Tuesday, March 9, 2010


this babka is no joke. other than the carrot cake from the previous post, this may well be the best and most versatile sweet i have EVER EVER eaten. the recipe seemed a little intimidating at first, but it wasn't bad-- i made it on a whim, right before i was having company over. i don't even want to tell you how much of it i have eaten in the past 24 hours. i am on an all babka diet.

i took the wise advice of my sister jenny and cut this recipe into thirds, to yield one loaf pan. some of the math ends up a little weird, but not enough that it will mess anything up. i am definitely making this again-- i might even make the full 3 times batch.

chocolate babka, from smitten kitchen
yields 1 loaf pan

1/2 c milk, warm to the touch
pinch sugar
1 1/2 t yeast
1/3 c + 1/4 c sugar
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
2 c flour
1/4 t salt
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, room temperature
1 T cinnamon
1 stick butter + 1 1/2 T butter, room temperature

mix together the yeast, pinch of sugar, and milk. let stand until foamy. whisk in the egg, yolk, and 1/4 c sugar until well combined. whisk together the flour and salt; add to egg/yeast mixture and mix until well combined. if using a stand mixer, you will now want to use the dough hook: add 5 1/2 T butter, and mix until fully incorporated and smooth, 5-7 minutes. put dough in a buttered bowl and let rise at least one hour, until doubled in size.

meanwhile, combine cinnamon, remaining sugar, and chocolate. using a wooden spoon or a pastry cutter, mash in the remaining 4 T butter until you have a homogeneous mixture.

roll out the dough into a 16"x16" square. brush the edges with egg wash (or milk, which is what i did-- i ran out of eggs). and cover the dough with the chocolate mixture (reserving 2 T), leaving a 1/4" border. roll the babka tightly like a jelly roll, and pinch the ends together. give the babka four or five twists, or as many as you can manage. carefully, put the reserved chocolate filling on the left side of the babka. fold the right side over, pinch the ends, and give two more twists. put the babka into a greased loaf pan and let rise for 30 minutes.

bake at 350 for 55 minutes, then turn the temp down to 325 and bake an additional 20 minutes.

**note: i did not make the streusel that deb did. (not only did i run out of eggs, but i also ran out of butter.) this affected the baking time, which was slightly less, and my method. the top browned very quickly, so i covered it with foil for more than half of the baking time. the babka was excellent the streusel, and the crust was really nice, but i think it may be slightly more moist with it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

cake tasting

has there ever been a more awesome implication of words than that of "cake" and tasting"?? i had been looking forward to this day for quite some time, and it did NOT disappoint. we powered through, considering we had just had a fantastic and decadent (seriously, top ten meals of my life) at niche.

getting ready... plenty of milk and tupperware cups.

one of the bakeries wasn't able to schedule a proper tasting... so we bought two whole cakes instead (thanks, mom!!):

the second cake. and the carnage of our taste test:

each bakery seems to do their samplers slightly different. one bakery gave us tons of tiny pieces of cake (three different kinds), along with little containeres of all frosting options (buttercreams) and all filling options (fruit, usually, but not always). you could mix and match entirely as you want. another bakery gave us large pieces of cake-- red velvet, vanilla, almond; each sandwiched with vanilla frosting. it came with samples of the different buttercream options.

but see that cake in the third picture? carrot. with alternating layers of cream cheese frosting and butter pecan filling. topped with the most incredible vanilla buttercream.

i think we have a winner!