Kulich Easter Bread

Kulich, a traditional Russian Easter bread, is a tall column of buttery, slightly sweet bread filled with fruit. The texture is feathery, not soft like a cinnamon roll. Lightly spiced, with a hint of orange (and if you choose, a touch of cognac, brandy, or rum), this recipe is certain to become a family favorite.

In Russia, the kulich is taken to church to be blessed after the Easter service; it’s that important!  Some believe the iced, domed top is supposed to represent a snow-covered orthodox church. (It snowed a lot on my kulich. I may have gotten carried away with the icing this time.) It’s also traditionally decorated with flowers on top, which is a stunning presentation for Easter.

Have you ever eaten Panettone? Kulich is very similar. Some people like to add chopped almonds, but I prefer to just use fruit.

I’ve made a few changes; and I bought paper panettone molds—which made the whole process so much easier. There are very nice nonstick molds available too. They’re on my wish list! You can also use coffee cans that are lined with buttered parchment.

This will take a while to make, but requires very little hands-on effort. It’s a rich dough and rises three times, with a total of six to ten hours of rise time. Plan to hang around the the house the day before Easter so you can monitor the dough as it progresses from sponge to dough to masterpiece. While it’s doing its thing you can dye eggs, eat chocolates, run to the store, and go about your business.

Easter Kulich
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Start this project in the morning. The bread is very slow to rise! Makes two tall loaves or three shorter loaves.
Ingredients
  • SPONGE:
  • 1 cup very warm milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 packages active-dry yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • BREAD:
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ½ cup currants or chopped dried fruit
  • ⅓ cup cognac (or brandy, rum, or orange juice)
  • 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup butter, melted
  • Zest from one orange
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups bread flour (a little more if necessary)
  • ½ cup candied citrus peel, chopped
  • FROSTING:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoon orange or lemon juice
  • Milk to thin the frosting if necessary
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is recommended), combine the warm milk and sugar. Add the yeast and let it sit for 2–3 minutes. Add the egg and mix well.
  2. Add 1 cup of the flour and beat for 1 minute. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of flour over the yeast mixture. Do not stir! Cover and let the sponge sit for 2–3 hours. The yeast mixture will rise and cover most of the flour.
  3. While the sponge is rising, combine the raisins, dried fruit, and alcohol (or orange juice) in a small bowl. Cover.
  4. When the sponge has risen (expect to see pockets of flour) add the eggs and egg yolks to the sponge and mix well.
  5. Add sugar and mix well.
  6. Add the melted butter gradually, until completely incorporated.Switch to a dough hook if you're using a stand mixer.
  7. Add the orange zest, cardamom, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and 2 cups flour. Mix well.
  8. Gradually add remaining cup of flour.
  9. Drain alcohol from raisins. (Don't waste it - it's wonderful in coffee!) Add drained raisins and candied citrus to dough.
  10. Knead by machine for 5 minutes (or by hand 7-8 minutes). Dough should come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl, but should still be soft and slightly sticky. If it is too sticky, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
  11. Place dough in greased bowl and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled. This will take several hours.
  12. If you are not using disposable panettone molds, prepare pans. Line the bottoms and sides of two or three (depending on the height you want) 1-pound coffee cans with buttered parchment paper. You can also use large ramekins, with heavy foil wrapped around the outside to add height.
  13. Place molds on a baking sheet. Divide dough in half for two taller loaves, or into thirds for three shorter ones. Form into smooth balls and place into prepared molds. Press gently with fingers to flatten the tops slightly; this will keep them nice and even when they bake. Cover and allow to rise until the dough gets close to the top of the molds. This can take 3-5 hours!
  14. Heat oven to 350 F.
  15. Cover molds lightly with foil and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the dough comes out clean. Remove foil if a darker top is desired. Depending on the size of your pans, baking time can be 45–60 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Lay them on their side on the rack for 10–15 minutes, rolling gently every few minutes. Slide kulich out of the cans or molds and cool on the rack, rolling once or twice to avoid flat sides.
  16. When cool, combine the powdered sugar, lemon or orange juice, and enough milk to make a frosting that will ooze slowly over the sides of the kulich when the top is frosted. Frost the tops and decorate with flowers, nuts, raisins, or sprinkles.

Once the sponge has absorbed most of the flour (this will take 2-3 hours), add eggs and beat well.

Beat in the sugar.

Gradually add the butter.

Add orange zest, spices, vanilla, and 2 cups of flour. Beat well. Gradually add remaining 1 cup of flour until dough comes cleanly away from sides of bowl.

Add drained raisins and candied fruit. Knead by machine 5 minutes or by hand 7-8 minutes.

Place in greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, 2-3 hours.

Place dough in three molds for shorter kulich, or two molds for taller ones. You guessed it . . . let them rise a loooooong time. 3-5 hours. Then bake!

Wishing you a joyous Easter!

Lorinda

 

 

Bourbon Praline King Cake

How fun is this? I’d never made or eaten a King Cake before I tackled this project, but was very glad I finally succumbed to Mardi Gras madness. It took a few tries before I was satisfied that the resulting King Cake matched the picture in my head, but you can learn from my trials and nail it on your first try.

I did learn two things that I’d like to pass along:

My first piece of wisdom: buy a little plastic baby to hide in the cake. (I can’t get on board with baking anything plastic in my cake, so I’d go with the “tuck it in from the bottom after the cake is baked and cooled” method.) I tried to make my babies out of pink gum paste, and I think I can say with great confidence that shaping little babies is not my calling. They didn’t look like babies at all. One looked like a little old man (eeeuw, a NAKED old man) and the other looked like a monkey. Buy them! Or go the old-fashioned route and hide an uncooked bean in the cake instead.

