Friday, March 29, 2013

Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

Chocolate Babka

After years of intending, I've baked my second babka in two weeks!  This is the kind I always meant to make, the kind filled with chocolate.  And like so many things I delay, I wonder why I've waited so long.  It wasn't difficult at all.  The babka is rich and soft, and the chocolate has a nice bittersweet flavor that isn't overly sweet.  The exterior is flaky and breaks off in dozens of shard-like crumbs as you cut it.

Chocolate Cinnamon Babka Loaf

The most daunting part might be planning the timing, but you can break it up into stages, even two days, by refrigerating the dough.  I made the babka in one straight shot.  And most of the time is inactive -- I made the dough, went out to an appointment, came back and shaped it, worked out at the gym, and came home and put it in the oven.  Babka is a traditional Easter dessert, so you might want to try it this weekend.  Just don't wait as long as I did!

Babka collage 1

  1. The dough before its first rise.
  2. The risen dough.
  3. The dough rolls out easily, with no sticking or snapping back. A sheet of parchment underneath dusted with flour is helpful.
  4. Scatter the chocolate-cinnamon-butter mixture on top, and get ready to roll!

Babka collage 2

  1. Roll up the dough, then use your hands to elongate it.
  2. Give the log a bit of a twist.
  3. Coil the log into a snail shape.
  4. Stand the coil up on its end, then press down to compact into a loaf shape.
  5. Move the dough to a loaf pan, then wrap it up for its second rise.
  6. The dough after its second rise. Ready to bake!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Polish Babka

Polish Babka

Babka has been on my to-bake list for years.  Even after I grew comfortable with baking yeasted breads, babka seemed like a big project.  I've bookmarked a few recipes, but this one looked so easy I jumped on it almost right away. King Arthur Flour writes that the bundt shape is supposed to be reminiscent of a grandmother's skirt.  The dough comes together easily in a stand mixer, and the two risings are brief.  What you get is a rich bread that is a bit like cake, in the style of brioche, but denser.  I adore the rum syrup, which turns the babka into something like baba au rhum.  I could do without the white icing on top, which I found cloying and unnecessary, and just double down on that rum syrup.

Other babka recipes will call for shaping, and filling with chocolate or cinnamon (or both), and I fully intend to tackle one.  By Easter, I hope.  But I'm mostly about the easy and quick recipes these days.  In fact, some (very few?) of you may have noticed I've been posting way less.  I'm stepping back my blogging because life is just getting too hectic.  Also, I've recently adopted a healthier lifestyle that doesn't fit with baking cake and pie every week.  And I feel great!  But I've gotta say, sometimes I get an itch not necessarily to eat, but to bake something like pie.  I'm working on another dining review for the paper this week, but maybe I'll get around to baking that chocolate babka!  Fingers crossed.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Boston Globe Review: Traditional Irish Breakfast

Mad Hatter Cafe
Shirley Goh/Globe Staff

Have you ever had a traditional Irish breakfast, with the sausages and soda bread, and black pudding and white pudding?  Mad Hatter Cafe in Weymouth does one.  On an aside, ever notice how many things the British and Irish call pudding?  Black pudding, white pudding, Yorkshire pudding, desserts -- and I think not one is like the creamy stuff in a cup I think of as pudding.  In the meantime, that Reuben sandwich has inspired Joe and I to mix up our St. Patrick's Day menu this year.  We usually do the corned beef and cabbage, but we're going for Reubens this year!  It is, after all, Joe's all-time favorite sandwich.  What are you making on St. Pat's?

Read the review at: