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This tip for cooling bundt cakes was sent in with a testimonial, by a reader. Enjoy!

I just want you to know that my daughter in seminary in Israel sent me your previous cookbook as a gift, which I greatly enjoyed, and I also loved the recipes featured in Mishpacha? My 7 yr old son and I made the chocolate cake twice!

By the way, after cutting the cake out of the tube pan and frosting it, I up-ended the part with the cone and place it back in the hole, upside down, to protect the cake in the freezer (also covered it with plastic wrap). And we adored the butternut squash kugel too . which I hope to make during the year, as well.

A hint

: Whenever I turn those sponge cakes upside down, they fall out, but when I leave them upright, they fall in. so I let it cool ON IT’S SIDE and it works very well.
Pardon me for my silly ideas … I am really not a good cook, but sometimes the best ideas come from “culinary klutzes” like myself.

Perel

Beet Tip

You can freeze cooked beets and when they are defrosted, they are just as good as the day they were cooked. This is a GREAT time saver. I buy a lot of beets at one time, and then peel, check and boil them all on the same day. After they are cooled, since they shred and/or chop nicest when they are cold, I cut/shred/slice them into whatever form I want to store away. Then I pack them into disposable plastic containers, label what they will be for, and freeze them. This saves tons of time during the holiday, and also saves me some valuable fridge space. Plus, I do not have to worry about the beets going bad in the fridge, nor wilting or going moldy in storage before they are even cooked.

How Do You Keep Your Greens Fresh?

It’s such a wonderful bracha that we can so easily obtain bug-free lettuce today. What was once an arduous job to wash, check and recheck every leaf is now something that can be done in just minutes with soap and water and a running faucet.

However, it can be very upsetting if, after you’ve spent the money to buy all those lettuces and have spent the time it takes to wash them properly, to find that just a day or two later, and often less than that, the lettuce is already wilted and starting to go bad. This can be especially frustrating in the hot weather when produce tends to wilt faster.

Here’s the method I use to preserve my greens and I find it works for any kind of salad greens and lettuces that come in whole heads or stalks. (This does not apply to already shredded greens, salads or cabbage that are sold in small bags. Those should be used within one or tops, two days of being purchased and opened.)

One implement I do feel is very important to have for the best lettuce results is a salad spinner. While I am not one that feels you should always be buying the latest household gadgets, this one is so indispensable for fresh lettuce users that you really can’t get the same results without it. That being said…

Fill the bowl of the salad spinner, or an ordinary large bowl with water and dishsoap. Twist off the base of the lettuce, being careful not to twist off the actual lettuce leaves. Separate the leaves and push them all down in the soapy water. Move them around a bit. When they are ready to be rinsed, do so one at a time so that you can be sure you removed all the sand and any possible surface bugs that may have been there. As you finish the rinsing, place the leaves in the strainer part of your salad spinner.

When all the leaves are rinsed thoroughly, put the salad spinner together and spin the leaves as much as possible.

To store the leaves you will need a dry and clean kitchen towel, a roll of paper towels and a large freezer bag.

Lay the kitchen towel down in front of you. Put two squares of paper towels down on it. Put down a layer of already spinned-out lettuce leaves. When there is no more room, put down two more squares of paper towels and then another layer of lettuce leaves. Keep doing this until you have no more leaves.

Now comes the fun part. Roll up your little pile of lettuce leaves and paper towels layers like a jelly roll, keeping it firm. Place this into the freezer bag. Press it a bit so you can get all the air out of it. Then twist it closed and clip it shut with a clothespin. Place it on one of the bottom shelves of the refrigerator. If you place the lettuce too close to the top of your refrigerator or too near the motor it will cause it to freeze and ruin the leaves.

When you remove some of the lettuce in order to make a salad, remember to re-roll it up and put it in the freezer bag, sans the air, until the next use.

You should see that your lettuces will last closer to a week this way, being fresh and nice all the time.

