Friends, hi! It’s Progressive Eats day, and this month, Jane from The Heritage Cook is hosting! Come see what we have going on for a New Year’s Eve Blowout Celebration! (Spoiler Alert: I made champagne yeast brioche bread.) A New Year’s Eve Extravaganza Welcome to another edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a […]
There is nothing–nothing–like the flavor of Traditional Pretzel Buns. The dough itself is a fairly standard, firm, yeast dough: a bit of melted butter for richness and some unrefined liquid sugar (malt extract or I use molasses) to keep the yeast happy, and nothing else surprising. What sets a pretzel bun apart from other buns […]
Are you ready for some bread pretzels with beer cheese? That’s what I thought! Welcome! If you absolutely can’t wait, you can jump straight to the recipe right below this photo. This month, the Progressive Eats team, join Heather from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen in celebrating pretzels! As far as I’m concerned, this […]
I haven’t participated in the #BreadBakers group in quite a few months. I have no excuse other than I let time get away from me. But this month, I planned ahead. For this month, the theme is “Family Feast Breads,” and as inspiration, Stacy posted a photo of a cornucopia made of bread. The gauntlet […]
Some folks may wonder if I really am a pastry chef. I mean, I know a guy who changed his name to Xandar Awesome. Legally. And anyone who would do that can’t really be all that awesome, so folks can call themselves whatever they want. After working 16 years as a special education teacher–heck, I even have a Master’s degree in behavioral and emotional handicaps–I attended culinary school for patisserie and baking, and both during school and then after graduation, I worked in fine dining restaurants as pastry cook first and eventually as pastry chef. So yes, even though I no longer work in a professional kitchen, I have worked as a pastry chef. I’m legit, if kind of messy.
Before those pastry chef jobs though, there were two others in food service.
I worked as a baker in a start-up bakery/breakfast place. Honestly, I don’t even remember the name of the bakery. It was in a strip mall towards the north end of International Drive in Orlando. Farther south are attractions and dinner event places (Medieval Times, etc) galore. Up north, strips malls and more strip malls. This was the non-tourist end of “I Drive.” Frozen bagels baked fresh every morning, triple chocolate brownie mix on the shelves, an enormous revolving deck oven like a Ferris Wheel in hell, a spiral mixer so big you could sit in the bowl.
When I got together with Nadine on Christmas Eve, not only did we visit and exchange gifts, but we also nailed down the first Communion bread of 2015. I suggested that, since it was New Year’s I could bake with champagne yeast and also use some wine in the bread. She agreed. If that doesn’t sound very nailed down to you, you’re not wrong. But at least I had a plan.
I went to American Brewmasters in Cary, NC to grab some champagne yeast. I talked to John who was On Duty on New Year’s Eve, and he told me that champagne yeast makes a very ton of bubbles. He was also intrigued with the idea of using brewer’s yeast to bake bread. I have done it before, and I showed him my Four Loaves of the Apocalypse post. With John’s blessing, I left with the champagne yeast and a plan to use very little of it so the bubbles wouldn’t get totally out of control. I figured that pita would be a good place to start. If champagne yeast really does get crazy with bubble-making, I figured, the structure of the bread might not stand up to it. Best to work with a flat bread first and then go from there.
tahini swirl challahThe last time my friend Nadine and I collaborated to make the Communion bread for her church, the passages were about sowing seeds and eating rich foods. At first we discussed making brioche, but then I realized that challah would be much more appropriate. After all, Jesus was Jewish, and even though he and his disciples ate unleavened bread at the last supper, they certainly would have enjoyed an enriched bread for other holiday celebrations. And that means challah. The seeds were easy enough to work in. Sesame challah is an actual Thing, so not only did I sprinkle the tops of the loaves liberally with sesame seeds, I also added tahini, or sesame paste, to the dough itself. Nadine’s congregation enjoyed a wonderful communion celebration and happily ate the leftovers after church. And that’s how we like it.
The tahini swirl challah I’m sharing today is based on that communion bread, hence the Throwback Thursday. I also incorporated another element from a recent post. The lovely, lightly sweet Sukkar bi Tahin or Beirut Tahini Swirls I made for Cookbooks&Calphalon a few weeks ago are swirled with a simple 1:1 mixture of tahini and sugar that bakes up smooth and creamy and delicious. After checking with a Jewish friend to see if it’s okay to add a swirl to a challah (she said yes), I married the tahini swirl element with my tahini challah, and Tahini Swirl Challah was born!