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
      Toasted Bran Muffins

      Toasted Bran Muffins

      Nancy Silverton’s bran muffins from La Brea Bakery are hailed to be one of the best, and for good reason.  The crumb is tender and rather light for a bran muffin, yet they have that familiar fibrous chew. The flavour has a subtle toasted note and a hint of orange.  They have minimal refined sugar by using pureed raisins to add natural sweetness and moisture.  They are my personal favourite in the bran muffin arena with just a small smear of butter.

      I originally stumbled upon these muffins from Alexandra Cooks Nancy Silverton’s Bran Muffins, who slightly adapted the recipe by blending all the raisins, leaving the final texture without whole raisins.  It’s also my desired way to eat them even though my recipe reflects the original method. Both ways are delicious and it comes down to personal preference. 

      I’ve gone on to adapt the recipe slightly further by replacing a small amount of the water with orange juice and I’ve opted for a different mixing method with wonderful results. It’s recommended to use paper liners as they tend to bake up with a nicer domed top if using them. Without the liners, the tops tend to spread just a little more. I also recommend that you weigh your dry ingredients for better results.  I have done both, and have found that my weighted measures provide more than my standard scooping with a measuring cup. It does make a difference in this recipe.

      If you love muffins, Nacy Silverton’s are a must to make, whether it be the original recipe or my slightly altered version, you won’t be disappointed.  Enjoy!

      Recipe for Toasted Bran Muffins adapted from Alexandra Cooks Nancy Silverton’s Bran Muffins

       

      Toasted Bran Muffins
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        12 muffins 20 minutes
        Cook Time
        30 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        12 muffins 20 minutes
        Cook Time
        30 minutes
        Toasted Bran Muffins
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          12 muffins 20 minutes
          Cook Time
          30 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          12 muffins 20 minutes
          Cook Time
          30 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: muffins
          Instructions
          1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Spread wheat bran out on a large baking sheet and toast in oven for 6-8 minutes turning once.
          2. While wheat bran is toasting and cooling, cook 1 cup of raisins and 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan over medium heat until soft and the water has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Puree raisins until smooth.
          3. In a medium bowl, whisk together wheat bran, flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
          4. In a large bowl whisk together oil and brown sugar. Add egg and egg white and whisk to combine. Stir in pureed raisins, remaining 3/4 cup water, buttermilk, orange juice and orange zest.
          5. Add dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Stir in 1/2 cup of raisins. Scoop evenly into muffin cups, mounding the batter.
          6. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool for 5-7 minutes before removing muffins from tin to cooling rack.
          Recipe Notes

          -it is highly recommended to weigh dry ingredients.

          -when scooping the batter, the muffin cups will be very full.

          -if you don't want whole raisins in the final muffin, cook all the raisins with 3/4 cup of water and blend, continue with recipe adding only 1/2 cup additional water (for 1 1/4 cup total) and omit raisins at the end.

          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
          Poached Egg and Kale Toasts

          Poached Egg and Kale Toasts

          I love eggs with greens, so when I was on the hunt for a nice lunch, I couldn’t think of what would be better than braised kale and eggs. Poached Eggs and Kale Toasts are not only quick and delicious, but a great way to eat your greens. Need more motivation to kale?  It’s crazy high in vitamin K, high in vitamins A and C and also a great source of fibre to name just a few. 

          Curly leaf kale braised with shallots, red pepper and garlic get a bright finish with a splash of white wine vinegar.  The tender, yet still slightly chewy kale provides a good texture contrast with the soft eggs.  Crisp toast is the perfect crunchy base to soak up any juices and runny yolk. It goes to prove that eating well can be simple and delicious with only a few quality ingredients. Enjoy!

          Recipe source for Poached Egg and Kale Toasts:  Compelled To Cook

          Poached Egg and Kale Toasts
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            4 Toasts 15 minutes
            Cook Time
            12-15 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            4 Toasts 15 minutes
            Cook Time
            12-15 minutes
            Poached Egg and Kale Toasts
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              4 Toasts 15 minutes
              Cook Time
              12-15 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              4 Toasts 15 minutes
              Cook Time
              12-15 minutes
              Ingredients
              Servings: Toasts
              Instructions
              1. Heat oil in a medium skillet, add shallots and garlic. Cook on medium for 1-2 minutes, stirring often.
              2. Add kale, red pepper and water. Continue to cook, stirring often until kale is tender but still has some texture and all the water has been absorbed about 10-12 minutes. Stir in white wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
              3. While kale is cooking, add 3" of water to a shallow pot. Bring to a gentle simmer and add 1 tbsp of white vinegar and a sprinkle of salt. Crack eggs, one at a time into the water. Cook for 4 minutes for soft eggs. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess moisture.
              4. Toast bread and butter if desired, top with a generous portion of sauteed kale and top with a poached egg. Sprinkle with chilli flakes if desired. Serve immediately.

              Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup

              Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup

              I’m getting older you know!  But the benefit of this, is the chance to have a party.  So that’s just what my husband did for me this year on my recent birthday.   Along with my extra year of age, I also received many wonderful gifts that day.  One of which was a Mexican food basket that contained great items such as fresh tomatillos, corn husks and chipotle peppers in adobo. But the one ingredient that really got my attention was the dried hibiscus flowers.  I knew right away that I wanted to use this product for a blog post and set to work on making a lovely, richly infused Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup.

               

              Dried hibiscus is just that, hibiscus flowers that have been dried, and probably most common for making tea.  When steeped, it has the most amazing deep purplish- red colour and tart berry like taste.  Perfect for beverages, hot or cold, jams, and sauces.  Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup is slightly tart and fruity with a hint of sweetness.  It’s amazing on pancakes, ice cream, cake, yogurt and fruit.  A little thicker than a simple syrup, but go on and stir it into a vodka cocktail, champagne or punch as well.  That’s if it makes it past the pancakes and ice cream of course…..enjoy!

              Recipe source for Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup:  Compelled To Cook

              Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup
              Print Recipe
                Servings Prep Time
                2 1/2 cups 10 minutes
                Cook Time Passive Time
                30-35 minutes 90 minutes
                Servings Prep Time
                2 1/2 cups 10 minutes
                Cook Time Passive Time
                30-35 minutes 90 minutes
                Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup
                Print Recipe
                  Servings Prep Time
                  2 1/2 cups 10 minutes
                  Cook Time Passive Time
                  30-35 minutes 90 minutes
                  Servings Prep Time
                  2 1/2 cups 10 minutes
                  Cook Time Passive Time
                  30-35 minutes 90 minutes
                  Ingredients
                  Servings: cups
                  Instructions
                  1. In a medium sauce pan bring water to a simmer. Add dried hibiscus and bring back to a boil, stirring to soak all the hibiscus. Turn off heat and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, allowing hibiscus to drain naturally without squeezing or pushing on it.
                  2. Return liquid to the pot and add frozen strawberries along with any juice and sugar. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to a steady boil and allow to cook, uncovered for 15-20 minutes, mashing berries with a fork or back of a wooden spoon to help them break down.
                  3. Mix cornstarch with 1 tbsp cold water until dissolved. Add to syrup, stirring constantly until mixture is fully combined and has returned to a boil. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and allow to cool to room temperature, then cool completely in the refrigerator to reach full thickness.
                  4. Pour into sealable jars or airtight container and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Will keep refrigerated for 2-3 weeks well sealed.
                  Recipe Notes

                  -Yields approximately 2 1/2 cups of syrup.

                  Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

                  Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

                  Okay, I’ll say it….BACK TO SCHOOL is upon us!  For some, this will be a welcome event, as everyone falls back into a structured routine.  For others, it marks the end of summer, saying goodbye to camping and late night fires. As for me, it’s a reason to bake up wonderfully moist Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins.  Perfect to grab and go in the morning on your way out the door, lunch boxes or a mid day snack to get you through the day. 

                  The recipe for Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins makes 14 rather plump muffins.  I know, I know, 14 is not the norm as everyone expects to get 12.  I’ve considered mucking around with the amounts to bring the volume down, but I ask myself why? They’re perfect the way they are, and frankly, the more muffins the merrier.  I know my husband would agree, and you won’t regret having a couple extra tender, chocolaty muffins either.  Enjoy!  

