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Showing posts with label Jewish food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jewish food. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Favorite Kosher Carrot Cake

Have your cake and eat it too!
A lot of you are learning to bake. I've seen and joined groups called "Quarantine Cooking" and am absolutely loving your progress. I think it's a lot of fun to bake and that it's easy to do, and being a person that's classically trained, I suppose that I take quite a bit for granted. So many are intimidated by baking, so I thought it'd be fun to give you my easiest recipe that's also one of my most-delicious.

My favorite thing about cakes at home is that you have absolutely no pressure to make it look perfect. Is it nice to do it for the 'gram? Of course! But don't be brainwashed into thinking that there's only one kind of beautiful cake. You can dive headfirst into that rustic-looking style and use flowers and herbs straight out of your garden to decorate the top of your cake. You'll take the pressure off yourself, and you'll dirty fewer dishes.

Favorite Kosher Carrot Cake
yields 1 full sheet pan, or a 4-layer cake

Cake

  • 240 g all-purpose flour
  • 100 g tapioca flour
  • 275 g granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Chinese long peppercorns ground quite fine (or grate some off with a Microplane)
  • 198 g vegetable oil
  • 113 g/1 stick vegan butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Mexican vanilla
  • 1 1/2 medium carrots, grated finely, roughly 300 g
  • ** You may add a few handfuls of chopped nuts to this cake. I like pecans, but walnuts are great in this cake too!
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 227 g vegan cream cheese
    • I like Daiya's brand the best for this application
  • 113 g/1 stick vegan butter
  • Roughly 2 cups Powdered Sugar
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a half-sheet pan by lining it with either parchment or a Silpat mat. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl with a whisk. Melt the butter together with the vegetable oil and mix it together with the dry ingredients using a wooden spoon. This method is called reverse creaming, but please don't ask me why. 

This is one of those recipes that you can add different spices to suit your tastes, so please have fun!

Mix together the eggs and vanilla, and add to the flour-fat mixture a third at a time. Make sure this is wholly incorporated before adding in the grated carrots. The finer the grate on the carrots the better, so don't be afraid to use the smaller bits. The carrots in this recipe are what provide moisture, and the fine grate lets you get lots of it released into the cake. When all of this is combined, you can pour the batter into the pan, and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cake is done. Remove from the oven and let cool.

While it's baking, let's talk a little about what kosher and pareve are, since I tend to write about it a lot. I'd like to clear up quite a few misconceptions and with the rising amount of antisemitism online I think it's appropriate to be loud and proud about my culture. Why do I feel that way? I feel this way because ignorance leads to fear, and fear leads to hatred. It seems like everyone in America is at least playfully antisemitic nowadays, and I don't entirely think it's their fault. I think there's a lot of media bias and a lot of cultural bias against Jews, not to mention that a lot of folks seem to think that the Jew is some exotic creature instead of just the gal next door. This idea of the 'other' leads down many paths, but most of them are to genocide.

In the holocaust alone, approximately 11 million people were killed for this culture. This is not including the others killed by the Nazis. I read somewhere that if we were to take a moment of silence for every soul lost in the holocaust, we'd be silent for something like 10 years. Living loud and proud about the culture you inherited is going to not just empower you, but give others that share your culture the courage to live loud and proud themselves. Being your wonderful radical self is a defiant act in a society that tells you what to be. Being kosher or having pareve items may sound foreign; so let's just clear up what they are and why I cook that way.

To keep kosher is, in short, to keep to the strict dietary standards set by Jewish Law. Most have heard of "don't mix milk and meat," and that's one. Another is to not eat cloven-hooved animals, such as pigs. I don't always keep kosher, as I do consume pork products on occasion. I do, however, keep dairy and meat separate because both my husband and myself are lactose intolerant. Actually, he's severely lactose intolerant, whereas I just get really gassy if I have ice cream. 

When possible, and at home, I do try to keep kosher and tell myself that if G-d wanted me to keep kosher my entire life He'd have made a whole Jew instead of half-and-half. Yes, yes, I know there are going to be a lot of more orthodox Jews on here telling me that there's "no such thing as half a Jew." Genetically, there is where religiously there is not. The other half of me is a full-blooded native Filipino, and they are pork-heavy people. To balance the love of all of my cultures, I tend to not buy pork to cook in my home, and instead only eat it when I'm out. If I did have dairy in my home, I'd have to have separate plates, cookware, tools, and silverware for when I wanted to have dairy-based meals or meat-based meals. 

