Challah Bread

This year Good Friday and the start of Passover were on the same day—-a rare occurrence given the difference between the Gregorian calendar used by most Western countries and the lunar calendar observed by the Jewish faith. Indeed, the Seder plate used during the first night of Passover tells the dramatic story of the Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt and includes reminders of their captivity: bitter herbs to signify the bitterness of slavery, haroset which is a reminder of the mortar used between bricks, a shank bone to remember the Passover sacrifice and an egg which represents the new life promised to them after the Red Sea crossing.

Borrowing from our Jewish roots, our own Good Friday dinner was a cross-section of the Judeo-Christian traditions that mark this holy season of the year. Beginning with a candle lighting and blessing at 6:45—the official start of the eight-day Passover festival—and continuing with the meal which included some dishes found at a traditional Passover Seder table including Matzo ball soup, roasted chicken (with haroset stuffing), marinated green beans, Israeli couscous and tabouleh salad. Also gracing our table was one of our year-round favorites: fresh Challah bread baked that afternoon. While Challah—and dishes containing yeast—are not eaten during Passover, we couldn’t help ourselves! This braided bread is so delicious and beautiful to look at and made an honorary appearance on our Good Friday Passover table. Best when eaten fresh, this versatile bread is also wonderful toasted the next morning day. Try out the recipe below and see for yourself!

With wishes for a joyful conclusion for the Passover and Easter seasons, we look forward to the promise of new life this spring!

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Challah Bread
SERVINGS
3loaves
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
loaves
COOK TIME
30mins
PREP TIME
15mins
READY IN
1 hr15 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine the first three ingredients to dissolve the yeast. Let sit for 5 min. or until foamy.
  2. Add the next 4 ingredients and then the flour and salt, adding as much flour as you need for the dough to start pulling away from the side of the bowl.
  3. Remove to a floured surface and knead until the dough is no longer sticky.
  4. Place in an oiled bowl, turn over once, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk.
  5. Divide dough into 9 balls and roll each ball into a “rope” using your hands.
  6. Braid 3 ropes together into 1 braided loaf of bread and continue with the other 6 ropes, making 3 loaves in all.
  7. Let the bread rise again.
  8. Make an egg wash and brush on the bread and bake in a 325º oven until golden and cooked through, about 30 min.

Springtime Lemony Angel Food Meringue Torte

What shall we make for Easter Dinner dessert??? This is the question I kept asking myself all week. I have an idea, and someone else has offered me theirs, but before making the final choice, I decided to take a poll. I randomly asked six different sisters to answer this question. What immediately comes to mind when you think of choosing a most favorite Easter dessert?

Five out of six said “…something light and fluffy.” Four out of six said “…cool and creamy.” Three out of six said “…something lemony.” Two out of six said “…white or light yellow.” Interestingly enough, each of our desserts fit these descriptions, so we ingeniously combined them into one spectacular creation which we hope that many will enjoy!

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Springtime Lemony Angel Food Meringue Torte
SERVINGS
12servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
45mins
PREP TIME
1hr
READY IN
2hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

To Make the Angel Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350​ ​F and arrange an oven shelf in the bottom third of the oven. Sift the flour and 3½oz of the sugar together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric hand whisk or mixer on a high speed for one minute until frothy. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, cream of tartar and salt and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes, or until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Increase the speed and add the remaining 7oz of sugar, one tablespoon at a time to form firm, but not stiff peaks.
  3. Sprinkle over one-third of the flour mixture and fold gently to combine. Repeat with the remaining two-thirds of the flour mixture folding gently to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.
  4. Transfer the batter to a 10 inch angel food cake pan. Gently run a knife through the center of the batter to remove any pockets of air. Cook for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and immediately turn upside down onto the tin’s cooling legs, or place over the neck of a wine bottle. Leave to cool for at least one hour. Run a knife around the inner and outer edges of cake to remove it from the pan. Invert onto a plate. Carefully use a palette knife to separate the cake from the base of the pan. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
To Make the Lemon Curd:
  1. Mix the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest together in a large pan. Cook over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, making sure to stir the sides and base of the pan.
  2. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Pass through a sieve into a large jug. Fill two 12​ ​oz glass jars with the lemon curd and seal with lids. Cover the remaining curd with cling film and leave to cool.
To Make the Meringue Layers:
  1. Preheat oven to 275. In a mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Switch to high speed and gradually beat in the sugar until stiff and glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved. Add the vanilla.
  2. Remove beater whisk and by hand, gently fold in 1/2 cup sliced almonds.
  3. Line two sheet pans with baking paper and trace two circles of the base of the angel food cake pan - 10" diameter on each. Divide meringue between the two circles and form into rounds - staying 1/4" within the border - they will be about 3/4" high. Sprinkle with the additional 2 Tbsp of sliced almonds.
  4. Bake at 275 degrees for 3-35 min. or until golden and crisp. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
To Assemble:
  1. Cut the Angel food cake in half horizontally
  2. On the bottom layer, spread some lemon curd, followed by cool whip, meringue layer, then the top of the angel cake spread with lemon curd, cool whip and then the top meringue layer.