You can do the same for fresh parsley and dill. The difference is that for these kinds of greens, if you are not going to use the entire package right away, you should just place them directly into a freezer bag after you have spun them dry, without any paper towels. Then place them in a freezer bag and just freeze whatever you have not used up yet. Any time you want to make soup or your favorite chicken recipes that use these fresh greens, just break them off and drop some in. It works so well every single time!

Enjoy your greens throughout the summer!

Margarine or Oil? Which will it be?

It’s been years since I’ve switched over nearly all my baking from margarine based recipes to those that use oil instead. Margarine is an unhealthy food, (and some can argue that it may not even be called food!), and because of the increased health awareness today, bakers everywhere want to know what to do when recipes call for crumbs or bases that require margarine.

I have this great apple/fruit crunch that we enjoy eating every Shabbos day and it calls for lots of crunch on top. The main ingredient is margarine and I want to create that “crunchy” crunch but without all the trans fat of margarine. How can I do this?

Note: yes there are margarines sold that are ‘trans-fat free’; these ideas are for those who can’t get this or who prefer to use oil instead.

The short answer to converting recipes from margarine to oil is that in general, one uses the same amounts of oil as they would margarine. For instance, when I do a crumb mixture, I begin with the same ratio but if the crumbs look too ‘dry’ I will add a bit more oil until I like the texture. Other times, I will decrease. For example, a relative of mine has this really amazing recipe for ruggelach dough and has been making them for every family simcha for over 35 years. However, it has 2 entire cups of margarine for only 7 cups of flour! No wonder they are so light and crispy! When I learned that, I stopped letting my relative give us bags and bags of those heavenly baked items for my kids. But when I went to duplicate the recipe myself with oil, 2 cups just made it swim around and I had to play with the recipe until I had a dough that I liked. True, it is not quite as crispy and flaky as the margarine dough, but it is very good and there is no trans fat involved at all.

Back to the crumbs question, you can add lots of good-for-you grains and nuts to your crumbs so that besides being margarine free, it can also be white-flour and white sugar-free. You can also cut down on the amount of sugar used until you reach the taste you like, thereby decreasing the sugar content as well. Since you are sprinkling the crumbs on top of sweet fruit, you don’t actually need all the sugar most recipes claim you do in order to have a good tasting crumble on top of your apples (or peaches, cranberry, pears, etc.)

Here’s a basic ratio that we enjoy using on our fruit crumbles. It also freezes well and if you have any leftover, you can always put it back in the fridge or freezer to use for the next time.

Ratio for one 8×11 inch pan (or you can split it between 2-3 loaf pans of any size you like):
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 & 1/2 cups oatmeal
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 – 1 & 1/2 cup ground nuts such as almonds or walnuts
Optional: 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (unsalted), or whole sesame seeds
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup demerara sugar (light brown)
3/4 cup oil of choice (not soy oil)

Directions:

Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix them together with a fork. Add in 1/2 cup of the oil and continue to toss the mix together with your fork. If it is still too dry, add in more of the oil. It should resemble a nice, darkened crumb mixture that is neither too wet nor too dry. If it does become too heavy, add more oats or flour or nuts to it and remix. This ‘recipe’ does not need a mixer.
Just sprinkle this generously over the sliced fruit in your pan, bake it at 350°F / 180-190°C until the top is lightly browned and crispy and it’s ready. You can certainly freeze this. To serve, just defrost and serve. We enjoy it best cold, served directly to the table alongside the cholent or chicken meal.

Another fun idea that you can try with this recipe is to turn into a sort of granola. Try packing it alone into a baking pan and baking it – see if it will let you cut it into small bars afterwards. You may need to add more oil for this to work, though. Or you can spread it out on a lined cookie sheet and bake it until it’s toasted, and then try adding it to your plain bio yogurts or ice cream or with some milk and bananas…

The ideas are endless and are all up to your creativity!

Enjoy taking the margarine out of your diet.

