake for 15 minutes.

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Dutch babies are traditionally served doused with powdered sugar and accompanied by lemon wedges and butter galore. Fresh fruit is also another great addition. It is amazing how simple they are to make, too. That’s why this recipe is my BAE (before anything else) when it comes to breakfast.

Oh yeah, this recipe is very forgiving. I’ve made several different versions so far: chocolate, french coconut, buttermilk and berry, etc. etc. While it’s good to go Dutch on this pancake I really do not feel bad if I accidentally eat the entire thing.

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Sweet and Savory Corn Fritters

In a very rare moment yesterday, my sweet tooth was really trying to get the better of me. We usually keep a stockpile of cookies from my previous job in the freezer, but my sister likes to eat my favorite double chocolate ones for breakfast…so alas, we were out! Even our refrigerator and cupboard were seriously lacking ingredients to conjure up something sweet. Time to improvise!

It’s funny how some of the random kitchen staples use the word sweet, i.e.- sweet cream butter, sweet yellow corn, sweet clover honey. Yeah, none of those are going to make my double chocolate cookies, but they have the potential to come together and make something amazing. I had to think outside the box and hop a few state lines back to good ol’ Texas. I swear, I draw so much inspiration from my roots. Thus, a sweet and savory dessert found its beginnings.

Think donut + elotes + sopapilla.

I really just meshed  my recipes for corn and flour tortillas and my pie crust together to create something resembling a pastry dough. Once fried up, it was ever so sweet! For this particular recipe, I filled these fritters with a corn and tomato mixture,seasoned more on the savory side. At first my sister complained about the corn filling, but once she took a bite she quickly shut up. In all actuality, these would probably taste just fine without a filling, drizzled with some honey and maybe a sprinkling cinnamon sug. See churros and sopapillas. In the future I’d like to try out different fillings like jalapeno cream cheese, or chorizo and apple/pear (sounds weird but I bet it would be great!). Corn just seemed fitting since I was using maseca and sweet was right there, smack dab on the label. Processed with VSCOcam with e8 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Sweet & Savory Corn Fritters

For the dough:

1 1/2 cups maseca flour + 1 tbs for rolling

1/2 cup all purpose flour + 1 tbs for rolling

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp granulated sugar

5 tbs butter (sweet cream!) at room temperature

1-1/4 cups warm water

For the filling:

1 can of (sweet yellow!) corn, rinsed and drained

1 large tomato, diced

savory seasoning to taste; I used cumin, s&p, chili powder, and cayenne pepper

vegetable oil for frying

honey for something extra

  1. In a large bowl, combine all of the  dry ingredients to make your dough. Using your hands, work the butter into the dry mixture until it takes on a mealy appearance. You should be able to form a ball in your hand. Slowly add the warm water in increments of 1/4 cup. The final product should be slightly firm while slightly sticky. For your dough into 8 equal sized balls. Cover with a damp cloth until it’s time to roll out.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with b2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the ingredients for your filling: corn, diced tomato, and seasonings to taste. Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  3. Time to roll these babies out! Lightly dust your work surface and rolling pin with the leftover dry mixture: equal parts maseca and flour. Roll out a circular shape about 6-7″ in diameter and a thickness a bit more than a 1/4″. You just want to make sure it isn’t too thin, otherwise the filling may leak out! Spoon your filling right into the center!Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  4. To fully form your fritter (alliteration!) fold the edges over the top and press down. This is a two hand job. form your fritters into a biscuit like shape. You may have to use some of the dry mix to keep everything in place. Oh yeah, it is totally okay if there are some cracks! Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  5. Heat up your oil in a pan and fry these babies until they are golden on both sides. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and brush each fritter with honey. You can even sprinkle them with a bit of kosher salt and sugar. I sure did!Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  6. Note: I only baked these fritters for their second half of cooking because I knew ahead of time I did not have enough oil to do the deed. Bake your fritters at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Yeah, that did the trick! Let cool for 5 seconds and then drizzle with more honey if you’re feeling sweet, Cholula if you’re feeling saucy. Pick your poison!Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Seriously, who needs a freezer burned cookie when you can have something just as sweet, if not -er and maybe a tiny but healthy? Oh yeah, and it’s got a little bit of spice on the inside! Ha, that kind of sounds like my personality!

