Fresh Mango Bread

We are back home and I can get back to blogging again!  I did not get a chance to bake a lot while I was in he states as most of our days were taken up by wedding-related activities.  We also got a point where we were sick of eating rich fancy foods and all we wanted (or at least I wanted) regular home food.  Not just homestyle, but the food that I normally make.  Vacation is great, but eating out too much can really get annoying.  So now we are home and I get to make dinner every night again!

We had a lot of fun in Rochester, NY (the location of the wedding).  It is a really suburban college town with a nice feel.  Everyone in the supermarket are super nice (being from a hick town in NJ I feel totally at home).  Rocker Dude (spending most of his formative years around abrasive Israelis) was a little freaked out – he thought Edison, NJ was too polite!  We stayed at a really awesome family’s house for the weekend before we moved into the hotel the night before the wedding (let me tell you, for nine adults and three children, the amount of luggage we brought made it seem like we really were moving).  They were so welcoming, and the husband had a sports and comics collectibles collection.  He and Rocker Dude really hit it off and started debating all sorts of esoteric aspects of Rocker Dude’s comic book characters.

The Little Rocker charmed everyone and looked so cute in her dress, here is a picture:

The Little Rocker and me

And here is the happy couple:

D. and M.

Anyhoo, we got back to Israel on Wednesday morning and I went back to work already on Thursday.  As the Little Rocker’s body clock was stuck somewhere over the Atlantic, Rocker Dude and I were both very exhausted and did not have energy to make anything fancy this weekend.  On Friday morning I got some delicious mangoes at the farmer’s market and while flipping through Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home To Yours and I found this recipe for mango bread, well, it’s more like a cake.  I have never had mango bread or cake before, and it was super easy to make – did not even require a mixer!

Dice up all the mangoes - you need two cups
See, two cups.

After dicing up the mangoes, you mix the eggs and oil in a bowl and add the dry ingredients – by hand.

Dry ingredients added.

And then the fruit:

Raisins and Mangoes

Then you bake it in a loaf pan, don’t try to rush it out of the oven (I was really pressed for time, and I practically sat outside the oven until it was done), let it cool and enjoy!  The recipe says that it tastes better the second day and that is so true.  So if you can plan ahead – make this a day before you need it so that it can get super-moist!

Fresh Mango Bread

Recipe (From Baking: From My Home to Yours):

3 large eggs

3/4 flavorless oil (like canola or safflower)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar

2 cups diced mango

3/4 cup golden raisins

grated zest of 1/2 lime

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9×5 loaf pan and put it on one insulated baking sheet or two regular baking sheets.

Whisk the eggs and oil together.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.  Add in the brown sugar.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry (I did the opposite), and with a spatula, mix everything together.  The batter will be really thick – more like dough than batter.  Stir in the mango, raisins and zest.  Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake the bread for 1 1/2 hours or until it is golden brown and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.  If the bread looks like it is getting too brown as it bakes, cover it loosely with a foil tent.  Transfer the pan to a cooling rack for five minutes before loosening the cake from the pan and unmolding it.  Cool on a rack to room temperature.

Advertisements

Tuesdays With Dorie: Lots of Ways Banana Cake

I had mixed opinions about this cake.  Rocker Dude asked why it had to be banana, and couldn’t I do another flavor.  I told him that it was called “Lots of Ways Banana cake” – not “Any flavor cake you can make lots of ways.”  He used to like banana cake more, like when I first started making it for the Little Rocker, but I guess it has overstayed its welcome.  But he is very supportive of everything I make (cause he knows what’s good for him) and he supports me baking along with everyone because it gets me to try new things – so Banana Cake, here we come!

Look at that nice, thick batter.

A few weeks ago I had bought bananas expecting to eat them, but somehow, while my back was turned, they ripened and were all of a sudden to ripe to eat plain.  Luckily I knew that this recipe was coming up so I peeled them and put them in the freezer.

You can still see the bits of banana in the batter.