Pareve (or parve) is a food that is neither meat or dairy. These things are pasta, rice, eggs, vegetables, etc. When you have a pareve cookie or pareve cake, that means that this cookie or cake has no dairy nor meat in it. Do I still have eggs in it?  Yes, so it is therefore not vegan. One might look at pareve or kosher baking as the stepping stone towards vegan baking. All of the baking I do at home is pareve. I can remain pareve thanks to the many wonderful vegan products out there that replicate milk, butter, and cheese in a baking scenario. It is because of these products, I can quite literally have my cake and eat it too. 

Now, should you be eating pareve desserts? If you're even mildly lactose intolerant, I'd seriously suggest it. I don't know how much healthier it is for you than the dairy-laden alternative, but I can tell you that at least some calories are cut with non-dairy items, and there are certainly less saturated fats. I personally know I've felt much better now that I cut dairy almost entirely out of my diet. If you're baking at home more, that means you're likely eating more goodies at home. So why not eat some nice goodies by cutting back here and there, and inserting gorgeous vegetables...like carrots?

When your cake is cool, you may work on the frosting. Simply whip your butter using the paddle attachment on your standing mixer until it's quite soft, and then add the cream cheese, whipping slowly until wholly incorporated. Whip on medium-high to get some loft before adding the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix slowly to start, and then mix on higher and higher speeds. The trick is to get it to be your desired consistency without it being too terribly sweet. I like it a little thinner, as it's better to spread on this cake. 

I wish more folks would bake cakes in a sheet cake form. It's so much easier to layer!
My trick for getting layers on a sheet cake is thus: 

First, turn your cake out of the pan and then trim all the crunchy edges off. Measure with a ruler the length and width of your cake. My width ended up being 28 cm, so I knew to cut that in half to 14 cm. The length of the cake was 40 cm, so of course, I would cut it in half at 20. Next, frost your cake evenly with your smooth and delicious icing. Cut your cake into your 4 equal pieces, and layer each piece atop one another. Et voila! Now you have a four-layer carrot cake, with not too much frosting on it. 

See? There it is, just stacked atop one another! EASY!
You can garnish with carrot chips or candied nuts, if you like, or just have it plain like this. This cake is sweet enough to stand on its own merit, in my opinion, so I don't like to let it get too frilly and fussy. I think a good portion of what we like to see, especially on Instagram, is a cake that's too pretty to eat. Cake, however, is meant to be eaten, and with so many of you all learning to bake at home, I think it's more than fine to love the things that are delicious and without frills. 

Good luck everyone! Happy cooking and happy eating!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Klops, an Eastern-European Meatloaf

I'm so mad that this was the best picture of this that I took. But by the time I was eating I was so hungry so I just forgot.
It doesn't sound good, does it? Klops. Blech. It's actually a very traditional meatloaf that's quite popular in Polish/Lithuanian Jewish homes. There's a recipe in The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden and if you search "Klops meatloaf" you'll learn all about this favorite of Poland. It's a very Eastern European thing to put foods inside of other foods, if that makes any sense. This meatloaf has hard-boiled eggs in it! I've had it before from a friend's recipe and did not care for it at all. I thought it was dry, gray, and bland but everyone else seemed to love it. I really love meatloaf and I wanted to make my own version of klops, but make it more like the meatloaf I had growing up, which is a savory, tomato-laden labor of love.

There are going to be a couple of ingredients in here that aren't totally traditional, but please trust me on these. I know you're going to want a wonderfully authentic Polish-Lithuanian recipe, and while those are all nice and fed many people, you've come to my page and I want to give you something with a little twist that will give you an excellent result in the end.

Miso, specifically white miso, is an excellent additive of salt for meats. I love seasoning food with it because it adds a savory depth of flavor to everything it touches. I think miso is one of the most-perfect foods, and it works especially well in this because of the acidity of the tomatoes. I chose roasted ones because they're going to have a little less moisture in them in exchange for more flavor. You can pick up a 14 oz can of fire-roasted tomatoes at just about any grocery store nowadays, and you won't regret it.

