Sunday, August 30, 2009

Recipes promised, and long overdue!

An old friend of mine recently asked for my recipe for Challah, and I have been remiss in getting it to her, so I decided to make a loaf and share it (virtually) with all of you. Here it is!
The recipe comes from "The Garden Way Bread Book: A Baker's Almanac", which was published in 1979 and is now out of print. Alas! This is a wonderful book! There are a few available on Amazon.com, so you can get your own. Anyway, the recipe - direct from the book:

Posy's Healthy Challah

2 1/2 Tbsp dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 tsp honey or sugar
1 cup warm water
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 cup sweet unsalted butter, softened or light oil
1/3 cup honey
7 large eggs
9 cups unbleached white flour, approximately
3/4-1 cup raw wheat germ
1 egg and 1 Tbsp butter for glaze

In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast with the 3/4 cup warm water and tsp honey or sugar. Let it sit until bubbling. Add the 1 cup water, salt, butter and honey. Mix well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add 4 cups flour. Beat 2 minutes with and electric beater or 200 strokes by hand. Add the wheat germ. Add enough remaining flour to make a
dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl and holds together.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if dough remains sticky. Be sparing. Place dough in a large buttered bowl. Turn to coat all sides. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down, turn out and knead briefly to press out air bubbles. Divide into 3 or 4 equal pieces. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
Divide one dough ball into 3 parts. Form each part into a rope about 18 inches long by rolling it against the board with your hands. Braid the 3 ropes. Pinch the ends together. Place in a greased 9 inch loaf pan.
Repeat with the other balls of dough. If you don't have enough loaf pans, braids may be baked on greased cookie sheets.
Brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter. Cover, let rise until doubled in bulk.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Glaze: Blend the egg and butter. Brush it on top of the loaves. Sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired.
Bake braids about 30 minutes, longer for larger braids. Don't let them cook too long which is easy to do because the bottom tends to stay soft and doesn't produce a hollow thump until almost too late.
If you prefer, make 3 large braids, or, if you can fathom it, the classic Hebrew 8 braid,
Makes 4 medium loaves, 3 large braids, 2 giant ones or one gargantuan one.

Yum!! I usually am lazy and omit the glaze, but it really is quite good with it. I also can never find raw wheat germ, but toasted, which they carry at my HEB, works just fine.

My sister, Varina, also asked my for a recipe that I remember from when we were kids. We made these little mints for holidays. I didn't make any to show you, so you'll just have to enjoy the picture from the recipe card. It isn't a holiday yet!

Cream Cheese Mints

1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese
1/2 cup soft butter or margarine
2 lbs. powdered sugar
few drops food coloring if desired
1/2 tsp peppermint, wintergreen or lemon extract

Combine cream cheese and butter in heavy bottomed saucepan. Stir over low heat until cheese is soft, butter is melted and the mixture is thoroughly blended.
Add the powdered sugar and stir until well combined.
Add your choice of food coloring and flavoring. If desired, you can divide the whole batch to make two or three color choices, adding extract to taste.
Roll into 1 inch balls. Place on a sheet of waxed paper. Press with a fork or stamp with a decorative cookie stamp to form design on top.
Let stand, uncovered, about 4 hours or overnight until mints are firm and outside is dry, but inside is still moist and creamy.

Enjoy!!

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