Thank goodness for those Texan roots and the Mexican food mart in the Strip District. God knows where I’d be if I was unable to find that giant bag of masa mix!Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with b2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

 

Special Occasion Cupcakes | Simple & Sweet

You guys! I had my first paying baking gig since moving to Pittsburgh! My friend and local business owner approached me about doing cupcakes for her friend’s wedding shower. Now if you would have asked me to decorate a cake or even cupcakes before working full time in a bakery, I would have probably taken a day or two to think it over (and teach myself technique) before agreeing. Well that was not the case this time. I think I agreed before she finished asking the question.

I still get pretty nervous about using fondant and different decorating tips, but the queezy feeling in my stomach is no more. This happens when you show up to work with a terrible hangover only to find out that the resident decorator is a no call no show and you have to get your shit together and decorate 3 three THREE wedding cakes. Yeah that happened a couple of weeks ago. I now feel pretty invincible.  Thankfully, Dora did not want me to go all Cake Boss at this point and time. For the sake of simplicity, she ordered a vanilla cupcake with a vanilla butter cream icing. You know, simple really is the best. Simple can also be beautiful!

I adapted this recipe from my go-to girl (Martha). Sorry for the lack of photos. I was crunched for time, but- simple is key here.

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Simple Lavender & Vanilla Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

1 stick butter, softened

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbs baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbs finely chopped lavender (fresh or dried)

For the icing:

2 sticks butter, softened

1 Crisco baking stick

1 tbs vanilla

1 cup milk

12-16 cups powdered sugar

  1. In a large bowl, beat together butter, lavender, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add this mixture to the sugar and eggs.
  3. Add the buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until combined.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake papers halfway and bake for 15-20 minutes. This recipe should yield about 2 dozen cupcakes, more or less.

Butter cream icing is just as easy. If you are like me and do not own a mixer of any sort, I find that a rubber spatula and occasionally a wooden spoon will do the trick.

  1. Cream together your butter, shortening, and vanilla.
  2. Alternate between adding cups of powdered sugar and tablespoons of milk. The final product should be stiff enough to hold its own on top of a cake or cupcake.

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I think they turned out beautifully! Dora and her family and friends also loved them, and that’s all that really matters. The door has since been opened for freelance cake and pastry work. I will also really emphasize…I LOVE BAKING PIE! I can always be contacted via my blog if you have any questions.

Papa Don’t Peach (Pie)

Let’s rewind the clock and really even flip the calendar back a month to June. I don’t normally like to go back in time, but pie is involved so I’ll make an exception.

The Monday beginning Fathers Day week I found myself lying in bed not being able to sleep and thinking about food, per usual. I swear, all of my best ideas come to me via delirium. This one also came courtesy of Madonna, an earlier trip to my butcher crush’s establishment, and the onslaught of summer. PEACHES AND BACON – I had the perfect pie any pops would like on their day.

When I shared this bright piedea with friends, theladies were like “that’s a strange combination” and the dudes were like “fuck yeah, bacon”. From their responses I knew I was on the right track. I used the same all butter pie crust recipe I’ve grown accustomed to, with the addition of 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Crust is always my favorite part of the pie so I love making minor adjustments to the recipe in order to bring out the flavor in the filling. As for the peaches, cream, and bacon, I took the local route. I love any excuse to visit my local butcher (I have the biggest crush on that man) and farmers markets are a no brainer.