Klops Meatloaf
serves 6-8
  • 2 lb course ground beef, ideally an 80/20 blend
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 can roasted tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp white miso
  • 1 small cucumber, about 1/2 cup, diced fine
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 c matzoh meal (or dry crackers, whatever you have)
  • Fresh mint and dill, chopped fine, about 3 Tbsp of each
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 1 cup quartered mushrooms, optional
  • 1 large tomato, optional
Make the hard-boiled eggs first by cooking them for 12 minutes with a teaspoon of baking soda added to the water, which will help you peel them faster! Another little trick is to drain them and then shock them immediately after cooking with ice to help peel them more quickly. 

You're going to want to use a whisk to make a sort of paste out of the miso and the egg. The reason we're using miso instead of salt is because it's going to add a savory saltiness to the meat without drawing extra liquid out, like a hard salt would. I know it sounds funny, but it's not always the best idea to put hard salt into a ground meatball product. Since it's softer, use liquid or paste. You can also use soy sauce!



Drain the tomatoes of the juice and add them to the ground meat, the rest of the vegetables, the matzoh meal, and your egg mixture. Moisture is your frenemy when it comes to meatloaf, so you want to control it as much as possible. You want to use a sort of "liquid" salt like miso instead of a hard salt like kosher salt because the latter will draw moisture out of each strand of meat and it'll have nowhere to go, unless you want to let the whole loaf sit in the fridge for a day or so, so it can pass nicely through and through without issue. I also have cucumber and grated onion in this recipe, which are quite moist, but it's a fragrant moist that you'll be grateful for. 

With your bare fingers, mix everything together, sort of like you're doing a pie crust. Add in the herbs and give everything a good knead. It's okay if you get a little rougher at this stage! You want to make sure you don't have too many air pockets here at this stage. Lay out the meat all on a large sheet of plastic film in a tube, and roll it up tight to make a  big sausage shape. You're going to wrap it as tight as you can and let it hang out on the counter for the 10 minutes it's going to take you to peel your eggs. What's happening now is you're letting the flavors mesh. You can do this up to 24 hours ahead of time and you can let it all hold in the refrigerator instead.

When you're ready to bake your meatloaf, heat your oven to 375 degrees F and choose a casserole dish that will hold everything with ease, ideally with sides that go up at least 2 inches all the way around. To form your meatloaf, unwrap the meat and take half of it into your casserole dish. Lay it into a flat oval and make a lovely little channel in which to lay your eggs. You're laying them on their sides so they go in a nice line all the way down. Take the rest of your meat and lay it on top of the loaf you've just made to sandwich the eggs in. Use your hands to pat and shape it into a nice tight loaf, the tighter the better.

Drizzle a little oil on top and season generously with salt and course ground pepper to give it a nice crust. If you like mushrooms, fill in around the sides of the loaf so it can soak up and cook in the fat. You can make a nice sauce out of this later, if you so choose!

Bake for 1 hour at 375. Remove from the oven and let hang out on your cutting board for at least 15 minutes. One of the reasons we let this meatloaf rest before serving is to help it retain its shape when you cut it. The whole idea of a meatloaf is for it to be a lovely homogenous thing, and it's especially lovely for leftovers. Who doesn't love a meatloaf sandwich for lunch?


Please be careful when you remove it from the oven, as there's quite a bit of fat that's sure to have cooked off. If you've cooked mushrooms around the sides, spoon them out into a dish gently, and then spoon out the fat that's rendered off. Reserve at least a couple of spoonfuls for the sauce, if you plan to make one. If you do want to make a nice sauce, simply chop up one large tomato, saute it in some of the fat that has been drained from the meatloaf, and add in the mushrooms that were cooked in the oven. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then blitz in a blender with some breadcrumbs or matzoh meal. 





The sauce is entirely optional, as it's quite yummy on its own. For sides, I suggest a squash puree or roasted potatoes. You're going to have tons of leftovers, so you may as well make it the day before your work week starts so you can have easy leftovers.

Thanks so much for reading! Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Lingonberry Hamentaschen

Pretty in pink!
I love lingonberries. I'm obsessed with them, especially for spring. I love lingonberry poptarts (homemade, of course, using my favorite pie crust), lingonberry lemonade, and just plain lingonberry jam on toast. I go through phases of obsession. Currently, I'm obsessed with a little show called Allt för Sverige. It's where they take the children and grandchildren of Swedish immigrants and bring them back to Sweden, and put them on a journey of discovery. It's a wonderful competition reality show that shows Swedish culture, the story of how we came to be, the history of a country, and the winner at the end gets to be reunited with their Swedish family in a big party! You can find most all of the episodes on Youtube. Check it out here!

Since we're talking about Youtube, I'm going to go ahead and link you up to Mayim Bialik, to give you a quick rundown on an amazing spring holiday, Purim! I'm obviously not 100% full-blooded Jewish, but I still love enjoying the culture and part of that is celebrating the holidays and eating the foods...and even better, I love sharing the culture with friends! In fact, I'm throwing a Purim party this evening! We're going to have masks, eat hamentaschen, and more.



Purim is upon us on the 21st, which is this Wednesday, so I've decided to show you how to make my absolute favorite Jewish ritual treat (yes, I love it even more than freaking latkes) the Hamentaschen. These are triangle-shaped cookies that are filled with just about anything your heart desires, although jam seems to be the favorite for most. You can fill them with pistachio paste, chocolate chips, citrus curds, ganaches...whatever floats your boat! For this, though I've chosen lingonberry.

Lingonberries are a magical kind of berry that miraculously thrive in cold areas. They do incredibly well in moist, acidic soils from ranges that are from Massachussetts to Alaska. I live in the Midwest, so it get's way too hot for lingonberries. If you live in a more northern state, please consider growing them! They have an incredibly pleasant taste, and although resemble a cranberry are only the size of a garden pea. When cooked into a jam, they give off a beautiful red-pink color, and are even prettier when swirled into a sour cream sauce.

Hamentaschen
yields about 2 dozen cookies
  • 3 medium eggs, room temperature
  • 200 g sugar
  • 2 oz olive oil
  • 2 oz vegan butter, room temperature (Earth balance is my fave, but any non-dairy butter/margarine will do)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 fat pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • 375 g AP flour plus more for dusting
  • A smear of pink gel food coloring
  • Lingonberry jam, as needed
Whisk together, by hand, the butter and oil along with the vanilla paste and sugar until the sugar appears to have dissolved, or at least lightened in color. Add in the eggs, one at a time, whisking wholly until completely incorporated. Add in your salt, baking powder, and smear of pink gel paste. I like Wilton's "rose", but you can use whichever you like. If you want to go an all-natural coloring way, you may use beetroot powder, which will give a beautiful red. For this crazy holiday, though, I like to go for more electric colors.

Switch to a wooden spoon and stir in your flour. Turn out onto a cold, floured, marble surface and knead gently, until everything comes together smoothly. Divide in two discs, wrap each in plastic, and chill in the freezer for at least 1 hour. 

Flour your surface again and roll out thin. I like to go to 1/8 inch, because these cookies can get tough if too thick. Be generous with flour on the rolling pin, too, as this dough is rather loose so it likes to stick. The oil is nice and makes it a kosher fat, and it also makes it more pliable so you can mold it. This is ultimately the reason I don't tend to use all oil or all butter; butter makes the dough too short and not-so-easily pliable, and oil makes the dough too runny so I have trouble shaping it and end up using way too much flour. 



Cut out circles with a ring cutter. I like 3" rings! To fill, hold the cut disc in your left hand draped gently over your fingers (or right, if you're a leftie) and fill with a generous teaspoon of your lingonberry jam. If it's not too cold, it should fall off the spoon with ease. Gently separate your index and middle fingers just enough to allow the dough to fall in and help you create a crease. Pinch this closed and use the thumb of your opposite hand to push the bottom up. Gently place these on a silpat-lined sheet pan and pinch the three corners together to create the shape. If you're having trouble, find this awesome tutorial on Tori Avey.com!

 Pop these in the freezer while you're waiting for your oven to heat up to 400 degrees. The reason you don't want to have your oven preheating while you're rolling these out is because - in my experience - they do better when they start from cold, and it's hard to keep a cookie dough cold when  you're heating up your kitchen with a hot oven. Besides, this recipe makes at least 2 dozen cookies so you're going to want to make them all at once, freeze them all at once, and bake only as needed. I've found that you can store the raw cookies, frozen, for up to two weeks if kept in an airtight container. To accomplish this, simply freeze on a tray until hard, put them in an airtight container, lined with parchment, and store until needed. 

