Chimney cake (Kürtőskalács )

chimney cake

 

The August Daring Bakers’ Challenge took us for a spin! Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen taught us to make rolled pastries inspired by Kurtoskalacs, a traditional Hungarian wedding pastry. These tasty yeasted delights gave us lots to celebrate!

Kürtőskalács  or chimney cake is a traditional wedding pastry made in Transylvania (Romania) . The name comes from the shape of the cake, a strip of yeasted dough is wrapped around a spit. It is then rolled in granulated sugar and baked above charcoal cinders.

The end result is a chimney shaped cake with a caramelized, sugary, golden-brown exterior that crackles when you bite into it and a soft and chewy bread like strip interior. The contrast between the soft and crunchy, the fact that you have to unwind the chimney to eat it , all the different toppings you can use (think cinnamon, nuts or chocolate)makes these cakes simply irresistible.

cinnamon 

 Kürtőskalács /Chimney cake


Ingredients

For the dough:

1¾ cups (8½ oz) (240 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour

2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) (7 gm) active dry yeast OR 2 teaspoons instant yeast OR 14 gm (½ oz) fresh yeast

2 tablespoons (1 oz)(30 gm) sugar

1/8 teaspoon (3/4 gm) salt

1 large egg, room temperature

3 tablespoons (1½ oz) (45 gm) melted butter

1/2 cup (120 ml) milk, lukewarm temperature

For baking/grilling:

melted butter

sugar
Cinnamon

 

Directions:

If you are using active dry yeast, add ½ teaspoon sugar to lukewarm milk and set aside for 5-10 minutes until it proofs (becomes foamy).You can use the other yeast types directly along with the flour.
In a large bowl combine, flour, sugar and salt. To this add egg, milk, melted butter, and yeast Stir the mixture until it comes together to form a dough, and then knead for about five minutes.

It will be sticky. Don’t be tempted to add any flour. Grease your hand if needed.

step 1

Transfer to a well greased container

Allow the dough to rise for 60 minutes at room temperature until doubled in volume

step2You need to prepare something to wrap the dough around, this can be a wooden rolling pin or cardboard rolls ( the ones you are left with after tin foil or wrapping paper runs out). Whatever you decide to use, cover it with multiple layers of aluminum foil, do at least two or three layers, to prevent them from burning in the oven.

step3

Brush them with melted butter.

Punch down the dough and divide into 4 equal parts about 4 oz (115 gm) of each.

On a well floured surface spread one portion of the dough and shape into 1/6 inch (4 mm) thick square-shaped sheet.

step4

Using a pizza cutter cut the dough into a long ribbons of about 1/2 inch (13 mm) wide.

step5

Wrap one end of the dough strip around the spit/rolling pin, tucking in the end so the dough doesn’t unwind.

Keep the dough very thin (under ¼ inch (6 mm)) as you stretch and wind it on the rolling pun. Then roll the whole thing slightly on the counter top to flatten it/press it together.

Brush with melted butter

Roll in sugar

step6

Place in roasting pan and bake in a preheated moderately hot oven 375°F/190⁰C/gas mark 5 for 25 minutes.

If using roast function (375⁰F/190⁰C) in the oven it will take about 20 minutes.

If you are grilling (broiling) over the fire cooking time is about six minutes, until it starts to take on a dark golden color. Turn the rolling pin at once least once (or more) throughout baking time to ensure uniform cooking.

When cake is done you can roll it in sugar again or you can brush more butter, then roll the finished cake in the toppings of your choice.
Tap the mold on a table top to release the cake and set it up right to cool.

chimney cake by chef in disguise

Kürtőskalács /Chimney cake

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: Preparing dough 15 minutes, first rise: about an 1 hour , Cook time: 20 minutes in oven if you using roast function. Baking at 25 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preparation time:dough 15 minutes, first rise: about an 1 hour

Cook time: 25 minutes

Chimney cake chef in disguise

Ingredients

For the dough:

1¾ cups (8½ oz) (240 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour

2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) (7 gm) active dry yeast OR 2 teaspoons instant yeast OR 14 gm (½ oz) fresh yeast

2 tablespoons (1 oz)(30 gm) sugar

1/8 teaspoon (3/4 gm) salt

1 large egg, room temperature

3 tablespoons (1½ oz) (45 gm) melted butter

1/2 cup (120 ml) milk, lukewarm temperature

For baking/grilling:

melted butter

sugar

 

Directions:

If you are using active dry yeast, add ½ teaspoon sugar to lukewarm milk and set aside for 5-10 minutes until it proofs (becomes foamy).

