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First make the crust. Sift the flour and baking powder onto parchment paper. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the oil, sugar and vanilla, and blend at medium speed. One at a time, add the eggs, incorporating the first before the adding the second, and blend. Add the orange juice, if using and blend. Reduce the speed and add the flour mixture, gradually to make a dough.
Divide the dough into 2 parts and flatten each to make a disk. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap, stack the discs on a plate, and refrigerate until the stiff enough to work easily, at least 2 hours.
Meanwhile make the filling(s). For the poppy, raspberry-and/or apricot fillings, combine the ingredients in small bowls, stir to blend, and refrigerate for 1 hour. For the chocolate combine the ingredients in a small bowl. Transfer half the filling to the centerof an 18 inch piece of plastic wrap, fold the wrap over the filling to enclose it, and squeeze the mixture to create a log 1-inch in diameter. Repeat with the remaining filling and freeze the logs.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Flour a work surface well and roll 1 of the discs out on it. Using a 3-inch glass or round cookie cutter, cut out rounds. Pipe about 1 tablespoon of the poppy seed, raspberry and/or apricot filling(s) in the center of each round, wet the edges with water and bring up the dough together to seal. Alternatively, drop the filling onto the dough by heaping tablespoons. For the chocolate filling, cut the frozen logs onto 1/2 inch discs. Fill the rounds by placing a disc in the center of each form and seal.
Transfer the hamentashen to 1 or more cookie sheets and bake, in batches if necessary, until pale gold 12 or 14 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool.
It’s Chanuka and Jewish tradition calls for oil fried dishes, such as latkes – potato pancakes; sufganyot – jelly-filled doughnuts and more. Jelly filled doughnuts never appealed to me, so here is my version of doughnuts.
2 ½ cups flour
1 packet of yeast
2 tbsp. sugar
¼ cup warm water
¾ cup milk – cow, soy, almond, and cashew…warmed
2 ½ tbsp. shortening- softened
¼ cup sugar
oil for frying
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water with the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Mix well until there are no lumps, and let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
In a large bowl, mix together the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and 1 cup of the flour. Mix for a few minutes at low speed, or stirring with a wooden spoon. Beat in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a greased bowl, and cover. Set in a warm place to rise until double. ,(You can also put in in the refrigerator for a slow overnight rise. Just bring the dough to room temperature before continuing.) Dough is ready if you touch it, and the indention remains. About 1 hour.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and gently roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with a floured 3-inch cutter. * (See note) Let doughnuts sit out to rise again until double. Cover loosely with a cloth.
Heat oil in a deep fryer or large heavy skillet to 350 degrees F. Slide doughnuts into the hot oil using a wide spatula. Turn doughnuts over as they rise to the surface. Fry doughnuts on each side until golden brown. Remove from hot oil, to drain on a wire rack. Dip doughnuts into the glaze while still hot, and set onto wire racks to drain off excess. Keep a cookie sheet or tray under racks for easier clean up.
1-tablespoon corn syrup
2-4 tablespoons of water
Place sugar. Corn syrup and vanilla in a bowl and mix well. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. Continue until you reach desired consistency. It should be liquid but not runny.
Submerge doughnut half way, turn over, and place on a cooling rack to set
NOTE: At this point the formed doughnuts can be refrigerated overnight, brought to room temperature the next day, and then rise before baking. You can also freeze them on a cookie sheet.
This savory Challah variation is based on pashwari naan – an Indian bread that’s filled with nuts and raisins. To those good things I’ve added pistachios, coconuts and a touch of honey. This easily done loaf, partnered with Coconut Ginger Squash Soup (page 61), also makes a wonderful accompaniment to Indian dishes like Cauliflower Paneer Masala (page 120). It’s great as a savory snack, too.
Makes two 1-pound loaves
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon fennel seed
½ cup chopped shelled unsalted pistachios, skinless sliced almonds or raw cashews
½ cup flaked coconut
½ cup golden raisins, chopped fine
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
3 tablespoons honey
1 large egg
Prepare the challah as the Classic Challah recipe, up to Step 4*, adding the dough spices to the dry ingredients.
Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Place the pistachios in a strainer and pour the water over them. Transfer the nuts to a dish towel and roll in the towel to remove their skins.
Make the filling: In a minifood processor combine the pistachios, coconut, golden raisins, cumin, coriander, salt and fennel, and pulse until finely chopped.
Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Halve the dough and roll into an 18 x 9-inch rectangle, making the dough thinner at the short ends. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture evenly over the dough and drizzle with the honey. Starting with the nearest long side, roll the dough jellyroll-style, apply pressure to the ends to taper them slightly. Wind the dough into a spiral, tucking the outmost end underneath the loaf. Place on the cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining halves of dough and nut mixture and transfer to the cookie sheet. Let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place an empty cookie sheet in the bottom of the oven and allow to heat.
In a small bowl, combine the egg with 2 tablespoons of water. Brush the risen loaves with the egg wash and place in the oven. Pour about 1 cup of hot water onto the heated cookie sheet to create steam, and immediately close the oven door. Bake until the challah is golden and sounds hollow when tapped, 25 to 35 minutes. Turn out and cool on rack.
* First Four Steps for Classic Challah (page 188)
In a 1-cup measuring cup, combine the yeast with the 1 tablespoon sugar and 3/4 cup warm (about 105 degrees) water. Stir and let sit until about 1 inch of foam has formed, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 3 1/2 cups flour, 1/3 cup sugar and salt, and stir on low speed. Make a well in the center of the mixture.
In a small bowl, combine 2 of the eggs, and the oil, mix, and pour into the well. Expand the well, then pour in the yeast mixture. Mix briefly on low speed to combine. Remove the paddle, insert the dough hook, sprinkle the mixture with 1/4 cup flour, and knead on low speed for 1 minute. If the dough is still sticky, add more flour by 1/4 cups to achieve a soft, unsticky dough. Continue to knead for a total of 5 minutes. Alternatively, to form the dough by hand, put the dry ingredients in a large bowl, make a well in it, fill with the egg and yeast mixtures, and, with clean hands, gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet until thoroughly combined. Add 1/4 cup more of flour and knead, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough is formed. Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead for 5 minutes.
Oil a medium bowl with canola oil. Form a ball with the dough and place it in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, 2 to 3 hours. Punch the dough down, cover, and let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Oil two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pans.