Tag Archives: bread

Babka By Committee

chocolate walnut cinnamon babkaA blizzard was coating the trees outside my kitchen window with billowy frosting but inside the house it was dry and toasty warm.  I shuttled trays of cookies from counter to oven to cooling racks; a few detouring into my mouth.

Since I was not going out anytime soon, it the perfect time to make a yeast bread and I had been craving babka since the weather had turned cold.    I grew up in New York City where babka was the queen of Jewish breads.  If you were visiting someone for brunch or making a shiva* call, you would always stop by the bakery on your way and pick up a chocolate babka or its more subdued and traditional cousin, the cinnamon strusel babka.

I couldn’t decide which flavor to make so I left it up to my foodie pals on Twitter to  make the choice for me.  I should have know who I was dealing with as the leading votes were “combine the two” and “make both”.  So here is my rather untraditional cinnamon chocolate walnut babka recipe or Babka By Committee.

 Chocolate Walnut Cinnamon Babka
3 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces milk chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt butter and chocolate until smooth, allow to cool slightly

1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoons sugar mixed with sprinkle of cinnamon 

Heat oven to 350 degrees
Heat butter and milk in a small pan until very warm-butter does not need to melt completely
Mix yeast, sugar, cinnamon, and milk and butter mixture in a large bowl or stand mixer
Add 1/2 cup of flour and mix well
Beat together eggs and sour cream
Add to the dough in the mixer and blend well
Add 2 cups flour and mix for a sticky soft dough
Turn out onto a floured board and knead about another 1/2 cup of flour into the dough until it is no longer sticky but still soft and easy to work
Form dough into a ball
Grease a large bowl and the top of the dough and allow to rise until doubled covered with a towel for about 1 hour
Pat the dough into a rectangle about 9″x12″
Spread cooled chocolate (see filling below) on the dough leaving a strip of dough the short length without chocolate
Sprinkle with nuts and cinnamon sugar
Roll up jelly roll style from the short end
Place in a baking pan and allow to rest for about 20 minutes
Brush with egg and water mixture and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar
Bake for about 50 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped
Allow to cool before slicing 

*a Jewish custom to visit and bring food to the house of a family in mourning for seven days after the funeral


Oatmeal and Leek Bread

The chill in the air and the snow on the ground had me craving foods that are oatmeal and leek breadhearty and sustaining.  Hardly anything makes me feel more secure and cozy than the smell of fresh-baked bread dancing through the house so I set to baking.  I first reached for one of my trusted recipes but then decided to play with an idea that I have carried around for a while. 

Some time ago, at an Irish-style pub, I tasted a delicious Leek and Oatmeal Soup.  I have since learned that it is a very old recipe called Brotchan Foltchep.  I was struck with the thought that the flavors of oatmeal, leeks, and broth would work really well in a bread.  While it might not make up for all of the cookies and candies that marched through my kitchen during the holidays,  I decided to add the bonus of making it a vegan and fat-free loaf.

After a few tries, I came up with a delicious recipe which I hope you will try it and enjoy!

Oatmeal and Leek Bread
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cup vegetable broth (low salt prefered)
3/4 cup leeks cut in half and into thin slices
1/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 package rapid rise yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
non-stick spray

Place oats in a food processor with steel blade and process until broken but still coarse-do not reduce to powder
Combine 1 cup flour, yeast, oats, and sugar in a mixer or bowl
Mix in broth
Add additional flour to make a soft dough
Knead by hand, adding more flour as needed until dough is smooth and not sticky (at least 5 minutes)
Set dough to rise in a bowl sprayed with non-stick spray
When dough has doubled in size, pat into a rectangle about 12″ x 9″
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Sprinkle the leeks over the dough leaving an inch of space on the far long end
Roll up the long end jelly roll fashion
Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray
Place rolled loaf in pan seam side down
Let rest for about 10 minutes
Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through