The Autumn Jewish holiday of Sukkos is referred to as Zman Simchaseinu (season of rejoicing) and Chag Ha’Asif (Festival of of Gathering). It falls at the time of year in Israel that the grain, grapes and olives are ready to be harvested and brought to market. The winter, spring and summer months of hard work in the field, orchards and vineyards have finally paid off. For anyone in the agricultural sector, it is truly the season of rejoicing.
At the time of harvest, it is natural for us to feel proud of our material accomplishments and to attribute our success entirely to our efforts and good fortune. It is precisely at this time that we are commanded to rejoice humbly within the context of the holiday of Sukkos and to give thought to all that G-d has contributed to the success of our bounty. We are cautioned to maintain our humility, even through the bountiful harvest.
G-d has given us the gift of Sukkos to enjoy the material benefits of a rich bounty within the context of Torah and mitzvos (commandments). During Sukkos, we read King Solomon’s scroll of Koheles (Ecclesiastes). King Solomon, who was the wisest of men, reflects upon the vanity of the pleasures of this world and sums it up in the last verse of .Koheles. He declares, “the sum of the matter, when all is considered: Fear G‑d and keep His commandments, for this is the entire purpose of man.”
In keeping with the Sukkos themes of Zman Simchaseinu (season of rejoicing) and Chag Ha’Asif (Festival of of Gathering), I created this wonderful ciabatta recipe. It uses the basic no-knead dough that I introduced in Ciabatta Challah: a Simple No-Knead Solution with some technique simplifications and addition of pecans, chocolate and raisins. It highlights the bounty of the season and is the perfect bread to serve at the first Sukkos meal.
It is best prepared in a covered dutch oven but can also be prepared in a heavy loaf pan or crock with a pot lid on top. It has an absolutely wonderful crunchy crust and delicious interior dotted with nuts, craisins and chocolate. Although it is best served within 12 hours of baking, my family enjoys it way past those 12 hours.
3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups room temperature water
handful of craisins
handful of pecans, chopped
handful of chocolate chips
sprinkle of flour or cornmeal
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt and yeast together. Slowly add water and mix very well with a wooden spoon or firm spatula to form a sticky dough. If dough is not sticky, add a bit more water. Fold in craisins, pecans and chocolate chips.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 12 to 18 hours.
Preheat oven to 450 F degrees. Place small covered dutch oven or heavy loaf pan with metal cover in the oven for at least 10 minutes.
Remove the pot or pan from oven and remove the lid.
Sprinkle a bit of flour or cornmeal on the top of the dough to ensure that dough does not stick. Gently coax the dough from the bowl and shape into a rough ball. Place dough ball upside down in the pot/pan and sprinkle a bit more flour or cornmeal on the top of the dough.
Bake for 30 minutes covered and then remove the lid and bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes more. Dough should be golden brown when ready.