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MY COOKBOOK
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30.5.12

HUNGARIAN PRETZELS – SÓS PEREC


Hungarian pretzels are the best, soft or crispy, they have a really pleasant salt wash on them. The salt wash is a mixture of flour, salt and water and it makes these pretzels particularly good.

The first record of pretzel goes back to the early 7th century. More than likely pretzel was the invention of Italian monks, and since then every European country laid its claim to it. The name pretzel probably comes from the Latin word bracellus, [bracelet]. Certainly, the various names pretzel has been called: perec, retzel, precel, pereca, preclík, bretzel, brezel, all seem to support this theory.

Pretzels can be topped with course salt, seeds and even with chocolate. Restraint is required with coarse salt, more is definitely not better. Germans do a lime bath, but I frown on lye baths. Why would a home cook put inedible ingredients into his/her cooking?

The secret to good pretzels is in the kneading. The dough must be very elastic, very!!! Minimum five minutes required with the dough hook on high speed or else a minimum of 10 minutes kneading by hand. This recipe makes 16 pretzels.

Pretzel Dough:
1 cup lukewarm water
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2-1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1/4 cup butter
2-3/4 cups bread flour

Soda Bath:
2 cups water
2 Tbsp baking soda

Egg Wash:
1 egg, beaten

Salt Wash:
2 tsp salt
4 tsp flour
hot water

• Place the pretzel dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
• Combine to form dough.
• Knead by hand for 10 minutes or in a mixer with a dough hook attachment for 5 minutes.
• Remove dough and form into a ball.
• Place in a buttered bowl, turn it over, cover with plastic wrap and set it to rise.
• When the dough is doubled in volume, punch down.
• Do not flour the board. If the dough sticks, rub a little oil or butter on the board.
• Cut the dough into 16 portions and roll each peace into a 16 to 18 inch ropes.
• Braid into a pretzel and place on two parchment lined baking sheets.
• Let the pretzels rise for twenty minutes.
• Meanwhile, in a shallow pan, heat up 2 cups of water. It should be very hot, but not boiling.
• Remove pan from the heat and stir in the baking soda.
• One by one dip the pretzels into the hot solution.
• Place them back on the parchment lined baking sheet.
• Let the pretzels rise for twenty more minutes.
• Set the oven to 375F.
• Whisk an egg to combine the white with the yolk.
• Brush the pretzels with the egg wash.
• After twenty minutes rising, brush the pretzels with egg wash again.
• Place the pretzels in the preheated oven and bake to a light golden hue.
• Meanwhile prepare the salt wash:
• In a small bowl, combine the salt and the flour.
• Add hot water to make a paste that can be drizzled on the pretzels.
• Remove the baking pan from the oven and sprinkle the pretzels with the salt wash.
• Place back in the oven and bake for 4 more minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown.

Watch the video how to roll and dip pretzels






29.5.12

MOCK HUNTER SAUCE – HAMIS VADAS MÁRTÁS


You just made a rich meat soup from pork or beef. If you set aside the meat and the vegetables, you can make a second meal. Keep the meat warm and prepare the sauce from the vegetables that cooked in the soup. Include the onion and the garlic, but discard the woody vegetables.


variety of cooked soup vegetables
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp mustard
1 Tbsp flour
vegetable soup as needed
3 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

• Place the vegetables in the food processor.
• Add the sour cream, mustard and the flour.
• If needed, add some soup stock.
• Puree just until no big chunks remain.
• If you use a blender, add some soup stock and make sure the vegetables are not completely pureed. It is more authentic and tastes better if small uniform chunks remain in the sauce.
• Transfer the pureed vegetables into a medium Dutch pot.
• Pour the oil into a non-stick fry pan, sprinkle with the sugar and mixing continuously with a wooden spoon until the sugar is slightly caramelized. Remove from heat and with the wooden spoon carefully scoop the oil and sugar mixture into the Dutch pot.
• Add more soup stock if needed.
• Add salt and pepper to taste and heat through.
• Slice the meat and pour some of the sauce on top.
• Serve with Hungarian bread dumplings or with kitchen towel dumplings.

PORK SOUP – HÚSLEVES


Let’s face it when Hungarians talk about meat soup, ninety percent of the time they are referring to soup from pork meat. The only difference in preparation from other meat soups is the time required to cook the meat tender. Pork meat takes a little longer than chicken, but much less time than beef. The rest is much the same. If you use a stockpot, cook it ever so slowly and skim off the scum or if you have one, use the pressure cooker. I love soup cooked in the pressure cooker it’s always clear and delicious. Cooking time depends on the cut and the size of the meat. Pork meat can take from 40 minutes to an hour in the pressure cooker. And I am talking about a good chunk of meat, don’t think you can make good soup from a few slivers.


small pork shank
2 carrots, peeled
1 onion, quartered
2 parsnips, peeled
1/3 celery root (when available)
fresh parsley
1 tsp peppercorns

• If using a stockpot, follow the Hungarian beef soup recipe.
• If you have a pressure cooker, place the pork in the pressure cooker.
• Add the carrots, onions, parsnip, parsley, celery root, and peppercorns.
• Pour in the water. Make sure the water is well under the waterline; this is marked on your cooker.
• Lock the lid and set over high heat to bring the pressure up.
• Adjust the heat to maintain medium pressure and cook for 40 to 60 minutes.
• Remove from heat and let the pressure cooker sit for 5 minutes.
• Take the cooker to the sink and run very cold water on the top.
• When the valve lowers with a sigh, it is safe to lift the lid.
• Take out the meat, carrots, parsnip and celery root and set it aside.
• Take out the and set aside.
• Pour the broth through a fine sieve into a clean pot.
• Discard contents of the sieve.
• Spoon most of the fat off and discard.
• Add your choice of already COOKED dumplings or soup pasta and serve.
• Serve the meat and the vegetables in a separate dish.
• Or set it aside to make a dish of mock hunter’s stew.

STUFFED PORK RIB ROAST - TÖLTÖTT OLDALAS


The best stuffed rib roast we ever had was at Pécs back in 1984, cousin Jenő’s first wife, temperamental Eta was also an effortless and brilliant cook. After a day of sightseeing, Eta served us a fabulous supper of cold töltött oldalas. When we went back four years later Eta was gone. Jenő had a new wife who wasn’t much of a cook, wasn’t much of anything really. Not long after we met she cleared out Jenő’s architect penthouse and left him for a dentist. Eventually Jenő moved back home to Siklós and now lives with his mom.

Every time I make this, I think of my cousin and his first wife. I don’t make this often enough though because it isn’t easy to find a nice pork rib roast in Kamloops and then I have to fall back on stuffing a tenderloin. But a rib roast is oh so much more moist and flavourful! I like to serve it cold with a jar of homemade apricots and a jar of pickled pepper strips. This time I made two smallish roasts for company.

1 pork rib roast
salt to taste
250 g lean ground pork
1 small onion, diced
3 Tbsp oil
3 slices of light rye bread
1 egg
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 fresh parsley sprigs, finely chopped
1/2 tsp marjoram
3-4 garlic cloves, slivered
1 onion, sliced

• Make a slit down the side of the roast and filet the meat into a thick rectangle.
• To help it along, pound it out a little with a meat tenderizer.
• Lightly salt it on both sides and set it aside.
• In a fry-pan, sauté the diced onions on 3 Tbsp oil until very soft.
• Place the ground pork into a large bowl.
• Soften the rye slices with water and squeeze out all the liquid. Crumble it very fine and add to the bowl with the ground pork.
• Add the egg, minced garlic, pepper, salt, parsley and marjoram. I also added chopped chives this time.
• With clean hands, combine mixture until all the ingredients are well distributed. If you find bits of bread in the mixture, crumble them, the stuffing has to have a fine, well blended consistency. I usually spend a few minutes kneading the stuffing.
• Place the stuffing on the prepared meat, roll it up and tie it up securely with kitchen twine.
• With a small paring knife, poke holes into the meat and insert the garlic slivers into the holes.
• It is essential to use a roaster with a well fitting lid. Using a well fitting lid guarantees a moist pork rib roast. Covering it with foil will never work as well.
• Line the bottom of the roaster with the sliced onions.
• Place the rib roast on the top, cover and bake at 350F, basting it often.
• When the roast is tender, remove the lid and bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes.
• Remove from the oven, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
• Remove the kitchen twine and slice the roast.
• If you intend to serve the roast chilled, chill the roast thoroughly before slicing. That way you can get thin, uniform slices.
  

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE


This was my first rhubarb harvest a couple of weeks ago, tender rhubarb and just enough for two medium-large pies.



I took photos and finally I got around doing the write up too. You know you have been blogging a long time when you start duplicating your own recipes. And this wasn’t the first time either… However, this is not entirely true, because instead of the usual tapioca thickener, I used cornstarch [I was out of tapioca]. You can use flour, cornstarch or tapioca for thickening rhubarb pie. Here I used cornstarch and I was able to cut the first slice within three hours. There was still a bit of pooling after three hours [you can see it on the photo], but by next morning all was well and the pie was actually servable. However it is a good thing my good friend, Ann supplied me with several years’ worth of quick cooking tapioca the following day, because really, the tapioca works much better than flour or cornstarch. In a few hours, the tapioca jells enough to serve the pie. The amount does not vary; flour, cornstarch and quick cooking tapioca are interchangeable in rhubarb pie recipes. Resting and chilling should work as well as adding 2-3 Tbsp of the thickening agent to the bottom crust before piling in the fruit. Rhubarb is notorious for being a runny pie and cookbooks fail to mention the long wait, sometimes an overnight rest in the fridge before the pie can be served. For the same reason a substantially rich and thick pie crust is necessary.

1-1/2 batch of my pie crust and this filling is just enough to make two 10 inch pies. If you have one of those deep-dish pie plates, you will get a single pie. The lattice pattern requires more dough than a flat top pie, but it is worth the effort, because the large vents help the moisture bake off and true lattice top will stay intact when you serve the pie. Watch the instructional video. I sprinkled a tiny amount of nutmeg on the fruit, it is not even detectable, I don’t think rhubarb needs a flavour boost and so I would never add cinnamon.

The following recipe makes two 10 inch pies or one large deep dish pie:

1-1/2 batch of pie pastry

Filling:
4 cups chopped rhubarb
4 cups chopped strawberries
1-1/2 cups yellow sugar
1 pinch of nutmeg
1/3 cup quick cooking tapioca
1/4 tsp salt

Added to filling later:
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup butter

Topping:
1 lightly beaten egg for glazing the lattice top
1-1/2 Tbsp sugar for sprinkling the lattice top

• Place a baking pan with a rim preferably on the lower rack of your oven, provided you have two racks. If not, place the catch tray on the rack anyway. This will catch the overflow. The catch tray saves you having to clean the oven the day after you made the pie. Beware, never place a catch tray on the very bottom of an electric stove! This can blow out your bottom element.
• After the catch tray is in the oven, preheat to 400F.
• Wash and clean up the fruits.
• Cut and discard the ends and chop the rhubarb into small pieces [huge chunks of rhubarb are unappetizing]
• Cut and discard the top the strawberries and chop trying to match the rhubarb pieces in circumference.
• Combine the filling ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
• Before rolling out the pastry, keep in mind you will need more dough for the lattice pattern than for the bottom layer. The bottom layer has to be thick about 3/8-inch thick and large enough for 1 inch of overhang.
• On a floured board, roll out the bottom pastry into a circle.
• Place the dough circle into the pie plate.
• Pat the dough into the pie plate.
• Fold the overhang back into the plate rim. This will form a ridge on the rim. Pat it down.
• Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cornstarch around the bottom.
• Add the prepared filling and arrange it neatly into a small dome.
• Dot the top with small chunks of butter.
• On the floured board, roll the dough 3/8-inch thick.
• Using a ruler for guide cut the rolled out dough into 1-inch wide strips. I used a ravioli cutter, but a pizza cutter or a sharp knife will work as well.
• To make the lattice pattern
• Start at the center with the longest strip and work outwards.
• Place half the strips, spacing about 1 inch apart, on top of the filling.
• Then, gently fold back, about halfway, every other strip.
• Take another strip of pastry and place it perpendicular on top of the first strips.
• Unfold the bottom strips and then fold back the strips that were not folded back the first time.
• Lay another strip of pastry perpendicular on top of the filling and then continue with the remaining strips.
• Trim the edges of the strips, leaving a 1-inch overhang.
• Seal the edges by folding them under the bottom pastry crust and flute the edges of the pastry.
• Brush the entire lattice pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
• Bake for 20 minutes at 400°.
• Then, reduce heat to 350° and bake for another hour or longer as needed.
• Remove from heat and place pie[s] on a wire rack to cool.
• Chill thoroughly in the fridge before slicing. If the juices have not jelled, refrigerate overnight.