You can use the other yeast types directly along with the flour.

In a large bowl combine, flour, sugar and salt. To this add egg, milk, melted butter, and yeast Stir the mixture until it comes together to form a dough, and then knead for about five minutes.

It will be sticky. Don’t be tempted to add any flour. Grease your hand if needed.

Transfer to a well greased container

Allow the dough to rise for 60 minutes at room temperature until doubled in volume

Prepare the rolling pins by covering them with aluminum foil, do at least two or three layers, to protect the pins from burning in the oven.

Make sure to cover the rolling pins very well. Brush them with melted butter.

The risen dough after 60 minutes.

Punch down the dough and divide into 4 equal parts about 4 oz (115 gm) of each.

On a well floured surface spread one portion of the dough

Shape into 1/6 inch (4 mm) thick square-shaped sheet.

Using a pizza cutter cut the dough into a long ribbons of about 1/2 inch (13 mm) wide.

Wrap one end of the dough strip around the spit/rolling pin, tucking in the end so the dough doesn’t unwind.

Keep the dough very thin (under ¼ inch (6 mm)) as you stretch and wind it on the rolling pun. Then roll the whole thing slightly on the counter top to flatten it/press it together.

Brush with melted butter

Roll in sugar

Place in roasting pan and bake in a preheated moderately hot oven 375°F/190⁰C/gas mark 5 for 25 minutes.

If using roast function (375⁰F/190⁰C) in the oven it will take about 20 minutes.

If you are grilling (broiling) over the fire cooking time is about six minutes, until it starts to take on a dark golden color. Turn the rolling pin at once least once (or more) throughout baking time to ensure uniform cooking.

When cake is done roll it in sugar again

If you are using other toppings brush more butter, then roll the finished cake in the toppings of your choice.

Tap the mold on a table top to release the cake and set it up right to cool.

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Egyptian fava beans and herbs dip (Egyptian Bessara) #Arabic_flavor

Bessara- fava bean dip

It is the 25th of the month which means it is time for our #Arabic_flavor reveal.

For the month of August, our host Rehab Elbarody took us on a trip to Egypt. She chose to share her family’s recipe for Bessara, a fava bean dip rooted in Egyptian history.  According to Rehab, bessara dates back to the pharaonic era! (which makes it a recipe that is thousands of years old !).The word Beesara is derived from Hieroglyphic Bees-oro  (bees- which means cooked) and (oro which means beans).

Bessara  is made with simple, cheap ingredients: fava beans, onions, garlic and lots of fresh herbs which give bessara its unique green color. The fact that these simple ingredients can give you a meal that packs a real nutritional punch made bessara popular.

 

This was actually my first time trying bessara and I have to say that it was a pleasant surprise!  Refreshingly green, creamy, with layers of flavor from the  spices and herbs, beautifully rounded by the caramelized onions. If you love hummus, do give bessara a try, it is plays along the same notes but with a more complex and layered flavor profile.

Fava beans and herbs dip

Egyptian Bessara

500 grams split fava beans (soaked in water overnight)

1 large onion, chopped

5 cloves of garlic

1 bunch fresh parsley chopped (1 cup)

1 bunch fresh cilantro chopped (1 cup)

