Last week I went along to a challah baking day at the synagogue which was organised by my mum. I don’t tend to make bread all that often – being an impatient, quick bake a cake so I can eat it now, kind of girl. So this day was a real change for me.
There were fourteen bakers on the workshop and the ages literally spanned the generations from a two year old right up to granny ages ( I won’t divulge!) We started out with all the ingredients measured into bowls for us and the lovely Israeli Dorit showed us what to do.
Bread dough feels so different from any other baking I do. It’s got a soft, squishiness to it. As a newbie I had no idea when to stop kneading and when to add flour, water or as was the case with one really sticky dough – oil! (yes we literally had the dough sticking to the table top then a dribble of oil and another knead and it was all together and smooth- no longer sticking anything not even our hands!)
After each stage we had to leave the dough to proove which meant tea and cakes with a good old natter while we waited. Once the Challah dough was ready Dorit showed us how to plait with three, four or more lengths. You literally just lift the right hand length then weave it under and over the other lengths. Then pic up the new right hand one and continue. The end result looked great once I had curled my plait into a circle.
Once out of the oven and smothered in honey the Challah was ready to be left to cool before eating – for once I waited! The bread was totally delicious.
You can print off this recipe here
- 9g (2 ½ tsp) dried yeast
- 25g (2 tbsp) sugar
- 400ml (1 ½ cups) of warm water
- 20g (2 tbsp) plain flour
- 940g (6 cups) of plain flour
- 135ml (⅓ cup) honey
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 medium egg whisked
- 100g soft margarine
- 1 medium egg whisked
- 2 tbsp honey (optional)
- seasame seeds or poppy seeds
How to make Challah
This recipe is enough to make one whoppa of a challah or two good sized ones.
- In a small bowl mix the starter ingredients together with just a little of the water. Mix it into a paste before adding the rest of the water. It will become slightly frothy. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Place all the dough ingredients into a large bowl and mix with a spoon to combine then get your hands stuck in and knead it till it’s a ball of sticky-ish dough.
- Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm room (the airing cupboard is perfect) and leave for an hour till the dough has doubled in size.
- Knead the dough to knock the air out of it using a little olive oil if necessary. Set aside for another hour.
- Divide the dough into three equal balls, roll into long lengths then plait them together – tucking the ends underneath.
- Leave on the baking tray lined with baking paper for another 40 minutes so it rises even more.
- Heat your oven to 190ºC (Fan 170ºC). Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle seeds liberally over the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the Challah sounds hollow when you tap it underneath.
- Brush honey over the top using a pastry brush as soon as the Challah comes out of the oven. Leave to cool.
Thanks mum for organising the Great Catford Challah bake. Everyone had a great time (and I hope we can do it again some time!)
p.s. A word of warning- Don’t bake bread on a Sunday evening, fall asleep in front of Downton Abbey and not hear the oven timer going off. The end result will not be good!
Chocolate Ganache Recipe
If you follow me on Instagram then you would have already seen this picture of the chocolate ganache I made for a birthday cake a few weeks ago. I totally love ganache. I mean what’s not to love – it’s chocolate and cream!
I thought I’d share my recipe with you as it’s really handy to have – especially at this time of year when you’re thinking about making chocolate truffles asChristmas gifts. Usually I use double cream but I had some dairy free soya cream alternative left over so I used that and it was absolutely delish. Soya milk and cream are so much more creamy tasting that regular ones. I think I’ll be using them every time in the future- what’s more it’s great to have a dairy free ganache in your repertoire- don’t you think?
Print off the Chocolate Ganache Recipe here
Chocolate Ganache Recipe
Ingredients (this recipe is enough to sandwich and cover an 8″ cake
• 200ml double cream
• 250g dark chocolate- broken into small pieces
To make the ganache
- Place the cream in a bain- marie over a low heat making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water below.
- Heat the cream till very hot but not boiling – it will burn very quickly and you don’t need it that hot.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and add the chocolate pieces.
- Stir until all the chocolate and cream is melted and combined.
- Set aside to cool then pipe or spread over your cake with a palette knife.
Tips with Ganache
- You can add half as much chocolate again to your mix (ie another 125g) to make your ganache a thicker consistency. Much more chocolate than that and it will be very firm and won’t be easy to spread on a cake.
- For a dairy free ganache use dark chocolate (Bourneville is buttermilk free – most others aren’t) and a soya dairy free cream. Even if it is single cream the ganache will still taste fab – just add a few more squares of chocolate to thicken it up.
- Milk and white chocolate both work well with this recipe too.
- This recipe is great for making truffles. Simply add a tablespoon of flavour – alcohol always works well, once the cream and chocolate are combined. Set aside to cool then roll into balls. Cover in cocoa powder, icing sugar or anything your heart desire.