Watch this video how to lattice a pie:


 

28.5.12

COCONUT COOKIES


This is not my usual recipe format, the ingredients are scattered throughout the recipe, but I think it is easier to follow this as a story. I show the ingredients in a different color.

I like crispy or soft cookies, but I don’t like them hard, so I used cake and pastry flour instead of all-purpose. Afterwards I wondered if I should have added a leavening agent. They may have looked more spectacular; they would have certainly cracked on the top more. I may try that the next time. Finally, I decided to use some coconut, my cookies sadly lack this ingredient. Olivia does not like coconut. Not to worry, these will not go to waste.

3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 pinch of salt
1-1/2 cups finely grated unsweetened coconut

• Preheat oven to 175F.
• Line two sheets of cookie sheets with parchment.
• Combine the ingredients. This makes exactly 2-1/2 cups.
• Transfer 1-1/4 cups of this mixture to a different bowl and set it aside for use later.
• Add 1-1/4 cups of cake flour to the remaining mixture.
• Mix to combine.
• Form into 16 balls and place on the prepared cookie sheet. This cookie does not expand much, but do not place them too close either.
• Place in the preheated oven and bake for 18 minutes.
• Take the reserved mixture and add
1 cup + 2 Tbsp cake flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 Tbsp sugar [optional]
• Form into 16 balls and bake for 18 minutes.
• Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets.

26.5.12

FRUITED PURPLE CABBAGE SALAD


This recipe is my own invention extending leftover purple cabbage with dried fruit. The type of dried fruit or the amounts are arbitrary and depends entirely on the state of your pantry. I wrote down what I used the last time, but as I said, take away or add whatever you feel like. There is sufficient seasoning and moisture in the leftover purple cabbage and so there is no need for additional dressing.

1-1/2 cups purple cabbage at room temperature
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup currants
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup dried mangoes
1/4 cup diced red onions

• Combine ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
• Wrap and set aside on the counter to let the flavours mingle for a couple of hours.
• Serve at room temperature with roasted pork dishes.

LENTIL APRICOT SALAD


This was adapted from Reciprocity Foods. Not being overly fond of collards, I used baby spinach instead. We like dried apricots and pecans, so I increased those.

Salad
2-1/2 cups spouted green lentils
2 large handful baby spinach, washed and drained
2 large peeled carrots cut on the diagonal
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 cup dried apricots, sliced

Dressing
3 garlic cloves, minced
juice of one orange plus zest
4 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

Topping
1/2 cup pecans

• Combine the minced garlic, orange juice and zest, olive oil and salt.
• Set dressing aside for 30 minutes or longer.
• Place salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss.
• Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat spinach leaves.
• Top with pecans, and serve.
 

SKINNY RASPBERRY SMOOTHIE


I know the summer has arrived when he starts asking for his smoothie. The recipe has to stay the same, I cannot deviate from it. But he never asks for it the same way. I sometimes wait just to see how the phrasing will go that day.