1 teaspoon black pepper

salt to taste

For the onion topping

1 medium onion cut into strips

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon ground caraway

1 teaspoon dried coriander

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons ghee or olive oil

Egyptian bessara

  1. Soak the fava beans in clean water for 8 hours or over night , rinse and discard the water
  2. Place the soaked beans in a large pot and cover with water.
  3. Bring to a simmer, when froth appears on the surface, drain the beans and add new water to cover the beans, bring back to a simmer
  4. After simmering for 25 minutes, add the herbs and onion and garlic and let the beans simmer some more until they are completely soft .
  5.  Drain, reserving some of the water
  6. Transfer the beans to the bowl of a food processor and purée;add a little of the water you reserved if you need it to help the mix puree
  7. Place the puree beans back in the pot and add the salt and pepper and cook on medium low heat until the consistency thickens (it should be thick enough to allow you to scoop it with bread)
  8. Using a piston and mortar, grind the garlic with the caraway, black pepper and coriander
  9. Heat the oil or ghee in a skillet and fry the onion rings until golden (over medium-low heat).
  10. Add the garlic and spices and fry for a couple of minutes
  11. Remove and drain over paper towels, reserve the oil
  12. Add the oil to the thickened beans
  13. Transfer to a serving platter; garnish the surface with the fried onions and serve at room temperature with bread, green onions, pickles or olives

Broad bean dip

 

 

المقادير :
1/2 كيلو فول مدشوش
بصلة كبيرة
5 فصوص ثوم
باقة كبيرة بقدونس
باقة كبيرة كزبرة
ملح وفلفل وشطة
للتقلية
بصلة صغيرة مفرومة ناعم
2 فص ثوم
ملعقة صغيرة كراوية (سر الطبخة من عائلة البارودى )
نصف ملعقة فلفل اسود
ملعقة صغيرة كسبرة جافة
3 ملعقة كبيرة سمن بلدى
الطريقة :
ننقع الفول المدشوش 8 ساعات فى ماء نظيف ثم نشطفه جيدا .
نغطى الفول بماء نظيف ثم نرفعه على النار حتى يغلى وتظهر الرغوة على السطح فنصفى الماء ونعيد الفول مرة اخرى على النار بعد تغطيته بماء نظيف مرة اخرى .
نلقى فى ماء السلق مع الفول,البصلة والبقدونس والكزبرة المقطع ونتركهم حتى تمام النضج .
يصفى الخليط مع مراعاه ترك كمية بسيطة من الماء به .
يهرس فى الفود بروسيسور ثم يعاد مرة اخرى للنار مع تتبيله بالملح والفلفل والشطة ومع مراعاة تهدئة النار حتى تتكاثف الطبخة .
للتقلية :

ندق الثوم مع توابل التقلية جيدا حتى تتصاعد الرائحة العطرية للتوابل

نسيح السمن ونضيف له البصلة حتى يصفر لونها ويشف .
نضيف الثوم والتوابل للبصلة حتى تتحمر .
نصفى السمن ونضيفه للبصارة ونحتفظ بالتقلية لتجميل الوجه
#البصارة_المصرية
#نكهة_عربية
#Egyptian_Bessara
#arabic_flavor

Chocolate pancakes with blueberry sauce and ranch flavored coleslaw

ranch flavored Coleslaw

Today is the reveal of our Secret recipe club assignment.This month was extra special because I was assigned the heritage cook.

Jane, the wonderfully talented and passionate lady behind this blog was our secret recipe group hostess. She has always been extra kind and supportive of the whole group. Her passion and excitement for each challenge was contagious. Sadly, Jane decided to step down  from leading “group A”   and I was lucky enough to be assigned her blog.

Jane, in addition to being our group hostess is  a food and travel writer, recipe developer, editor and tester, event manager, passionate baker and cook.

I love how she sums up the motivation behind her blog :”At The Heritage Cook I share my passions, memories, and years of experience in the kitchen enticing people to get back in the kitchen and helping them become as ardent about cooking and baking as I am. Recent generations are no longer being taught how to cook and have become dependent on fast food restaurants and frozen prepared foods. This is not only unhealthy, but we are losing touch with the pleasures of freshly prepared foods and home-cooked family meals. With luck, our culinary traditions will continue to be passed from one generation to the next.”

It was not easy to choose a recipe from Jane’s archives, so many choices! So little time! I ended up making two recipes. Her chocolate pancakes and her ranch flavored coleslaw.

