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

Leave a comment

27 Comments

  1. Aren’t all religions just about compassion and love? It is just that we decide one form of compassion and love is “better” than the other causing all the problems in the world.

    Lovely post. I was more interested in your explanation of Ramzan than the recipe itself, not that e recipe was not wonderful. :-)

    Reply
  2. Ooooooo….. I am drooling.

    Reply
  3. I will make it very quick and simple, knowing you are way too busy. If I have to wait for 365 days to get a new post from you, you will still make it worth it. every single day of waiting…

    beautiful post, beautiful message, beautiful you….

    Reply
  4. Sawsan this looks scrumptious – and I think I may actually be able to make it. I was about to ask you if I can use Halloumi and then I saw your note :)

    Reply
  5. malika

     /  July 15, 2014

    first of all thank you so much for these ramadan’s explanations
    and yummy this is a kind of bread that i really love

    Reply
  6. “The true beauty of any religion is when you see the why behind the must.”.. That’s so beautifully put. I wish more people took the time to understand their religion and that of others. There would be so much lesser misunderstanding in the world.

    As for the cheese bread, gorgeous!!

    Reply
  7. This cheese wreath is gorgeous. It reminds me of the sweet Swedish Tea Ring I’ve made in the past.

    Reply
  8. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef

     /  July 15, 2014

    I love the mint and nigella seeds in with the cheese. Thanks again for a lovely description of what Ramadan means and why it’s so important to look beyond the ‘rule’ and examine how it impacts your life into the future.

    Reply
  9. That sounds really delicious, and looks so pretty too. Very summery in the shape of the sun. It’s also nice to hear about your traditions Sawsan. :)

    Reply
  10. Thanks for your well thought out explanations of Ramadan. The cheese bread looks amazing!

    Reply
  11. This cheese bread looks amazing dear! Enjoyed reading your post.
    ينعاد علينا و عليكم حبيبتي و كل عام و أتتي بألف خير .

    Reply
  12. This looks incredible, the bread is perfect looking :D
    I want to devour this cheese bread!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    Reply
  13. Dear Sawsan, Thank you so much for stopping by the iftar potluck. I am moved for your participation, despite all that is going on in your personal life. The bread is stunning. Absolutely love it. Also, thank you for explaining Ramadan. The whole point of the potluck was to educate the readers of the participating blogs a little about Ramadan and you have done it beautifully. Such a lovely post!

    I will add you to the potluck list tonight, insaAllah.

    Reply
  14. gernaine

     /  July 16, 2014

    This looks FABULOUS!!!

    Reply
  15. Eha

     /  July 17, 2014

    I thought I knew it ‘all’!! I now realize I am at the beginning of a journey . . .thanks . . .

    Reply
  16. How very interesting, thank you for the lesson in such easy to understand words. It’s surprising and disappointing that such a gentle religion has such an ugly side too. Fortunately I’ve only ever met kind, gentle and generous Muslims like you.❤️
    This bread is simply beautiful, you are so gifted in bread making. And you’ve just inspired me to use this technique in another application!

    Reply
  17. Beautiful bread and equally beautiful message. I love how you have described that why is important behind the must. Every religion that I know teaches understanding, compassion and kindness, yet so many are hell bent upon twisting it to suit their selfish needs :(

    The bread is in a way a symbol of it – it might look complicated, but look inside, it’s soft, delicious and satisfying to the soul. Bookmarked :)

    Reply
  18. thank you very interesting and a great recipe.

    Reply
  19. Sawsan, thank you for bringing a deeper understanding to fasting — as you said, it’s not just about ‘not eating.’ In fact, I don’t think I’ve heard it described better or more fully! Your beautiful bread is a wonderful illustration for your thoughts. Thanks again!

    Reply
  20. I do know that several of my clients are fasting right now. They have suggested I try it as well.

    Reply
  21. Nice post my dear, Jazakom Allah Khairan. It was fun participating in this event. Your bread looks so delicious.

    Reply
  22. Anonymous

     /  July 23, 2014

    Hi Sawsan
    I loooove you blog!!!
    I want to attempt to make my own cheeses, using your recipes, but just wanted to know if the rennant u use a vegetarian one. Would the measurements differ for animal ann vegetarian rennants? And is it possible to make the cheeses without rennant?

    Thank u

    Reply
  23. Anonymous

     /  July 23, 2014

    Hi

    Reply
  24. Looks soooo yummy

    Reply
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