Sunday, January 29, 2012




more like


No Seriously. We’re going Jewish for this post.


Here’s the deal. Everyone may think that Chanukah is the most important Jewish holiday. Well everyone is wrong. Please, it’s about a group of people who kept the light going for eight days instead of one. (actually the story is pretty kick butt. Look it up. OR speed things up and listen to this song)

Regardless. The high holidays, Rosh Hashanah (Jewish new year) and Yom Kippur (that day you fast and pray that God doesn’t have bad things in store for you for the next year) are significantly more important. Although while everyone else is fasting, my family hikes. And talks about food all day. And does not fast. I think it’s a fantastic tradition. At the end of the day? Challah.

So what is it? Just the most soft, squishy, ever so slightly sweet braided egg bread. Its almost the Jewish version of Portuguese sweet bread or French brioche. sometimes it has raisins in it. It’s extremely satisfying with just a bit of butter, but probably makes the best French toast you’ll ever had.



Challah comes in a normal straight loaf, or a circular loaf which is eaten around the high holidays. Circle – new year - life – get it?


Does this differ from normal bread making? Kinda. The richness of the bread comes from eggs and oil. Really making this bread is no different from most, but there are a few more ingredients. I also suggest one slow rise in the fridge to get a more developed (read: delicious) flavor. That just means more foresight in your baking (or skipping this step). Watch out! This one also takes THREE rises (so have even more foresight!) Also, if you knead the S#*t out of the bread, it will rise like a beast. Pro tip. See pictures for proof


Adapted from Smitten Kitchen (who else?)

Makes two decent sized loaves

  • 1 1/2 packages active dry yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons or 3/8 ounces or 11 grams
  • 1 tablespoon (13 grams) plus 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) table salt
  • 8 to 8 1/2 cups (1000 to 1063 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins (about 70 grams) per challah, (optional)
  • Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling. (optional)

1. In a large bowl (REALLY LARGE), dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon  sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.

2. mix in oil , and beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. Mix until dough begins to come together.

3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead knead knead until smooth and elasticy. Form a ball and put it in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour. (note: either of these rises can be in the fridge. Allow about 8 or so hours? I think I just left mine in the fridge overnight)

4. If using, knead the raisins into the challah,  before forming the loaves.

5. Here’s the challenging part – braiding. To make a 6-braid challah, take half the dough and split into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. (I had Kai read this to me while doing it. It made things A LOT easier)


For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, simply twist into a circle, pinching ends together.

5. Place on a cookie sheet for the final rise (about one hour). Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. At this point, you may freeze the loaves as is until later. It works, I tried it.

6. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking.

7. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. Don’t over bake! Challah is totally better on the doughy side than the…bleh dry side. Cool loaves on a rack.


Bake it. Be Jewish for a day. Make French toast afterwards.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Margarita Birthday Cake




Again. Doesn’t it seem like I only write about birthday cakes? It’s because they’re fun to make, and exciting, and pretty. And delicious.

Ok! Recap. Last year for his birthday Kai requested “an interesting cake” and I gave him a vegan chocolate avocado cake (I know right! I’m still impressed with myself). So I had already geared up for a some weird request that he would have. When I did ask him what he wanted he told me a margarita cake. A margarita cake? half the fun of margaritas is the tequila, so what fun is it when all the alcohol is baked off? But what choice did I have? He wanted a margarita cake, I was going to give him a margarita cake!

I thought it was going to be pretty hard to find a recipe like that. Fortunately, people in this country have an odd obsession with cinco de mayo. I don’t get it…we don’t celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. In fact, I’m sure most of us laugh at the sheer thought of Canadian Thanksgiving. Cinco de mayo is SO not American that even my spell check is giving me the angry little squiggly for cinco (mayo must be used as a short for mayonnaise quite frequently because it doesn’t appear to have a problem with that. I mean, I use mayo in my every day typing, don’t you?)

Regardless, cake recipe was found, and off I went.


The original recipe that I found basically said that it was from a Martha Stewart lemon cupcakes, which she turned into  lime cupcakes and added tequila into. Sounded fair to me. I took her recipe, doubled it for a cake recipe, added more lime, more tequila, and as always didn’t measure properly.

The frosting was a lime-tequila swiss buttercream – my first swiss buttercream experience.

People. Normally I would be gushing, I mean it’s cake. It’s cake that I made. But it didn’t blow me away. Don’t get me wrong, I still ate plenty of it, and it still was quite good, I just realized I totally make better chocolate cakes (thanks for the chocolate cake gene mom!). The cake was lime-y and the frosting was good. I missed the tequila though. I would probably stick to a plain margarita next time though. …oh now I want a real margarita.

No worries. Plenty of tequila was served with the cake in honor of my darling roommate and (MIA….EHEM) blogging buddy.



Margarita Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2  tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature 
  • tequila for brushing on warm cakes

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 9 inch round cake pans.

2. whisk flour baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.

3. cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until mixed thoroughly. Add lime juice and zest and mix.

3. slowly alternate mixing in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix just until incorporated.

4. Split batter between two prepared baking pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden and toothpick comes out clean. Brush (lots) of tequila on warm cake.


Tequila-Lime Swiss Buttercream

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 26 tablespoons butter (3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons)
  • Juice of 2-3 limes
  • a bit under 1/4 cup tequila

Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a BIG bowl over a pot of simmering water until you cannot feel the sugar granules.  Remove from water and whip mixture until it doubles in size and turns white. Add lime juice and tequila and mix. Add butter one stick at a time and whip (forever) until it comes together. This takes like 15 minutes. It’s a pain. It’s weird. Your frosting goes through phases.

Note: I totally made the tequila and lime juice amounts up. Why? Because I made it up the first time and I baked this cake over a month ago and have no idea what I did. It seemed to work in the end so…give it a shot! Or make a different frosting. A cream cheese frosting is always wonderful. Or a glaze. Mmm yeah A glaze would be awesome.

Would I do this frosting again? It was kinda a lot of butter, and whipping. I loved that it was sturdy and I could make a prettier than usual cake (for me), but I don’t think buttercreams are my favorite. That being said it was still good!


I’ll be back with more delicious items. Never fear.