Chocolate pancakes with blueberry sauce

My plan was to make Jane’s ranch flavored coleslaw ,the ranch dressing was calling to me and I loved all the colors, it was a refreshing change from the usual two toned slaw. Then my son walks in the morning while I was going through Jane’s breakfast recipe and demands chocolate pancakes, there was no negotiation! He decided that this was the one and only breakfast he will have (note to self: do not go through your SRC assignments when the kids are around! )

I stuck to Jane’s recipe with the exception of adding some cinnamon, cardamom and instant coffee. I love the spice-chocolate combo and use it in most of my chocolate recipes. You don’t really taste the cinnamon or the cardamom but they add a beautiful depth to the chocolate flavor. The instant coffee is there to intensify the chocolate flavor. My other alteration was the topping: I did not have any raspberries, so I used frozen blueberries to make a blueberry sauce instead and then added some fresh mango cubes for a splash of color and added freshness.

The chocolate pancakes were a hit, they are soft, fluffy and intensely chocolaty. They got two thumbs up from the kids

Chocolate Pancakes with Raspberry Syrup

The Family Kitchen at blogs.babble.com

Yield: 4 servings

 

INGREDIENTS

Blueberry Sauce

1 cup  frozen blueberries

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

Pancakes

1 cup self rising flour (or use all-purpose flour and add 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt)

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1/4 teaspoon cardamom (optional)

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee (option)

 

Directions

 

Make the blueberry sauce:

In a small saucepan, add the blueberries, sugar and water

Bring them to a boil

lower the heat and cook , stirring occasionally until the sauce reduces in half and thickens in consistency

Set aside

 

Make the Pancakes:

In a large mixing bowl, combined the self-rising flour, sugar and cocoa. Whisk to blend.

Add the egg and milk and whisk just until combined. (You don’t want the mix to be super smooth, lumps are actually ok because a lumpy batter will give you fluffier pancakes)

Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add 1 to 2 tsp oil

Pour in batter, reduce heat to medium and cook until bubbles appear over the  top of the pancake before flipping. Cook until second side is nicely browned.

Serve warm topped with the Blueberry sauce.

Topping options: whipped cream, chocolate chips, fresh fruit (I used mango), you can also try my homemade strawberry syrup

 

Coleslaw with ranch dressing

 

When someone says coleslaw, the first image that pops in my head is the soggy, tasteless, mayonnaise laden mess you get at fast food restaurants. As I was going through Jane’s blog, her coleslaw caught my attention because it was completely different from the image I had in my head. It was refreshingly colorful, the vegetables looked crisp and inviting and instead of good old mayonnaise there was a homemade ranch dressing.

I knew immediately that I had to try it and now I am glad I did

When I started the salad dressing series, I got quite a few requests for a homemade ranch dressing. I have tried a number of recipes and though some were really good, I was never perfectly happy with any of them. After trying Jane’s recipe, I can tell you that the search is over, this is the best homemade ranch dressing I have ever tried. It was the perfect way to dress the coleslaw but it would also make a great dip served with some sliced vegetables.

 

Ranch flavored coleslaw

INGREDIENTS

Dressing

1 cup low-fat buttermilk (I used yogurt)

1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon sugar, optional

1/4 teaspoon very finely minced fresh garlic

2 teaspoon minced green onions (or chives)

1/2 teaspoon mustard

1-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Slaw

1 small head green cabbage, cored, quartered and each piece very thinly sliced (see notes)

Kosher salt

1 red bell pepper, cored and finely chopped

1/2 yellow bell pepper, cored and finely chopped

3 carrots, peeled and shredded

1/2 small red onion, peeled and very finely chopped (see notes)

 

METHOD

 

Make the Dressing:

In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk (or yogurt), mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Whisk until smooth.

Add sugar, garlic, chives, mustard, thyme and dill.

Whisk again until everything is evenly distributed.

This dressing tastes better the longer you leave it, you can use it right away but if you have time, store it in the fridge for 2 hours (up to 2 days) to allow  for the flavors to blend.