I hoped to make these in time for our weekly Star Trek date with A. and E. on Wednesday night.  Of course, I didn’t start making the cake until after the Little Rocker went to sleep, but as the cake was only supposed to bake for about 40 minutes I hoped it would be done already.  I should have known better.  Things always take longer in my oven. I also made the cake in a loaf pan so that it would be like banana bread, so that also made it take longer.  Basically it ended up being done baking just as we were finishing our last episode of the night.  I quickly brushed the syrup on it and we all had a piece, hot from the oven.

You can totally tell that this picture was staged - I am a righty, how would I properly brush the syrup on with my left hand?

Although it was so hot that each piece fell apart, it added so much to the flavor.  Rocker Dude even said that it tasted like the perfect breakfast food, almost like french toast.  He should know better than to underestimate the awesomeness of my baking.

Banana loaf cake, I know it looks a bit brown around the edges but it is so moist and not burnt at all - I highly recommend this cake to everyone!

Sorry this post is so short, but I have been really busy at work (when I usually write these things up) training my replacement.  Rocker Dude, the Little Rocker and I are all flying next week to New Jersey for my brother D.’s wedding!  We will be there for about three weeks, and apparently my office can’t survive without me (when they realize how much they need me I should get a raise!)

I also have another recipe to  post – Ginger Cookies – and that will have to wait until I have  a few free minutes too.  When Rocker Dude went shopping this week he bought blueberry pie filling – hint hint – I then responded that he forgot to get the cheese so how was I supposed to make cheesecake?

This week’s recipe was hosted by Kimberly of Only Creative Opportunities so visit her blog to get the recipe and see what other TWD bakers did here.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Cinnamon Swirl Bread

This week’s recipe is hosted by Susan of Food.Baby.  This is a recipe that I was really looking forward to making.  I love making breads (I mean, come on, I make challah every week), and I love eating breads too (it shows).  So I am so glad that Susan picked this recipe to make this week.

I love the combination of raisins and cinnamon, whenever we are in America and we go out for bagels, I always get a cinnamon raisin bagel, toasted, with cream cheese.  I even planned the baking of this bread out well.  I decided to make it Thursday night so that Friday morning (my day off) I would make fresh french toast for the whole family.  It was all planned out.  I sent Rocker Dude food shopping on Thursday afternoon so that we would have the ingredients when I got home from work.

Dough before rising

After I put the Little Rocker to bed, I set about making the dough.  It mixed really nicely and was super soft.  I was very excited.  As the dough rose ( I didn’t have to worry about finding a warm space, it’s about 85 degrees F outside), I set about finding the raisins and margarine and cinnamon.

Look at that rising action!

I looked in the cabinet where we normally keep raisins, but I couldn’t find them.  I looked in the other food cabinet just in case Rocker Dude had misplaced them but there were no raisins.  I asked Rocker Dude where they were.  it went something like this:

Me: Sweetie, where are the raisins that you bought?

RD: You needed those?

Me: Yeah, that’s why I put them on the list.

RD: Oh, sorry baby, I thought they were just for the baby and I had already passed the aisle when I noticed them on the list and I didn’t feel like going back and I figured that the Little Rocker could manage a few days without raisins.

Me: Ummm.

RD: Wait is that why you wrote dark raisins instead of golden raisins?

Me: Uh, yeah.

So there we were, raisin-less at 11:00 at night with no store open and no hope for more raisins before morning.  What to do?  Rocker Dude said that I should put the dough in the refrigerator until morning and bake it then.  That would have been the logical thing to do, but I was impatient and I wanted to be able to make the french toast first thing in the morning so that the Little Rocker could enjoy some for breakfast too.  So I took apart the cabinets looking for something that I could substitute for raisins, but there was nothing.  It was then that I came to my great decision.  I would make Cinnamon Swirl Bread – no raisins.  (At the time this was a big deal, it was a long day).

So I rolled out the dough and smeared the margarine, sprinkled the dough generously with cinnamon and sugar and rolled it up tightly.  I put the dough in the loaf pan and baked it.  The house smelled heavenly.  If you ever want to sell a house, forget the baking cookies, bake bread.

Cinnamon swirl filling

The next morning I sliced up the bread for the french toast and tasted it – ohhhh yuuuuuummmmm.  I gave the Little Rocker a small slice while we were waiting for the french toast to cook and she loved it too.  She also tried to feed it to her stuffed monkey, Momo.  When the french toast was ready, I woke up Rocker Dude (he enjoys being woken up to the smell of fresh breakfast) and we all sat down together.  One word, delicious.

