Old Tradition Meets New: Ginger Cutout Cookies
Oct28

Old Tradition Meets New: Ginger Cutout Cookies

I didn’t grown up with Halloween, so even after living in the US for 21 years (how did that happen?!), it doesn’t have the same meaning for me as the die-hards around me. (I’m sure if I had grown up collecting pails of candy with my friends, and dressing up in lavish costumes, it would be my fayyyvorite holiday!)  But I did grow up with a tradition of ginger cookies. My love for ginger “biscuits”—as we called them in South Africa—began with these very gingersnaps that my step-mom, Pam, used to make. They’re characteristically crunchy, but if you prefer a chewy cookie, just bake for less time. I like them perfectly crispy around the edges with just a little chew in the middle. Yum! If you’re not gonna frost them, painting them with egg gives them a glossy sheen, but if you forget this step (like I did) they will still be delish!   My favorite taster said they’re just right! (She’s munching on a ghost cookie—in case you’re wondering.)   I found the cute jack-o-lantern cookie stamp set at Sur La Table. Would you believe I FORGOT to use them and just managed to scrape three together with the last offcuts of dough!     And even after being rolled and re-rolled they were still pretty yummy! Though I did leave these in the oven for about 30 seconds too long so they’re crrrrrispy! Make sure to keep an eye on them because every minute counts!   In my recent trip to South Africa, I poured over Pam’s recipe book, taking snaps of all my childhood favs. (I sure wish I would’ve been more interested when I lived there.) How cool is this? The original recipe from her mom, Nan, who was a fabulous baker.   You know I just couldn’t stop there though, right? I modified the recipe (after my usual hours of research and testing) which called for creaming the eggs and sugar. (Yes, you read that correctly) There are so few recipes that require this step, that I decided to go with the simpler method of whisking and stirring—from Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book (fabulous book) . I mean, why bring out the mixer unless absolutely necessary, right? And this way my daughter can be involved in the mixing too—not just the cutting and frosting. You might be wondering why they call for such a large amount of baking soda (2 teaspoons). This is so that they rise dramatically and then collapse, leaving the cute crackles on the surface. It also allows for better browning and the cracks in the dough allow more moisture to escape, making them crispier. Refrigerating the dough deepens...

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Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies
Sep15

Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies

This is the ultimate, chewy sugar cookie—and you don’t even need a mixer! The browned butter and brown sugar gives them a rich, toffee taste, and a delightful chew that kids and grown ups alike will LOVE. And they’re super easy and fun to make. What you will need. Weighing ingredients is more accurate and makes for easy cleanup. Melting the butter makes for a chewier cookie than the usual creaming method. The only tricky part is getting the brown butter just right. I bust out my fancy All-Clad saucier pan, but you can use a 10-inch skillet. Don’t use non-stick because the dark finish makes it hard to judge the color of the butter. Swirl the pan constantly until the butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. There’s a fine line between brown enough and burned, so don’t take your eye off it for a second!   Transfer to a large heatproof bowl. Carefully add remaining butter so it doesn’t splatter and stir until completely melted.   Mix brown sugar and salt into cooled butter with a wooden spoon, squishing any remaining sugar lumps with the back of your spoon. Add egg and yolk and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated.   Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Use a medium cookie scoop (1 1/2 tablespoons dough) and roll into balls. Place on prepared sheets, spaced 2 inches apart Kids will love to roll them in the sugars! Bake 12 – 14 minutes until browned and edges have begun to set, but centers are still soft. They will look underdone, but will develop out of the oven; if you leave them in too long they will get crisp and hard. After 5 minutes, transfer to wire rack to cool completely Cool Tools Salter Aquatronic Glass Electronic Kitchen Scale Oxo Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop Parchment Paper Sheets Brown Sugar Cookies 2013-09-15 17:34:07 Yields 28 4 Weight Watchers PointsPlus for one cookie Write a review Save Recipe Print 154 calories 24 g 22 g 6 g 1 g 4 g 36 g 73 g 17 g 0 g 2 g Nutrition Facts Serving Size 36g Yields 28 Amount Per Serving Calories 154 Calories from Fat 53 % Daily Value * Total Fat 6g 9% Saturated Fat 4g 19% Trans Fat 0g Polyunsaturated Fat 0g Monounsaturated Fat 2g Cholesterol 22mg 7% Sodium 73mg 3% Total Carbohydrates 24g 8% Dietary Fiber 0g 1% Sugars 17g Protein 1g Vitamin A4%Vitamin C0% Calcium2%Iron1% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on...

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Apricot Squares
Sep02

Apricot Squares

Grating the dough gives these tasty squares their good looks, and wonderful, crumbly texture!   The smell wafting out of my oven right now takes me right back to my childhood, when my older sister, Sharon, often made these delicious “farfel biscuits.” I’ve fleshed out the simple recipe from The New International Goodwill Recipe Book (which every young Jewish girl in South Africa got when starting out) with detailed instructions and pics. I hope you’ll give them a try, because they’re really easy, and you’ll probably find all the ingredients in your pantry! What you will need  Since this is a jam-centric recipe, buy a good quality jam. I’m partial to Bonne Maman, which is smooth and has a lovely taste, and most importantly doesn’t contain corn syrup. You can find it at most supermarkets these days—even Costco carries the Apricot Preserves, so you know they must be good! Spray baking sheet and line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang for easy removal Grate half of the chilled dough directly onto the prepared pan Spread the jam evenly on top Grate the remaining dough on top Bake 20 – 25 minutes till golden; after 5 minutes carefully transfer to wire rack to cool completely Cut with a sharp knife into 2-inch squares Apricot Squares 2013-09-01 20:58:35 Yields 35 Write a review Save Recipe Print 184 calories 30 g 25 g 7 g 2 g 3 g 52 g 31 g 15 g 0 g 2 g Nutrition Facts Serving Size 52g Yields 35 Amount Per Serving Calories 184 Calories from Fat 57 % Daily Value * Total Fat 7g 10% Saturated Fat 3g 17% Trans Fat 0g Polyunsaturated Fat 0g Monounsaturated Fat 2g Cholesterol 25mg 8% Sodium 31mg 1% Total Carbohydrates 30g 10% Dietary Fiber 0g 2% Sugars 15g Protein 2g Vitamin A4%Vitamin C3% Calcium3%Iron2% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Does this look wrong? Ingredients 1 cup butter, salted, room temperature 1 cup sugar 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 large eggs, room temperature 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 4 cups all-purpose flour 4 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt vegetable cooking spray 2 1/4 cups apricot jam, room temperature Instructions Lightly coat an 11 x 17-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray; line the bottom with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Spoon jam into a bowl, and beat with a rubber spatula to smooth out; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt to combine. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with...