 

Assemble the Cole Slaw:

In a very large mixing bowl, combine the cabbage and prepared vegetables.

Toss to evenly mix everything together.

Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the dressing and toss to coat all the vegetables evenly.

Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more dressing if desired.

Transfer to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

If any extra liquid accumulates while it is resting, drain before serving.

 

 Notes:

Jane’s recipe uses green cabbage only, I used a combination of green and purple

To take the edge off the raw onions I toss them with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar and set them aside for 10 minutes. Then I drain the lemon juice and use the onions, they will be much milder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gazan dagga “hot tomato dill salsa” #Arabicflavor

Gazan dakka (dill and pepper tomato salsa)

I have been trying to write a post for 2 weeks with no luck. What is happening in Gaza makes it very hard to write about food or anything else for that matter.

If you have not been keeping up with the news, let me fill you in. In the past 21 days, over 1000 Palestinians (mostly civilians) have been killed. Over 200 of the 1000 were children. Almost 6000 Palestinians have been injured. Nearly 166,000 Palestinians have sought shelter at United Nations facilities because their homes were either destroyed or unsafe to live in because of the Israeli attack.

The images, footage and stories coming out of Gaza are enough to give you nightmares for the rest of your life but can  you imagine what it must be like to live through it all? I have dear friends in Gaza,and I have been worried sick about them especially after losing contact with most of them after short messages saying that their houses were bombed, they are still alive but barely.

I can hardly bear to watch the news, yet I can’t stop myself from watching. Every broadcast leaves me with a cascade of emotions. I am Sad, broken, angry, furious but above all, I feel helpless. I want to do something but what?

Nisreen Al shawwa, and Mona Al Saboni, two wonderfully talented Arabic bloggers had the answer. They called upon all the Arabic food bloggers to come together and form a group. The aim of the group is to provide a true image of the Arabic world using food and recipes as a canvas.  With every recipe “Arabic flavor” (the name we chose for the group) will share a recipe from a country and every blogger will tell you a little more about that country.

Our first feature and the reason the group came together is Gaza and Nisreen suggested the Gazan Dagga. But before I get to the recipe..

Let me tell you a little about Gaza

The Gaza strip or simply Gaza is a Palestinian region on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.Gaza is a small area measuring  41 kilometers long, and from 6 to 12 kilometers wide, with a total area of 365 square kilometers (141 sq mi).  Around 1.82 million Palestinians live in Gaza making it among the most densely populated parts of the world. 1.1 million of the 1.8 million in Gaza are Palestinian refugees. They were kicked out of their homes when Israel occupied Palestine in 1948.

Gaza cuisine

As home to the largest concentration of refugees within historic Palestine,Gaza has a unique cuisine that is the result of the merging of the culinary traditions of the original Gaza residents with those brought by the refugees from hundreds of towns and villages that now exist only in memory—depopulated and destroyed in the year 1948.  Add to the mix the Egyptian influence that resulted from the Egyptian rule between 1959 and 1967 and the result is an extraordinary cuisine that is Mediterranean, Levantine, Egyptian but above all uniquely Gazan

Gazan dakka ingredients

Hot Chili and dill is one of the unique combinations in the Gazan cuisine . It is served along side grilled meat, chicken or fish for a blast of heat and flavor.  Chili and dill are also combined with tomatoes and dressed with lemon juice and olive oil to form the signature Gazan salad (Gazan dagga). Fresh green chili peppers crushed in a mortar with dill seeds or fresh dill along with lemon and salt are also served along side stews and soups for a blast of bright flavor on cold and dark winter days.Ground red chili peppers  with dill seeds are preserved in oil and sold as a condiment and ingredient, resembling North Africa’s popular harissa. In short, Gazans take pride in making you sweat :) then again, if you live in a place that is bombed by Israel every two years, you’d better learn to tolerate the heat.

