Cinnamon Raisin Challah

Cinnamon Raisin Challah

Do you fondly remember raisin bread as a child?  I do, yet these days my husband and I tend to eat cinnamon raisin bagels more so than the bread.  I couldn’t resist giving the raisin bread I remember some new life.  This loaf is sweet and eggy with lots of cinnamon, a pinch of cardamom, plump raisins and a sprinkling of coarse sugar. 

What is Challah?

In very basic terms, Challah is a braided yeast bread made with eggs.  So by this definition, one can imagine the possibilities for variations.  

Traditionally however, Challah is an egg-rich, braided bread eaten in the Jewish cuisine on ceremonial occasions. The term Challah is also a reference to the separation of a portion of the bread for an offering. 

To me, it’s a darn tasty way to enjoy toast in the morning!

About this Challah

In this recipe, I opted to use brown sugar because I wanted that hint of molasses.  I also added a small amount of cardamom because I think it is wonderful in baked goods.  The raisins are pre-plumped, mostly because mine were looking a little dry. The top is dusted generously with coarse sugar for a little extra indulgence and crunch.  This loaf was braided with only 3 strands, but by all means, use a 5 or 6 strand braid if you prefer.  

Enjoy!

Baked and golden Cinnamon Raisin Challah braid rests on a wooden trivet that is draped with a navy and brown napkin. The loaf has two slices cut and resting at the front of the loaf. A knife and apricot jam sit to the side.
Cinnamon Raisin Challah
Print Recipe
    Servings
    1 large loaf
    Servings
    1 large loaf
    Baked and golden Cinnamon Raisin Challah braid rests on a wooden trivet that is draped with a navy and brown napkin. The loaf has two slices cut and resting at the front of the loaf. A knife and apricot jam sit to the side.
    Cinnamon Raisin Challah
    Print Recipe
      Servings
      1 large loaf
      Servings
      1 large loaf
      Ingredients
      Servings: large loaf
      Instructions
      1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook stir together water, brown sugar and yeast. Allow to proof for 7-8 minutes.
      2. Stir in 2 whole eggs, egg yolks, oil, and raisins. To this mixture add 2 cups of flour, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Begin kneading, allowing all the flour to be absorbed. Add remaining flour gradually until dough begins to pull away from the sides and is smooth about 7-8 minutes. The dough will be a little sticky but you should be able to handle it without additional flour.
      3. Lightly oil a large bowl and turn out dough into bowl flipping to coat sides. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a draft-free area for 90 minutes. (It will not appear to be double in size)
      4. Remove dough and knead a few times to punch out the air. Divide dough into 3 equal portions of approximately 300g each. Allow dough to rest for about 5 minutes. This helps relax the dough and will make it easier to roll into logs.
      5. Line a large baking tray with parchment.
      6. Roll each third into a 14" long log. Lay the 3 logs parallel to each other on the baking tray. Braid dough tightly, pinching the ends together and tucking under slightly.
      7. Cover loaf with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a draft free area for 45 minutes.
      8. Preheat oven to 350℉. In a small bowl whisk together 1 large egg and cream. Brush generously on the loaf and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for approximately 32 minutes until golden and an internal temperature of 195℉ is reached.
      9. Remove from oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool prior to slicing.
      Recipe Notes

      For extra plump raisins, soak them in hot water for 10-15 minutes and drain well prior to adding to dough.

      This bread is wonderful toasted with a little apricot jam.

      It toasts quickly because of the sugar content.

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      I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
      Irish Cream Cupcakes

      Irish Cream Cupcakes

      I just couldn’t resist making these creamy and chocolatey Irish Cream Cupcakes to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year.  They’re a fun and tasty way to celebrate Irish heritage and religion by lacing both the cupcakes and the frosting with Irish Cream.  These cupcakes are deliciously moist and not too sweet with a white chocolate ganache frosting. Good any day of the year in my opinion.

      So what’s the Irish in Irish Cream anyway?

      Simply put, Irish Cream is a creamy liqueur made with Irish Whiskey, which can only be named as such if distilled on the island of Ireland, among other regulations.

      What are we celebrating on St. Patrick’s Day?

      St. Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious celebration recognizing the patron Saint of Ireland, St. Patrick who died on March 17th, 461. He is best known for bringing Christianity to Ireland.

      Why do we wear green?

      Ireland is also known as The Emerald Isle, referencing green.

      St. Patrick used the green shamrock as a tool to teach people about the holy trinity.

      Green is one of the primary colours of the Irish flag.

      Wearing green makes you invisible to Leprechauns, who are said to pinch anyone not wearing green, and that’s reason enough for me LOL!

