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Bread Machine Challah

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When we lived in Chicago I worked part-time as an on-call chaplain at a hospital downtown. On-call chaplaincy means you live in the hospital for a day and a night, wearing a pager and trolling around the hospital looking for trouble. I loved it! However, the hunger you feel after being on-call is unlike any other. Luckily, one of the perks of being the on-call chaplain was getting the leftover challah that a local bakery provided for the Jewish patients’ Sabbath. Challah is incredible. Every religion and denomination has their specialty. Lutherans have hot dishes and Jewish folks have bread. Heaven help me, it is delicious.

Depending on the religious holiday, challah is shaped into various kinds of loaves. Braiding is the traditional method and I think it is pretty easy so that’s what I go with. If you are in a pinch, put it in a loaf pan. Challah is a sweet, rich bread so if you have any left over use it in things like bread pudding and french toast. Also, slathered with Nutella this stuff will change your life. Note: this is not a traditional recipe (parve) as it has milk in it.

Bread Machine Challah

  •          3/4 cup buttermilk
  •          2 eggs
  •          3 tablespoons butter
  •          3 cups bread flour
  •          1/4 cup sugar
  •          1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  •          1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Place all ingredients into bread machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Set to dough setting.

Remove from machine and cut into 3 separate pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and braid. Place on parchment covered baking sheet and allow to rest about an hour (until doubled in size). Brush egg wash from 1 egg beaten and 1 tablespoon water onto bread. Bake in oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

Hot Cross Buns (Bread Machine)

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Wondering where I have been? I’m a priest. It was Easter. Don’t ask. But hey, I’m back from vacation so my little brain is slightly less fried than it was a couple of weeks ago. I think we can all be thankful for that!

It isn’t that my family has been starving or that I have not been cooking. It is merely that it has not been documented. But I did get a snapshot of this recipe before I trotted off to church with them on Good Friday. Hot Cross Buns are a fine Anglican tradition on Good Friday, and I’m all about tradition (feel free to laugh). While I may have made Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday these are in no way traditional. I don’t care for raisins, I added a few more spices, and who wants plain old icing when you can have cream cheese instead? If you want a little more traditional or you’re dying to hear more about Hot Cross Buns, feel free to Google them.

Now that it isn’t Lent or Holy Week, I’d just make these and spread the icing on top. But I’m lazy. And I love tons of cream cheese frosting. Whatcha gonna do?

Hot Cross Buns

Buns:

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons yeast for bread machines
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water

Icing

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Break 2 eggs into 2-cup measuring cup. Add enough water to measure 1 1/3 cups. Place egg mixture and remaining bun ingredients (except fruit, 1 egg and cold water) in bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select Dough/Manual cycle. Do not use delay cycle. You will probably need to add another tablespoon or two of water after a few minutes of mixing.

Add fruit at the Raisin/Nut signal or 5 to 10 minutes before last kneading cycle ends. Remove dough from pan. Cover and let rest 10 minutes on lightly floured surface.

Grease cookie sheet (if not nonstick). Divide dough in half. Divide each half into 8 equal pieces. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Snip a cross shape in top of each ball, using scissors. Cover and let rise in warm place about 40 minutes or until double.

Heat oven to 375°F. Beat egg and cold water slightly; brush over tops of buns. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool.

Mix icing ingredients and place in Ziplock bag. Cut tip from bag and pipe crosses on each bun.

French Bread

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Have you ever noticed that the greatest things in the world are usually the simplest? Leonardo DaVinci said it better when he said “simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication.” Proof? French Bread. There really isn’t a whole lot in French Bread but there aren’t many things more incredible than a fresh loaf. I attempted to make Irish Soda Bread to go with my corned beef and cabbage to serve at our vestry retreat last Saturday. Unfortunately, the loaf turned out ugly and I refused to serve it. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted great but I don’t like to serve ugly food to people I’m bribing to do the hard work of a full-day vestry retreat. But French Bread? It’s fool proof, delicious, and gorgeous! Next time I’ll ignore that it is St. Patrick’s Day and serve the French bread anyway.

French Bread

Ingredients

  •             1 1/4 cups water (70 to 80 degrees F)
  •             2 teaspoons sugar
  •             1 teaspoon salt
  •             3 1/2 cups bread flour
  •             1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  •             1 tablespoon olive oil
  •             1 tablespoon cornmeal
  •             1 egg
  •             1 tablespoon water

In bread machine pan, place the first five ingredients in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed, add olive oil).

When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Roll each portion into a 10-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seams to seal.

Sprinkle a greased baking sheet with cornmeal; place loaves seam side down on prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 minutes.

Whisk egg and water; brush over loaves. With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across the top of each loaf. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.