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Round Challah for a Sweet New Year
Aug29

Round Challah for a Sweet New Year

Round Challah is a traditional sweet bread, served on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, to symbolize the cycle of life and a sweet new year. A few years ago, I was blown away by my cousin Carla’s homemade honey and raisin challah at our holiday celebration. Orna and Sam with Cousin Carla September, 2011 You probably already know that I have a thing for bread. I also have a major thing for challah. And topped with cinnamon sugar?! You’ve got to be kidding me! But how could I possibly make this incredible loaf myself?  Carla agreed to come over the next day and show me how it was done—removing the fear factor, and sparking my love for baking any kind of bread. Well, truthfully, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with yeast, which is why I’ve included step-by-step details, so that even if you’ve never used yeast before, you can do this! And most importantly, enjoy the process. The instructions below are for kneading in a stand mixer, or you can just do it the old fashioned way, with some elbow grease. On her next visit from Vancouver, Carla surprised me with my very own copy of The New Food Processor Bible, by Norene Gilletz, where she found this wonderful recipe. Highly Recommend! Both of these kind, generous bakers have inspired and encouraged me, and I hope to do the same for you! A special thank you goes out to Norene and friends in Norene’s Kitchen on Facebook for answering all my questions! Carla’s always getting on my back to be more “relaxed” and just enjoy cooking—but I’m sure that if I have all these questions and issues, someone out there does too, so here’s hoping that I’m making the process a little easier and less daunting. There’s no sweeter way to bring in the New Year than breaking fresh, homemade Challah with your family. Chag Sameach from our family to yours. xoxo      What you will need  Bubbled up yeast Make a well in the flour   Add the oil, eggs, water, salt, honey, and yeast mixture   Mix with the paddle attachment until combined and smooth   Knead with the dough hook for about 8 minutes; the dough should be soft and slightly sticky   Place in a large, oiled bowl, turning once to grease the top Cover and place in a warm, draught-free place to rise for 1 – 2 1/2 hours until doubled in size (or refrigerate overnight) Dough has doubled in size when you lightly poke two fingers into it and the indent doesn’t come right back out Roll into a long...

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Extreme Makeover for OrnaBakes and Bulkas on YouTube!
Aug26

Extreme Makeover for OrnaBakes and Bulkas on YouTube!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since I launched OrnaBakes, with my Cinnamon Bulkas (yeast buns). Since then I’ve learned so much—about blogging, and cooking! You wouldn’t believe how much time and effort goes into each post… and how many programs and platforms I’ve had to master. (WordPress, MailChimp, iPhoto, iMovie, YouTube, Evernote, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, the list goes on…) When I started I barely even knew how to hold a full size camera, and was terrified to remove the memory card for fear of inserting it the wrong way into my Mac. Sam probably regrets nagging me to learn how to use iPhoto for all those years, because now every computer, camera, and iOS device in our house (of which there are many) is overtaken with pictures of food! It’s very rewarding to see what a long way my pics have come since my first post. Exhibit A: Featured Image from First Bulkas Post (9/27/12) Exhibit B: Updated Bulkas Post (Pic Optimized for Pinterest in 4:5 ratio, proven to get the most pins) These heavenly buns are my personal favorite, and along with my Crunchies—another traditional South African treat—are my Signature Bake. While perfectly sweet and buttery, they aren’t too rich—so your family can enjoy them anytime. (And they don’t completely break the calorie bank!) What better a recipe for the launch of my brand new site (So exciting!) I recently had a blast teaching a class on how to make them. My friend Liat’s sweet daughter Chloe was my Sous Chef. Watch the YouTube clip and see for yourself how simple it is. Proudly edited by yours truly—so please go easy on me. 🙂 Thank you to my saintly husband, Sam, for taking the time to record the class. And for listening to me go on about my website for hours on end… (He banned me from saying “bulkas” ever again!) They’re a little time-consuming, but well worth the effort. I’ve added step-by-step instructions, illustrations, and video clips to the recipe, so there’s no guesswork. Click here for the updated Cinnamon Bulkas Recipe. Just in time for the upcoming Jewish New Year Growing up in South Africa, it was our family tradition to break the fast on Yom Kippur with a warm Bulka (a/k/a Boolke). I wish that my Auntie Phyllie could see me sharing her special tradition with my little Aja. OrnaBakes 2.0 Rockin’ logo designed by sweetheart Sammy Jay Purkin! My Trader Joe’s and Costco Shopping Lists are now super-easy to navigate and print. It’s a snap to add comments or share your favorite recipes or posts. You can search recipes by diet, holiday, country, or type. A...

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