Pop your cookies in the oven and reduce the heat to 350. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the edges just barely begin to brown. You want a super hot oven to start with , but want your more standard baking heat so the corners don't burn. The reason  you want it to be hot is because you don't want your fat to melt and therefore your cookies will lose the shape. These are tricky because they can get really tough if overcooked. 

Once baked, remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for at least 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Please keep in mind that this dough is incredibly versatile. You can add in shaved chocolate and fill with nutella to make chocolate hazelnut hamentaschen. Heck, make a tiramisu hamentaschen where you use coffee extract instead of vanilla, fill it with a cheesecake filling and dust them with cocoa powder. The sky is the limit! You can even do what I did for the second offering at my part, and divide the dough in half, add lime zest, dye them green, and fill it with lime curd to make a zesty zingy lime hamentaschen.



Of course you can enjoy hamentaschen year-round, but because they take multiple steps, I recommend doing a lot all at once, with the help of family. Little ones, especially, love the idea of folding cookies. I hope you've enjoyed learning a bit about Purim! As always, if you've tried my recipes, please tell me all about it in the comments below. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Chickpea Fritters

Fun fact: My husband built our dining room table! 
In my journey of cooking, I've found that going back to my roots has been one of the most rewarding explorations I could have gone on. I find that when you look back it can detract from the now, but looking into history one can really learn a lot about cooking, about life, and about how you came to be. The best part, for me, is feeling the souls of my ancestors with me as I learn more about the things they may have eaten and even the things they would try today.

I am descended from Russian/Lithuanian/Belarusian Jews and from the indigenous peoples of the Philippines.  The one thing they have in common is DEEP FRY EVERYTHING. I'm a big fan of deep-frying stuff, so it's no real surprise that Hanukkah is one of my favorite holidays. The winter months are both harsh and confusing here in Midwestern Kansas City so I'm not 100% ready to let go of my deep-frying oil...so I may as well deep fry something relatively healthy.

Enter the Chickpea.

Related image
Don't be fooled - she's versatile!
Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, have a low glycemic index. They have a nice amount of fiber and are surprisingly nutrient-dense. They're ideal if you're trying to maintain a vegetarian diet or if you're just trying to shed a few pounds. There's even some evidence that they may help prevent certain chronic illnesses, such as heart disease. Honestly, I could go on and on about chickpeas. These are so filling and a much healthier alternative to potatoes, and I daresay they can be just as versatile.

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are mostly found in India, Africa, and even South America. You can grind it into flour or cook it into hummus or falafel. You'll find these in South Asian cuisines and Middle Eastern cuisines.You'll also see these a lot if you decide to go vegetarian or vegan. There's even a Turkish drink called Boza, made of fermented bulgur, but often topped with cinnamon-tossed chickpeas. The point is that this annual plant is incredibly important to many cultures, and you shouldn't let it pass you by.

Chickpea Fritters
yields 12 fritters (if you don't eat the batter)

  • 2 cups dried chickpeas
  • 2 tsp baking soda, divided
  • 1/4 c finely minced onion
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1/4 c tahini
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
I love to start with dried chickpeas and soak it overnight before I cook them. These take quite a bit of time, and really are a labor of love. I suggest you start these overnight, or at least the morning before you go to work. Cover them with more water than you think you need, trust me. Add your baking soda and let soak for 6-8 hours, but ideally overnight. Why baking soda? Well...

Baking soda has, by itself, a score of 9 on the pH scale, which makes it ever-so-slightly basic. It's not your friend Jessica that bakes the gluten-free cookie recipe she found from Pinterest and insists on you two going to get PSLs and has you take her photos for the 'gram... It's more like my level of basic, in which I really love fall but I refuse to watch "Love Actually" and won't be caught dead in UGs. The point is that it's just basic enough to get that hard chickpea broken down enough to give you the creamiest, dreamiest, most-custardy cooked bean you'll ever consume. 