French Toast Fixin's

Afterward Rocker Dude informed me that if I had put in raisins he wouldn’t have liked it as much because he hates raisins in bread.  Is that why he “forgot” them?

Look at that swirl!
French Toast!

Check out the recipe on Susan’s site here, and see what other TWD bakers did here.

Challah

This is a post that is long in coming.  I have been making challah regularly for a long time now.  For those of you who don’t know, it is a traditional bread that is eaten on the Sabbath.  You are supposed to eat two loaves on Friday night and two loaves on Saturday afternoon.  They are traditionally braided though at certain times of the year, we shape the loaves into different shapes.

When I was a kid we used to buy challah from the bakery.  We were always disappointed with the insubstantiality of the bread itself.  You could squeeze a whole slice into a tiny ball the size of a marble.  It was also rather bland.  So finally my mother decided to make her own challah.  My parents’ house is very healthy – whole wheat everything, they only use olive oil, etc.  So obviously if she was going to make challah, she was only going to make whole wheat challah.  After much experimenting and trying new recipes, she found a nice fluffy whole wheat challah recipe.

When I came to Israel, got married and had my own house, I continued the tradition of making homemade challah.  My darling husband, on the other hand, comes from a family where they only buy challah, and not just any challah, water challah.  Water challah is a drier form of challah made completely without eggs and has a very flaky crust.  I prefer sweeter challahs with lots of sugar and a soft crust.  It took a lot of convincing to get Rocker Dude to be amenable to me making homemade challah.

The first few times that I made challah – it was a flop.  The dough didn’t rise, it was tasteless and bland.  This happened a few times and each time, Rocker Dude gave me a look and said, “Why don’t we just buy challah?”  But I persevered.  Then he told me that I should call his sister D.B. and get her recipe because her challah is always good.  That was a bit of a letdown, but I called her and got her recipe.  At the same time, I really looked into the yeast situation here in Israel.  I finally figured out that I was supposed to be using a whole pack of granulated fresh yeast for every kilo (2 1/2 lbs.) of flour.  I was treating the fresh yeast like the active dry yeast found in the US.  So combined with the new recipe and my knowledge about yeast, my challah finally came out good.  It was soft and tender, with a fine crumb and delicious taste.

The greatest thing about this challah is that it is so easy.  It’s only a few ingredients and then I let it rise all Friday morning and shape it in the early afternoon before baking it.

The challah after it has risen:

Normally I braid the loaves with three strands each, exactly as you would braid hair, but for this post, I made a braid out of six strands.  It’s a bit harder and it always takes me a few tries before I remember exactly what to do, but I took pictures, so next time I will remember too!

Here are the six strands, pinched together on top:

Okay, now here it gets a bit complicated.  Number each strand from left to right 1-6.

Now lift strand number two back, bring strand number 6 across to the left past strand number one, and bring strand number two back down between strands three and four.

Then renumber all the strands again from left to right 1-6.  Then do the same step as you did before on the other side.  Lift strand number 5 back and bring strand number one across past strand number 6, then bring strand number two down between, strands 3 and 4.

Continue to repeat these two steps until you use up all the dough.

Then pinch the ends together and let it rise for another half hour or so before putting it into the oven.

Here is what it looks like finished:

Recipe:

1 1/4 lbs. white flour

1 1/4 lbs. whole wheat flour

2 cups warm water

1 cup sugar

1 pk. Shimrit granulated yeast or 2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

1/2 cup oil

1/2 tsp. salt

Proof the yeast in the warm water with the sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer for about 10  minutes.  Add the flours, salt and oil and mix on a low speed for about 8 minutes until the dough comes together.  Turn into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 4-6 hours, punching down once in the middle.

Then knead the dough a bit before you shape it (see directions above).  Then let the finished loaves rise in the baking pan while you preheat the oven to 325°F.  Make an egg wash of egg an egg yolk and a little bit of water.  Brush generously on top of the loaves.  Feel free to sprinkle sesame seeds or poppy seeds over the loaves before you bake them.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, let cool on a cooling rack and enjoy!