Saturday, September 15, 2012

heavenly babka

Good morning, friends! I'm really excited about this post. As I sat down to write I thought, "gosh it's been a long time since I've posted something really chocolaty and delicious." I think I like to generally stray away from a regular posting of baked goods because it sort of defeats the purpose of this blog.. which is to eat healthier... HOWEVER, the "therapy" part of "recitherapy" is DEFinitely wrapped up in a really great baking project. Kneading dough, stirring up a pot of melty chocolate, waiting for something to rise... that's therapeutic. Don't get me wrong, waiting for the smell of toasted garlic and caramelized onions to waft past your nostrils is pretty therapeutic in it's own right, but the joys of watching and waiting for something so plain as flour turn into something gooey and warm...? That's a fairy tale to me. So!

Without further ado, chocolate cinnamon babka swirls... adapted from Smitten Kitchen. Her recipe is the total bones of this thing but, there were a few adjustments I had to make. ;)

*warning: this recipe appears trickier than it actually is. please DO ATTEMPT THIS at home. :)

For the dough, you will need:
  • 1/2 cup almond milks  (or regular if you prefer, but I like what the almond milk does for the taste of the dough)
  • 1/4 cup plus an extra pinch granulated sugar
  • 2 & 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all- purpose flour, plus more for your work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature plus more for greasing muffin tins
Preparing your dough: Over a medium, low heat, warm the milk and the pinch of sugar. Warm it until it's warm to the touch, but definitely not hot as you don't want the milk to burn. Remove the milk and sugar from heat and sprinkle it with the yeast. Let it stand for 5-7 minutes until it gets foamy and thick looking. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Whisk the yeast mixture in with the egg mixture.

If you have a standing mixer, use it for this next part of the process. If you don't, like I don't, no problem! Just get ready to turn on a few good french songs and stand there mushing dough around for about 8-10 minutes. :) I love doing it, so don't be afraid. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl, slowly whisk in the egg mixture, just until combined. Scrape down all the bits from your whisk and get ready to use your fingers. Add in the soft butter and mix until it's well incorporated. If using your stand mixer, flip it to the dough hook and let it knead on low for about 10 minutes. If using your hands, just start slowly squeezing the dough though your hands and fingers and then punching it down. There's no rush in this process and the dough does wonderful things when it's handled gently and slowly so don't worry about doing something wrong. And no, your dough will not turn out second rate just because you're doing it by hand... think of all those women that blazed the trail before our KitchenAid time! When the tendons in your wrists are starting to ache a little and the dough officially hates your fingers and is sticking to everything, butter a large bowl and plop that giant dough mess in a neat little package in that bowl and cover it with a towel or plastic wrap. Let it rise for about an hour, or until it looks almost doubled in size.
For the filling, you will need:
  • 3 Tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature.
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8-10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate. Morsels are easiest to handle.
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or more if you're like me and want to use an entire teaspoon.
Preparing your filling: If you're using chocolate bars, roughly chop it before continuing. If using morsels, don't worry about chopping those. In a food processor or Vitamix, pulse and combine the chocolate, salt, sugar and cinnamon until the chocolate is almost powdery fine. Add the butter and pulse until just combined. This was tricky in my Vitamix so I poured it all onto a plate and chopped it with a knife and fork until blended. Your mixture should look powdery and chunky. (and delicious like you want to pour it over some vanilla ice cream and die a nice, slow death.) Set it aside.

Get out your muffin pan and generously butter each little cup.
After you've made that phone call and finished that load of laundry (and checked on the dough to see if it's done yet)... and walked to the mailbox (twice) and flossed your teeth (and checked the dough) and cleaned out the fridge and made that strange, mid-day cup of coffee... check your dough again... it's probably done. :)

Flour your countertop and plop that dough on it. Punch it down to deflate it and flip it a few times. Let it rest for about 5 minutes before continuing. Here comes the fun part! Roll the dough out into a large, long rectangle. As long as you can make it without it sticking to the countertop and getting too thin is best. That way when we roll it up, you've got LOTS of gorgeous swirls happening. Make the short sides 11-12 inches.
Once the dough is rolled out, sprinkle that filling all over it, covering as close to the edge as possible without it spilling out. Now tightly as possible, again without tearing it where it might look too thin, roll the dough up onto itself. Take your time and be careful that the filling isn't just coming out the sides the whole time. You should end up with a tight, long log, just about as long as your rolling pin. That's a good comparison.
Now slice the log into 1 inch increments, giving you 12 segments, enough to fill and entire muffin tin. Place the 1 inch slices into each little cup. Don't worry if there's a few that are more doughy than the others... they'll still taste great, even if there's not as much filling in them. Once your muffin tin is filled, cover it with a cloth or plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes (if you can stand it). ;) Then preheat your oven to 350 degrees, that way you're giving your oven 30 minutes to really get ready for these babies and you won't have to wait even longer by the time they're ready to go in because you forgot to turn your oven on. (i so hate when that happens)
For the egg wash, you will need:
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons almond milk or whichever kind you like
Mix together the egg and the milk until smooth and drizzle it or brush it over each bun. Be generous with it.. it makes them shine!

Now bake! Bake them for 15-20 minutes, or until puffed and golden on the edges. I turned my tin every 7 minutes to make sure they would be evenly colored because I have an old oven. When you removed them, let them rest in the tins for about 5 minutes, then loosen them with a butter knife. If you've buttered generously enough, they should loosen just fine. Let them rest on a cooling rack if you can stand to wait and then dive into them.
see those gorgeous little pools of chocolate and egg wash? YUM.
some will sink in the middle, and that's okay... because trust me, they'll still taste BEYOND beyond what words can describe.
some bottoms will look crispy and pretty... and some will look silly and boring. so don't fret.
and then some will look just plain sad... but i ate this one and i loved it just the same. after all... it is still a giant piece of warm dough, friends. :)
Serve these in the morning with a girlfriend brunch and some iced coffee... or have them as your after dinner dessert with a glass of red. Is it your birthday? Is it your birthday week? Is it your birthday month? ;) Then indulge in one of these whenever the heck you feel like it. Because the pleasure of unwrapping the chocolaty dough, one swirl at a time is worth all the pilates and speed walking you'll have to do afterwards. If anything, it's motivation, right?

Happy Weekending.

1 comment:

  1. these look sinful! I think you could really show off to some overnight guests with this recipe. Imagine if they awoke to THAT SMELL in the morning!!! :) #win