Once you've gotten your chickpeas all soaked and you come home from work, drain your beans, rinse, and add to a heavy-bottomed pot with another teaspoon of baking soda, and cover entirely with water, having at least two inches of water over the surface. Bring it up to a boil, stir once or twice, and then reduce to a simmer. Cover your pot but leave the lid ajar and allow to cook for about an hour, or until the chickpeas are incredibly tender. Once it's all done, I like to toss in a little sesame oil, just to coat, and then season with salt. 

You can either cover them and pop them in the fridge for later use, orjust use them straight away...just be sure to drain them first, and taste them to make sure they're done! And have a handful for yourself, you've earned it. And,  yes, of course, you can use the canned kind if you want to. Just please drain well and rinse them off. 

"you tryna smash?" "don't make this weird"
In a large bowl, use a fork or potato masher to smash up all of your chickpeas to where it's a creamy mixture. It doesn't have to be smooth, but it can be if you like it. You can also use the paddle attachment of your standing mixer, or even a mortar and pestle and do it in batches! Either way, it's up to you. 

Add in all remaining ingredients and mix rather well. Taste for seasoning and correct as necessary. It shouldn't be overpowering, but you should know that your seasoning is apparent. Scoop them into mounds on a tray line with parchment or a silicon mat and then chill in the fridge. You may coat them with flour, if you like, at this point, but it's entirely up to you. I did not coat them with flour, even though - by definition - a fritter must be at least 35% breading. You can, of course, batter this if you like...but I do not like. I like them the way they are.

Keep in mind, you can make these smaller or larger!
Head up about an inch's worth of a nice neutral oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. You're looking for 350 degrees F. You can check this without a thermometer by taking a sprig of herb or a leaf of a scallion and gently dropping it in. You are looking for a sprig that sputters and dances around the pot, like a someone wearing a very poofy dress that's twirling around a ballroom. This is how I was taught by an old sushi chef to see if your oil was hot enough for tempura, back when I was a young apprentice. 

I like to do these two or three at a time, but you may do it one at a time if you're a little more comfortable with that. If you're nervous about the stuff sticking to the bottom of the pan, get out a bowl of flour and give each of the balls a tiny roll in and a good pat of flour before frying. I use a fork to allow each fritter to ease gently into the hot oil, and then use it to press it down to a flatter shape, much like you'd do with a latke. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes, in the boiling fat before flipping over to cook for another minute. You don't need to cook these much longer than that, but you do need to have a sheet pan lined with a rack on the inside of a warm oven to keep these hot while you fry by the batch. 
A 200 degree oven will keep these warm!
These fritters are fabulous snacks. You can serve them with sour cream. You can add finely chopped vegetables and more herbs to make a full meal. You can have them with a salad of herbs and garden greens. You can serve with a roasted chicken. The fritters can be served either hot or cold, but I think that room temperature is the best. You can use it as a party snack or serve with dinner. Use them to make a vegetarian sandwich with a fried egg and some tofu sausage and some cheeze. Heck, make them thin, spread them with goat cheese and figs and put them on your Seder table for your Tu B'Shevat celebration tomorrow! This is an excellent accompaniment to any dinner, especially a vegetarian one, as chickpeas are high in protein. 

Or, you know, be like me and serve it with a roasted chicken. Whatever you like!



I hope you've enjoyed this! Happy cooking and happy eating! 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Date & Raisin Babka

Finally, an instagrammable dessert/breakfast that is simple and doesn't require a mirror glaze.
Okay, okay - I'll be the first to admit that 50 shades of dark brown doesn't necessarily sound appealing. I personally loathe the entire '50 Shades' franchise - it's a horrible caricature of what BDSM is actually supposed to be all wrapped up in a Twilight fanfiction. No, that's literally how it started. Look it up. Die mad about it.

What was I talking about again? Oh, right.

So, I'm a newcomer to babka. My sister Ashley actually gave me the cutest little book called Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen by Miri Rotkovitz. This was a very sweet reference to the fact that I had recently discovered my Jewish heritage via an ancestry.com test. Of course, I loved the book immediately and thanked her. My dive in to Ashkenazi food has been kind of a blind one, and I'm all about good references from reputable sources.

Babka is, in essence, an enriched yeast dough that's filled with chopped dried fruits and nuts, rolled, artfully sliced, then baked in a loaf. There are about a million different swirls you can try with this as a base, and the Great British Bake-Off has covered a good amount of them. A povitica, in fact, is a version of a babka. We won't be getting into that, though, as it's far too complicated for me. We're sticking to the simple stuff, just to get you started.

