Babka, Two Ways!
When it didn't rain this weekend, I instead spent my time prancing around the house listening to Carly Rae Jepsen, climbing to the summit of Mt. Laundry and then dress shopping with Candice. She's got a wedding this weekend, for which she already had four dresses, but she wasn't 100% happy with any of them. So we went to a bunch of dress stores which is a very sad experience now that Loehmann's is closed, and then ended up just buying workout clothes at Old Navy.
Also, did you guys know that there's now a World Market on 6th Avenue?! Who wants to come with me to buy lamps that we don't need? (For the uninitiated, this store is like the love child of Pier 1 Imports and Ikea--throw pillows for everyone!)
I learned on this shopping excursion that Candice and her boyfriend Rich who are very healthy humans who run marathons--yes--plural--marathonS. Well, they decided that they're going to start eating more healthy foods. Luckily I force-fed them a bunch of this babka before they made that choice.
I made two kinds of babka. During a little refrigerator treasure hunt, I found miscellaneous bits and bobs of chocolate, white chocolate, and different jams that seemed like perfect candidates for babkafication. Also, everyone knows that cinnamon babka is the worst flavor (just watched that episode of Seinfeld this morning), so that was out of the question.
I encourage you to come up with your own flavors. I might just make a cream cheese and M&M version this weekend. Seriously, shop your pantry! Just make sure you have one thing that's spreadable (like the butter/cocoa powder/jam mixture I made) and one part chunky filling (chocolate, nuts). And hopefully your sister is eating dairy and refined sugar, otherwise you'll have lots of babka, just for you!
- 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
- 2 tsp yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
- 2 Tbsp butter at room temperature
- 1/4 cup raspberry jam
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
- 2 Tbsp cream cheese at room temperature
- 1/4 cup apricot jam
- 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
For Raspberry Chocolate Filling
For White Chocolate Apricot Filling
- In a small bowl, combine warm milk, yeast and sugar. Leave for about 5 minutes until foamy. (If no foam forms, start again with fresh yeast--your water may have been too hot, or your yeast is dead!)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer affixed with dough hook, combine flour, yeast mixture, salt, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix on slow to combine (going too fast will cause flour to fly everywhere). Once combined, add in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. When butter is incorporated, stop mixer, scrape down sides and then knead dough for about 5 minutes with mixer on medium. Dough will be quite wet; not as try as a typical bread dough.
- Oil a separate bowl and transfer dough to this bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen town and let rise in a warm spot in your kitchen, away from direct sunlight, until doubled in size--about two hours.
- Meanwhile, make your fillings!
- - If making raspberry chocolate babka, combine butter, cocoa powder and raspberry jam in a small bowl. Mix well to combine. Set aside.
- - If making apricot white chocolate babka, combine cream cheese and apricot jam in a small bowl to combine. Set aside.
- Grease two loaf pans and set aside.
- After two hours, punch down dough and divide into two even portions. I like to use a kitchen scale to make sure they're even. On a clean surface, roll out one half of dough into a tall rectangle.... like you're making a jelly roll! The thinner you roll out your dough, the more your filling will be spread throughout the loaf. Spread one of your jam mixtures over the dough. Sprinkle with appropriate chocolate pieces (white chocolate for apricot, bittersweet chocolate for raspberry).
- Roll up dough using the *long* side of the rectangle. Once rolled up, pull out a sharp knife and cut the entire roll down the middle, lengthwise. You should have two long pieces of dough with the layers of filling exposed. Braid the two pieces over one another, with the filling facing up.
- Twist the braid into a shape that will fit in the loaf plan and place it in. This feels a little rough and hodgepodge after your careful braiding work, but don't worry! Things will look great once baked.
- Repeat rolling/filling/rolling/cutting/braiding process with second set of dough and filling. Place in second loaf pan.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover both loaves with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for about 20 minutes while the oven is preheating.
- Bake loaves for about 50 - 60 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool fully. Remove from pan, slice and serve!
- Babka will keep for a few days wrapped up nicely in some wax paper and kept at room temperature.