Sweet Challah

I should have made this for Jewish New Year, but I missed the date by about a week.  I was nervous about braiding the dough, but it wasn’t as hard as I was anticipating.  If nothing else, this is a beautiful loaf of bread to create.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, December 2009.

Substitution made, noted below.

challah collage

Sweet Challah

1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
1 c warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
3 tblsp honey
dash of saffron threads, crushed
3 tblsp butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
14.25 oz bread flour (about 3 cups), divided
cooking spray
1 tsp cornmeal
1 tsp water
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp poppy seeds – I used sesame seeds

Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water in a large bowl; stir in honey and saffron threads.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Add melted butter, salt and egg; stir well with a whisk.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Add 13 oz (about 2 3/4 cups) flour to yeast mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms.  Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tblsp at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size.  (Gently press two finger into dough.  If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

challah 2

Punch dough down.  Shape dough into a ball; return to bowl.  Cover and let rise and additional 40 minutes or until doubled in size.  Punch dough down; cover and let rise 15 minutes.

Divide dough into 3 equal portions.  Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), on a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 25 inch rope, with slightly tapered ends.  Place ropes lengthwise on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal; pinch ends together at untapered ends to seal.  Cover and let rise 20 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine 1 tsp water and egg yolk, stirring with a fork until blended.  Uncover loaf, and gently brush with egg yolk mixture.  Sprinkle evenly with poppy seeds.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped.  Cool on a wire rack.

challah 3

cartoon-strawberry-9Holla Sweet Challah!  Husband said this reminded him of Hawaiian bread.  To me it was similar, but not as sweet.  I would love to serve this sweet bread with a thick rich soup on a rainy day.  (I’m dreaming and ready for fall…)

Apple Honey Drumsticks

Growing up, I only wanted the drumsticks when the famous red & white bucket would make its way home.  Somewhere in my early 20’s, bags of the frozen boneless skinless chicken breast made its way into my fridge; they’re easy and can be cooked in a million different ways.  Around Labor Day this year I was in the supermarket and saw a package of drumsticks.  How had I forgotten about my first love?

A 4.5 pound package came home with me that day.

This recipe is from Food Network Magazine, September 2011.

No substitutions were made.

apple honey drumsticks 1

Jacob’s Apple-Honey Drumsticks

12 skin-on chicken drumsticks
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 c apple juice
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp honey
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/8 to 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
1 tblsp unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet.  Put the drumsticks on the rack and season both sides generously with salt and pepper.  Bake 30 minutes; flip the drumsticks and continue baking until golden and crisp, about 30 more minutes.

apple honey drumsticks 2


Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Bring the apple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt to a boil in a large skillet over med-high heat.  Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer until the sauce is syrupy and coats the back of a spoon, 20 to 25 minutes.  Set aside until the chicken is done.

Stir the sesame seeds into the sauce, if using, and warm over medium heat, if necessary.  Transfer the chicken to a large bowl.  Add the sauce and butter and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer the chicken to a platter and drizzle with any remaining sauce from the bowl.

apple honey drumstick 3

cartoon-strawberry-9I could not get this sauce to set up correctly.  I’m not sure if I used the wrong type of pan, didn’t set the heat correctly, or what; but it didn’t work.  On the plus side?  The taste of the sauce is great!  Sweet and spicy with a little heat from the red pepper.

Light Wheat Bread

Husband really loves the strawberry & almond bread I’ve been making, but I wanted to try something new.  Back to The Bread Bakers Apprentice I went.

This recipe is from The Bread Bakers Apprentice.

No substitutions were made.

light wheat bread 1

Light Wheat Bread

2 1/2 c unbleached high gluten or bread flour – I used bread flour
1 1/2 c whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tblsp granulated sugar or honey – I used honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tblsp powdered milk
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 tblsp shortening or unsalted butter at room temperature – I used shortening
1 1/4 c water, at room temperature

Stir together the high-gluten flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar (if using), salt, powdered milk, and yeast in a 4 quart mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer).  Add the shortening, honey (if using) and water.  Stir (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients form a ball.  If there is still flour in the bottom of the bowl, dribble in additional water.  The dough should feel soft and supple.  It is better for it to be a little too soft than to be too stiff and tough.

Sprinkle high-gluten or whole-wheat flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook).  Add more flour if needed to make a firm, supple dough that is slightly tacky but not sticky.  Kneading should take about 10 minutes (6 minutes by machine).  The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees.  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

The most reliable method to determine when gluten development is sufficient is called the windowpane test, sometimes referred to as the membrane test.  This is performed by cutting off a small piece of dough from the larger batch and gently stretching, pulling and turning it to see if it will hold a paper-thin, translucent membrane.  If the dough falls apart before it makes this windowpane, continue mixing for another minute or two and test again.

Ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

light wheat bread 2

Remove the dough from the bowl and pres it by hand into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick, 6 inches wide and 8 to 10 inches long.  Form it into a loaf.  Place the loaf in a lightly oiled 8.5×4.5 inch bread pan.  Mist the top with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap.

Forming the loaves: Flatten the measured piece of dough with your hand, folding in the edges to make and even-sided rectangle about 5 inches wide and 6-8 inches long.  Working from the short side of the dough, roll up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension.  the loaf will spread out as your roll it up, eventually extending to a full 8 to 9 inches.  Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs.  Rock the loaf to even it out; do not taper the ends.  Keep the surface of the loaf even across the top.  Place the loaf in a lightly oiled loaf pan.  The ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan to ensure an even rise.

Proof at room temperature for approximately 90 minutes, or until the dough crests above the lip of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

Place the bread pan on a sheet pan and back for 30 minutes.  Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the oven.  The finished loaf should register 190 degrees in the center, be golden brown on the top and the sides, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

When the bread is finished baking, remove it immediately from the loaf pan and cool it on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferable 2 hours, before slicing or serving.

light wheat bread 3

cartoon-strawberry-9I laughed when this loaf came out of the oven.  It reminded me of the Muppet loaf of bread that showed up on Sesame Street and the Muppet Show.  This is a great standard loaf of bread.  Toast, sandwiches, whatever.  This is a great recipe to have on hand!

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Honey Apple Cake

My subscription to Cooking Light ran out this month, and I’m not quite sure what to do.  I love getting the magazine every month, gorgeous pictures, amazing food and most importantly, nutritional information.  Husband has Type 2 diabetes, so I need to be aware of the carb amounts in our meals.  On the other hand, I have stacks and stacks and stacks of magazines.  They take up a lot of room and I could cook something different every day from now until forever with just the magazines I have in these stacks.  What would you guys do?

This recipe is from Cooking Light, April 2008.

No substitutions were made.

oatmeal applesauce cake 1

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Honey Apple Cake

1 c quick-cooking oats
1 c hot water
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 c packed light brown sugar
3/4 c chunky applesauce
1/3 c honey
2 large eggs
cookingn spray

1/4 c butter
1/3 c packed light brown sugar
1/4 c honey
1/2 c coarsely chopped almonds

oatmeal applesauce cake collage

To prepare the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine oats and hot water in a small bowl; set aside.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  In a medium bowl: combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer: combine brown sugar, applesauce, honey and eggs; beat on high for 1 minute.  Add oat mixture; beat on low until well blended.  Add half of flour mixture in two halves, combining well each time.

Spoon batter into an 11×7 baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 for 48 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Place dish on a wire rack.  If you don’t have an 11×7 baking dish, you can sub a 9″ square baking dish.

To prepare the frosting:

Preheat broiler.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add brown sugar and honey; cook 2 minutes, or until bubbly, stirring constantly.  Stir in almonds.  Quickly pour frosting over cake, spreading evenly.

Broil cake 1 minute or until frosting is bubbly and golden.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  Serve with shipped cream, sprinkled with cinnamon.

oatmeal applesauce cake 4

cartoon-strawberry-9I love everything about this dense, sticky-sweet cake.  But it tastes like fall, so it feels a little out of place for dessert in early May.  I’m thinking this will be perfect come mid October when the leaves start to change.

Honey-Glazed Almonds

Husband and I are both big fans of the almond.  He loves an almond covered in dark chocolate.  I love almonds covered in yogurt.  So I thought this would be a great alternative for both of us in the “covered almonds” department.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, November 2011.

One change, noted below.

Honey-Glazed Almonds

1 1/2 c raw, unblanced almonds
1 tblsp sugar
1 1/2 tblsp honey
1/2 tsp ground chipotle chile powder – I used cayenne pepper.
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the almonds in a medium nonstick skillet; cook over medium heat for 6 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a 2-cup glass measure.  Microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds.

Add honey mixture to pan, and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Arrange almond mixture on prepared baking sheet in a single layer; let stand 10 minutes.  Break apart any clusters.


We both really liked these.  The spice adds a little kick of an aftertaste.  This would be a great recipe to triple and give out as a homemade Christmas present.

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

I have intended to make this recipe about two dozen times, and something always seemed to deter me.  The biggest thing was not having a broiler pan, so I finally broke down and bought one (20% Bed Bath & Beyond coupon!).

This recipe is from Cooking Light, September 2010.

I did not alter the recipe in any way.

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking Spray
6 tblsp honey
2 tsp cider vinegar

Preheat Broiler

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat.  Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray.  Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.

Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well.  Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken.  Broil 1 minute.  Remove chicken from oven and turn over.  Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture.  Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.

 Husband isn’t normally a fan of chicken thighs, but he really liked this dish.  I loved the speed in which this can be prepared (everything was ready in approx half and hour), and I loved the spicy sweetness of the chicken.