See how the filling is rolled in this version? To do that, leave the nuts out of the cooked praline mixture. Spread it on the dough and sprinkle with the nuts. I just really wanted a core of molten praline goo, so I went with the praline log method.

My second piece of wisdom: don’t expect cake. After a whole lot of Googling I have come to the conclusion that King Cakes are different things to different people, but the majority agree that it is a sugared-up yeast bread baked in a ring shape. Think of a cinnamon roll that wasn’t cut into slices.

I, of course, had to add booze. You don’t have to. I tried Southern Comfort and Bourbon. Each was wonderful. I didn’t use much, just enough to give a hint of flavor. Use a little vanilla instead if you prefer.

Bourbon Praline King Cake
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Makes 2 King Cakes. Can be baked on baking sheets or in bundt pans.
Ingredients
  • CAKE:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup oil (anything lightly flavored, like canola or peanut oil)
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup very warm water
  • 1 package active-dry yeast
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
  • 4½ cups flour (either bread flour or all-purpose)
  • FILLING:
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup cream
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup corn syrup
  • 1½ cups finely chopped pecans (I use toasted for extra flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon or Southern Comfort
  • ICING:
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon or Southern Comfort
  • milk
  • Colored sprinkles. You'll need green, dark yellow, and purple
  • 2 plastic babies to hide in cakes!
Instructions
  1. CAKE: In a small pan on medium heat, combine butter, milk, oil, ⅓ cup sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt. Heat until butter is melted and the mixture is just beginning to bubble around the edge of the pan. Pour into large bowl and allow to cool slightly.
  2. In a small bowl, combine very warm water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar. Allow it to sit until bubbly, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add yeast mixture to bowl. Add eggs and 4 cups of flour. If using a stand mixer, use a dough hook and beat well. Slowly add remaining flour until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or drop dough onto generously floured surface and knead by hand for 8 minutes. Dough will be slightly sticky, but if it is very sticky, add a little more flour.
  4. Place dough in greased bowl and allow it to rise until double. This is a rich dough and may take 1½ hours to rise. While dough is rising, make filling so it will have time to cool and set.
  5. FILLING: In a large pan on medium heat, combined white sugar, brown sugar, cream, butter, and corn syrup. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Add chopped nuts. Cook for an additional 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add the bourbon. Stir well and set aside to cool. By the time the dough has risen, the filling should be firm.
  7. Divide filling in half and roll each into a 21-inch log on floured parchment.
  8. Prepare pans for the cakes. You can bake rings on parchment covered baking sheets or in lightly greased bundt pans. (I spray my bundt pan with an oil/flour baking spray.)
  9. Punch down dough and divide into two equal parts. Working with one piece at a time, use hands to press into a long rectangle on floured surface. Roll into a 22" by 7" rectangle.
  10. Place one praline log on the long edge and roll. Fold over the ends and pinch firmly. Pinch firmly all along the long seam.
  11. If you are using baking sheets, lift the roll onto the sheet and form a circle. Overlap the ends and pinch well. If you are using bundt pans, drop the dough into the prepared pan. It will be a little long, but overlap the ends, pinch well, and ease the dough around the bottom. It will settle in nicely.
  12. Cover with towels or plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour. The rings won't double in size, but they should be light and puffy.
  13. Heat oven to 350 F. Bake until golden brown, 30-40 minutes. The bottom should be a rich brown. Remove from pans to a cooling rack. Tuck a plastic baby in the bottom of each cake. Brush the top with butter, if desired. Once cakes are cool, make icing.
  14. ICING: Place powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add bourbon (or a teaspoon of vanilla) and while beating, trickle in milk until the icing is just thin enough to pour.
  15. Pour over the tops of the cakes, letting the icing drip down the sides. Sprinkle with colored sugar.

Once hot m.ilk/spice mixture has cooled a bit, add bubbly yeast

Mix in eggs and flour. Knead well and place dough in greased bowl to rise.

Add pecans to the boiled praline mixture. Cook it some more, then add booze.

Okay. It looks gross. I know, I know. But this praline log will be the center of your King Cake.

Working with half of the dough, press into a long rectangle shape.

Position praline log on long edge.

Roll

Pinch it like you mean it! You don’t want to let any of that praline goodness ooze out.

Make a ring with seam at the bottom. (It can be tricky and twist. You’re the boss!) Overlap ends and PINCH.

Or use a bundt pan. I put the seam down, and of course it showed because the bottom becomes the top. You can try it with the seam up or . . . use lots of icing.

The cake on top was done in a bundt pan. The one on bottom on a baking sheet. The bundt was puffier, but it was probably because I only baked one at a time and it had a little longer rise time.

 

 

Pear Date Walnut Bread

Cutting carbs in the new year? This hearty, rich bread will provide a satisfying excuse for setting your resolutions aside for a few days. (Yes, that makes me an enabler.)
But really, this is a good option if you’re craving bread. Pears, dates, and walnuts are all healthy foods. It’s sweetened with honey, and part of the flour is whole wheat. The trick is just going to be exercising moderation – something I’ve failed miserably at in this case.

I’d like to tell you that I just nibbled on my test pieces, but I’d be lying. Toast this stuff and put a light scraping of butter on it, and I will keep testing and testing and testing.

My favorite version (which is the recipe given below) has a cup of chopped dates and a cup of ground walnuts. If you want to lighten the calorie load, you can reduce both of those ingredients by half.

