Jerusalem Box Trials
Every month, starting January 2020, my bakery offers a subscription “Taste Tester Box” following a predetermined theme. We have three options: a bread box, a treats box, and an everything box. The everything boxes are huge and our subscribers get roughly four pounds of breads and the equivalent of 6 of our quarter pound+ almond croissants. Each month features two or three different breads and three different treats. This model has allowed us to be creative, try new things, and spend a little more time on a process or a little more money on ingredients, while finding out, in a profitable way, what our customers like of the new products (like our cheese curd sourdough, which is an all-time hit). We expected around 30 subscribers in the first quarter of last year. We opened with 80, and then have been sold out with around 145 subscribers monthly since February 2020.
April was the Chocolate Lovers’ Box, featuring Chocolate Cherry Sourdough and Nutella Babka, chocolate rye cookies, billionaire bars (inflation and alliteration!), and a chocolate covered strawberry cheesecake Danish.
May will be the Jerusalem Box, and I found my preliminary research very interesting. We made trials of the pictured items today, starting at the top and going clockwise: a date-almond-pomegranate sweet bread courtesy of Paul Hollywood, a Jerusalem bagel, ma’aoul, and kabuneh.
The DAP loaf isn’t anything amazing technique-wise, but it has a special flavor. It includes orange and cardamom as well as the titular ingredients (and a pomegranate molasses that I had made myself rather a long time ago). We underbaked it in the middle. Even pros make mistakes!
The Jerusalem bagel came out great (I think; I have never had one before though). It was very simple to make. I did not degas the dough after a short bulk fermentation (I am not used to doing that), and as such, I did not give it a full final proof, and I think that’s why it came out right. It is an instant yeast dough, very quick, and is not boiled. And it looks so unique!
The ma’aoul is a date-filled cookie I found out about when looking for qatayef recipes. The dough is almost a shortbread with semolina (they say anything from all semolina to no semolina is authentic. We used mostly semolina), and the filling in this version is mostly dates and rosewater. Orange blossom water is alternatively used if you were able to find such a thing at your local coop. You can guess whether I was able to find it at my local coop. I thought these cookies were really interesting. There is a cool mold you can use that apparently is traditional. They remind me of the date cookies at my supermarket that look gross but are actually good, because dates are better than they look and sound (okay, I love going on dates with my wife, so they sound good).
The last item is the kabuneh, which really reminded me of when I made malooga (a Yemeni flatbread) a few years back. It is a slightly sweet yeasty dough, portioned in large buns, and then spread on a well-buttered surface with well-buttered hands until it is paper thin and covered in butter. At this time, it is folded into thirds and then rolled into the cinnamon bun-shape you see above. It is raised and baked in a buttered tin-foil chamber (a cake pan, or regular pan, supports the shape), and covered with more buttered tin foil if you do not have a traditional kabuneh pan (there is such a thing). Traditionally it is baked at a low heat overnight, but Modernist Bread has a variation that bakes for 45 minutes before cooling another 20 minutes in its chamber before being uncovered. The result is a soft, buttery roll that flakes apart. I inverted the loaf pictured, as is sometimes done, and sometimes not.
I hope this post motivates you or piques your interest or is otherwise not a waste of time!