1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup skim milk
3 Tbsp sugar

• Place ingredients in the blender.
• Puree and pour into a tall glass.
• Add a bendy straw.

25.5.12

POPPY SEED LOAF


This is soft, moist and has a fabulous crumb. In fact, this loaf reads more like a cake. If you like your sweet loaves buttered, taste it first, you may agree with me that this loaf is perfect as is and needs no added butter.

1/2 cup poppy seeds
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp real vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour

• Combine the poppy seeds milk and vanilla extract in the mixing bowl.
• Set it aside for one hour to soften the poppy seeds.
• Meanwhile fully line a bread pan with parchment paper. Make sure the parchment extends over two sides for easy gripping. There is no need to butter the paper.
• Add the butter, sugar and the eggs to the poppy seed mixture and beat to combine.
• Add the baking powder and the salt.
• Gradually add the flour and beat on medium speed for 4-5 minutes.
• Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes.
• Poke the center with a knife and if the knife comes out clean remove pan from the oven.
• Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for fifteen minutes.
• Grab the parchment overhang and gently remove the loaf from the pan.
• Peel off the parchment and place the loaf on the wire rack to cool completely.
• The cooled loaf will slice beautifully.

20.5.12

FLOATING ISLAND CAKE - MADÁRTEJ TORTA


This cake must be one of the umpteenth adaptations of the Country’s Cake from 2007 in Hungary, but only in spirit. Because 30 eggs and close to a 1 kg of butterfat plus margarine plus whipping cream, albeit large, for one cake? There are lighter adaptations floating around, but all of these recipes rely on commercial pudding mix and large amounts of a non-dairy topping mix, in other words, things I am not keen on using. This may not be the country’s cake, but hey it worked and it is truer to the madártej theme than the original was. Made from real food, light and airy, tastes like madártej; that will do.

CAKE BASE:
4 egg whites
4 heaping Tbsp sugar
4 heaping Tbsp cake flour

CUSTARD CREAM:
1 cup whole milk, divided
5 egg yolks
1 stick of vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/4 cup unsalted butter [Be sure to use unsalted butter!]

WHIPPED TOPPING:
1 cup whipping cream
1 Tbsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

• Line the bottom of a round spring-form baking pan with parchment paper.
• Do not butter the sides of pan.
• Beat 4 egg whites until stiff peaks form.
• Beat in 4 heaping Tbsp sugar.
• Gently fold the cake flour into the egg whites.
• Pour the batter into the parchment-lined pan.
• Bake at 350F until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
• Let it cool and then remove the parchment paper.
• Put the cake back into the spring form pan and set aside.
• Make the custard next.
• Place half the milk in a pot with 3 Tbsp from the butter.
• Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the milk and add the pod too.
• Bring it to the boil. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
• Meanwhile beat the egg yolks and the sugar for 4 minutes.
• Add the remaining milk and whisk to combine.
• Add the egg yolk–milk mixture to the milk mixture that is in the pot.
• Turn on heat and begin to warm mixture, all the while mixing with a wooden spoon.
• Keep stirring and cooking until just below the boiling point. Do not let it boil.
• Remove from heat and let it cool down to room temperature.
• In a large mixing bowl beat the remaining butter until very fluffy.
• Gradually whisk the custard into the whipped butter.
• Pour the custard cream over the cake layer that is in the spring form pan.
• Cover the top with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for overnight.
• Just before serving, beat the whipping cream until almost stiff.
• Add 1 Tbsp sugar, 1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract and beat until very stiff peaks form.
• Spread the whipped cream over the chilled custard cream.
• Run a blunt knife around the perimeter of the pan and unhook the spring mechanism.
• Slide the cake onto a platter.
• Slice cake with a sharp, wet knife.
 

HUNGARIAN BUNS – ZSÖMLE


Zsömle or zsemle? It’s much the same as the North American “tomato or “tomahto” debate. The only difference is Hungarian is a phonetic language, which means the spelling is the same as the pronunciation. In my family, we all called it zsömle, hencefort that is how I shall call these crusty buns.