                  Recipe source for Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins:  Compelled To Cook

                  Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
                  Print Recipe
                    Servings Prep Time
                    14 Muffins 25 minutes
                    Cook Time
                    18-20 minutes
                    Servings Prep Time
                    14 Muffins 25 minutes
                    Cook Time
                    18-20 minutes
                    Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
                    Print Recipe
                      Servings Prep Time
                      14 Muffins 25 minutes
                      Cook Time
                      18-20 minutes
                      Servings Prep Time
                      14 Muffins 25 minutes
                      Cook Time
                      18-20 minutes
                      Ingredients
                      Servings: Muffins
                      Instructions
                      1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and line 14-18 muffin tins with paper cups.
                      2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
                      3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and oil. Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each. Peel and mash bananas, add to bowl along with yogurt, orange juice and vanilla. Whisk to combine well, then add flour mixture, whisking until just combined and starting to smooth out. Stir in chocolate chips.
                      4. For large muffins, scoop a generous 1/3 cup of batter per muffin tin. For smaller muffins, use a 1/4 cup of batter per muffin tin.
                      5. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, depending on size. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan slightly before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.
                      Recipe Notes

                      Will keep for several days at room temperature wrapped individually or in a sealed container.  They freeze well wrapped individually and will keep for up to a month.

                      Looking for more great muffins?  You’ll want to try Pumpkin Seed and Nut Muffins

                      Chocolate Cherry Loaf

                      Chocolate Cherry Loaf

                      As much as it pains me to turn my oven on in the summer, giving off unnecessary heat when the goal is to keep the house cool, I just can’t stop baking for months.  I ask myself who could?  I guess as a food blogger the thought astonishes me and as I write this I’m shaking my head and thinking, “nope, it can’t be done”.  Lucky for both you and me that I feel this way, because out of the heat rises the most amazing Chocolate Cherry Loaf.

                      I’m a big fan of loaves!  Not because they’re moist, tender, buttery, filled with nuts or chocolate, it’s because they’re simple, versatile and generally quite easy to prepare.  I also like the ability to cut the loaf into thick slices, wrap individually and grab and go right from the freezer.  My husband Mark calls them “loafcicles” and sometimes can’t wait long enough to let it thaw completely before munching away.  You could say he’s got a bit of a sweet tooth.  That makes this Chocolate Cherry Loaf right up his alley.  It’s a little indulgent with cream cheese, chunky cherry sauce and chocolate chips, and a small slice is all you need to battle that sweet craving.  You’ll find Chocolate Cherry Loaf a yummy change from banana or lemon and worth turning your oven on for.  Enjoy!

                      Recipe source for Chocolate Cherry Loaf:  Inspired by Roti n’ Rice Raspberry Swirl Cream Cheese Pound Cake

                      Chocolate Cherry Loaf
                      Print Recipe
                        Servings Prep Time
                        1 loaf 30 minutes
                        Cook Time
                        55-65 minutes
                        Servings Prep Time
                        1 loaf 30 minutes
                        Cook Time
                        55-65 minutes
                        Chocolate Cherry Loaf
                        Print Recipe
                          Servings Prep Time
                          1 loaf 30 minutes
                          Cook Time
                          55-65 minutes
                          Servings Prep Time
                          1 loaf 30 minutes
                          Cook Time
                          55-65 minutes
                          Ingredients
                          Servings: loaf
                          Instructions
                          1. Combine cherries and sugar in a small sauce pan and heat to a simmer over medium heat. Stir water and cornstarch together in a small bowl and add to cherries, stirring constantly until combine and mixture returns to a full simmer. Remove from heat and allow to cool to slightly warm or room temperature. Continue with recipe as cherries cool.
                          2. Preheat oven to 350℉ and prepare a 9"x5"x3"loaf pan by spraying with non stick spray or lightly greasing with butter and lining with parchment that overhangs the long edges.
                          3. In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt until combined.
                          4. Beat together butter, cream cheese and sugar until smooth, scraping the bowl once or twice. Add eggs one at a time, scraping bowl and beating after each until incorporated. Add vanilla and mix to combine. Pour in half the milk and half the flour and beat until just combined. Repeat with remaining milk and flour. Scrape the bowl and add chocolate chips and mix to combine.
                          5. Pour half the batter into prepared pan and spread smooth. Top with half the cherry sauce, remaining batter and cherry sauce again on the top. Using a table knife, swirl batter in a figure eight pattern two or three times to create nice swirls of cherry sauce. No need to over swirl.
                          6. Bake in preheated oven for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in pan prior to lifting out and slicing.