Tag Archives: chocolate

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
Dough
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

 Filling
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

Topping 
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

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Thank You Joanne Chang!

I was surprised to find that Joanne Chang’s Flour Cookbook http://flourbakery.com/ has a recipe for Vegan Low Fat Chocolate Cake.  I expected to try out some of her delicious rich deserts that I have sampled at the bakery but instead I baked a treat for my hubby, Mark.  Mark lives in a house where the heady scent of butter partners with melted chocolate, sweet fruit, and vanilla to dance an ongoing tango around our kitchen.  This would not be a problem for most people but Mark is working hard to maintain a restrictive low-fat diet for health reasons.

Until now creating a real devil’s food cake for him without artificial goop seemed impossible.   It is not!   This cake was simple to make and is full of chocolate and coffee flavor.  The texture was dense, moist, and crumbly and reminded Mark of his favorite childhood snack cake.  Thanks Joanne for including this recipe in your cookbook.  It is a winner in this house. 
Note: picture above shows the cake with powdered sugar and candied cranberries sprinkled on top