Jul 16, 2012

Devo does babka

Last Thursday, while clicking around on the internet, I rediscovered Smitten Kitchen, a food blog written right out of the Big Apple.  Nick and I had been aware of this particular blog for several years, dating back to when we first moved in together, and had already tried Deb's recipes for ricotta (a quasi-success) and pastry cream (a near-unparalleled disaster).  After clicking through many promising posts, I stumbled across one for little chocolate swirl buns and then this other one from whence the buns were adapted.  And suddenly I was reading all about chocolate babka, and wanting some very badly.  

The bakery has just run out of chocolate babka.
Chocolate babka is sort of like a chocolate croissant ... but bigger.  And better.  It's an Old World relic that is popular enough in New York (but then, what Jewish food isn't in these parts?).  A Midwesterner by origin, my only familiarity with babka came from watching Seinfeld, where chocolate babka plays a prominent role in "The Dinner Party" episode.  So naturally, after perusing the Smitten Kitchen recipes, I assumed I would quickly get over the whole babka phenomenon.  

But I was wrong.  By that night, I knew that I would be making babka within the next few days.  But which recipe to use?  The original made three loaves and called for an obscene amount of chocolate (two and a half pounds!!) and streusel topping, but the swirl bun recipe was scaled down and made twelve cute little rolls that baked in muffin cups.  After a lot of thought, I decided to use the amounts listed for the swirl bun recipe but made a loaf instead.  

Since I have made bread from scratch a few times, the recipe was actually pretty manageable--up until you do the filling, you're essentially making bread.  My new Sunbeam hand mixer came with dough hooks, which helped to facilitate the kneading process, and otherwise the recipe went pretty smoothly so that after a few hours, I opened the oven and pulled out one golden, crusty, delicious loaf and IT WAS DELICIOUS.  

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