This can be frozen and pulled out when ready to serve.
A lovely presentation for Easter and not as difficult as it sounds.
You can always make a box angel cake mix in place of the homemade one and you could buy a jar of lemon curd, but it's just not like the real deal!

Hot Cross Buns

One of our favorite Lenten traditions here at the C of J is the baking and sharing of Hot cross buns on Good Friday a.m. First attributed to a 12th century monk, it has blesses countless numbers of believers over the years. This meaningful little act is a significant way of remembering and acknowledging our Lord’s death on the cross on our behalf.

There are many legends connected with this tradition. One of my favorites is that a fresh baked bun hung in your kitchen window will bring blessing upon all the baking done there throughout the coming year.

Each year I intend to do this, but before I get to it every bun has disappeared.

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Hot Cross Buns
SERVINGS
1dozen buns
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
dozen buns
COOK TIME
25mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
3hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast by sprinkling it over the very warm water and add a pinch of sugar to activate.
  2. Heat milk in a medium saucepan over low heat until about 100 degrees F. (but no more than 110 degrees)
  3. In a mixer, fitted with a dough hook, add the warmed milk to the yeast mixture.
  4. Plump the raisins (or currants) and citron in the microwave with a little orange juice; cool and set aside
  5. To the yeast & milk mixture add the remaining sugar, melted butter, egg yolk and extract.
  6. Add the salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger to the mixture and continue kneading.
  7. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
  8. Remove the orange juice from the raisins and citron and discard.
  9. Add the raisins and citron to the dough and mix well. The dough should be slightly sticky and not dry.
  10. Knead until soft and elastic, about 8 min. Shape into a ball.
  11. Brush the inside of a large bowl with butter. Put dough in the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hr. 30 min. **
  12. To form the rolls: Pam a 9x13” pyrex pan. Turn the dought out of the bowl and roll into a log. With a dough cutter or sharp knife, divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each of these pieces into a round bun shape, tucking the edges under.
  13. Place them seam side down in the prepared pan, leaving a little space between each roll. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the rolls are doubled in size, about 45 min. or longer.
  14. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. and prepare your egg wash.
  15. Prepare glaze: In a mixer, combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla or almond extract and oil until smooth (the oil will give it a high gloss). The icing should be quite thick. If too runny, add more powdered sugar. Transfer icing to a pastry bag or a ziplock bag with a corner snipped off.
  16. Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the rolls and brush the buns with egg wash. Bake rolls until golden brown and puffy, about 25 min. (an instant read thermometer inserted into the roll should read 190 degrees F.)
  17. Ice buns with a thick cross shape on the top of the warm buns and serve.

Swedish Plattar Pancakes – Shrove Tuesday

One of our favorite breakfast recipes is a special Swedish crepe called Plattar. With Shrove Tuesday just around the corner, we thought it was the perfect time to share this special recipe.

I’ve always wondered why we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. After some quick research on the internet, I learned that since the 1500s, people have been making pancakes on “Shrove Tuesday” or “Fat Tuesday” as a way to use up all of the eggs, butter and fat in the home before the beginning of Lent, a time of fasting.

This recipe comes from Sr. Madeleine who is currently studying lace making in Brugge, Belgium. We asked her how this Swedish crepe came to be one of their family recipes, a recipe she makes for her two daughter’s birthdays every year. This is what she wrote me.