 

Gazan dakka (dill and pepper tomato salsa)

Gazan dagga

Gazan salad or salata ghazaweh (السلطه الغزاويه او الدقه الغزاويه)

Ingredients

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 small onion chopped

2 hot chili peppers, roughly chopped

1 cup fresh dill, minced or 1 teaspoon of dill seeds

2 very ripe tomatoes, chopped

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

Directions

In a Gazan clay bowl or zibdiya (or a morter or curved bottomed bowl) mash the onion and salt into a paste using a pestle.

Add chilies and continue to crush.

Add half of the dill (if using fresh dill) or all of the dill seeds if using seeds and crush them to release the natural oils

Add tomatoes and mash (you can make the salsa as smooth or as chunky as you like.

If using fresh dill add the other half along with the lemon juice and toss .

Top generously with olive oil.

Serve with flat bread on the side for dipping

Notes and variations:

  • You can substitute minced garlic for the onions.
  • For a tahini salsa variable, dd chopped cucumbers and 1 tablespoon of tahini. (This variation is from the old village of Beit Jirja, north of the Gaza Strip.)
  • A small food processor may be used in place of a mortar and pestle. Make sure to “pulse” the ingredients—don’t purée them But if you want to experience the full flavor of this salsa, do take the time and effort to make it in a mortar and pestle.

Cheese bread wreath

Cheese stuffed bread wreath

Today is the 16 th of Ramadan, every year I receive requests to explain a little more about the month of Ramadan and the practice of fasting and it is always a pleasure to do so.You can find my previous posts about Ramadan here, here and here but for this year I thought I’d answer a few FAQ.

If you have a question about Ramadan,I’d love to hear from you. So please leave me a comment or send me an email. let’s start with the basics:

So what is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the month in which Muslims are instructed to fast from sun rise till sunset.

What exactly is fasting?

To fast by definition means to abstain. In Ramadan Muslims abstain from food,tobacoo and drinks from sun rise till sunset but fasting goes way beyond this simple definition. Abstaining from eating or drinking is actually the easy part! To avoid repeating myself, here is a little explanation of what fasting is all about from the post I published last year.

Fasting is a school of discipline present in most religions and cultures. In Islam fasting by definition means to abstain, abstain from food and drink from sunrise till sunset but it doesn’t stop there.

One way to look at it is that in fasting what comes out of your mouth is just as important as what goes in. You have to abstain from everything that is bad. No lying, gossiping or using profanity. Keep in mind though, that your mouth is not the only part of you that is fasting, the whole of you is. Your hands are fasting, you can’t do harm, steal or hurt others. Your eyes are fasting, you are not allowed to watch anything inappropriate. Your ears are fasting, you can’t listen to anything inappropriate.

If you think about it, fasting  is meant to impact the way you behave,in every aspect.

But the lesson does not stop at your senses. It extends to controlling your mood, temper and desires. If you think fasting gives you an excuse to throw a tantrum because you’re not eating or drinking,think again. When you fast you are required to control your anger to the same extent that you control your mouth or your senses.

To fast or not to fast?Why should I do it?Only for religious reasons?

Although Muslims fast primarily for religious reasons. The true beauty of any religion is when you see the why behind the must.

Fasting gives your body a rest

Digesting food requires high amounts of energy; in fact, the digestive system can sometimes drain energy needed for healing, repair and general maintenance of the body. Therefore, it makes sense to give it a vacation once in awhile.

Help your body heal and detoxify

In many cultures, the art of fasting has been practiced for thousands of years for curing illness of all kinds, rejuvenation, clarity and decision making, cleansing and strengthening. Have you noticed that when you’re sick, your appetite diminishes? (Similarly, when animals are ill, they lie down and often don’t eat or drink.) Energy goes towards healing our bodies instead of digesting food.

Fasting makes you more compassionate. Trying out hunger for hours everyday gives you a sense of what it is like not to have anything to eat. It is a great motivation to reach out and help those in need

Fasting teaches you that you are in control. You are in control of your body, your senses and your desires.

It is a great way to break bad habits. If you can stop smoking for 16 hours because you are fasting, you can do it for the remaining 8 hours. If you can stop gossiping or lying or using profanity for 16 hours, you can quit it for good.

Why does Ramadan come at a different time each year?