Give yourself a little extra time when making this bread; the rich dough takes a little longer to rise. It will be worth the wait!

Preparing your ingredients before beginning the bread is a good idea. Chop those dates! Grind those walnuts! But hold up on cutting the pear until your dough is mixing so the pieces won’t go brown on you. 

I added ground walnuts to the recipe to add flavor and structure. A few seconds in a food processor or blender should do it – it doesn’t need to be ground into a paste. The goal is to make the pieces tiny enough to ensure easy slicing of the finished loaves.

NOTE: Unless you have a big family or are making this for a large gathering, I’d recommend freezing one loaf and storing the other in the refrigerator. Since the bread includes fresh fruit, it won’t last as long on the counter as regular bread. 

Pear Date Walnut Bread
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Makes two loaves.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup very warm water
  • 1 package active-dry yeast
  • pinch of sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup coarsely ground walnuts (use a food processor for best results, or chop very fine)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 cups bread flour divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored, and chopped into small pieces
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the warm water, yeast, and pinch of sugar. Let it sit until foamy (about 5 minutes).
  2. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is recommended) combine honey, butter, eggs, and yeast mixture.
  3. Stir in dates and ground walnuts.
  4. Using a dough hook, add wheat flour, 3½ cups of the bread flour. salt, and cinnamon (if using). Beat well for 4 minutes. (If kneading by hand, add the remaining flour now and knead for 6 minutes before kneading in the pears.)
  5. Add chopped pears and stir until combined. Slowly add remaining flour until mixture comes away from the side of the bowl. Add a little extra flour if necessary. Dough will be soft and sticky.
  6. Place dough into greased bowl. Cover and allow it to rise until double, 1 to 1½ hours.
  7. Punch down dough and divide in half. On floured surface either roll dough into two balls and place on baking sheet, or form into two loaves and place in greased loaf pans.
  8. Allow dough to rise in pans until almost doubled.
  9. Heat oven to 375 F.
  10. Bake approximately 35 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaves are browned and sound hollow when tapped. Brush the tops with butter if desired. Cool on racks before cutting.

Ingredients.

Grind the walnuts if possible. If not, chop them as finely as you can. They’ll add lots of flavor.

Combine honey, egg, butter, and yeast mixture.

Mix in the dates and walnuts

Add most of the dry ingredients and mix (knead) for 4 minutes by machine. Add pears. Slowly add remaining flour until it comes away from the sides of the bowl.

After the dough rises, form into two balls on a baking sheet, or . . .

. . . form loaves and place in greased pans. Bake.

Enjoy!

Oh, my word, this is good toasted. Tomorrow I’m going to use it for French Toast; I’ll bet it’ll be amazing. We’re expecting snow, and I can’t think of a better treat to go with  sausage patties and a cup of steaming coffee. 

Lorinda

Maple Raisin English Muffins

Nothing beats an English muffin broiled to a crispy, golden brown and slathered with butter. Well, except for a maple-flavored English muffin! Raisins add a pop of flavor, and the fragrance of maple and cinnamon will make your mouth water long before the muffin hits your plate.

It took me a few tries before I got this right, but it was worth the effort. And now I have a huge bag of perfectly acceptable test muffins in the freezer, which will come in handy this winter.

I tried different types of flour (which made very little difference), muffin rings (meh – not necessary), and different rise times (this really mattered). I also tried many methods of shaping and cooking these babies, and here’s what I learned:

  1. You know those lovely little holes inside where the butter pools up? You get those by using a very soft dough and a long rise. It’s probably the only time you’ll ever hear me tell you to let the dough rise until it blows up and caves in. If you don’t want to let the dough rise overnight, at least give it 4 hours. This will add flavor, too.
  2. All maple flavoring is not the same. And in my opinion, none that I have tried is potent enough. I used a tablespoon of Mapleine in this recipe and it still was just barely maple flavored. (That’s why I added flavor to the cornmeal/farina too.) I’ve just ordered a couple of interesting brands of maple flavor that are supposed to be really strong. I’ll do a taste test and let you know. Until then, be generous!
  3. If you want to skip the rolling/patting/cutting step, you can use an ice cream scoop and drop the dough right on the cooking surface and pat it into shape. BUT there is a general lack of uniformity. If you can live with that, go the easy route! I just can’t. I like it when everything is the same size and shape. OCD much?
  4. These need to be cooked low and slow. Otherwise, the outside of the muffin will be dark before the inside is cooked, and no one likes a gooey center. I used an electric skillet set between 250 and 275 F. Since the muffins wouldn’t all fit on my skillet, I also used a cast iron skillet at medium-low heat. Both worked very well. You will have to adjust the temperature as you go because electric skillets aren’t very accurate. Shoot for 7 minutes on each side to get the color you want, and then turn the heat down and let them go another 3 minutes or so on each side. It’s not that hard – but it may take a little practice. Then you, too, will have a stash of muffins in your freezer.
  5. If it looks like the outside is done but the sides still feel squishy, you can cover the muffins with foil or a lid and cook a little longer at low heat; this will act like an oven. And, if all else fails, pop them in the oven at 350 F for a few minutes. I haven’t had to do this, but it’s perfectly acceptable. The Traditional English Muffin Police will not be visiting to chastise you. Honest.
  6. As hard as it may be, wait for the muffins to cool completely before separating them. And don’t use a knife. This thingamajig that I bought to help me slice onions without cutting off my fingertips? It works really well.

This works really well, but then – so does a fork. (Put that knife DOWN!)

So does a fork. Or you can just tear the muffin open with your fingers and go with the rustic look.