The everyday zsömle is a real crusty bun, both light and chewy at the same time. My grandma brought more zsömle up from the Dairy Store than anything else. She would time it when the morning truck arrived from the bakery with several baskets of still warm zsömle and kifli. I suppose we ate more zsömle then anything else, it was easier to make it into a sandwich for our tizórai or uzsonna [morning and afternoon snacks]. Most of the time we took buttered zsömle to school. Oh, once in a while we had a couple of slices of téliszalámi [Hungarian salami] between our zsömle, but this didn’t happen very often. Whenever someone had a téliszalámis zsömle the entire class ate in longing silence. The zsömle shows up in several Hungarian dishes, fasirt, meatloaf, zsemlegombóc. Zsömle is also the basis for various stuffing in meats and vegetables. These buns are not readily available where I live and in a lot of my recipes I had to replace them with sourdough or light rye bread. Suffice to say, the original recipes all called for zsömle.

I make two types of zsömle, the authentic crusty bun and a softer, one egg bun. There is a textural difference; the one containing the egg is softer and less chewy than the original zsömle. For stuffing, I like the original zsömle. But as a dinner bun, we like the softer zsömle the best. Both of these buns slice like a dream.

Crusty Buns
3-1/2 cups white bread flour
2-1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp oil
1-1/8 cups lukewarm water
1 egg for eggwash

Dinner Buns
3-1/2 cups white bread flour
2-1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1/2 Tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp oil
1 egg
1 cup lukewarm water
1 egg for egg wash

Weather you make the crusty buns or the dinner buns, both of these recipes make 12 fair sized buns. Though the ingredients vary slightly, the preparation is the same.

• Measure out the bread flour with the 1/2 cup measure and sweep method and set it aside.
• Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and whisk them to combine.
• Gradually add the reserved bread flour to the bowl.
• When the dough forms kneed in a mixer with a dough hook for 5 minutes, or on a floured board by hand for ten minutes. The dough should be very elastic.
• Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and turn it over to grease all sides.
• Cover the bowl with plastic and let the dough rise until doubled.
• Punch down and divide dough into 12 parts.
• Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
• Form 12 balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
• Leave 2 inch spaces between the buns for expansion.
• Whisk the egg and brush the top of the buns with the egg wash using a pastry brush.
• Let the buns double.
• Preheat oven to 400F.
• Brush the tops with the egg wash again.
• Place the buns in a preheated oven and bake until tops are golden brown and the bottoms are crusty.
• Remove buns from the oven and immediately brush tops lightly with water.
• Place the buns on a wire rack to cool.

16.5.12

MAGNIFICENT CHALLAH


Even though I already had an excellent challah recipe via George Greenstein, I kept going back to Karen’s challah at Expert Village. Experts tend to complicate things. Challah is just bread, so why it has to be made so complicated is lost on me. Throw together the ingredients and be done with it right? Still, I found Karen’s videos useful. Jewish mothers have done this for centuries. Karen’s challah videos are included in succession at the end of this recipe and it is only right I credit her. It was the extraordinary lofty texture of her challah that kept me going back, trying to make this recipe one of mine. Goodness gracious it wasn’t the flavour, I have never been a fan of the taste honey gives to baking. The first change I made was replacing the honey with sugar [a little more than required] and with additional water. It became clear early on that my Classic Kitchen Aid was not up to par with Karen's industrial strength mixer. This called for a different approach. I placed all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. As soon as the dough formed, I divided it into 3 equal parts and then kneaded each part separately with a dough hook for full five minutes. [If you don’t have a beater with a dough hook, kneed the dough by hand for ten minutes.] I then combined the 3 parts on the board. Since it was no longer sticking, I then slapped it down on the board 100 times. This is to develop the gluten. After that, the dough was ready for the first rising. Karen did not include oven temperature so I opted for 350F. There was lots of egg wash from one egg, so I brushed my challahs twice. The second time I tried this recipe I made 3, 4 and a 6 braid challahs. But after making the six-braid challah, I will never make a three or four braid again. The difference was nothing short of incredible! The six-braid challah rises very high. I tried several six braiding instructions before I found a simple easy to follow video. Once again, it’s amazing how complicated people make something that should be so easy. You work with the two outside strands all the time, alternating between the two sides. Which side you begin to braid makes no difference. All along, you keep alternating between the two sides braiding with the two outside strands. Watch the video; six braiding really is simple.



