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Ki Tisa and Vayakhel: Kichel and Mandelbrot

Parshat Ki Tisa Inspiration:

“And the Lord said to Moses: ‘I have seen this people and behold! They are a stiff-necked people.” Caught red-handed in the act of making a golden calf, we are called out by Hashem.

And ever since then, kichel has appeared on kiddush tables every Shabbat morning as a reminder of our stiff-neckedness. Or at least that’s my story. I used Ben Moskowitz’s recipe, as publicized by Joan Nathan. I recommend pairing the kichel, which is stiff and just slightly sweet, with a cup of fragrant cinnamon tea, also inspired by this parsha.

 

Ben Moskowitz’s Kichel

  • 5 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sugar, plus 1 cup for rolling
  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt

Put the eggs, vanilla, oil, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and blend on low speed until incorporated; then beat on high for 5 minutes.

Remove the paddle and scrape the batter down the sides of the bowl. Rest the dough in the bowl, covered, until soft and spongy outside, about 1 hour. Then remove it from the bowl—it will be sticky—and make a ball out of it, flouring your hands first and working the dough lightly and quickly with a little flour so it is not terribly sticky.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sprinkle a work surface with ½ cup of the sugar, about ⅛ -inch deep. Put the ball of dough in the center, flatten it slightly with a rolling pin, sprinkling the dough and the rolling pin liberally with the remaining ½ cup of sugar. Roll the dough to a thickness of ⅛ inch; a rectangle about 18 x 12 inches. Then, using a pastry cutter or dull knife, cut the dough into strips ¾ inch wide and 2 inches long. Lift each strip, twist in the middle to make a bow tie, and place on the cookie sheets, leaving ½ inch around each strip.

Bake the kichel for 25-30 minutes on the middle rack of the oven, until the edges are golden brown and the texture is crunchy.

 

Parshas Vayakhel Inspiration:

“And he made the planks for the Mishkan of acacia wood, upright. Ten cubits was the length of each plank, and a cubit and a half was the width of each plank. Each plank had two square pegs, rung like, one even with the other; so did he make for all the planks of the Mishkan. And he made the planks for the Mishkan, twenty planks for the southern side.”

Everything that Hashem told Moshe that the people would bring to build the Mishkan was brought and made into the Mishkan by Bezalel and his team of wise-hearted craftsmen and craftswomen. It recites all the details over again and feels a bit twice-baked. Heaven forbid that this be construed as an insult on the fascinating content of the Torah: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, zt”l explained once to British Prime Minister Tony Blair regarding these exact chapters that the Torah is not wholly unlike The Times of London in that column inches devoted to a topic are directly correlated with that topic’s importance. The Mishkan earns A LOT of column inches.

So I made mandelbrot! Twice-baked almond-bread planks (krashim). The menorah, which Bezalel also fashions in this parsha, is decorated like almonds (grooved, perhaps?), so another layer of meaning for mandelbrot. Mandel means almond in Yiddish.

 

Classic Mandelbrot

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 big handful of slivered or roughly chopped almonds

Optional: ¼-½  cup of chocolate chips

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Add eggs, oil, vanilla and almond extract and mix well using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. Mix in the almonds. Most people can do this by hand, but you can also use a paddle on an electric mixer briefly if you need to, just don’t over-mix it. Cover and let it sit while the oven heats up (15-20 minutes).

Heat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (do not grease it).

Divide the dough into two parts. On the parchment paper, shape each half into a long, flat loaf about 3-4 inches wide. The two loaves can bake parallel to each other, about 3 inches apart. *My kids were baking with me this week, so we added a ¼ cup of chocolate chips to one of the loaves at this point.

Bake for 25 minutes, until the loaves are lightly golden.

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Keep the oven on.

Move the parchment paper and loaves from the baking sheet onto a cutting surface or counter. Carefully slice the loaves into ~1-inch planks. The mandelbrot are not fully baked and might be a little soft at this point, so be gentle.

Place a new piece of parchment paper on the baking sheet. Transfer the cut cookies back onto the baking sheet, this time placing each cookie on a cut side. Bake for 5 minutes.

Turn the cookies over (you can remove from the oven and let cool slightly to flip, or do it directly in the oven), and bake for 5 minutes more.

If you have never had mandelbrot straight out of the oven, you should definitely make these. Simply delicious!


Follow me @EdibleParsha on Facebook to see each recipe on the Monday of each parsha week for plenty of time to prepare it for Shabbat!

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