Monday, January 18, 2010

Bamboo Charcoal Challah Bread

Made a Challah Bread with Bamboo Charcoal powder on Saturday. The recipe is from Alejandra Ramos , a blogger from New York. She was using bamboo charcoal powder which she had crushed with a mortar and pestle at home. I communicated with her and offered to send her some Bamboo Charcoal powder as this was not readily available in the US. I am now waiting to see her beautiful Challah.

The six-braid Challah, when nicely braided is really stunning. However, my braiding skills are zilch and I really had a difficult time trying to braid the six rolls of dough together. If you look at the top left of the loaf, you would be able to see where I have wrongly overlap the dough instead of going underneath it.


Next to Alejandra's beautifully braided Challah, mine looked so deformed. However, do not be misled by looks alone as underneath that awful and digusting looking braided lump of a bread is a very tender loaf which is rich with the flavor of olive oil and slight hint of sweetness. The sesame on the crust gave it a nice nutty fragrance and crunch too.

The star ingredient, the Bamboo Charcoal Powder, only gave it the rich black on the crust and a purplish-grey on the insides. I had used only 2 teaspoons of the charcoal powder and you can see how black the crust is. You don't taste the Bamboo Charcoal at all but you know it is working its miracle as a detoxifying agent as that is what it is good for.

Basler Lackerli

My niece was once given a pack of cookies by a visiting business associate from Switzerland. She was relating to me how delicious these cookies were. The cookies are sugar glazed on top and they were dense, nutty, chewy with candied fruits, spicy and tasted gingerbread like. Oh yes, they are quite sweet in a nice way. It was a good thing that she had snapped a picture of the package on her camera phone. Though the picture was not very sharp, I could make out the words on the package to be Basler Lackerli. And so I started to Google for the recipe.

As usual, googling turned up tonnes of Basler Lackerli recipes. The common ingredients are almonds, chopped candied citrus peels, honey and an assortment of ground spices ~ cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, mixed spice. I chose a recipe from Pierre Herme that had white pepper and black pepper in it as I was intrigued as to how these two peppers will taste in a cookie.

The baked cookies were really good. The finely chopped candied peels and lemon zest gave it a citrusy fragrance which combined well with the spices. The peppers gave them just a slight warmth in the mouth. I added kirsh and lemon juice to the sugar glaze to give the cookie more tang and to cut down the sweetness.

The two cookie bags you see in the background are for my niece as only she could tell me if my cookie tastes like a Basler Lackerli.
Her comments: "Hmmm yum yum. It tastes the same but not the same if you know what I mean." Well what she meant was like Chicken Rice. Although each stall is selling the same chicken rice, the taste of the chicken rice will differ from stall to stall, though the 'main' taste of the dish will not be far from each other.

Oh well okay. I am still very please to be able to replicate the closeness although I have never tasted the original Basler Lackerli myself.