Maple Raisin English Muffins
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Makes twelve 3½-inch muffins For best results, make the dough at night and let it rise on the counter. Shape and bake in the morning!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup (use Grade B if you can find it; it's more flavorful)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ½ cup very warm water
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon maple flavor (This will be mild. Double the amount for a rich maple flavor)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornmeal (Or try farina. I use Malt-O-Meal)
  • ¼ teaspoon maple flavor (optional) to mix with cornmeal
  • a small amount of butter
Instructions
  1. In a small pan over medium heat, cook the milk, syrup, salt, and cinnamon until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Don't boil!
  2. Remove from heat. Add butter and raisins, stirring occasionally until butter is melted and the temperature is comfortably warm.
  3. In a small bowl or cup, combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let it sit until foamy - about 5 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl (a sturdy stand mixer is recommended) fit with a dough hook, combine the milk mixture, yeast mixture, egg, and maple flavor.
  5. Add flour and beat for 3 minutes
  6. Scoop dough into a large greased bowl. Use a rubber spatula to turn the dough over so that all sides are greased. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough sit on the counter overnight.
  7. Combine cornmeal (or farina) and maple flavor, if using. Sprinkle on a lightly buttered electric griddle(or cast iron skillets).
  8. Generously flour a piece of parchment and drop the dough in the middle. Sprinkle with flour and pat with your hand until it is approximately ⅓ to1/2-inch thick.
  9. Using 3½-inch round cutter, cut as many circles as you can. Lift each one with a spatula and place on prepared skillet. Press each round firmly with the palm of your hand. Gather the dough scraps and press to cut remaining circles.
  10. Cover lightly with a clean towel and let the muffins sit on the unheated griddle for 30 minutes.
  11. Remove cover and turn the heat on. An electric skillet should be turned between 250 and 275 F. A cast iron skillet on the stove should be turned to medium-low. Adjust as needed; it's better to cook too slowly than too fast. If heat is too high the outsides will be dark but the center will be doughy. At 7 minutes, the muffin should be golden brown and ready to turn.
  12. When the bottom is brown, use a thin spatula to flip the muffins over. Cook on that side until brown.
  13. Turn the heat down and flip the muffins over one more time, for about 3 minutes on each side.
  14. Allow the muffins to cool completely before using a fork to split. Toast under a broiler for best results.

Heat milk, syrup, cinnamon, and salt until bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in butter and raisins.

Combine milk mixture, yeast, and egg.

Add maple flavoring.

Use a big, greased bowl. Bigger! (Use a rubber spatula to flip the dough over to coat the whole surface.)

Here’s why you need a big bowl. See how full it is once you let it rise all night?

Optional: Add maple to the cornmeal or farina (I use Malt-O-Meal) for another layer of flavor. Sprinkle it on a lightly buttered griddle or skillet.

On floured surface, use your hand to pat dough 1/3-1/2 inch thick.

Place on the prepared unheated skillet, press down with hand (to enlarge and so cornmeal will stick) and cover. Let rest for 30 minutes. They’ll do more rising while they cook.

Cook on both sides until brown. Then turn the heat down and cook a few more minutes on each side to make sure the center is done. Let them cool before splitting.

I don’t suppose you need any suggestions for eating these bad boys, but just in case:

More maple to come!

Lorinda

 

Garlic Frittelle (Italian Dinner Doughnuts)

Dinner doughnuts! That’s what my husband dubbed these after one blissful bite. This simple fried bread has a garlic butter and parmesan center that is flavorful but not overwhelming. It soaks into the bread a bit as it fries so you aren’t faced with butter dripping down your chin. (Never a good thing.)

I’m all about texture, preferring my bread crispy and crackly, but the chewy crust on these puffy rolls was delightful, contrasting nicely with the soft, buttery bread inside. I considered adding chopped pepperoni to the filling, but . . . well . . . I didn’t have any. Garlic, however, is something I have lots and lots of, so I made the most of it. Next time I may try the pepperoni, or maybe some sun-dried tomatoes.

Sorting garlic.

I’m not going to lie to you here; these are probably not on anyone’s diet. That’s all I’m going to say about that!

I use a potsticker press because it seals the dough nicely and makes it easy to work with. Keep it lightly floured for best results. (You can buy these online for just a few dollars, and they come in hand for all kinds of recipes.) If you don’t have one, just fold the circle over on the filling and press the edge firmly with a fork. Looks really don’t matter, because they’re just going to puff up into potato-like shapes. Who cares, when they taste the way they do?

Once fried you can leave them as they are, or you can brush them with melted butter and sprinkle them with coarse salt and a little cheese. I waited too long to do this and my cheese wasn’t very cooperative, defiantly refusing to melt. A few seconds under the broiler took care of that. Hah!

In my usual “go big or go home” approach, this recipe makes a whopping 24 rolls. The recipe can easily be cut in half, or you can freeze some for another time. (I vote for just eating them hand over fist.) Besides, if you’re going to go to the trouble to deep fry, you might as well go for the gusto.

They’re also good the next day, especially if you warm them up a little.