The Islamic calendar(also called the hijri calender) is lunar(it follows the moon) and because of that, the start of the Islamic year advances 11 days each year compared with the seasonal year.That is why, Ramadan occurs at different times of the year over a 33-year cycle. This can result in the Ramadan fast being undertaken in markedly different environmental conditions between years in the same country.

Are all Muslims required to fast? Are there any exceptions?

Adult  sane Muslims are required to fast but there are exceptions to that rule.By definition, adult and sane excludes children and those who are mentally ill or insane. Because Islam is a religion based on compassion and mercy, there are also those who can postpone the fast because they are going through conditions that make fasting too hard or harmful to their health for example :(the acutely ill; women during menstruation, pregnancy, post-childbirth and during lactation and also travelers) . Then there are also those who are excused because they are unable to fast (the chronically ill; the frail elderly).

 

I hope I’ve covered a few of the questions you may have about Ramadan, if you have any more questions, please send me an email or leave me a comment.

Cheese bread wreath/ chef in disguise

A few weeks ago, Lail asked me to join her in her first virtual Iftar potluck. Lail is one of the sweetest bloggers I have met in the past three years of blogging. I deeply admire her dedication, passion and talent so it was a true pleasure to  oblige her invitation. I decided to bring her this Cheese bread wreath.

Today’s recipe is one of my go to bread recipes when I have company or when I am busy. Instead of making individual pastries, this lovely bread wreath is a great way to serve stuffed bread. It is elegant, easy to make and really versatile in terms of filling (you can check out the notes for both savory and sweet suggestions).

Cheese bread wreath

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) warm water
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup (57 gram) butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup (50 gram) white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams)salt
  • 3 1/4 tp 3 1/2 cups ( 416-448 gram) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (8 grams) dry yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram)cardamom optional

Instead of the egg-wash use

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) (25 gm) (1 oz) milk powder
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) lukewarm water
  • 1teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 gm) instant coffee

stuffing (see notes for options)

  • 1 cup (80 grams) Nabulsi cheese grated or cut into small cubes (you can use any firm salty cheese)
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese or mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of dried mint  (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Nigella seeds (optional)

 

Instructions

In a bowl whisk the egg with milk, water, sugar, butter and yeast. Set aside

In another bowl sift the flour with the salt and the cardamom .

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and knead until you get a smooth dough. (That usually requires 7 to 10 minutes)

Place the dough in a bowl that you have previously brushed with some oil.

Cover the doughwith a wet kitchen towel and leave it in a warm place to double

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface

Roll into a rectangle

1

Spread cheese stuffing leaving 1 inch (2.5cm) margin all around

2

Roll the dough starting from the long side to foem a tube

3

Join both ends of the tube to form a circle and pinch the dough together

4

Using a scissor or a knife make cuts that go 2/3 of the way through the dough

5

Turn the slices 90 degrees so that cut part faces upward

Using a brush, brush the dough with egg wash  or my egg wash replacement if you prefer

Allow  the wreath to rest for 15 minutes during which you would heat your oven to 270C (500F) (rack in the middle)

Bake for 5 minutes on 270C (500F) then lower the temperature to 200 C (400 F) and cook for 15-20 more minutes

(ovens do differ greatly, so the time may differ..what you want is to bake it until the under side is golden brown)

If the top isn’t  golden, Place the wreath under the broiler for a couple of minutes until it is golden brown on top

Cheese stuffed bread wreath

Notes

The stuffing:

When it comes to the stuffing, the possibilities are really endless. For savory options try: Sauteed spinach with onions and garlic.Minced meat, sauteed with onions and your favorite blend of spices is a great choice for the meat lovers out there For a sweet option,try date puree, dried fruits, or jam.

Cheese stuffing:

The cheese I usually use in this bread is a combination of Nabulsi cheese and sharp cheddar but you can use any other cheese combination you like. Cheddar, Monterrey jack and Colby. Halloumi with fresh mint or parsley. Experiment and find your favorite, just remember to use a cheese with intense flavor or else it will be overwhelmed by the bread

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