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Papa Don’t Peach Pie

For the Filling:

8-10 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla + 1/2 tsp maple syrup

1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 tbs + 2 tsp corn starch

1 1/2 tbs tapioca 

pinch kosher salt

  1. Peel and slice peaches and place into a large mixing bowl. make sure your peaches are ripe, otherwise this is a pretty arduous task….it really is the pits. (Ha!) Try brown bagging your fruit for a day or 2 beforehand. Toss in and coat the peaches with the fresh lemon juice, vanilla, and maple syrup.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  2. In a separate smaller bowl, combine all of your (other) dry ingredients. Lightly toss the mixture in with the peaches with a rubber spatula.  This is why I love making fruit pies, so simple! Processed with VSCOcam with e8 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  3. Lightly fry up a few slices of bacon in a skillet. Then dice those babies up. We will dot the filling with bacon instead of butter!Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  4. When assembling your pie, a double crust is the way to go. I would recommend either a tight lattice crust or small vent slits. Peaches are more on sensitive side. You don’t want to end up scorching your fruit or hurting anyone’s feelings. I have a love for latticing things, so duh, I went with a fat, tight, and diagonal weave. Before adding the filling, I like to dust the bottom half of the pie shell with a mixture of equal parts sugar and flour. This helps to thicken up any juices during the baking process. Yum! Finally after spooning your peaches into the shell, dot with the little cubes of bacon before starting to weave the top crust layer. Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  5. Pop your assembled pie into the freezer for about 30 minutes. This help the crust to maintain its shape during the baking process. No one likes a droopy crust! After freezing, brush the top layer of crust with a mixture of equal parts heavy cream and whole milk. Another trick for the books, this gives you a soft yet flaky and goldenly delicious pie crust. I used local dairy products, too! Happy cows=happy pies, right? Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  6. Bake this baby for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees, rotating every 20 minutes. Let cool for an hour before delving in. I served the pie with homemade coldbrew coffee, but I can only imagine the amazingness of a la mode! Next time, next time.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

 

If and when I finally make that pie shoppe dream come true, this will definitely be on the menu come fathers day. It may have to become a summer staple, because who doesn’t like peach pie? (Answer: weirdos/people who are not my friends)

 

***Because bacon is involved, this also makes a great breakfast choice!***Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Banana Chocolate Experiment Pie

Even though I spend 40+ hours a week at a bakery, I can’t help but not want to be in the kitchen on my days off. Mondays more than Sundays are reserved for conjuring up something sweet or savory and definitely baked. We celebrated my good friend Lauren’s birthday over the weekend. Upon her request, I made her my famous buttermilk pie.

Even though I halved my pie crust recipe, I had quite a bit left over after lining one pie plate. As it sat in the refrigerator for a few days, I kept going back and forth in my head as to what I should use it for. Mini quiches, cream pies, hand pies, lemon bars, and galettes were all viable options until I realized I was missing one key ingredient for each.  Image

One of the main reasons why I love baking so much is that it forces you to get creative. Well, I guess I should edit that statement by saying that baking forces you to get creative if you are too lazy to go to the store and are just making something up on the whim that is what you have in your refrigerator. This recipe falls somewhere in the void between a lemon bar and a chess pie. Both are similar in that they are simple, only calling for a fair amount of ingredients- sugar, flour, eggs. I have a million and one bananas in my freezer and wanted to throw them into the mix. You can also never go wrong with adding chocolate, or so I hoped.

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Banana Chocolate Experiment Pie

1 unbaked pie shell

4 eggs

1 cup white sugar

1/4 cup flour

2 tbs cocoa powder

6 frozen bananas

1 tsp vanilla

  1. If opt to make a crust from scratch, go ahead and roll it out and trim it for your pie plate. I was working with leftover dough scraps, so my crimping is a little less than pleasing. I used a butter knife to lightly press the dough onto the edge of the plate.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage
  2. Other nice options for crusts would be a simple shortbread (butter, sugar, and flour) or even a graham cracker crust.
  3. Slice 2 of your frozen bananas and layer them on the bottom of your crust. Once baked, these make a nice layer on top of the crust. ImageImageImage
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and cocoa. Image
  5. In a smaller bowl, beat eggs, vanilla, and the remainder of your frozen bananas together. Combine with flour mixture until smooth. ImageImageImageImageImageImage
  6. Bake for about 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. I drizzled the top with melted chocolate and sea salt to give it a little something extra. Extra is always good if it’s chocolate! ImageImageImageImage

 

After taste testing a warm slice, I let the pie chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before having an official slice. This was so refreshing, not to mention simple. Lauren deemed a pie tie between buttermilk and this chocolaty banana-y concoction.