Garlic Frittelle (Italian Dinner Doughnuts)
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Ingredients
  • Filling:
  • ½ cup salted butter, softened (if using unsalted, add an additional ¼ t.salt)
  • 1 generous tablespoon (3-4 cloves) garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese (more to taste)
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Bread:
  • 2½ cups very warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 5 cups bread flour (more for dusting work surface)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • oil for frying (I use peanut oil, but canola or safflower are also good options.)
  • melted butter and grated cheese if desired to top hot rolls
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. In a large bowl (a stand mixer with a dough hook is best) combine water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over it and let it sit for 5 minutes. (It won't foam a lot, but as long as your yeast is fresh, it will do its job.)
  3. Add flour and beat until well-combined.
  4. Add olive oil. Continue to knead by machine for 5 minutes, or drop dough onto floured surface and knead by hand for 7-8 minutes. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky.
  5. Cover and allow the bread to rise for 1 hour.
  6. Working with half the dough at a time, roll it out on a floured board ¼-inch thick. Cut with a large round cutter - about 3½ inches across. Place 1 generous teaspoon of garlic mixture on each round of dough and press in half, using a lightly floured potsticker press (or fold the dough over the mixture and press firmly around the edge with a fork).
  7. Heat at least 2 inches of oil to 375 F. Fry a few at a time, turning once, until rich golden brown - just a few minutes. Place between sheets of paper towel to absorb extra oil.
  8. Brush hot rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt and shredded cheese if desired.

Add oil and knead.

Dough will be soft and slightly sticky but should come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.

Roll and cut

Place dough and filling in the press. (Or just fold over, if you don’t have a press.)

Press gently. The dough is soft and will stick together.

Fry, baby. Fry!

They may LOOK like potatoes, but trust me – inside that chewy crust is soft, pillowy bread and a pop of garlic goodness.

Precious little fat bombs, how I love you! Hey, garlic’s healthy, right? Serve them with a huge salad and call it good, folks.

Lorinda

 

I Like Big Buns (and I can not lie)

If you’re feeding a crowd and want an easy way to serve burgers, here’s a great recipe for you! Two huge burgers, sliced like a pie, will yield twelve portions. The buns can be made a day or two ahead (or you can get them done really early and freeze them) so all you’ll need to do is cook those mammoth burgers and slice some veggies. Sweet, huh? You could even cook the burgers ahead and freeze them too; they’d be easy to warm up in the oven.

The Man thought this one up, of course. He’s the burger fan around here. Of course, he thought that each should be sliced into four pieces, not six, but he lost that battle. You know what’s really neat about this idea? The pieces are much easier to eat than a regular burger.

My apologies to Sir Mix-A-Lot for messing with his lyrics. Since we went to the same high school (he was a few years behind me) I know he’d be okay with this. (Okay, okay. Eight years. He’s eight years younger. Are you happy now? Sheesh.) Go, Roughriders!

I used a 10-inch cast iron round griddle for one of the buns and an 11-inch tart pan for the other. Cake pans would work fine too, but I wanted something with low sides so the buns would brown all the way down. Both worked like a charm. In a pinch, just lay your round dough on a parchment-covered baking sheet.

I Like Big Buns (and I Cannot Lie)
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Makes 2 huge hamburger buns.
Ingredients
  • 4 - 4½ cups bread flour
  • 1 package (about 2¼ teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup oil (I used peanut oil, but any mild-flavored cooking oil will work)
  • 2 eggs, divided
  • Sesame seeds
  • Cornmeal (optional)
Instructions
  1. Lightly grease two 10-11 inch round pans. Sprinkle with cornmeal if desired. (You may also use parchment instead of the grease.)
  2. Put 2 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. (A sturdy stand mixer with a paddle attachment is best.)
  3. In a small pot, heat the water, milk, sugar, and oil until very warm - 120-130 degrees. Pour into the bowl with the flour mixture, add one egg and one yolk (reserve the egg white for later) and beat until smooth.
  4. Switch to a dough hook and add remaining flour until the dough comes cleanly away from the side of the bowl. Knead by machine for 5 minutes. If kneading by hand, place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 7 minutes.
  5. Place dough on floured surface, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Divide dough into two equal parts. Working with one at a time, flatten with your hand, then roll out into a 9-inch circle. Place in prepared pan and pat firmly to make sure it's evenly thick. Press around the outside edge to make it slope down to the pan (creating more of a dome shape).
  7. Cover with a towel and let the buns rise for 45 minutes. They won't double in size but will be puffy.
  8. Heat oven to 400 F.
  9. Add 1 teaspoon water to the egg white and whisk until foamy. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  10. Bake buns for 15 minutes, or until the tops are rich, golden brown. Remove from oven and place pans on cooling racks for 5-10 minutes. Lift buns onto racks to continue cooling.
  11. Slice in half horizontally and fill as desired. (Note: if using the same size pans to cook burgers, use extra-lean meat to avoid shrinkage.)

Here’s what you’ll need for the buns.

The liquids need to be very warm (120-130 F). I don’t have a microwave, but you can use one instead of the stove!

Add liquids and eggs to flour mixture

Let dough rest, then roll into 9-inch circle and press onto greased pan

Let it rise and then brush lightly with egg whites

Sprinkle with sesame seeds

This one was done in a tart pan. (Recipe makes 2 buns.)

Press extra-lean meat firmly into pan. If using lean burger, make it in a bigger pan. (It’ll shrink. Ask me how I know.)

 

Top the bottom bun with a burger patty and whatever you like on your burgers. I used cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, mayo, and mustard.

SOMEone was very, very happy.

This is a very simple bread recipe and would be perfect for the 4th of July, barbecues, or football games. I might even make this again for Father’s Day and let The Man have one all to himself.

Grab a bib and dig in!

Lorinda

 

 

 

 

Coconut Lime Loaf

“Put de lime in de coconut” and treat yourself to a slice of this sweet (yet tangy), dense (yet moist) quick bread. An easy-to-make poured fondant icing crowns the bread with a fudge-like lime topping, a pleasure to bite into. Coconut cream and shredded coconut add unique flavor and texture to this bread.

