Not the lesser Babka

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Why pay 10 cents when you can see stars for free! Image Credit: tvtropes.org

As it turns out, I am suffering from a concussion. I am assuming it is mild since my current symptoms are mild. I have a doc appointment tomorrow afternoon, just to make sure that I am taking the proper precautions. We head out of town tomorrow night on a business trip. I am currently absolutely bored out of my mind, so I shall do a post then go rest my brain, again.

This past Thursday the 18th, there was an ocean storm up here in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The waves were massive. I was helping a friend and was offline most of the day. I heard nothing of the storm and ironically was just a few miles from our beach house. Well, while I was painting away on my friend’s beach rental, the immense waves were tossing huge driftwood trees about on the end of our deck like they were tooth picks. By the time I found out about the storm (not being one to listen to or watch the news these days) I was back home in Portland. I grabbed a shot of the back of our beach house off of our security camera and although it looked pretty bad, it was NOTHING compared to what the scene actually looked like when Blue Eyes and I drove over to the beach house on Sunday.

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There was no way we could move the tree that is in the foreground of the picture above. I didn’t measure it, but I would guess it is close to 50 feet long. I wanted to lift slightly and slide the darker piece off the deck and onto the log that is off the deck. These logs weigh hundreds of pounds. It was not a good idea. So with both Blue Eyes and I holding that one end of the log, we gently slid it off the deck and then Blue Eyes said, I can’t hold it anymore and dropped it. In the split second between when he said he was dropping it and dropping it, apparently my brain didn’t register what was about to happen, and I went down hard face first, into another log. My feet went completely out from under me, and my hands were still in a position of holding the log, so not in a position to block my forehead from smacking that log, hard. It all happened so fast. I blacked out for the briefest of moments and then I literally saw stars in front of my right eye. The knot on my noggin is on the right side… a big goose egg.

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The before picture.

So now I am resting and resting and resting. Trying to limit my screen time, but I am going stir crazy. So here I am posting a RECIPE. A couple weeks ago The Peacemaker and I were craving Chocolate Babka. Before hanging out with Blue Eyes and his family, I had no idea what Babka was. The Jewish version of Babka is a bread made with a sweet yeast dough and filled with chocolate (or a cinnamon butter mixture–the lesser babka according to Elaine).

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I honestly always thought it was too complicated to make at home. Not sure why, but I did. We have tried many versions of Babka, the best in my opinion being purchased from New York Delis (Hello Seinfeld! Making me crave Chocolate Babka every time I see that episode). We’ve tried some local versions but they are just not good… too dry with cheaper chocolate OR not enough chocolate, OR they have a faint orange flavor, which I am not fond of. I like my Babka with a hint of cinnamon and a ton of delicious high quality chocolate, and that’s it!

I went to my go-to favorite Jewish chef guy, David Lebovitz, for the recipe.

David Lebovitz Chocolate Babka Recipe

We made it straight up chocolate cinnamon babka with no add-ins and no nuts. We used the highest quality ingredients we could find. I’ve included how we made it below, David’s does include options for nuts and also brownie or cookie add-ins.

Chocolate Babka
One 9-inch (23cm) loaf

Babka dough
2 teaspoons active dry yeast or 3/4 ounce (20g) fresh yeast
Scant 1/2 cup (100g) whole or lowfat milk very slightly warmed
1 teaspoon sugar
3 ounces (90g, 6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour

Chocolate filling
3 1/2 ounces (100g, 7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
3 ounces (80g) bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped (we used Guittard)
5 tablespoons (40g) unsweetened cocoa powder natural or Dutch-process (we used Scharffenberger)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Syrup
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) water
1 tablespoon honey

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the yeast with milk and sugar and 1/3 cup (40g) of the flour. Let rest until small bubbles appear and break the surface, about 10 to 15 minutes.
2. With the mixer fitted with the dough hook, on low speed, mix in the 3 ounces butter then the egg and salt. Gradually add the flour until it’s incorporated. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and knead the dough until smooth, about 5 minutes.
3. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and refrigerate the dough for 6 hours.
4. Butter a 9-inch (23cm) loaf pan and line the bottom and up the sides with a piece of parchment paper overhanging the two long sides, which will help you remove the baked babka later.
5. To make the filling, melt the 3 1/2 ounces of butter in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved or almost completely dissolved. (It’s okay if there are grains of sugar visible – they’ll melt later.) Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in the cocoa powder and cinnamon. Set aside.
6. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough (chilled or at room temperature) to a rectangle 12 x 20-inches (30 x 50cm). If the dough contracts and resists when rolling it, roll it out partially into a rectangle, let it sit 5 to 10 minutes, then continue to roll it out to the final dimensions once it’s relaxed.
7. Spread the chocolate filling over the surface of the rectangle all the way to the edges. Starting at one of the long ends of the rectangle, roll up the dough tightly so you have a log that’s 20 inches (50cm) long.
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8. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough completely in half lengthwise. With the cut sides facing up, overlap the end of one cut half over the other (with the cut sides still facing up), then take the other cut half and fold it over the other, making sure the cut sides are always facing up. Continue making a rope-like formation overlapping and twisting the two halves of the dough together until the dough is one big twist.
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9. Lift the twisted loaf and squidge (apparently squidge is a real word) it into the prepared loaf pan by pushing in on the two ends, so it fits in nicely.
10. Put the loaf pan in a very warm place, such as near a radiator or in an oven that has a pilot light, and let rise for about two hours, until it’s puffy and almost doubled in size.
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11. While the dough is rising, make the syrup by bringing the water, sugar, and honey to a boil in a small saucepan. Let boil for 4 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface with a spoon. Remove from heat and set aside. Some babka loafs have a streusel topping, which is mighty delicious too. We went with David’s syrup topping.
12. Fifteen minutes before you bake the babka, preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Bake the babka on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center (in a part where there is less chocolate filling), comes out clean of dough. There may be some bits of chocolate clinging to it, which are normal. We baked it for 30 minutes on the nose and I think it was ever so slightly over-baked, but The Peacemaker deemed it perfect.
13. Remove the babka from the oven and spoon or brush the room temperature syrup over the babka and let cool completely before lifting the babka out. Do not try to remove it or slice it while it’s warm, or it will break.
Serve the babka sliced. It will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature or can be frozen for up to two months, if well-wrapped. It was really fun doing this together with my son.
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I exercised twice that Friday that we made the loaf and I had one slice, because that is how I have to do things these days. So delicious. The rest of the loaf was gobbled up by The Peacemaker and Blue Eyes. A huge success!

