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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      Cardamom Date Squares

      Cardamom Date Squares

      These are no culinary school squares, in fact, Cardamom Date Squares are far from the many cakes and pastries I made while attending culinary school.  Truth is, I don’t remember making many squares like this. The focus was all about pastries, cakes, and classics like Peach Melba and Crepes Suzette.  However, at the time as a young adult, I still had to live in the real world, and happily collected an array of home maker popular books such as Company’s Coming, Best of Bridge and Betty Crocker.   

      It’s within these dated books that I find some of the best treats, including my favourite recipe for Date Squares.  Being who I am though, left me no alternative but to give the recipe a tweak in Compelled To Cook fashion, and Cardamom Date Squares emerged, buttery and golden from my kitchen. A splash of orange juice and a sprinkle of cardamom gives my favourite date square a hint of something different and delicious. I’m in no way a hoarder, but there are certain books I refuse to get rid of, no matter how old and out dated they are.  Because in my mind they’re a classic in their own right.  

      Recipe for Cardamom Date Squares adapted from:  Company’s Coming Matrimonial Squares

      Cardamom Date Squares
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        36 squares 40 minutes
        Cook Time
        30 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        36 squares 40 minutes
        Cook Time
        30 minutes
        Cardamom Date Squares
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          36 squares 40 minutes
          Cook Time
          30 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          36 squares 40 minutes
          Cook Time
          30 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: squares
          Instructions
          1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and lightly butter a 9"x9" baking pan. Line bottom and two sides with parchment, allowing a slight overhang.
          2. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat combine dates, granulated sugar, orange juice and water. Allow to come to a simmer and cook uncovered for 8-10 until soft and jammy. Remove from heat and set aside.
          3. In a large bowl combine oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, cardamom, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter using your fingers or pastry cutter until well combined and mixture holds together when lightly squeezed.
          4. Evenly press a generous half of oat mixture (about 3 cups) into the bottom of prepared pan. Spread dates evenly over oats. Add remaining oat mixture, pressing slightly. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Remove from pan by lifting the overhanging parchment and cut into desired squares.

          Cardamom Orange Yogurt Cake

          Cardamom Orange Yogurt Cake

          Cardamom Orange Yogurt Cake is a one bowl beauty with lovely orange flavour, spiced with cardamom and moistened with yogurt. The orange glaze on top is an extra splash of flavour and moisture to an already delicious flavourful cake.

          The cake on its own is splendid but I do admit to loving it even more with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream. It mellows and marries the vibrant orange taste, kinda like the ice cream in a creamsicle. So feel free to glam it up a little with either the whipped cream or even vanilla ice cream.  While I love this Cardamom Orange Yogurt Cake for its one bowl simplicity, I can’t help but love the combination of orange and cardamom.  It’s an addictive citrus flavour that’s just a bit exotic.  I used this combination originally in a sugar cookie with tasty results but felt the cookie just didn’t take great pictures due to the inherent pale colour of the sugar cookie.  So I turned the flavour profile into a cake with great results.  It’s simple and delicious and I do hope you give a try. Enjoy!

          Recipe source for Cardamom Orange Yogurt Cake:  Compelled To Cook

          Cardamom Orange Yogurt Cake
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            12-14 people 20 minutes
            Cook Time
            40 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            12-14 people 20 minutes
            Cook Time
            40 minutes
            Cardamom Orange Yogurt Cake
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              12-14 people 20 minutes
              Cook Time
              40 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              12-14 people 20 minutes
              Cook Time
              40 minutes
              Ingredients
              Servings: people
              Instructions
              Cake
              1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease and line with parchment a 9" x 3" round cake pan.
              2. Over a sheet of parchment paper, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
              3. In a large bowl using an electric mixer beat together sugar, eggs and orange zest until light, creamy and triple in volume, approximately 3-4 minutes. Lower speed and slowly add butter to incorporate. Continue adding yogurt, Grand Marnier and cardamom. Add half the sifted flour mixture and half the orange juice, beating until combined. Add remaining flour and orange juice beating until smooth, approximately 30 seconds. Pour into prepared pan and smooth out top. Bake for 37-40 minutes or when a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
              4. While cake is hot brush with orange syrup allowing syrup to be absorbed before brushing on more. Allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack. When cool loosen edges and remove from pan and cut into wedges. Serve with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.
              Orange Glaze
              1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking often. Once at a boil, allow to boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and brush onto cake.
              Cardamom Banana Bread French Toast

              Cardamom Banana Bread French Toast

              French toast like you’ve never had it! Cardamom Banana Bread French Toast is a yeasted bread loaded with bananas and pecans.  Making it a delicious take on traditional french toast.  The yeasted banana bread is like regular bread but with mashed bananas like a banana loaf.  It’s slightly heavier than regular bread but not as dense as a banana loaf giving you banana loaf taste without being too heavy.  The resulting bread is also nutty and not overly sweet, it nicely soaks up the eggs and cream without becoming too soggy.