Finally, after several runs at Karen’s recipe, I arrived at the loftiest and most delicious and easy to follow recipe for challah and here it is:

3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
2-1/8 cups of lukewarm water
1/4 cup oil
1 Tbsp salt
8 cups white bread flour [do NOT use all purpose flour]
oil for greasing
parchment paper
1 lightly beaten egg for egg wash
poppy seeds or sesame seeds for sprinkling [optional]

• Place the first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
• Add 5 cups of bread flour.
• Mix to combine.
• Transfer dough to a well-floured board and gradually kneed the remaining three cups of bread flour into the dough.
• If you don’t have a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, omit the following six steps and kneed the dough by hand for ten minutes.
• If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, divide the dough into 3 equal parts.
• Place one part into a stand mixer.
• With the dough hook attachment kneed the dough for five minutes.
• Place the kneaded dough on the board. The dough will no longer stick.
• One by one knead the remaining dough.
• When all three parts are kneaded, combine them by hand.
• Slap the dough down on the board 100 times. This fully develops the gluten.
• When you push down, the dough should feel firm and push back.
• Transfer to a large oiled bowl, turn to coat, and let rise, covered, until dough has tripled in volume.
• The dough is fully risen when an indentation made with a finger into the center remains and does not recede.
• Punch down the dough, and divide into 2 or 3 pieces [depending on the size of challah you prefer to make. This time I made three.
• Form the dough into balls, cover, and let them rise for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
• Punch down again and using your palms roll 6 long ropes from each ball of dough, tapering the ends to a point. You don’t need to flour the board, but if you must, dust with the smallest amount of flour only. Flour makes rolling and braiding difficult.
• By the time all the strands are rolled out, the first six you have rolled are ready for braiding.
• Place the 6 ropes in a fan shape and pinch the pointy end of the fan together.

Like this:

• From here on, I will be referring to only two strands: an outside one and an inside one.
• Pick a side, it doesn’t matter which side you start braiding.
• 1. The inside one you picked goes all the way to the end.
• 2. The outside one goes in the middle.
• 3. Now go over to the other side.
• 4. The inside strand goes all the way to the end.
• 5. The outside one goes in the middle.
• 6. Now go over to the other side.
• Repeat the six steps until you run out of dough.
• Tuck the ends under.
• Transfer the braided the challahs to the prepared baking sheets.
• Brush with the egg wash, using care to cover completely, but do not let excess egg drip into the crevices.
• Let the egg wash dry and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds if desired.
• Let the challahs double in size.
• Preheat the oven to 350°F.
• Brush with egg wash a second time.
• Bake for 25 to 35 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven until the loaves have a rich mahogany color and emit a hollow sound when tapped lightly on the bottom.
• If the top begins to brown excessively and the bottom is raw, cover the bread with a sheet of parchment paper or tent it with aluminum foil.
• To test for doneness, press lightly between the braids on the highest part of the bread; it should be firm.
• If you feel the creases give when lightly pressed, continue baking until they firm up.
• Let the challah cool on a wire rack.


Karen's Challah

Introduction
Ingredients
Making the Dough with a KitchenAid Mixer:
Mixing the Wet Ingredients
Adding the Flour
Knead the Dough
or:
Making Dough by Hand
Prepare the Challah Dough to Rise
Shaping the Three Strand Challah
Shaping the Four Strand Challah
Shaping the Six Strand Challah Part 1
Shaping the Six Strand Challah Part 2
Shaping the Round Challah
Egg Wash and Baking

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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. This is to my old on-line friends and visitors: policing the comment section for spam and answering questions has become a chore. Good wishes to you all, happy cooking and keep on feeding your people with good food.

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