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Hanukkah kubanah with fig jam (pull-apart Middle Eastern bread)

Hanukkah kubanah with fig jam (pull-apart Middle Eastern bread)
Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

As a child in Hebrew school, I was taught the story of the Hanukkah miracle: When the Jews in the land of Israel defeated the foreigners, the priests seeking to rekindle the temple's eternal light found enough ritually pure oil ... Read more

Total time: 5 hours, plus about 2 hours rising time | Serves 8
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast ( 1/4 ounce or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup fig jam or other jam or jelly
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup mild olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup hot water (about 150 degrees)
  • 3 cups flour (about 13.6 ounces), divided
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut in 8 pieces

Step 1In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the lukewarm water and add 1 teaspoon sugar. Set aside until the yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes.

Step 2If the jam has pieces of fruit, remove them and cut them into small pieces, about one-fourth inch, and then return them to the jam.

Step 3In a large mixing bowl using a wooden spoon, or in the bowl of a stand mixer using a dough hook, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sugar, the jam, the salt, 5 tablespoons oil and hot water. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Step 4Add 1 cup flour and stir until the ingredients are blended. Stir in the yeast mixture. Add the remaining 2 cups flour and mix until a dough is formed. If the dough becomes difficult to stir with a wooden spoon, finish mixing the ingredients with your hand; the dough will be soft and sticky.

Step 5Knead the dough on a lightly floured work surface, sprinkling a little flour on the dough and on the work surface as necessary, until the dough is very smooth and hardly sticks to the work surface but is still soft, about 10 minutes.

Step 6Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat it on all sides with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a lightly dampened cloth, and set aside in a warm place until nearly doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Step 7Knead the dough briefly in the bowl for 1 or 2 minutes, then set aside to rise again until nearly double, 45 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, remove the butter from the refrigerator to soften. Cut each piece (about 1 tablespoon) into 2, one larger (2 teaspoons) than the other (1 teaspoon).

Step 8Generously butter a deep 2-quart baking dish. Lightly oil a work surface with olive oil. Lightly knead the dough and put it on the work surface. With a heavy knife, cut the dough into 8 pieces. Put them on an oiled plate and cover them with plastic wrap or a lightly dampened cloth.

Step 9Oil a rolling pin lightly with olive oil. Roll out one piece of dough on the oiled work surface to a 7-inch square, roughly one-eighth-inch thick.

Step 10Take a larger piece (2 teaspoons) of the softened butter, and smear it over the dough piece. With a pastry brush, dab the dough with olive oil. Roll up the dough as in making a jelly roll or cinnamon rolls, pressing firmly; the dough will be shaped like a rope.

Step 11Flatten the rope by tapping it firmly with your knuckles until it measures about 7 by 2 inches. Take one of the smaller pieces (1 teaspoon) of butter and smear it over the dough.

Step 12Roll the flattened dough rope up tightly into a spiral. Place it in the baking dish with its spiral side facing up. Continue shaping the remaining pieces of dough, placing them one next to the other in the dish. Put a piece of buttered foil directly on the surface of the dough, folding it over the sides of the baking dish. Cover with a tight lid and set aside while heating the oven.

Step 13Heat the oven to 225 degrees. Bake the bread until it is golden brown, about 2 hours and 50 minutes to 3 hours; its internal temperature should be about 200 degrees when done.

Step 14Turn the bread over onto a plate or platter. Serve the bread hot or warm.


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