Don’t expect cake, my friends. The line between cake and quick bread can be a little fuzzy, I know, but this is definitely bread. I had to keep talking myself out of adding beaten egg whites, cake flour, more leavening. If I want lime cake, I’ll make a lime cake! What I was looking for was a bread that would slice nicely for a spring tea luncheon my Homemakers’ Club is having next month, and this is definitely it.

You know by now that I rarely create easy recipes, preferring to fuss with my food. But this is sooooo easy. The hardest thing you will have to do is juice and zest the limes. I finally broke down and bought a little hand juicer (up ’til now I’ve heroically squeezed citrus by hand, wedge by wedge) which made it go much faster, so you may see more lemon and lime recipes from me in the near future.

Tips:

  • Do not overmix. It’s okay to see small streaks of flour in the batter when it’s being spread in the pan. Too much stirring makes a heavier loaf and can create tunnels.
  • If you can’t find coconut cream, substitute coconut milk or regular milk. (Use 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons.)
  • Be patient! Don’t cut that loaf until it’s completely cooled. In fact, it slices beautifully if you wrap the cool, iced bread in foil and refrigerate it overnight. Besides, the texture and flavor are always better on the second day.
  • I haven’t tried this (yet) but I’ll bet this bread would be killer with chopped macadamia nuts.
  • I use a grater for lime zest because I like to see the flecks in the bread. A microplane will work well, too, but it won’t be quite as pretty.

Coconut Lime Loaf
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Author:
Ingredients
  • BREAD:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4-5 average size limes
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can (5.2 ounces) coconut cream (or use ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • green food coloring (optional)
  • ⅔ cup sweetened, shredded coconut
  • ICING:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 2 oz white chocolate (about 22 Wilton candy melts . . . or ⅓ cup)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Prepare one 9x5" loaf pan by lining with a piece of parchment (let paper come over the sides so you can lift the bread out easily) and spraying with non-stick spray.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together twice. Set aside.
  3. With a fine grater, zest the limes, being careful to just grate off the dark green skin, not the white underneath. Juice the limes. You will need ¼ cup of juice for the bread and 1 tablespoon for the icing. If you don't have quite enough juice, add a little water.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well, scraping the side of the bowl often.
  5. Add the coconut cream, vanilla, and just a tiny amount of green food coloring (if using). Mix until combined.
  6. Add the coconut and dry ingredients. Stir gently just until most of the flour is incorporated. Do not overmix!
  7. Spoon into prepared loaf pan and gently smooth the top. Bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the bread.
  8. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Lift loaf out and let it cool completely.
  9. ICING: (This can be poured on warm bread.)
  10. In a small pan heat the powdered sugar, corn syrup, lime juice, and water until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the white chocolate. Once melted, stir until it cools and thickens a little, then pour over the bread, allowing icing to drip down the sides of the loaf.
  11. Let icing harden and serve or store. (This bread is even better the next day.)

You’ll only need 1 tablespoon of zest, so don’t try to get every little bit off the limes.

Coconut cream

Spread batter into prepared pan. If your loaf pan is a little smaller than 9×5 you’ll get a more domed top. It may take a few more minutes to bake, too.

Stir white chocolate into hot sugar mixture. I used candy melts so the icing would be bright white.

Isn’t it pretty? It would be a lovely treat for Mother’s Day, too, which is just right around the corner! Enjoy.

Lorinda

 

 

Guinness Stout Bread

Hearty and rustic, yet surprisingly light (thanks to the addition of a full bottle of Guinness  Draught Stout), this bread will be the ideal accompaniment for your St. Patrick’s Day feast. Oats and whole wheat flour give the loaves a wonderful texture, molasses adds a slightly sweet back note, and the beer adds a rich, yeasty, complex flavor. I added chopped raisins to one loaf and loved the results, especially when the bread was toasted.

You can use any dark beer you want, of course. I just picked this because it screamed “St. Patrick’s Day” to me, and I was won over by the packaging that promised a hint of chocolate and coffee flavor. Sold!

I had to make a second batch to double-check my measurements. I always lose count when it comes to cups of flour and then I try to convince myself that I’m (pretty) sure it was three cups when it actually might have been four. But that would haunt me, so . . . I give in and make it again.

I hate to burst your bubble if you see me as some meticulous baker, but here is my actual plan of action for this recipe. Seriously, this is the way I work!

Obviously, I need someone to follow around after me, taking notes!

Anyhow, I’m glad I had to make another batch because I was inspired to make the dough balls into shamrocks, and . . . aren’t they nice? I also ran out of wheat flour (only had a cup) so used 1/2 cup of buckwheat flour, which made the dough a little darker and—according to my husband—even tastier. If you have some, you might want to try that!