The Great British Bake off in numbers
I’m a big fan of infographics, aren’t you? So when I was sent this Great British Bake Off one earlier this week I just had to share it with you. I’m super excited to see the finale tonight (along with an estimated 12.29 million other viewers) but a bit gutted that I can’t watch it live- I shall be avoiding all forms of social media till I watch it.
Who do you think will win?
Lemon and Lime Madeira cake recipe
I’ve been wanting to test out this Lemon and Lime Madeira cake recipe for ages. I made it a few years ago for my sister’s charity cake morning but I didn’t measure the ingredients or take photos so when fellow Free Cakes For Kids volunteer Zowie had a Macmillian coffee morning this weekend I thought it was the perfect opportunity to make it again.
It’s a bit of a show stopper as this time I made it three tiers tall and I have finally worked out how to have a decent amount of buttercream between layers without it all squidging out from the sides.
Lemon and Lime Madeira cake recipe
- 170g Butter – at room temperature
- 170g margarine – at room temperature
- 400g caster sugar
- Juice 1 lemon and 1 lime (3 ½ tbsp cake, 1tbsp sugar syrup and 1 ½ tbsp buttercream)
- Rind of 1 lemon and 1 lime (½ for the cake, ½ for the buttercream)
- 7 medium eggs- at room temperature
- 510 plain flour
- 3 ½ tsp baking powder
- 7 tbsp water
Sugar syrup ingredients
- 40g caster sugar
- 40ml water
- 1 tbsp lemon & lime juice (taken from original fruit)
- 450g butter- at room temperature
- 450g sieved icing sugar
- 1 ½ tbsp lemon & lime juice (taken from original fruit)
- Lemon and lime rind
How to make the Lemon and Lime Madeira cake
To make the cake
- Line three 8″ cake tins with silicon paper and pre heat your oven to
180ºC (Fan oven160ºC). I use sunflower oil to grease the tins so the cakes stay soft. Butter tends to bake too quickly giving you a harder cake on the outside.
Start by creaming the butters together then add the sugar and beat till it’s pale and fluffy.
Very slowly add the eggs – a spoonful at a time. Add a spoon of the flour to prevent curdling if necessary.
- Grate all of the rind from the lemon and the lime then juice them both. Run the juice through a sieve so there are no pips or pith. These will be used for the cake, the buttercream and the sugar syrup so don’t put it all in the cake at once or you’ll end up with a very, very zingy cake! Put 3 ½ tbsp of juice into the cake mix and set the rest aside.
Sieve the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl and have the hot water ready. Add the flour and water in three goes. This produces the fluffiest and most moist cake rather than adding all the flour then all the water.
Finally fold in half the zests.
- Spoon into the three cake tins. The mixture should be 565g for each tin – if you want really even cakes.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the centre clean.
Don’t open the oven door for the first 20 minutes. It will make the cake sink.
Place the cakes on a wire to cool.
- Make the sugar syrup while the cakes are baking.
To make the sugar syrup
- Place the water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer until all the sugar has dissolved then add the lemon and lime juice.
- Set aside and allow to cool.
- Once the cakes are out of the oven brush over the top of each cake with the sugar syrup. You only need to cover each area once. Don’t be tempted to put too much syrup on or you’ll end up with a soggy mess.
- Leave the cakes to cool for 15 minutes before turning them out of the tin to go completely cold before you arrange them with buttercream.
To make the buttercream
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. This will take 3-5 minutes. If using a stand mixer you can carefully place a tea towel over the mixer -around the outside of the bowl to prevent the icing sugar being thrown out all over the place. If using a hand held mixer loosely combine the ingredients before whisking.
Make sure the cakes are level by cutting off any domes from the tops
Fill a piping bag with a wide nozzle with the buttercream. Pipe dots all around the bottom cake layer then fill the inside. Use a spatula to smooth it a little.
- Place the next layer on top then repeat with the next layer of buttercream finishing off with the top layer of cake.
- Place in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes. This encourages the buttercream to harden up a little making it easier to spread buttercream on the outside edges.
- Use a little of the buttercream to spread a crumb coating on the top and outside edge – filling any gaps between the layers as you go, then chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. The longer it’s in the fridge the harder the coating will get and the easier it will be to add the next layer. I’ve been leaving the crumb coating a little bit rough (rather than smoothing it completely flat) recently and it’s made adding the outside coating much easier.
- Once the crumb coating is firm add a thicker outer coating all over the cake. Use a serrated ruler to create a design in the buttercream across the top and then on the sides.
- Place any decorations on the top (these Daisies were from Poundand) and then chill again for 10-15 minutes.
From what I tasted – I never leave an off-cut uneaten, that’s what buttercream is for isn’t it? this is one seriously zesty, moist cake.