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The Flavor of Freshly Baked Bread

April 19, 2007
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There's something about the smell of freshly baked bread and its wonderful flavor that brings joy to a home. Baking your own might seem a complex process requiring great effort or skill. But really, it's not -- and it's well worth the effort.

The Secret of Challah, by Shira Wiener and Ayelet Yifrach, contains lots of recipes for that special titular bread but the work also contains guides to making lots of other special kinds, like the two that follow.

Fruit Bread

[Pareve]

1 Tbsp. dry yeast
11/4 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup pareve margarine, cut into cubes
2 eggs
1 tsp. lemon zest
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts
61/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup citrus-peel jam or any other jam

For Glaze:

1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. sugar

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the flour, salt and jam.

Add the flour gradually and begin kneading. When ingredients begin to form a dough, add the salt. Knead for approximately 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and pleasant to the touch.

Brush the dough with a bit of oil and place in a bowl.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel, and let the dough rise in a warm place for approximately 1 hour, until the dough doubles in volume.

After the dough has risen, knead it for another few minutes and transfer to a floured surface. Divide the dough into two parts.

Roll out each part into a square 12x12 pan. Smear jam onto the square and roll, jelly-roll style. Pinch the ends together and form into a loaf.

Place the loaves in a pan, cover, and let them rise again in a warm place for approximately 40 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350°.

After the loaves have risen, beat the egg with the tablespoon of sugar and brush the mixture onto the loaves.

Bake for approximately a half-hour, until the bread turns brown and shiny. Remove from the oven and from the pan. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 2 loaves.

Festive Logs

[Pareve]

2 Tbsps. dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
7 cups flour
2 tsps. salt
1 cup oil

For Filling:

olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup black olives, chopped, or 1 bunch basil leaves, chopped

For Glaze:

1 egg, beaten
sesame seeds

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, water and sugar. Beat the eggs, add to the bowl, and stir. Add the flour gradually, then the salt, and finally the oil.

Knead for about 10 minutes, until you have a very soft dough. To make kneading easier, work with greased hands. If necessary, add more flour, but only enough to make the dough workable.

Brush the dough and the inside of the bowl with a bit of oil.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel, and let the dough rise in a warm place for approximately 1 hour, until he dough doubles in volume.

After the dough has risen, divide it into three equal parts. On a floured surface, knead each part for a few minutes. Roll out each part into a square, about 12x12 inches in size.

Smear each square with olive oil and sprinkle with the filling ingredients. Roll each square, jelly-roll style, and pinch the dough well. Place the logs seam-side down on a large pan or on long baking pans.

Brush logs with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Cover and let them rise again for approximately 40 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350°.

Bake until logs turn golden-brown. Remove from the oven and from the pan. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 3 logs.

Variation: Before placing the filling, spread squares of dough with Israeli-style white cheese instead of olive oil. Of course, this will make the recipe dairy.

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