      A single Irish Cream Cupcakes sits in focus in the foreground. It sits on a black cooling rack draped with a green and white checkered towel. The background is blurry.
      Irish Cream Cupcakes
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        24 cupcakes 60 minutes
        Cook Time Passive Time
        16-18 minutes 4+ hours
        Servings Prep Time
        24 cupcakes 60 minutes
        Cook Time Passive Time
        16-18 minutes 4+ hours
        A single Irish Cream Cupcakes sits in focus in the foreground. It sits on a black cooling rack draped with a green and white checkered towel. The background is blurry.
        Irish Cream Cupcakes
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          24 cupcakes 60 minutes
          Cook Time Passive Time
          16-18 minutes 4+ hours
          Servings Prep Time
          24 cupcakes 60 minutes
          Cook Time Passive Time
          16-18 minutes 4+ hours
          Ingredients
          White Chocolate Ganache
          Chocolate Cupcakes
          Servings: cupcakes
          Instructions
          White Chocolate Ganache
          1. Heat cream and Irish cream in a small pot until just at a simmer.
          2. Add chopped white chocolate and butter to a medium size bowl. Pour hot cream over white chocolate and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and chill until cold, about 4 hours or up to 24 hours in advance.
          3. Using an electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whip, whisk ganache until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Use immediately or chill until ready to use.
          Chocolate Cupcakes
          1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and line 24 muffin tins with paper liners.
          2. Using an electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment combine all ingredients EXCEPT the water and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add boiling water and stir to combine.
          3. Pour or scoop 1/4 cup of batter into prepared tins. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
          4. Frost with white chocolate ganache frosting.

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          Affiliate Disclosure

          I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
          Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets

          Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets

           

          Why are chicken cutlets so good?

          Simply put, they are pounded thin.  This not only makes them tender but makes them cook quickly leaving them little chance of drying out. The trick is to pound them out as evenly as possible which results in even cooking.  Breading the cutlets isn’t always necessary but it does help to keep in all the moisture as does a good sear if opting not to bread them. Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets is a good example of both pounding thin and breading.

           

           

          I love versatile food!

          Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets are a great example of how one dish can become 3 different kinds of meals.  These crispy cutlets slathered with pesto are fantastic served with buttered noodles for a quick and easy weeknight meal.  They’re also great cut into wedges and served atop a crisp salad. I’m thinking my favourite though is nestling said cutlet between chewy bread and tomato slices for an upgraded sandwich that ‘s good for lunch or dinner.

           

          Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets are cut into strips in the foreground, while whole cutlets remain on a parchment lined tray in the background. A black kitchen towel, knife, fresh basil and pesto adorn the scene.
          Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            8 cutlets 35 minutes
            Cook Time
            12-15 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            8 cutlets 35 minutes
            Cook Time
            12-15 minutes
            Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets are cut into strips in the foreground, while whole cutlets remain on a parchment lined tray in the background. A black kitchen towel, knife, fresh basil and pesto adorn the scene.
            Breaded Pesto Chicken Cutlets
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              8 cutlets 35 minutes
              Cook Time
              12-15 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              8 cutlets 35 minutes
              Cook Time
              12-15 minutes
              Ingredients
              Servings: cutlets
              Instructions
              1. Using a blender or mini processor combine the first 7 ingredients and blend until combined but still has some texture. Set aside.
              2. Using three shallow bowls, combine flour and 1/2 tsp salt in one, breadcrumbs and 1/2 tsp salt in the second and the eggs whisked with the milk in the third.
              3. Pat chicken breasts dry with a paper towel. Cut each breast in half horizontally and then cut each half into half vertically, giving you 4 pieces per breast.
              4. Place chicken pieces between 2 pieces of parchment. Pound to about a 1/4" thick (no thinner).
              5. Dredge chicken cutlets with flour, shaking off excess.
              6. Dunk floured cutlets into egg wash and then into bread crumbs, turning to coat evenly. Arrange prepared cutlets onto a clean plate or tray.
              7. Add enough oil to a large skillet to come up about an 1/8" of an inch. Heat over medium until hot. Add 4 cutlets and cook approximately 2 1/2 minutes per side depending on thickness. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining cutlets.
              8. Turn oven to broil, with rack 8-10" from heat.
              9. Arrange cutlets on a foil lined tray. Spread 1 tbsp of pesto onto each cutlet and sprinkle lightly with grated parmesan cheese. Broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
              Recipe Notes

              -You can use any pesto you'd like here, however, the one included with this recipe contains less oil than regular pesto.  I found regular pesto makes the cutlets too oily.  This slightly drier version gives the same great flavour but less oil and better results. If you'd like to use a classic pesto, here's the recipe Classic Pesto

              -These cutlets are also great on top of pasta drizzled with extra pesto or in a sandwich.

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              Affiliate Disclosure

              I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
              Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

              Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

              I promised!

              Yes, not too long ago I promised to build up my “cookie” category because who doesn’t want more cookies?  Today’s Coconut Oatmeal Cookies are made just for me!  That’s right, they’re not Christmas cookies made for giving, chocolate chip for my husband or spicy oatmeal for my brother.  Nope, they’re golden with crispy, buttery edges and a slightly chewy centre. Pure coconut and oatmeal goodness, and they’re just for me. This wonderful Coconut Oatmeal Cookie is MY favourite and not made enough in my opinion.  It’s wonderful to bake for others and I truly love to do so, but today I’m thinking of myself.  I really don’t need to eat a bunch of cookies all by myself, but these are oh so good and I do like to have a little treat once in a while. Luckily they freeze wonderfully!!

