Babka

March 21, 2016

Chocolate Babka

Today is the beginning of three new recipes, the first being a chocolate babka. I brewed a cup of coffee, sat down and studied the recipe. ( Just a side note, the babka is steeped in Polish and Jewish tradition and may have various fillings other than chocolate.)

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The dough is mixed in an upright stand mixer. Flour, sugar, yeast, milk, almond extract, lemon oil and butter  are combined, put in a warm place to rest while the chocolate filling is assembled.

The chocolate filling, consisting of wonderful things like melted butter, brown sugar, Dutch processed cocoa, honey, an egg, vanilla extract and chocolate cookie crumbs. These are combined and set aside.

After an hour the dough is rolled into a 10 X 24 inch rectangle. (The dough didn’t rise much in the hour required even though it was set in a 75 degree environment. Checked the recipe fearing I had neglected some measurements. Everything looked A-okay so I continued.)

Spread the decadent chocolate filling onto the rolled dough leaving a 1/2 inch border. Now, with the bottom edge I rolled the dough into the middle of the rectangle (not perfect I have to admit) then did the same with the other edge meeting them both in the middle. With the “roll” done now comes the “fold.” Taking the ends in hand I fold the left side of the dough so it meets in the middle of the roll and doing the reverse side so both meet in the middle.

With the above process I flipped the dough over so the seam was on the board. Gently I gather the dough in my hands and make a slight twist in the middle. After that the dough is brushed with an egg wash then put in a bread pan to rise.

When the dough has “rested’’ for about an hour I again brush the bread with the egg wash and sprinkle the streusel over the top. Baked in a 375 degree oven for 40 (not 50 as suggested in the cookbook as my oven runs a bit hot) making sure to turn the bread half way through to insure even baking.

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What an amazing result before me as I slice the babka in half revealing the beautiful chocolate swirls. Very impressive presentation if I do say so myself…and I do. These were relatively easy compared to the croissants.

We have had a few hiccups slowing down my progress with “Next”. What I am realizing is this…starting this little project at 70 when the fingers aren’t as nimble, the eyes struggle to decipher small print, the shoulder is facing therapy or worse yet, an operation, Dick having carotid artery surgery and lastly, my two month battle with bronchitis was a bit of a folly.   However, being blessed with a stubborn nature and a strong determination to finish this from start to finish I will prevail!

March 22,2016

Hazelnut Babka

The same process as above for the dough. A nutty, cinnamon filling replaces the chocolate filling making it a very different mixture and , may I add, a surprisingly welcomed one!

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The ingredients are a combination of sugar, milk, butter, vanilla, salt, hazelnuts, cinnamon and an egg yolk.

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True to the recipe, I roasted the hazelnuts at 350 degrees until the were evenly toasted.  Then I proceeded to skin the hazelnuts by putting the nuts into a clean towel and rubbing the nuts against each other until most of the skins fall off. Following this technique, I then finely chopped them!

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.Then the above ingredients except the cinnamon and nuts were put in a small pot and brought to a boil. Removed the pot and added the nuts and the cinnamon. Cooled the mixture then whisked in the egg yolk.

Spread the mixture on the dough making sure to leave a half inch boarder and continued using the same technique as in the chocolate babka. Darn yummy!

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March 23, 2016

Apricot Cream Cheese Babka

Again, the same instructions for the dough as before is used. The filling, however, is far different than the prior two recipes.

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I combined orange juice, lemon juice, dried apricots and sugar in a small sauce pan brought them to a boil for 20 minutes. The mixture is then cooled and put in a food processor and mixed until a smooth jam is achieved. Set this aside and began the cream cheese filling.

The cream cheese filling is a creamy mixture of an egg yoke, vanilla and almond extract, orange zest, a pinch of salt, cream cheese and sugar. These, except the egg, were beaten together with a wooden spoon . When the filling is fully combined the egg is added.

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After the dough cooled the apricot jam was spread evenly over the surface leaving a half inch boarder as done in the previous babkas. This was topped with the luscious cream cheese filling.

With that done I proceeded to roll the babka as done in the other three recipes. How amazing this finished product is. Such wonderful taste filling the palate making just one not enough. This concludes the section on babkas…they are so worth the extra effort.

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April 10, 2016

FRENCH PUFF

(Today I am making French Puffs. They do not come under any specific category. Daughter #1 is coming over to do her taxes. Thought these little puffs would make the ordeal a bit sweeter for her, as it did for daughter #2.  We can easily see which daughter is the procrastinator.)

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Another great recipe to have in the morning or tea in the afternoon. Oh heck, they are great any time of day. Here we go…

The ingredients are readily at hand for these puffs. Buttermilk gives this batter a distinct  flavor one can’t mistake. To begin with, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder and freshly grated nutmeg in a large bowl. With your stand mixer, cream together the softened butter and sugars (white and dark brown) on medium speed until smooth. So far, so good but I’ve had a funny feeling there might be a fly in the ointment. Well, not really you know.)

Lower speed to low adding 2 eggs one at a time. Then add vanilla and half the buttermilk followed by half the dry ingredients making sure to scrape down the sides. (So far…no flies) Add the remaining buttermilk followed by the dry ingredients making sure the batter is mixed thoroughly.

