Cinnamon Buns

photo-2Last week I dreamt about my Mom for the very first time since she passed away over a decade ago.  In my dream I was laying in bed and she was sitting on the edge looking down on me, reassuring me that “everything was going to be alright,” an expression that I don’t remember her using when she was alive.  The whole dream was unsettling, but I decided that her message was worth holding on to, and so during this particularly stressful summer, I have tried making an effort to weave some childlike innocence back into my life, at least during August, my birthday month.  It’s easy to remember what it was like when world news could not be farther from my thoughts and the biggest worry I had on any given day in August was deciding which flavor I would pick from the Italian ice cart as it made its way down the Grand Concourse on those hot summer days in the Bronx.

So what have I done this summer?  We had lunch at the original Farmers’ Market which consisted of a delicious grilled cheese sandwich at Short Cake, with a tall glass of iced blueberry lemonade (blueberries were a very important part of my childhood summers).  We saw How to Train a Dragon 2, during which I treated myself to a childhood favorite, Malted Milk Balls.  Last Sunday was spent at the beach with Shira and Norm, and enjoyed the feeling that with each set of receding waves, another set of worries were being washed away.  Shira and I spent an afternoon at a Korean Spa, (o.k. that is not from my childhood) an experience so relaxing that I fell asleep while having a spa treatment.  And then today.  Today is my actual birthday and so after my daughter-in-law arrived in town we went to Joan’s  On Third for breakfast, definitely a favorite of mine, and I ate two soft-boiled eggs, something my mother often made for me and always served in shot glasses.  Joan’s makes them just the way I like them, 4 minutes, not 3 which produces a runny white, and not 5 which makes the yolk too hard.  It has to be four, four is  the perfect number to achieve the right balance between too soft and too firm.  We then drove over  to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, came home, ate fresh (peaches and cream) corn, brushed with melted butter and a sprinkling of sea salt.  Elizabeth and I, her close friend Rachel and baby Orly, retreated to the den and Norm “put up” some pickles, and baked a batch of cinnamon buns for dessert.  They should be ready in a few minutes and I expect that when I bite into that rich yeast dough, and all I smell is that quintessential childhood combination of sugar and cinnamon, that I will remember my dream, and the words of my mother, and I too will be sure that everything will be alright.

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Cinnamon Buns

1) Make a half recipe of your favorite Challah dough, using about  3 1/2 – 4 cups flour.   (Click on the link for my recipe)

2) Mix dough and allow to rise at room temperature till double in bulk.  While dough is rising, make sugar and cinnamon combination.

3) Combine 3/4 cup brown sugar or a combination of brown and white sugars with 3 Tb good quality ground cinnamon. Whisk together till smooth, and lump free.

4) Sprinkle counter with flour, punch down dough,  and roll out to a large rectangle, till thickness is about 1/4 inch.

5) Melt 2 Tb butter and using a pastry brush, paint surface of dough.

6) Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar combination leaving a 1/4 inch border around the perimeter of the dough.

7) Roll dough into a tight log, starting with the long side.  Slice into 16 equal portions.

8) Grease a 9″ square pan and place buns, spiral side up, snugly into pan.

9) Allow to rise for about 2 hours.

10) Preheat oven and bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes, rotating after 1o minutes, till rich golden brown.

Make a fondant or cream cheese glaze of your choice.

Serve slightly warm.

Enjoy,

Irene

 

 

 

Kreplach

Matzoh Balls are for Passover, Kreplach are for Rosh Hashana.  That’s our family tradition.  For those of you who spent part of today trying to get a head start on the holidays, here is what we prepared in our kitchen.  Chicken soup, two kinds of Challot and Kreplach.

Kreplach

Cooked soup chicken ( I used 5 of the thighs from the pot of chicken soup)

2 medium onions, finely chopped

3 Tbs oil

4 Tbs chicken soup

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Saute onions in oil over low flame till golden brown.  Chop the soup chicken by hand in a wooden bowl, using a hackmesser.  Add sauteed onions, salt and pepper, and 3 Tbs chicken soup. Mix well.

Place 1 tsp chicken mixture into center of each wonton skin. Dip your finger in water and wet the outer edge of each skin before sealing the kreplach to create a better seal.