“Swedish Plattar is a recipe from a collection of Swedish recipes celebrating the seasons of the year. The author of the recipe remembers her mother preparing these recipes to remind her family of the goodness of God. Personally, when I was young I had not learned to cook or bake; I too, like the writer, wanted to both cook for my young family and to emphasize the love of God and His goodness. Swedish plattar was by far the biggest hit! I made it regularly every Saturday morning for my family, standing patiently beside the electric frying pan (popular in those days) until many Swedish Plattar were made and the the hungry mouths of all were filled. Swedish Plattar takes time to fry, so the making is a labor of love (due to the sheer volume of the batter, and the number you need to fill someone up!). The smudges and dribbles on the page make the recipe easy to find in the cookbook, and also attest to its perennial popularity. My daughters and I are all three nuns now and they as well as I continue the practice of making Swedish plattar for celebrations of God and His goodness.”

You can read more about Sr. Madeleine’s experiences in her blog Belgian Prayers and Lace.

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Swedish Plattar Pancakes - Shrove Tuesday
SERVINGS
4-6people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
1hour
PREP TIME
5 minutes (plus 2 hours standing time)
READY IN
1hour

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Beat the eggs add the milk, then the flour and whisk well. Add the melted butter, sugar, salt and vanilla and whisk.
  2. Let the batter stand for two hours or overnight
  3. Preheat a griddle to 325 degrees and brush with butter
  4. When the skillet is hot, drop in two - three tablespoons of batter for each pancake – about 4” in diameter
  5. Cook until golden on one side, and then flip to the other side (about 2 min. on each side)
  6. When golden, fold into thirds and remove to a plate and continue with the rest of the batter.
  7. The pancakes can be kept warm in a low oven. One recipe makes 30 - 4” pancakes. Serve with the jam and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Fresh fruit on the side makes a lovely presentation.

Swedish Pepparkakor

This is a guest blog from one of our Swedish Sisters

This year, it was possible to make these Swedish pepparkakor cookies a little earlier than usual. It makes me happy, and helps me remember for a moment where I came​ from, and that God is in charge of all the little things in our lives. It is my great-grandmother’s recipe from Tidaholm, Sweden. I don’t know why it is that cookies have become a tradition around the season of Christmas in particular, except for the fact of celebrating the most important birthday of all!! But these little cookies, for me, have always been a part of that celebration, with their trinity of spices that scent the kitchen when baked . . cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Not to mention, the smiles that come to people’s faces every single time!

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Swedish Pepparkakor
SERVINGS
12dozen
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
dozen
COOK TIME
5mins per pan
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
1hr

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Mix in order given and roll out very thin. You will need more flour as you roll them. Use a pastry cloth and a covered rolling pin.
  2. Cut​ into shapes, sprinkle with toppings if desired,​ and bake at 350 degrees for 4 min (time varies with thickness of dough). Makes up to 12 doz. cookies.

​Wishing you a blessed New Year from our home to yours!
The Gourmet Nuns​

Mini Puff Pancakes with Lemon Curd and Fresh Blueberries

One of my favorite meals to make is breakfast. In our guest house, breakfast is a veritable feast and a pleasure for the eyes. Our latest twist on puff pancakes (or dutch babies) made their debut on a cold fall morning. There’s nothing like bringing a little sunshine to the table to brighten up one’s day. Surprise your loved one with this easy breakfast made for two!

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Mini Puff Pancakes with Lemon Curd and Fresh Blueberries
SERVINGS
2-4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
25mins
PREP TIME
5mins
READY IN
30mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425º F (220ºC)
  2. Add eggs, flour, milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and lemon zest to a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Place butter in two heavy cast iron skillets (5-6" in width) (or one large skillet) and place in the oven until butter has melted. Pour half the batter into each pan, return them to oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the pancakes are puffed and golden. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake five minutes longer.
  4. Remove pancakes from oven, serve individually if using mini skillets, or cut larger dutch baby into wedges and top with a spoonful or two of lemon curd and blueberries and a dusting of confectioners sugar. If desired, garnish with lemon slices and a sprig of fresh mint.