Of course, I used the recipe as a guide for many babkas, but this one with dates and raisins was my favorite, and not just because it was my first one! I tried one with pistachios, with chocolate...this one was the best. Here's how I did it!

Date & Raisin Babka
adapted from Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen


  • 1/2 c soy or coconut milk
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1 c liquid levain/sourdough starter***
  • 1 c white flour
  • 1 c rye flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 Tbsp coconut oil/vegan butter substitute
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 c dried, pitted dates, chopped
  • 1/2 c raisins
  • 1/4 c toasted pepitas, chopped
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp vegan butter substitute/coconut oil, melted
Note*** If you're not using a liquid levain/sourdough starter, you'll want to up your liquid to 1 cup of soy/coconut milk instead of the half cup. You may also want to add an extra pinch of yeast, just to get everything started.

Gently heat the 'milk' in the microwave or on the stove until just a little warmer than body temperature, add a heaping tablespoon of your measured sugar, and stir in the yeast. Leave in a warm place to froth, about 5 minutes.

Add your flours and salt together, and mix with the dough hook attachment on your standing mixer just to combine. Add in your liquid levain, if using, and stir for about 10 seconds, just to incorporate it. Add in your activated yeast liquid and turn on. Once your liquid is just combined, add in the egg. Allow to knead for about 5 minutes on medium-low speed. Add in your fat, which should be just a little cool to touch, about a spoonful at a time. I borrowed this idea from mixing in fat to a brioche. This, of course, is not a brioche, but the principle should still be basically the same. 

Once the fat is all incorporated, you should check your dough for the windowpane test. That just means that you take a tiny portion of your dough, roll it in a ball, and stretch it quite thin, that you should be able to see light through it. This tests that the glutens have developed. Once it has, remove your dough from the bowl and place it in another bowl that's been gently lubricated with oil and covered with plastic, and left to set in a warm place to rise, about an hour. This is the fermentation process, and your dough should double in size. This gives you plenty of time to clean up and do the filling!

Your dried fruit should be chopped rather finely. If you own a food processor, feel free to use it now to make a rather chunky paste combining all of the ingredients. I do not own a food processor, so I used a mortar and pestle to combine the fruit and nuts in a sort of homogeneous paste before adding the melted 'butter,' sugar and spices. 
This is a babka I made using raisins and chopped apricots; I chose this photo for you because the colors show up
a little more brightly, so therefore it's easier to see!

Once your dough has doubled in size, generously flour a marble slab (or your countertop if you're not a bougie jackass like me) and roll out your dough until it's about half an inch thick. Spread the filling mixture as evenly as you can over the surface, leaving about an inch for rolling room on opposite sides to get stuff to get started and to stick. Roll your dough up, nice and tight, into a nice long snake, and roll it gently out, just to seal the edges and to make it even. 

Next, break out the pan you intend to use and then use it to measure your dough and the places you want to cut it. Here's a tip, though: it's easier to roll out the log to make it thinner and longer than it is to squish it up to make it shorter and fatter. For example, if the log is a little too long for you to simply cut the roll in half and then twist those halves together, it would be simpler to roll out the dough into a longer log and then cut the dough in thirds or even fourths to get the desired effect. This  particular one was easy to make into halves, so I simply cut the log in half and twisted it together, sort of like one might make a candy cane. You can, of course, find video tutorials on how to make a babka, if you're not quite visualizing it with ease with the way I'm explaining it.

Apologies for the potato quality. I was shaky.

Once it's set up, all nice and snug, in its loaf pan, cover it and leave it to proof for another 45 minutes in a nice warm place. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F. After it's baked, let it cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan before turning it out - this will allow it to be set enough to have it fall straight out of the pan without falling apart. 

You can let it cool to room temperature, of course, before serving, but I just love a nice warm babka. You can have it by the slice, smear it with cream cheese and berries, or make it into french toast. Seriously! It makes amazing french toast! And don't be afraid to experiment - dates, pistachios, raisins, sultanas, dried apricots, dried cherries...whatever! The only limit is your imagination!

Happy cooking and happy eating!