Converting Cups to Grams

All-purpose Flour and Confectioners’ Sugar

(Icing or powdered Sugar)
Cups to Grams

1/8 cup=15 grams
1/4 cup=30 grams
1/3 cup=40 grams
3/8 cup=45 grams
1/2 cup=60 grams
5/8 cup=70 grams
2/3 cup=75 grams
3/4 cup=85 grams
7/8 cup=100 grams
1 cup=110 grams

Granulated, Superfine or Caster Sugar

Cups to Grams

1/8 cup=30 grams
1/4 cup=55 grams
1/3 cup=75 grams
3/8 cup=85 grams
1/2 cup=115 grams
5/8 cup=140 grams
2/3 cup=150 grams
3/4 cup=170 grams
7/8 cup=200 grams
1 cup=225 grams

Butter or Margarine

Cups to Grams

1/8 cup=30 grams
1/4 cup=55 grams
1/3 cup=75 grams
3/8 cup=85 grams
1/2 cup=115 grams
5/8 cup=140 grams
2/3 cup=150 grams
3/4 cup=170 grams
7/8 cup=200 grams
1 cup=225 grams

Light, Golden or Dark Brown Sugar

Cups to Grams

1/8 cup=25 grams
1/4 cup=50 grams
1/3 cup=65 grams
3/8 cup=75 grams
1/2 cup=100 grams
5/8 cup=125 grams
2/3 cup=135 grams
3/4 cup=150 grams
7/8 cup=175 grams
1 cup=200 grams

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Cups to Grams

1/8 cup=15 grams
1/4 cup=30 grams
1/3 cup=40 grams
3/8 cup=45 grams
1/2 cup=60 grams
5/8 cup=70 grams
2/3 cup=75 grams
3/4 cup=85 grams
7/8 cup=100 grams
1 cup=125 grams

Cake Flour

Cups to Grams

1/8 cup=10 grams
1/4 cup=20 grams
1/3 cup=25 grams
3/8 cup=30 grams
1/2 cup=50 grams
5/8 cup=60 grams
2/3 cup=65 grams
3/4 cup=70 grams
7/8 cup=85 grams
1 cup=95 grams

Sliced Almonds

Cups to Grams

1/8 cup=10 grams
1/4 cup=20 grams
1/3 cup=25 grams
3/8 cup=30 grams
1/2 cup=40 grams
5/8 cup=50 grams
2/3 cup=55 grams
3/4 cup=60 grams
7/8 cup=70 grams
1 cup=80 grams

Ground Almonds

Cups to Grams

1/8 cup=25 grams
1/4 cup=50 grams
1/3 cup=65 grams
3/8 cup=75 grams
1/2 cup=100 grams
5/8 cup=125 grams
2/3 cup=135 grams
3/4 cup=150 grams
7/8 cup=175 grams
1 cup=200 grams

Flaked Coconut

Cups to Grams

1/8 cup=10 grams
1/4 cup=20 grams
1/3 cup=25 grams
3/8 cup=30 grams
1/2 cup=40 grams
5/8 cup=45 grams
2/3 cup=50 grams
3/4 cup=60 grams
7/8 cup=65 grams
1 cup=75 grams

Grated Coconut

Cups to Grams

1/8 cup=10 grams
1/4 cup=25 grams
1/3 cup=35 grams
3/8 cup=40 grams
1/2 cup=50 grams
5/8 cup=60 grams
2/3 cup=65 grams
3/4 cup=75 grams
7/8 cup=85 grams
1 cup=100 grams

Spelt Flour Questions

How do I get spelt to rise properly?

I let the dough rise once for 20 minutes, shape into rolls and put in oven without rising and it still doesn’t work. They come out flat.

Hello and thank you for writing:
Spelt flour rises and bakes differently than wheat. Keeping this in mind, the first rising of just the dough should be the full hour or ‘until doubled in bulk’. This is what activates the gluten, yeast, etc. After you shape it into rolls, preheat the oven to 400 F. let the rolls rise only about 15 minutes if its hot inside or 20 minutes if not and then bake immediately . This should keep them from spreading and becoming flat. They rise quicker than wheat and spelt is also a much softer flour and dough. Spelt is gentler/ softer on the digestive tract too which is why many who are wheat sensitive, turn to spelt.

If your dough is very soft to begin with you should also decrease the water in it a bit more, start by decreasing by 1/2 cup. Any very wet or loose dough will make your breads spread, and this is especially so with spelt flour doughs.