 

Pie is always a good choice!

Simply Sunday Scones

A few weeks ago, we hosted a murder house marathon brunch. I only say marathon because the day seemingly went on for forever, and the finish line was eating. I had the (dis)pleasure of not being involved in any of the preparations. That’s probably why we didn’t end up eating until dinnertime. Okay okay, that sounds kind of bitchy. I thought it would be harder for my control freak self to sit back and watch semi-strangers take over my kitchen, but the hangover I was nursing thought otherwise.

Scones were an “appetizer” the morning of marathon brunch. While they were tasty, they were the basic bitches of breakfast scones. Maybe I spend too much time on Pinterest/double tapping #foodporn on Insta, but fruit can’t not come to mind when I think of scones. I want something a little more hearty than cinnamon and raisins. After stalking my #womancrusheveryday’s website, I came across a simple recipe for a scone bursting with berries.

This is a great recipe because it is easily adaptable. I made an almost dairy free (if I would’a subbed margarine for butter) blueberry almond version. To say they were a hit would be an understatement. All the basic scones better bow down, because this recipe might just be the queen B of breakfast.ImageImage

Blueberry Almond Scones

2 1/2 cups flour + more for dusting (I used half all-purpose & half whole wheat)

1/4 cup sugar + 1 tbs for dusting

1 tbs baking powder

3/4 tsp course ground or kosher salt

1/4 cup roughly chopped raw almonds, toasted for about 15 minutes

3/4/cup (1 1/2 sticks) very cold butter or margarine, cut into cubes

1 egg yolk

1 tsp almond extract

3/4 cup sweetened almond milk

1 cup fresh blueberries

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and almonds. Using your hands, a pastry blender, or even a food processor if fancy, work the butter into the dry mixture until it begins to form pea sized pieces. ImageImageImageImageImage
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together your egg yolk and almond extract. Slowly add in the almond milk, combining as you pour. Add the wet mixture to the dry. Your dough should be fairly sticky once fully combined. ImageImage
  3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and flatten out with your hands. Sprinkle fresh blueberries, fold dough over, and pat down again. Repeat this process until all blueberries have been used up, about 3 times. ImageImageImage
  4. Form your dough into a circle and lightly flatten with the heels of your hand. Use a pastry cutter or a sharp knife to cut your dough into triangles. Transfer triangles to a greased and floured baking dish. I used a round 9 inch cake pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool for about 10 minutes and serve. ImageImageImageImageImageImage

If I did not have to be at work before sunrise almost every day, these could easily become a daily breakfast staple. I would have saved some for the morning after, but they were just too good to not be completely devoured. I can’t wait to make different versions of non-basic scones using this recipe. A vanilla and orange blossom combination is dancing around my brain this very moment!

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Happy Baking!

Smoothie Tuesday!

Some days of the week I am just so tired after working that I don’t feel like cooking. I really just want to drink my dinner…………but want to save the harder stuff for later in the week. My sister and I started Smoothie Tuesday last week as a means to accomplish this. The Blumers do Salad Mondays, and I think having a certain night of the week with a themed dinner takes away the stress of menu planning- thanks for the inspo, SheShe!

 

5 ingredients and less than 5 minutes make for a faster and healthier meal than some gross microwave dinner! This week’s red and green dinner reminded me a little bit of Christmas. I can’t wait to get more creative as we flip through the calendar!

Smoothie Tuesday #1

2 frozen bananas

1 pint strawberries, sliced

1-2 cups baby spinach

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

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Now to make myself watch HIMYM. Cheers to a great beginning of April and hopefully lasting Spring weather! ImageImage

 

(The ‘C’ is Silent) Challah Bread!