Scoop two heaping tablespoons into well buttered muffin tins. Bake for 14 minutes making sure to rotate half way through the baking.

Meantime, prepare the topping which consists of butter, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon. When the muffins are removed from the oven cool them for a few minutes. Then, add vanilla to the melted butter, dip the tops of each muffin in the cinnamon mixture…set aside.

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With the conclusion of this recipe I am pleased to report NO FLIES appeared during this heavenly bake.

NEXT…TARTS

Scones

February 29, 2016

Today begins the chapter on SCONES…a favorite of mine to make and EAT. These are currant scones made with 2 ingredients I’ve not used in making scones before…dark brown sugar and yogurt.

Right from the get-go I felt things were rather amiss. After preparing the sheet pan with parchment paper, setting the oven to 425 degrees and combining the cinnamon/sugar to top the scones before baking I began to combine the dry ingredients with the cubed butter. Using my finger tips I began the process of incorporating the butter into the flour mixture. Well, my arthritic hands rebelled! 

As much as I tried to complete this critical part of the scone I did not succeed. Should I pull out my food processor? The recipe did not call for any devices requiring an electrical cord. Humm…so, I continued with the recipe adding the rest of the ingredients and finally the yogurt. Oh dear, what a mess. The yogurt did not moisten the dough enough to form the 8 inch square required. As it stressed not to over work the dough, I just dumped the mess on my floured board and tried to mold it into a square. I then randomly cut out the scones, topped each with the cinnamon/sugar topping and baked. The result…DISASTER!

 (At this point, I wondered if perhaps all the meds I’ve been taking, especially the prednisone, might be causing me to hasten my work. Yes, I do think my need for detail and patience went out the window replaced by lack of attention to the recipe causing failure. Back to the drawing board tomorrow.)

March 1, 2016

Off to the grocery store to replenish the larder with flour, dark brown sugar among other staples. Mission accomplished.

Today I am doing the Currant Scones again…with patience and precision! Everything was in place before the actual mixing began.…currants, sugar/cinnamon mixture, flour and remaining dry ingredients.   I did have to use my food processor  which made me feel OLD. ( I have to interject a very valid point the book makes…read the entire recipe before beginning!)

After the dry ingredients were combined in the processor, I then dumped them into a large bowl, adding the yogurt. With a small hand scraper, I incorporated everything together without too much muscle action (as if). The moistened dough was then put on a floured work space, shaped into an 8 inch square and dusted with the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Proceeded to cut the square into 6 squares then cut each of these squares on the diagonal.   The scones appear to be moist and light unlike yesterday’s fiasco. Popped them into the oven, made a cup of coffee and thumbed through the newspaper.

Oh my, they are rustic but lovely. I pulled one apart to see if they baked evenly…yes, they had. Now for the first bite…delightful. Light with a burst of flavor that lingers on the palate…I am truly pleased with todays results. Tomorrow I will make cranberry/walnut scones, a variation of the currant scone.

As a side comment, the above scones were delivered to my son and his family in Bath last evening. They were hosting a Bon Voyage gathering on the eve of their departure to the Caribbean. We had the most delicious tastes of the islands inspired by a buffet prepared by my daughter-in-law. My son made island rum drinks that had Mamie (me) relaxed and wishing she were going with them. We sang songs like, “Holiday” and “It’s not a dream your seeing down in the Caribbean”…remember that one?  The teenage boys were not too impressed and soon were off saying…”see you when we get back”…

A word from one who has to do everything at least twice, I have to tell you…if you take your time, plan your time and set aside any other business, follow the recipe with well rested eyes and body you will succeed the first time. The recipes are so instructional and detailed that one should nail it on the first go.

March 2, 2016

Cranberry/Walnut Variation

The same process as above was completed except dried cranberries and walnuts replaced the currants. The recipe suggested using Turbinado sugar instead of the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Since I do not have this item in my pantry I again used the c/s mixture. No oh-oh’s and with that, considered these scones a success.

Tonight is “Turbo Tax Night” with daughter No. 2.  Hopefully, a scone or two will help make the task less painful. 

March 3, 2016

Today I resumed my Thursday morning league bowling in Brunswick. After that, it will be a trip to Now You’re Cooking in Bath to find Turbinado sugar. Then on to the local fish market for crabmeat that will be made into “cakes” for lunch upon my arrival home. I love my life> <3

Returned from my Thursday outing successfully obtaining the Turbinado sugar. Mike, at Now You’re Cooking, told me they didn’t carry this item but did tell me that good old Reny’s did. Thanks, Mike!…you’ve always been so helpful over the years.

Dried Apricot/Toasted Almond Variation

Again, repeated the above scone recipe using chopped apricots and roasted almonds. (There is a guide on roasting nuts in the back of the cookbook that is very helpful.) The scones were dusted with the Turbinado sugar, which I have to say was well worth the extra effort to find.

 

March 4, 2016

Today is a busman’s holiday. Baking on the docket but switching from scones to cakes! Tomorrow Dick and I are headed to Phippsburg to have lunch with old friends who just happen to be the parent’s of my daughter-in-law. Thumbing through “Pastries” I found a flourless chocolate cake that will certainly be a perfect addition to the day. I will repeat this in my blog later. At that time I’ll do the play by play. (Just a side note…it’s a lovely cake topped with whipped cream and mixed berries.)