Guinness Stout Bread
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 bottle (11.2 fl oz) dark beer (I used Guinness Draught Stout)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ⅓ cup molasses
  • ½ cup very warm water
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package active-rise yeast
  • 1 cup oats (old-fashioned or quick)
  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2½ - 3 cups white bread flour
  • ½ cup chopped raisins - optional
  • cornmeal - optional
Instructions
  1. In a small pan, combine the beer, butter, and molasses. Cook over low heat until the mixture is lukewarm and the butter is mostly melted.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Allow it to get bubbly - about 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl (a sturdy stand mixer with a dough hook is recommended) combine the beer mixture, yeast mixture, oats, wheat flour, and salt.
  4. Slowly add 2 cups of bread flour and mix well. Add as much remaining flour is needed until the dough comes cleanly away from the side of the bowl. Continue to knead by machine for 6 minutes (or drop onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 8 minutes), then place in a greased bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until doubled - about 1 hour.
  5. Move dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 pieces. Form into balls and place on a large baking sheet. If you are adding chopped raisins, knead into the dough before forming the balls. (Optional: sprinkle the baking sheet with cornmeal for a crunchy bottom crust.)
  6. Cover and allow to rise until double - about 1 hour.
  7. Heat oven to 375 F.
  8. Cut a large "X" in the top of each loaf and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the bread is a rich brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Move to a rack to cool. You can brush the top of each loaf with butter if you want them to have a sheen, and to soften the crust slightly.
  9. TO MAKE SHAMROCKS: Once the balls of dough are shaped, cut four 1½ - 2" slices at (picturing a clock) approximately 10:00, 2:00, 4:00, and 8:00. Make sure to leave the center intact. This creates three petals and a stem. Pull firmly down on the stem to stretch it out into the desired shape. Use your fingers to shape the petals and cut a shallow slice down the center of each to add shape. Bake as directed above.

Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled.

Divide dough into two pieces. Add chopped raisins if desired. (Totally optional.)

Place on a baking sheet. I like to dust mine with cornmeal for a crunchy bottom crust. (One is plain, one with raisins.) Let ’em rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

After loaves have doubled, cut a large ‘X’ on each and bake.

Baked. Brush the hot loaves with butter if you want them shiny, or prefer a softer crust.

IF YOU WANT TO CREATE SHAMROCKS:

Form the dough into two balls.

Cut 4 slits. (My cuts were a little wonky. Aim for 4:00 and 8:00 on the bottom and then stretch out the stem.)

Mold and shape the petals. Make a cut down the center of each to add shape.

Place on baking sheet and allow to rise until almost doubled, then bake!

FAQs:

Q: Does the house smell amazing while the bread bakes?
A: The house smells like a brewery! A fragrant brewery, but . . . pretty heady.

Q: I don’t like beer. Can I use wine instead?
A: Are you crazy? No! Go home.

Q: Can you give me a gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free version of this recipe?
A: Um. You haven’t been hanging out here very long, have you? I’m a Paula Deen type of baker. This is actually a healthy recipe for me; molasses instead of white sugar, less than a pound of butter, and some oats and wheat flour thrown in to impress you. You’re welcome!

Anyone else? No? Good.

I have a very elaborate recipe in the works. This was easy; the next one will be a lot more challenging. Bwa ha ha. Check back in a few days!

Lorinda

Maple Raisin Challah

What’s rich and brown, shiny and sleek, and smells like Vermont at sugaring time? The answer is Maple Challah, aka “the end of dieting as we know it”. Once this heady fragrance wafts out of your oven, all good intentions will be put aside and you’ll be a gonner!

I used maple syrup to sweeten the dough, but it doesn’t give enough maple “kick”, so I turned to my trusty Mapleine. Maple flavoring, maple extract, it’s all good! And, in case you’re wondering, I found kosher maple flavoring and refined coconut oil on the internet.

Whether you make a simple three-strand braid or go all out for the six-strand braid, this bread won’t fail to impress; it’s gorgeous even if you try desperately to follow instructions and still come up with a wonky braid!  

Ahem.

I tried a six-strand braid. Several times. I had no trouble with four strands (see my Pumpkin Challah ) but apparently, that was pushing the limit of my braiding skills. I hate videos, but this is one time I probably should have watched a tutorial. In the end, I did the best I could, tucked the less than attractive ends under, and hoped that a good, puffy rise and a lot of egg yolk would cover my worst messes. It wouldn’t pass the test of experienced challah bakers, but it worked for me.

Because I can never get enough maple flavor, I sprinkled the top of one of the loaves with maple sugar which gave a slightly burnt-sugar flavor and made the crust a tiny bit crunchy. I loved it, though it takes away the pretty shine. It’s totally optional, of course, but mmmmmm. Here’s what the sugar-topped loaf looks like next to one with a traditional egg yolk wash:

Left loaf was brushed with yolk wash and sprinkled with maple sugar

Remember that challah dough is rich and will take a little longer to rise than a basic sandwich bread. Make it when you’ll be home all day so you don’t try to rush it. Ninety-minute rise times are to be expected. You don’t have to sit and watch it – just set a timer and go about your business, and before you know it you’ll be tearing off a tender piece of maple goodness.

Maple Raisin Challah
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Author:
Makes 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves. Simple braids are very attractive. For more complicated braids, look for online tutorials.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup hot water
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs plus 1 yolk, divided (extra yolk is for glazing bread)
  • ⅓ cup refined coconut oil, melted (or you can use a mild-flavored cooking oil)
  • 1 tablespoon maple flavoring - or to taste
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Instructions
  1. Combine hot water and raisins in a small bowl and let sit for 10-15 minutes to plump raisins. Stir in maple syrup.
  2. In a small bowl or cup combine warm water, sugar, and yeast. Allow it to sit until yeast is foamy.
  3. In a large bowl, (a stand mixer with a dough hook is recommended) combine eggs, oil, maple flavor, the raisin mixture, and the yeast mixture.
  4. Add flour and salt. Mix well. Allow mixer to knead dough for 5-6 minutes. (If mixing by hand, drop dough onto lightly floured surface and knead 7-8 minutes.The Dough should be soft and slightly tacky. If it's too sticky, add a little more flour.
  5. Place dough in a greased bowl. Turn to coat the dough, cover with a dish towel, and allow it to rise until doubled - about 90 minutes.
  6. For one large 3-strand braid, divide dough into 3 equal parts. (For 2 small braids, divide into 6 equal parts.) Braid loosely and tuck ends under. Place on parchment covered baking sheet and cover with a damp cloth. Allow bread to rise until doubled, about 90 minutes.
  7. Heat oven to 350 F.
  8. Whisk egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water. Brush generously over entire challah. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, until bread is deep golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
  9. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire rack.

