babka rolls

Babka has been on my to-do list for a long time now. So when King Arthur Flour featured their babka recipe as their Bakealong Challenge back in April, I Jumped on the opportunity to finally make my own.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with babka, it’s like cinnamon swirl bread but on crack. Often filled with chocolate or cinnamon and nuts, then topped with a sweet, crunchy streusel topping – this stuff is irresistible.

 

Though it looks very intimidating, having finally made it I can honestly say it’s not nearly as scary or daunting as I thought it would be. It’s a lot like making cinnamon rolls except you don’t have to cut the log into individual pieces, although once I made these all I wanted to do was turn them into rolls… which is why my April post turned into a July post (oops?).

 

However you decide to shape it, your babka will start with a simple sweet yeast dough. Once properly kneaded, you let it rise, shape it, let it rise again, then bake it off in the oven.

I know what you’re thinking… You’re looking at all those twisties and and saying to yourself that clearly this is some kind of trick. It must be harder than expected because just LOOK at how beautiful these babies are. I assure you, it’s no trick. Though time consuming (as all yeast breads are), these are not actually “difficult”. I made these three ways so you can choose your favorite and run with it.

The original recipe provided by King Arthur Flour gave enough for two loaves, so I’ve halved the recipe assuming you will only want to make one loaf (or 12 rolls). If you want to make two loaves (or two batches of rolls), feel free to double the recipe and divide it into two pieces after its first rise to work one loaf at a time. I did NOT halve the filling or the topping, you will use all the filling in the rolls and you’ll have leftover topping but that stuff is good on everything so feel free to stash it in your fridge or freezer for the next time you want to jazz something up with a bit of streusel on top.

babka rolls

Ingredients

    For the dough
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cups warm water
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups + 2 tablespoons (13.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk*
  • 1 tablespoon instant (rapid rise) yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • For the filling
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • For the streusel topping
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • For the egg wash (make right before baking)
  • 1 large egg, beaten (set aside)
  • For the glaze (make after the rolls come out of the oven)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk

Instructions

    Make the dough
  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine all of the dough ingredients, using the lesser amount of water. Mix the ingredients together until everything is moistened, adding additional water if necessary to enable the dough to come together. It will still be a little lumpy and not very pretty. Once the dough comes together, cover the bowl with a cloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  2. After resting, knead the dough by hand or with the dough hook until it becomes soft and smooth like a normal bread dough.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the dough becomes very puffy (it may not quite double in size).
  4. If you need a break, now's the time to take it. Instead of allowing to rise now, you can cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, remove from fridge and allow to rise, covered, for 2 to 3 hours until it's nice and puffy.
  5. Make the filling (I make mine while the dough is rising then warm it a bit to loosen before filling the dough)
  6. Stir sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and espresso until the butter is fully incorporated. Set aside, covered, until ready to use. (Do not mix the chocolate chips or nuts in with the other ingredients).
  7. Make the streusel (I also make this while the dough is rising, and then stash it on the counter or in the fridge until I need it)
  8. Combine all ingredients in a bowl until moistened. You should be able to press the streusel into clumps with your hands.
  9. Extra streusel can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks. Throw it on top of banana bread or muffins, or toss some into pancake or waffle batter. You can also freeze it for a month or two if you like.
  10. Shape the dough
  11. Line a 9-by-13 inch pan with parchment and grease lightly with butter or cooking spray.
  12. Pour dough onto counter and gently deflate, stretching/patting into a rectangle.
  13. Roll dough into a rectangle approximately 15 by 20 inches. If it's being stubborn cover it with a towel and let it set 5 to 10 minutes to relax. I usually use a combination of rolling and stretching until I achieve my desired size, it doesn't have to perfect, just something in that vicinity.
  14. Spread filling over the dough and sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts.
  15. Starting at the long end, roll the dough into a log about 20-inches long. Trim about a half inch or so off of each end to get rid of the straggly edges.
  16. Using a serrated knife, cut into 12 equal-sized rolls and place cut-side down into prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours until rolls become puffy and begin to crowd each other in the pan.
  17. Bake the rolls
  18. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  19. Once ready to bake, lightly brush the tops of the rolls with egg wash and sprinkle generously with streusel topping.
  20. Bake rolls for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown on top and baked through.
  21. Glaze the rolls
  22. In a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar and milk until no lumps remain. If too runny, add more powdered sugar, if too thick add more milk. The glaze should be on the thicker side, sort of like Elmer's glue but more delicious.
  23. Drizzle glaze over slightly-cooled rolls. Best served the day they are made (and still slightly warm).
  24. OK, but what if you want to make that impressive fancy babka loaf you see at the bakery? Well, I've got steps for that too!
    To make a loaf
  25. Line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with parchment and grease lightly with butter or cooking spray.
  26. Shape each half of the dough into a 9" x 18", 1/4"-thick rectangle.
  27. Smear dough with the filling, coming to within an inch of the edges and scatter nuts and chocolate chips over the filling
  28. For the fancy (split top) twisty loaf
  29. Starting with a short end, roll the dough gently into a log, sealing the seam and ends.
  30. Use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthwise to make two long pieces of dough.
  31. With the exposed filling side up, twist the two pieces into a braid, tucking the ends underneath. Place into prepared baking pan
  32. To make a less fancy (twisty) loaf
  33. Starting with the long end, roll the dough gently into a log, sealing the seam and ends.
  34. Fold the dough log in half (like a horse shoe) and twist the horseshoe. Place log into prepared baking pan.
  35. To make an easier less fancy (non-twisty) loaf
  36. Starting with a short end, gently roll the dough into a log about 10-inches long, sealing the seam and ends. Place log into prepared baking pan.
  37. To bake either of the loafs
  38. Place loaf into a lightly greased 9" x 5" loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap, allowing to rise about 2 hours. Right before baking, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with topping.
  39. Preheat oven to 300°F and bake for 35 minutes. Tent with foil then continue baking an additional 15-25 minutes, for a total baking time of 50-60 minutes.
  40. Remove loaf from the oven, and immediately loosen the edges with a heatproof spatula or table knife. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Notes

* If you don't have dry milk, substitute liquid milk for the water.

* If the dough doesn't want to roll/stretch out, cover it with a clean towel and let it rest for 10 minutes to relax the gluten, then stretch it some more.

* For those (like me) who like to rely on thermometers, the bread should reach an internal temperature of at least 190°F

http://wee-eats.com/2017/07/01/babka-rolls/

 

Thanksgiving Stuffing Rolls

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Thanksgiving is this week and many of you already have your menus planned but for those of you with a little wiggle room, allow me to talk you about these rolls. I saw these on in my inbox and was very skeptical like, “How much like stuffing could these really taste like?” Turns out, a lot. A lot like stuffing. Like, exactly like stuffing. Continue reading

dominique ansel’s banana bread

ansel banana bread

As you may have heard, the great Dominique Ansel recently released the recipe for his infamous cronuts. The recipe takes three days, four rises, a deep fryer, and something called a “butter block”. Oh, and let’s not forget to make the glaze and the flavored sugar.

While I may never eat (and will more likely never make) a cronut, what I was more interested in was his much simpler, more approachable recipe for the great and humble banana bread. Because the one thing everyone needs is yet another banana bread recipe, right?

I mean, it’s not like I don’t already have not one but two recipes for banana bread right here on this very site, but I was intrigued. I mean, how amazing can banana bread really be?

I became even more intrigued as I continued reading the recipe… no vanilla, no brown sugar, not even a hint of cinnamon. Clearly this was some sort of trick. Would Mr. Eats even eat a quickbread that wasn’t covered in streusel? I wasn’t sure…

I fought off my urge to tinker with every fiber of my being… No, Natalie, we aren’t adding vanilla. Or brown sugar. That “dash of cinnamon” is definitely off the table – If the great Dominique Ansel doesn’t need it, then neither do I gosh darnit!

ansel banan bread 2

After I congratulated myself on completing a recipe from start to finish by actually following the directions and not tinkering with a single ingredient… I tossed it in the oven and prepared myself for disappointment. I was ready to laugh and scoff and bring Chef Ansel down a peg.

