Monday, August 29, 2011

Babka....Ever heard of it???



For the longest time, I was always nervous about creating yeast bread from scratch. The thought of killing the yeast with hot temperature and having to start over was always in the front of my mind...(and usually when the recipe used pounds of butter...lol). But over the years, I have learned with yeast it is simple...have faith in your instincts, don't rush the process and enjoy the results. 

Amazing how much that last sentence reflects how we should enjoy life as a whole (not just baked goods).....

In today's society, I, for one, am willing to admit I fail at this goal on a regular basis. There is so much contact aimed at us constantly from the outside world - tvs, computers, cell phones, and wifi are just examples of our constant interaction. We are inundated with information and I, at times, wonder if I get addicted to this need for immediate answers or just stimuli (in addition, the life memories I miss out on with those closest to me).....

When I was a child, I remember a study coming out about how children who watched a specific show had attention span issues it was believed because the images constantly were changing. So if that tv show (back in the late 70s) was labeled as overwhelming.....what would the study say with today's technology and how we access news, internet or other media outlets. 


For myself, I realize there are times technology gets in the way (yes, I know it is ironic I write this on a blog........but it is reality!). Have you ever missed a conversation, a caring look from a loved one, or even the simple enjoyment of that moment with your child??? Unfortunately, I seem to realize it after the moment has passed. 


So when you find yourself at that crossroad, be sure to step away from technology and enjoy your life. Whether it is playing with your children, a game of chess, a great conversation or even a sunset.  Be sure to take that detour on your way home.....or take those extra few seconds to let someone know your listening and care.... 

Hopefully this recipe can help you with that moment.....Just remember.......have faith in your instincts, dont rush the moment, and savor life for all it is worth......

Chocolate Babka
(adapted from MarthaStewart.com)

1 1/2 C Milk, warm (about 110 degrees)
2 packages active dry yeast (1/4 oz each)
1 2/3 C plus a pinch of Sugar
3  Eggs
2 Egg Yolks
6 C Unbleached Flour, plus more for dusting
1 Tsp Salt
3 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
24 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped finely
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Heavy Cream

Combine warm milk, yeast and a pinch of sugar in a small bowl. Let sit for about 4 minutes until foamy.

In a bowl, mix 2/3 C sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add yeast mixture to bowl with egg mixture until combined.

In the bowl with an electric mixer, combine flour and salt. Next add in egg mixture, and beat on low speed until just combined. Add dough hook to mixer, add in 2 sticks butter in pieces until incorporated about 8 minutes. 

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Place dough in greased bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined; set filling aside.

Butter three loaf pans, then line with parchment paper and grease paper. Combine remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream, set aside. 

Punch down dough and place on a floured surface. Rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch rectangle on long side.

Brush about 1/2 in edges on dough with egg wash. Place 1 C chocolate filling on dough, leaving a border.  Roll dough up from long side sealing ends.  Twist dough 4 times. Brush top with egg wash and sprinkle with additional chocolate filling (about 1 1/2 Tbsp). Twist end over each other to form a "braid" and place in prepared pan. Repeat.
Streusel Topping
1/2 C Powdered Sugar 
3/4 C Unbleached Flour
1 stick Unsalted Butter, room temperature

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter until well combined. 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot for  40 minutes.

Bake loaves about 50 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325 degrees. Continue baking until golden (about additional 20 minutes). Transfer to wire racks to cool in pans. 

Note: this recipe makes 3 loaves. You can freeze and thaw when ready to cook.  

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