Hot water, raisins, and maple syrup

Combine eggs, oil, maple flavor, raisin mixture . . .

. . . and the foamy yeast

Put dough in greased bowl and let it rise. It will go from THIS . . .

. . . to THIS. Now comes the fun part – braiding!

Braiding a round challah. I’m not EVEN going to try to explain this. The Internet is your friend, with lots of tutorials.

Brush with egg yolk and sprinkle with maple sugar if desired. The more sugar you add, the crunchier the crust will be.

Bake. Cool on a rack if you have superhuman self-control. Otherwise, rip and tear!

I haven’t tried it (yet), but I’ll bet this recipe would be great for rolls, too. I think I’ll add them to my Thanksgiving plan. And I may try mixing maple syrup with that egg yolk before brushing it on the bread. If you beat me to it, let me know how that works!

Lorinda

 

Pumpkin Challah

What a satisfying nod to “Pumpkin Everything” season this glossy challah bread is! Pumpkin puree enhances the slightly sweet, subtly spiced dough, assuring it a place of honor at any table. Seriously, it will steal the show!

And I have to tell you, Pumpkin Challah makes the ultimate French toast. Drizzle it with maple syrup and dig in.

You know I love to play with my food, right? I thought a 4-rope braid would be difficult to do, but it really wasn’t. There are lots of videos on the Internet, but you probably won’t need one. Here’s a nice tutorial from Baking Bites.

Basically, if you think of your ropes as always being numbered (starting from the left) 1,2,3, and 4, it will go like this:
1 over 3
2 over 3
4 over 2
Repeat until you run out of dough. Just remember: no matter what, #1 is always the rope on the left and #4 is always the rope on the right.

. . . and back to 1 over 3. Keep going until you run out of dough.

Pinch the ends and tuck under. Let rise under a damp cloth until doubled.

I’m going to get all wild and go for the 5 rope version next time. No guts, no glory!

Challah is a fairly rich dough, so it can take a little longer to rise than most recipes. Count on 90 minutes instead of the standard hour for each rise. Be patient; the wait is worth it.

Note: I kept this as simple as possible, but you might want to add raisins to the dough just before you put it in the bowl to rise. And, of course, poppy seeds or sesame seeds on the top before baking is traditional. I just wanted to see it in its shining glory, unadorned.

I cut back on the sugar a little for this recipe because my first try seemed sweet—like those lovely Hawaiian rolls. If that’s what you’re looking for, add an additional 1 tablespoon of sugar. I won’t tell!

Pumpkin Challah
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Author:
Makes 1 large or 2 small loaves. Add raisins if you wish, or sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds before baking.
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup solid pack pumpkin
  • 2 eggs plus 1 yolk, divided (extra yolk is for glazing bread)
  • ¼ cup refined (no flavor) coconut oil, melted (or you can use a mild cooking oil)
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water and sugar. Add yeast and let sit until frothy - about 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl (a stand mixer with a dough hook is recommended) combine pumpkin, 2 eggs, and melted coconut oil.
  3. Add yeast mixture, flour, brown sugar, white sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Knead by machine for 5-6 minutes, or by hand on a floured surface for 7-8 minutes.The dough should be soft and slightly tacky. It may leave streaks on the side of the bowl, which is okay. If it's really sticky, add a little more flour.
  4. Place dough in greased bowl, turning once to coat the dough. It should feel pillowy soft. Cover and allow the dough to rise until doubled, 60-90 minutes.
  5. Punch dough down lightly, divide into 4 equal parts, and roll each into a 24-inch rope. (If making 2 smaller loaves, divide into 8 equal parts and roll each into a 14-inch rope.)
  6. Pinch the 4 ropes together at one end, separating each rope slightly. When you're braiding, remember that whichever rope is on the left is always #1, and whichever is on the right is always #4. Braid! (But not too tightly.)
  7. Put #1 over #3
  8. Put #2 over #3
  9. Put #4 over #2
  10. Repeat until finished. Pinch the ends together and tuck under.
  11. Place on parchment covered baking sheet, cover with damp cloth and allow bread to rise until doubled - about 90 minutes.
  12. Heat oven to 350 F.
  13. Whisk egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water. Brush generously over entire challah.
  14. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, until bread is deep golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
  15. Cool on a rack.

Add softened yeast to pumpkin mixture.

Mix in the dry ingredients and knead by machine for 5 -6 minutes (or by hand 7-8 minutes)

You’re going for a soft dough, so it’s okay if it doesn’t come cleanly away from the side of the bowl.

Put dough into greased bowl, turn to coat. Form into soft, pillowy ball and let rise until doubled.

Divide dough into 4 pieces (8 if you’re making 2 small loaves). Yes, I’m OCD. Yes, I’m weighing mine. You don’t have to!

Once braid has doubled, brush with egg yolk glaze and bake.

You can also opt for making 2 smaller loaves.

I have another version in mind, so you’ll probably see another challah recipe soon. If you’ve been following my blog, I’ll bet you can guess what flavor it will be. C’mon . . . let’s see those guesses!

Lorinda