Every year, I line up at my local bakery to buy the special round challahs for Rosh Hashanah. It’s been my contribution to our family dinner for years.
The lineup at the bakery starts around 8 a.m., and the big challenge is finding a parking spot. Everybody gets there early, afraid the bakery will run out.
It’s not an unrealistic fear: one year, I came in the afternoon and the challahs were sold out. Back then, that was my only responsibility for the family dinner, because my mother and sister did all the heavy lifting – they made the soup, roasted chicken, brisket, side dishes…
Imagine my shame when I showed up with apple and pumpkin challahs. Not exactly the traditional taste they were expecting. I said I’d wanted to try a new bakery, too embarrassed to admit the truth.
I haven’t missed out on the good challahs since that fateful Rosh Hashanah. These days I also make the chicken soup and brisket, but I’m still on challah detail. I also buy challahs as holiday gifts and for people who don’t have the time to line up.
I usually buy too many challahs so there’s always a lot left over for french toast and bread pudding. In fact, I still have one in my freezer from last year.
I’m always on the lookout for new recipes for old bread. Recently I tried Faith Durand’s delicious goat-cheese strata recipe, which I found in an old issue of Oprah. I’ve also included Durand’s bread pudding recipe. It’s quite sweet, which is perfect for Rosh Hashanah time.
RASPBERRY AND GOAT CHEESE BREAKFAST STRATA
Source: Faith Durand, Not Your Mother’s Casseroles
1 (1-lb.) loaf day-old challah, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-in.-thick slices
6 large eggs, divided
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp. sugar, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. goat cheese, softened (227g, about 2 standard small “logs”)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened (1/2 a standard “block” of cream cheese)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup raspberry jam or preserves
icing sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease a 9×13-in. baking dish. Arrange half the challah in dish, overlapping and wedging pieces to cover the bottom.
In a large bowl, whisk together 5 eggs, then add milk, cream, 2 tbsp. sugar, vanilla extract, nutmeg, salt. Whisk again. Pour half of the egg mixture over bread in dish, letting it soak in thoroughly. Set remaining mixture aside.
In a mixer, beat goat cheese, cream cheese, butter, remaining egg, and remaining 2 tbsp. sugar until soft and fluffy, about 1 minute.
Drop half of the goat cheese filling mixture over bread in large spoonfuls, gently spreading it out with the back of a spoon. Repeat process with half the jar of jam. Arrange remaining bread in a layer, then repeat process with the rest of the egg mixture and goat cheese filling, followed by the layer of jam. Swirl a butter knife through the top cheese and jam layers to create a decorative design.
The strata can be baked immediately or covered and refrigerated overnight. Bake for about 50 minutes or until strata is puffed, firmly set and golden brown. Set aside to cool 10 minutes. Dust with icing sugar, cut in squares, and serve. Yield: 8 servings.
Faith Durand in thekitchn.com/basic-recipes-how-to-make-swee137763)
10-12 cups stale challah, torn into bite-size pieces
5 cups whole milk (or a blend of milk and cream)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
optional mix-ins: 1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit; 1 chopped apple or other fresh fruit
optional flavouring ingredients: zest of one lemon, zest of one orange, 1/4 cup rum or orange-flavoured liqueur
optional Toppings: 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, streusel topping
Butter a 9×12-in. baking dish and arrange bread pieces inside. If you’re using optional mix-ins, sprinkle over bread so they are evenly distributed. Whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and any optional flavourings.
Slowly pour egg and milk mixture over bread, making sure it gets into all the nooks and crannies. Cover casserole and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight so challah can fully absorb the custard.
Preheat oven to 325. Bake pudding for 45 to 55 minutes in the middle rack of the oven. Pudding is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and exposed bread tips start to toast. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving. Yield: 8 servings.