Place the kreplach on a cookie sheet and freeze.  When frozen, remove from sheet and place in freezer bag.  On the day you plan to serve the kreplach, line a cookie sheet with wax paper, separate kreplach on sheet and allow to defrost. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil.  Drop kreplach in, a few at a time,  for about two minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon and place  2-3 in the bottom of each soup bowl and set aside. When you are ready to serve, add piping hot chicken soup to bowl.

Alternative preparation: Norm fried some up (see above) and froze them. They just need to thaw out and sit in the hot soup for a few minutes.

Yield: 40 Kreplach

Here is a photo and a link to the King Arthur Four Recipe for this challah.  We tested one out last week and loved it!

Harvest Apple Challah

Shana Tovah,

Irene

Blueberry Buns

Blueberries are my favorite summer fruit.  I love the color, texture, the little crown at the top of the berry, and the memories that I associate with this small delicate fruit that was plentiful on the East Coast.  As a child I picked berries in Lakewood, New Jersey and watched my Tante Marisha and mother prepare blueberry buns that we would eat straight from the oven, the warm berries oozing out with the first bite.  At The Rendezvous, a corner store in The Bronx, I always ordered fresh blueberry ice cream in the summer.  It had a particular fragrance that I had completely forgotten until this past year when a facial cream brought back this incredibly familiar smell, it was the smell of fresh blueberry ice cream.

Other memories include reading Blueberries for Sal to my children, a family favorite, and listening to Blueberry Pie by Bette Midler.

Life is peachy, let’s go bananas,
no one will care!
Blueberry Pie, let’s have fun,
’cause when all is said and done
I love you, yes I do,
’cause, Blueberry, you’re true blue.

There was a trip to Maine when the kids were little and we picked berries on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.  Summer trips to Toronto where blueberry buns were a local specialty of European Jewish bakeries.  I remember my cousin Rose serving a delicious blueberry cake and I have a favorite peach and blueberry cobbler recipe that I make each summer.  Blueberry buns, or  yagda bilkelach, which is what they are called in Yiddish, are from an era when you could go out and pick your berries, bring them home and spend the day making something special for your family to eat.  Summer days should be like that.  Try them.

Make your favorite challah recipe or use the one I give on an older post.

Voila!

Blueberry Buns ( The photo is of my husband’s Toronto version, folded on the side but I prefer them pinched on the top)

Filling

2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

Mix blueberries and sugar and let stand for about 5 minutes.

Divide dough into 8 equal portions.  Roll dough on floured board into circles 1/8 inch in thickness.  Place one tablespoon of filling in center and bring sides of dough to the top and pinch closed.  Brush with egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water.  Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Makes 8 buns.

Enjoy,

Irene

Challah

The scent of dough rising in the kitchen can create so many associations.  It can bring us back to the bakeries we frequented as children, holding on to our mothers’ hands, and eating the sprinkle cookie given to us by the woman behind the counter.  It can remind us of a flour covered apron worn by a grandmother making Challah.  My own mother would make blueberry buns from blueberries that I was sent out to collect with my sister near my aunt’s house in Lakewood, New Jersey.  There is something special about working with yeast, it has that distinctive lifelike quality and scent, always recognizable, like an old friend in the kitchen.  My husband has recently started making home-made bagels, hazelnut flutes and artisanal French breads.  They are wonderful, wheaty, warm and yeasty.
January, even in California, is a perfect time to bake.  A warm kitchen is so inviting so go ahead and create a memory that your children will cherish. The scent of yeast.

Here is my tried and true recipe for challah.  Be creative and add some dried cranberries, some chocolate chips, some dried figs or dates and most of all, have fun.

Challah
½ cup oil
3 tsp salt
¾ cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
½ cup cold water
2 pkgs dried yeast
1/3 cup warm water
3 eggs
7-8 cups all purpose flour

Put oil, salt and sugar in large bowl, add 1 cup boiling water and stir till sugar is dissolved.  Then add ½ cup cold water and stir.  Dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup warm water along with a pinch of sugar and proof for several minutes till bubbly.  In a small bowl beat 3 eggs and add to cooled oil mixture. Then add yeast and stir.  Add 7 cups of flour, one at a time, and stir after each cup.  Put dough on floured board and knead for about 10 – 15 minutes.
Put in oiled bowl and let rise until double, about two hours.  Punch down and knead gently for several minutes.  Divide and make 2 large challahs or four medium sized.  Let stand 45 minutes.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until brown.

Enjoy,

Irene