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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      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
      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
          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
              Flaky Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuits

              Flaky Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuits

              Make a better biscuit…

              It’s hard to resist a flaky, buttery biscuit and these Flaky Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuits are tender and flaky.  So good on their own, dunked or piled high with your favourite fillings. The good thing is, they’re easy to make using basic ingredients.  So what makes a good biscuit?  Let’s look at the basics.

              -use quality butter.

              -use fresh baking powder and baking soda, they do EXPIRE!

              -cut butter into flour evenly to ensure a flaky biscuit.

              -do not overwork the dough, once mixed, only knead enough to bring the dough together.  Overworking dough will result in a tougher biscuit.

              -use a sharp cutting tool for the best edges.

              -brush tops and sides with a whisked mixture of egg and cream for a nice golden exterior.

              What’s a biscuit good for?

              By far my favourite thing to do with a flaky biscuit is dunk it into soup, stew or chili.  But, they’re also wonderful as a sandwich.  Especially these Flaky Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuits, because they spread out a little, making them just the right size for a fried egg…just saying!

              Flaky Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits
              Print Recipe
                Servings Prep Time
                8-10 4" biscuits 25 minutes
                Cook Time
                18 minutes
                Servings Prep Time
                8-10 4" biscuits 25 minutes
                Cook Time
                18 minutes
                Flaky Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits
                Print Recipe
                  Servings Prep Time
                  8-10 4" biscuits 25 minutes
                  Cook Time
                  18 minutes
                  Servings Prep Time
                  8-10 4" biscuits 25 minutes
                  Cook Time
                  18 minutes
                  Ingredients
                  Servings: 4" biscuits
                  Instructions
                  1. Preheat oven to 425℉ and line a large baking tray with parchment.
                  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
                  3. Add cubed butter and using a pastry cutter, cut butter into dry ingredients until pea-sized and evenly distributed.
                  4. Whisk together buttermilk and one large egg. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just starting to come together. Add grated cheese and diced jalapeno and continue to mix until incorporated being careful not to overmix. It will be a bit of a scraggly mess.
                  5. Flour your work surface and dump out the dough. Knead dough a few times to bring everything together. Flatten dough into a 3/4"-1" disk. Using a 3" round cutter, cut out biscuits.
                  6. Reform remaining dough and cut out biscuits. Place biscuits on a parchment lined baking tray.
                  7. Whisk together one large egg and one tbsp of milk or cream. Brush each biscuit top and sides generoulsly. Bake in preheated oven for about 18 minutes until golden and puffed.
                  8. Remove from oven and allow to rest on the tray for 3-5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Serve slightly warm.
                  Recipe Notes

                  -these particular biscuits spread out some and are wonderful sliced as a sandwich.

                  -I used a 3" cutter, however for slightly smaller biscuits that would be good for soups or stews a 2 1/2" cutter is probably preferred.

                  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
                  Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup

                  Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup

                  A day for family…

                  February 18, 2019 marks Family Day in my province of Alberta, Canada.  A holiday to promote family values and spending time together as a family.  Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup is perfect for your family day weekend.  Super easy to toss together in your slow cooker, and forget about until dinner time. Giving you the whole day to spend with your family without having to worry about dinner until the last few touches are required, which is hours later.

                  Dinner is ready…

                  With just a couple of last minute touches to the soup, the whole family can enjoy a hearty and satisfying soup made from scratch.  It’s a wonderful bowlful to warm everyone up from a day of outdoor activities even if it’s not a holiday.  The recipe makes about 10 cups and freezes well too.

                  To ham or not to ham…

                  I love the subtle smokiness a ham bone can bring to soup and I just happen to have a ham bone leftover from the holidays. If a ham bone isn’t available to you, a smoked pork hock works just as well and they’re readily available all year.   I also like the texture and flavour of meaty little bites of ham throughout the soup too, so I’ll definitely ham it up when I can. But don’t fret, this is a lovely vegan soup without the ham if that is your preference.  The dill and vinegar in the recipe add a little brightness to the soup and helps to cut the starchiness of the lentils.  It’s so, so good.

                  Now, about the lentil…

                  I could rattle on and on about the lentil, but the lentils website is very informative about the varieties, nutrition and cooking of the lentil.  It’s a good read with lots of information.  

                  Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup
                  Print Recipe
                    Servings Prep Time
                    10 cups 30 minutes
                    Cook Time
                    7 hours
                    Servings Prep Time
                    10 cups 30 minutes
                    Cook Time
                    7 hours
                    Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup
                    Print Recipe
                      Servings Prep Time
                      10 cups 30 minutes
                      Cook Time
                      7 hours
                      Servings Prep Time
                      10 cups 30 minutes
                      Cook Time
                      7 hours
                      Ingredients
                      Servings: cups
                      Instructions
                      1. Rinse and drain lentils. Add lentils along with onion, celery, carrots, cabbage, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, thyme to your slow cooker.
                      2. Cut excess ham away from bone and save for later.
                      3. Add ham bone and 7 cups of broth to slow cooker. Stir to combine, cover and cook on low for about 7 hours, stirring once or twice.
                      4. While soup is cooking, coursely chop or shred ham. Cover and refrigerate until soup is ready.
                      5. Remove ham bone and bay leaf from soup. Adjust consistency with the additional cup of broth. Stir in chopped ham and white vinegar. Cover and allow to cook for 5-10 more minutes to warm ham. Add a generous sprinkle of fresh dill and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and more fresh dill.
                      Recipe Notes
                      • a smoked pork hock will work in place of a meaty ham bone.
                      • for a vegetarian/vegan option, use vegetable broth and omit the ham and sour cream.

                      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