17 thoughts on “Not the lesser Babka

    • Yeah, doctor didn’t want me flying, so BE is in San Francisco and I am at home, resting. I am sick of resting. Thank goodness the Australian Open is on. The headache comes and goes and I am still dizzy, so…. need to rest up for my trip to FL! The babka, it was truly scrumptious. Better than any I have ever tried. Probably because we used such good chocolate and it was so fresh. And it was easy. Especially with my KitchenAid mixer. That thing did all the work! I am usually intimidated by yeast doughs, but this worked out swell. Kind of like cinnamon rolls, but better, cuz, you know. CHOCOLATE!!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah u need to be ready for a bit of shenanigans my dear, take good care of yourself and take I slow, even if it is boring.
        Please call the Biltmore and see if they can do something for you. I think you would love it there. It’s a stunning place.
        Sigh … yes… chocolate 😍😍😍

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it’s gonna take a lot to bring our house down. I have a doc appointment in a couple hours, but I don’t think it is necessary. I can hardly even see the bump any more and no bruising. The bump was big though. My son said the same thing, send me a Babka (and he lives in Brooklyn). It was pretty tasty. So, hey, I’m coming your direction next month… maybe a quick meet up? I’ll be in southern Florida and then driving up to North Carolina for a healthy stay near Duke. Not sure where you are? Will I be close?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m very familiar with Durham, which of course, is where Duke is. Coming from South Florida, I imagine you will be more or less “hugging the coast” on the way up to Carolina. I am on the western tip of South Carolina…a few hours from Charlotte….however, if you decided to veer toward the mountains of North Carolina, I could meet you in Asheville. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ha, I know you know Durham! I do plan on hugging the coast and staying in Charleston for a couple nights. I have only been there for an afternoon. Any must see suggestions in Charleston? So, I will be in Durham for at least three weeks and I like to get out on the weekends. Maybe we could meet up in Asheville one weekend. I love Asheville. I’ll email you when it gets closer? xo

          Liked by 1 person

          • Downtown Charleston is your basic tourist “trap.” Loser never took me anywhere memorable. (You might ask one of his tramps.) LOL
            Meeting up in Asheville would be great! I know the area quite well, having been born and raised there.
            Do email me when it gets closer to time. (Leave me a comment when you do and I’ll send you a better address.) I rarely check my blog email. 😘

            Liked by 1 person

            • Okay, I’ll be in NC Feb. 25 on, so a month away. I will be a tourist in Charleston, so there is that, LOL. I was thinking some kind of tour or something. I’ll google it. Sometimes I like being a tourist. In Savannah we took the little trolley tour. I liked it. I’ll comment/email next month. ❤ Btw, I need to just sit down and read your stories. They look so intriguing I just haven't made the time. I'm so glad you have that outlet because you are an amazing writer.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Thank you for the compliment. I know there are ghost tours you can take…not sure if it’s a seasonal thing, though. I always wanted to ride in one of those horse and buggies but Loser would never take me on one. A**hole. LOLOL

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  1. If you Google Earth the Oregon coast those huge logs are always there. Logging must make it easy for storms to knock felled trees around.
    I will say this…..you lead an interesting life. Please look after yourself and try not to pick up something that they use elephants in Thailand for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true, Moi! People actually build temporary structures from the driftwood trees on our beach. Of course the winter tides knock everything down! We had two lovely pieces of driftwood strategically placed in the back from last year’s storm. I was actually thinking of using one as a succulent planter. A Pinterest find. Ha, glad I didn’t do that. That log is still there, but who knows how many times it was tossed around in the waves and there are no longer two logs, but about 12 and they are monstrous. Nope, not planning on ever again attempting to move driftwood myself. 😊

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  2. That looks scrumptious, I can’t say the same thing for the beach house. Oh my gosh! It looks like the beach house didn’t get any broken windows though. Hopefully no damage other than the land itself. Those are massive trees!

    Liked by 1 person

    • No damage at all to the house. It was built under really strict codes, so any water that comes that high actually spills out around and under the house. The house is five feet off the ground. Only the deck is at berm level and that is pretty high. These freak storms are supposed to only happen once every 10 years, but now it has happened twice already. Last week and almost exactly one year ago. Those trees are massive. When we arrived to the house and went out on the deck it was shocking. I’m glad I wasn’t there to see those logs rolling around in waves that close to the house. Scary!!! Also, almost all the logs within a five house spread are ALL in front of our house. So strange. It’s like our deck is a tree magnet.

      Liked by 1 person

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