              The idea of a yeasted banana bread comes from the book Spilling the Beans.  A book that I am currently a little obsessed with at the moment I will admit. I  found the book by accident one day on the way to a friends. It was in a box of free cook books on someones front lawn. My husband saw the sign and suggested we take a look.  I remember grumbling about not wanting someones old books but I went over anyway.  Good thing I did!!  I walked away with about 10 cookbooks that day, but Spilling the Beans is my favourite of the pile.  Authored by Julie Van Rosendall and Sue Duncan, it’s a great display of how to use beans in a variety of different ways.  A few certainly surprised me, in a good way.

              We’ve all heard it “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and bananas are a great way to start your day right.  Their numerous nutritional benefits and versatility are why bananas are one of my favourite fruits.  Want to know more?  Well-Being Secrets has an amazing article that will have you bananas for bananas.  Check it out at http://www.well-beingsecrets.com/bananas-health-benefits/

              I love this recipe because the bread is not only great for french toast, it’s terrific toasted with butter and honey or peanut butter, oh ya!  Have your french toast on the weekend and toasted banana bread on Monday.  Without a doubt it’s a sweet and simple way to start the week.  Enjoy!

              Recipe Source:  Inspired by Yeasted Banana Bread, Spilling the Beans

               

               

              Cardamom banana bread, laced with cardamom, studded with pecans, dunked in eggs and cream and fried golden.
              Cardamom Banana Bread French Toast
              Print Recipe
              A yeasted banana bread laced with cardamom and studded with pecans, made into golden french toast.
                Servings
                8 slices
                Servings
                8 slices
                Cardamom banana bread, laced with cardamom, studded with pecans, dunked in eggs and cream and fried golden.
                Cardamom Banana Bread French Toast
                Print Recipe
                A yeasted banana bread laced with cardamom and studded with pecans, made into golden french toast.
                  Servings
                  8 slices
                  Servings
                  8 slices
                  Ingredients
                  Yeasted Banana Bread with Cardamom
                  French Toast
                  Servings: slices
                  Instructions
                  Yeasted Banana Bread with Cardamom
                  1. Preheat oven to 85℉. Mash bananas in the bottom of a stand mixer bowl, add water, honey and yeast. Allow to ferment for 10 minutes. Stir in 1 egg, butter, milk powder, salt, cardamom, and 2 cups of flour. Add an additional 1/2 cup flour and using a dough hook, knead until flour is incorporated. Knead in flour by the 1/4 cup ensuring flour is absorbed after each addition before adding more. Add flour and continue to knead until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Add pecans and knead until evenly distributed. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover and allow to rise at 85℉ or room temperature until double in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
                  2. Deflate dough by kneading 2-3 times. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces and roll each piece into an approximate 15 inch rope. Place ropes parallel to each other on a parchment lined baking sheet. Braid the 3 ropes together tucking in both ends. Cover with plastic wrap or damp kitchen towel and allow to rise until almost double in size, approximately 1 hour.
                  3. Preheat oven to 350℉. Place oven rack in the middle of the oven. Whisk egg with 1 tbsp of water and brush evenly onto braided loaf. Bake for 35 minutes or an internal temperature of 200℉ is reached. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack prior to slicing.
                  French Toast
                  1. Preheat oven to 200℉. In a shallow dish whisk eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, cardamom and salt. Cut bread into 3/4 inch slices. Heat a large non stick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of oil. Dip each bread slice into egg mixture and allow to sit for 20 seconds per side. Add to hot skillet and cook for approximately 4 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and keep warm in preheated oven. Repeat with remaining bread and egg mixture.
                  2. Top french toast with fresh banana slices and pure maple syrup. Serve immediately.
                  Recipe Notes

                  Make bread the day before intending to make french toast. I used two baking sheets, one directly on top of the other creating a thicker base to prevent the bottom from becoming too dark.