              What makes a good cookie?

              I suppose one could say that depends on what kind of cookie your making, but many cookies start off in a similar manner by creaming the butter and sugar first.  So here are a few tips,

              1. Use room temperature butter, do not substitute margarine or shortening. Sure they will work, but butter just tastes better.

              2. Cream the butter and sugar well, ensuring the sugar crystals are evenly coated. This helps give a tender texture to the cookie.

              3. Mix dough until just incorporated and dough sticks together. 

              4. Measure out dough or use an Amazon cookie scoop where applicable for each cookie to ensure each one is the same size for uniform baking.

              5. Do not overcrowd on the pan.  Allow the cookie enough room to spread and brown evenly all around.

              6. Do not over bake.  This can be difficult as cookies are still soft when removed from the oven so it’s hard to judge sometimes.  I bake one tray first according to the recipe and adjust if needed before baking more.

              7. Use parchment paper or Amazon Silpat mat  to prevent cookies from sticking.

              8. Bake one tray at a time using the middle rack.  This takes a little more time, but every cookie will be the same.

              Author: Compelled to Cook, recipe adapted from Best of Bridge BL’s Cookies.

              Coconut Oatmeal Cookies rest on a blue and white striped napkin that is draped through a white wooden tray. A small glass bottle of milk sits to the side and a canister of cookies lays in the background.
              Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
              Print Recipe
                Servings Prep Time
                54 cookies 20 minutes
                Cook Time
                10-12 minutes
                Servings Prep Time
                54 cookies 20 minutes
                Cook Time
                10-12 minutes
                Coconut Oatmeal Cookies rest on a blue and white striped napkin that is draped through a white wooden tray. A small glass bottle of milk sits to the side and a canister of cookies lays in the background.
                Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
                Print Recipe
                  Servings Prep Time
                  54 cookies 20 minutes
                  Cook Time
                  10-12 minutes
                  Servings Prep Time
                  54 cookies 20 minutes
                  Cook Time
                  10-12 minutes
                  Ingredients
                  Servings: cookies
                  Instructions
                  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
                  2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.
                  3. Using an electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars.
                  4. Add egg and molasses and beat to fully incorporate. Stir in vanilla.
                  5. Add flour mixture, oatmeal and coconut. Mix until just combined and dough comes together.
                  6. Line baking trays with parchment or silpat mat. Using a 1 ounce cookie scoop, scoop out dough, spacing 2 inches apart.
                  7. Bake one tray at a time on the middle rack for 10-12 minutes.
                  8. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on tray for 2-3 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.

                  Affiliate Disclosure

                  I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
                  Roasted Gremolata Cauliflower

                  Roasted Gremolata Cauliflower

                  Cauliflower is boring!

                  But it doesn’t have to be with a good roasting and the addition of a vibrant Gremolata.  Roasted Gremolata Cauliflower is anything but boring with its caramelized edges, fresh garlic, parsley and a good dose of lemon zest.  The Gremolata is a game changer for plain, boring cauliflower, transforming it into a flavourful and zesty side dish.

                  What is Gremolata?

                  Gremolata is an Italian condiment/accompaniment that is made with Italian flat leaf parsley, lemon zest, fresh garlic, olive oil and salt. It’s vibrant and fresh with a slight bitter note from the parsley and flavour punch from the garlic. If you have parsley, lemon and garlic, you’ve got a simple sauce that will spruce up so many things. It’s a classic accompaniment for the Italian dish Ossobuco but also great with fish, lamb and of course vegetables. 

                  Roasted Gremolata Cauliflower
                  Print Recipe
                    Servings Prep Time
                    5-6 people 20 minutes
                    Cook Time
                    30 minutes
                    Servings Prep Time
                    5-6 people 20 minutes
                    Cook Time
                    30 minutes
                    Roasted Gremolata Cauliflower
                    Print Recipe
                      Servings Prep Time
                      5-6 people 20 minutes
                      Cook Time
                      30 minutes
                      Servings Prep Time
                      5-6 people 20 minutes
                      Cook Time
                      30 minutes
                      Ingredients
                      Servings: people
                      Instructions
                      1. Preheat oven to 400℉
                      2. In a large bowl stir together parsley, lemon zest, garlic, salt and 3 tbsp of olive oil. Set aside.
                      3. Remove outer leaves from cauliflower and cut the head into quarters. Easily core the cauliflower by cutting it out of each quarter, allowing any remaining leaves and stem to come away with it.
                      4. Break or cut the cauliflower into large bite-size pieces. Toss cauliflower with remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and a few grinds of a pepper mill. Spread out evenly on a large baking tray.
                      5. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning once, allowing the bottom edges to become golden and caramelized.
                      6. Remove from oven and add to the bowl of Gremolata along with the parmesan cheese. Toss to coat evenly and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
                      Recipe Notes

                      -make as a vegan option by omitting the parmesan cheese or using your favourite alternative cheese.

                      Affiliate Disclosure

                      I may receive compensation for purchases made through this site, at no cost to the purchaser. Compelled to Cook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com