I love to bake fresh bread and usually opt for the single rise, no-knead, bake in a cast iron skillet versions. Everything else seems to take forever when you do not own a bread machine. As winter storm Ivan rolled on through Pittsburgh yesterday, I found myself bored after brunch. I had the entire day to dedicate to creating something delicious. Why not bake a loaf(ves) of bread?

For this baking adventure, I found inspiration after a quick flip through the Smitten Kitchen cookbook at Williams-Sonoma coupled with too much time spent in Squirrel Hill. I had been wanting to bake Challah after learning how to properly pronounce the name (last week). The ‘c’ is silent, in case you did not know! Upon researching various recipes and braiding methods, I discovered that this bread has a historical/biblical significance besides being a traditional Jewish bread. Traditionally, a double loaf is baked out of one batch of dough. Each loaf has 6 strands, totaling 12 & representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Thanks, Wikipedia!

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Reverting back to the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, my attention was grabbed by a beautiful loaf of fig, olive oil, and sea salt challah. I decided to move up 5 steps on the bread baking pyramid and attempt something of this delicious magnitude. Adapted from here.

Rosemary, Apple, Walnut Challah with Goat Cheese (+1 Regular Challah)

3 3/4 tsp dry active yeast

1 tbs + 1/2 cup sugar

1 3/4 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup olive oil

5 large eggs

1 tbs salt

8-8 1/2 cups flour

filling: 4 oz goat cheese, 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts, juice of 1/4 lemon, 2 small granny smith apples (peeled, cored, cubed), 2 tsp rosemary, pinch of kosher salt, 1/2 tsp sugar

  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tbs sugar in lukewarm water. Set aside for about 5 minutes until foamy.
  2. Whisk in olive oil, then, one at a time, beat in 4 eggs. Beat in the remaining sugar and salt. ImageImageImage
  3. Gradually add in flour, cup by cup. If using a mixer, the dough hook attachment will save you quite the arm workout. Sadly enough, my hand mixer croaked in the midst, even with the dough hook attachment.
  4. This is my favorite part! KNEAD dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Return to your rinsed and greased mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to rise for one hour.  ****************************The rest of this recipe involves a lot of waiting around*****************************2 episodes of Mad Men to be exact****************************** ImageImageImageImage
  5. By this point, your dough should have doubled in size. Using a pastry cutter, divide the dough in 2. Double loaves! For regular challah: punch down the dough, set in another greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, set aside for 30 more minutes of rising. For stuffed challah: flatten into an oblong shape with your hands, cover half with filling, fold over, and repeat a few times. Form into a ball shape and set aide for 30 more minutes of rising.
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  6. Divide each ball further into 4 parts. Roll each part into a rope.
  7. BRAIDING. Lay your 4 ropes perpendicular to each other, forming a #hashtag. Weave them so that one rope is over and the other is under (see photos below). The rest of the weaving is not too tricky, though I honestly had no idea what I was doing. As long as you keep with the under and over weaving pattern and tuck the awkward ends underneath the loaf it should come out fine. ImageImageImageImageImageImage
  8. In a small cup, beat your last remaining egg. Brush each loaf generously with egg wash and allow to rise for 30 more minutes.
  9. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Before baking your bread, brush generously one last time with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating pans at the halfway mark. Your loves should be a nice golden brown color and your kitchen should smell amazing. ImageImageImageImage

I brought the stuffed loaf over to my friends Lauren & Chase’s house for our family dinner. I thought there was going to be a lot leftover, but the three of us easily consumed half of this loaf. I love the way you can just pull this bread apart. It is lightly sweetened and makes a great breakfast companion, too!

I think I can say I am no longer intimidated by bread making. I actually find the entire process to be more therapeutic than brain frazzling. The process is long and drawn out, rather lazy and perfect for a lazy, snowed in weekend. ImageImage