How much yeast would you use for 4 cps of spelt flour?

4 cups of flour is approximately a bit more than a half kilo. For one kilo (about 2.2 lbs.) I would use for wheat, a tablespoon of dry yeast, for Spelt I would do a bit less, about 2 teaspoons plus another 1/4 teaspoon.

So for a half kilo, I would try 1 teaspoon and a half of dry yeast.

If the dough is too airy after the first rise, you will know for next time to cut down the yeast and the water too, by even a bit more.

I also make my own spelt low sugar bread loaves for weekday use, no bread machine and it comes out great. They are always high and nice. To keep them at their freshest, I slice each loaf after it is cooled and then store it in freezer bags in the freezer sliced and only remove what I need each time.

Just to verify further, how much yeast were you using for 4 cups of spelt flour prior to this email?

1 & 1/2 tablespoons dry yeast to my four cups of spelt flour

NO WONDER your bread over-rose so quickly and flattened out!! This is far too much yeast for so little flour. Plus, just digesting so much yeast is also hard on the system and makes a person tired and is unhealthy. I’m sure once you cut the yeast down — by more than half if you do the 1.5 teaspoons instead of that large amount of yeast, to your four cups, I’m sure you will also feel better after eating the bread, aside from it also looking better

Just to get back to you, I tried your suggestions and they did help a lot. Thank you for your time.

Yeast Questions and Information

What is the difference is between fresh and dry yeast?
Do certain recipes require one particular kind or are they used indiscriminately?
What is the exact conversion from dry yeast to live yeast and vice versa?

There is a scientific difference between fresh and dry yeast. However, I do not have all the information on that. For me, it matters very little since the differences I have interest in is how they work, what the amounts are when you want to substitute one for the other, and why one would prefer one over the other.

There are definite differences when you use fresh or dry yeast. For one thing, many people do not know how to effectively store and use dry yeast so when you want to ensure that your yeast is really, really fresh, they will be told to buy only fresh yeast! Both yeasts have active cultures in them, but you use them slightly differently.

Fresh yeast is something I personally prefer for challahs simply because it works so well and when it’s very fresh, it tastes very nice. A typical challah recipe of 5 lbs. / 2.4 – 2.5 kilos of flour will call for 2.5 – 3 ounces of fresh yeast, depending on who is giving you the recipe. Two ounces of fresh yeast is the basic equivalent of 50 grams (plus a tiny bit more if you want to be very exact), of a fresh yeast cube OR 2 flat tablespoons of dry yeast. Every tablespoon of dry yeast is like 1 ounce of fresh yeast. If you look it up on charts, a scientific chart can give you exact grams and milligrams, but for the purposes of this article, these are the measurements I have been using for years and it always works.

Fresh yeast needs to be activated before being used by placing it in a small pareve bowl with very hot but not boiling water and a bit of sugar. You cover the bowl loosely and wait about 10 minutes. It should foam and bubble. Then you add this mixture to your challah dough in-the-making, and knead it all together.

Dry yeast can be just added into the dough mixture as you are preparing it without bubbling it up.

However, many, many people misuse dry yeast. Although the larger vacuum packs will tell you that you can store it after opening in a closet or in the fridge, if you do so it will not be as fresh or as active after just a few days. If you really want your dry yeast to work just as well as the day you opened it, it is crucial that you pour it out into a good plastic container with a strong lid and store it in the freezer for long term use. This way, every time you need it, you simply remove it from the freezer, twist it open, (I use large peanut butter plastic jars that I have saved and washed out, they work great for something like this!) and measure out the amount of tablespoons that you need for your dough. Presto – it will work great every time.

I don’t know all the reasons that some people prefer one type of yeast over others for different recipes. I just know for myself that I use fresh or dry yeast for challahs all the time, both work great. For ruggelach and yeast doughs I do prefer fresh yeast only and this is probably mostly because my mother and grandmother both did it this way. For flat breads, whole wheat loaves, and many other types of breads I often use dry yeast and it works very well.

Hoping that all your challahs come out excellent!

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