Well color me wrong because this stuff is like banana gold. It turns out, apparently, that you don’t actually need any vanilla, or streusel, or cinnamon. All you need is bananas, flour, sugar, eggs and love. And lots of butter. You’ll definitely be needing that butter. And an over-sized loaf pan (my puny 8 by 5 would not do. Luckily I found some old larger loaf pan that, judging from the looks of it, I can only assume came from my mom or possibly a bomb shelter.

The loaf baked up with an incredibly light and tender crumb on the inside and a delightfully crisp exterior. I was a bit lazy about the banana-mashing so I still had a few chunks of banana, but i like it that way.

It is pure banana essence baked into loaf form and more than anything else – it is addictive.

Score one for Chef Ansel. I’m so sorry I ever doubted you.

ansel bread 4

Since I assumed that his cookbook would be full of cronuts and other complex things that frankly I get tired just thinking about… I had already decided that I wasn’t going to purchase it. However, now that I realize that there could be more gems in there like this banana bread,  I should probably just pre-order it now.

dominique ansel’s banana bread

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 4 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing pan

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10" x 5" x 3 ½" loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, whisking to combine.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs and whisk in mashed bananas.
  4. Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Gently fold the mixture until the ingredients are just combined.
  5. Add the melted butter to the flour and banana mixture, and stir until fully incorporated.
  6. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack to complete cooling.

Notes

This recipe was found on Tasting Table

http://wee-eats.com/2014/10/18/dominique-ansels-banana-bread/

pumpkin pie bread pudding

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Last week I was forced to thaw my pumpkin challah ahead of schedule in order to complete its photo-op and I knew that re-freezing it really wasn’t an option. Since I didn’t want all of the challah to go to waste I had to do something with it (poor me), so I went to the easy option: bread pudding.

I took my other bread pudding recipe and adapted it slightly… well, by “adapted” I mean “poured a can of pumpkin into”… That counts as “adapted,” right?

I also switched from white sugar to brown because, to me, pumpkin just screams “BROWN SUGAR” and reduced the liquids a bit to make up for the additional liquid provided by the pumpkin puree. I probably could have reduced the liquids a bit more since I had originally planned to only had 1 cup of pumpkin puree… then I got tired thinking of what I would do with the rest of the can of pumpkin and just dumped the rest of it in.

I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? There is some real science going on here, guys.

I worried that it might be too much liquid, and maybe it was, the pudding took way longer than others have to bake, although that could have been because I insisted on opening the oven door every ten minutes to check on it. (Shame on me, I should know better.)

I’ve included the recipe as I made it below, along with some notes in case you’re interested in scaling back on the liquid.

pumpkin bread pudding 7462

So I took the pudding out of the oven with trepidation, terrified that it was going to be a soggy, soupy mess. Then, after I let it cool off a bit on a wire rack I popped into the fridge to firm up. This step is important…

The refrigerator is where the magic happens.

In the refrigerator, what was once a warm bread pudding transforms into some sort of magical bread pudding/pumpkin pie hybrid. The top of the pudding stays wonderfully crisp while the bottom turned into what I can only describe as pumpkin pie.

Like, literally, the exact taste and texture of a creamy pumpkin pie.

It. was. amazing.

The refrigerator also has the added bonus of firming up the bread pudding enough for you to actually slice and serve it versus having to scoop it with a spoon.  Slicing the pudding also makes freezing it an option. If that’s your thing, you can see my notes on freezing the bread pudding at the end of the recipe.

pumpkin bread pudding 7504

I topped my bread pudding with a healthy dollop of freshly-whipped cream (spiked with some cinnamon).  I suspect that a scoop of ice cream or creme anglaise would be a nice touch, too.

pumpkin pie bread pudding

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 1 casserole, 8 to 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 cups stale bread (I used pumpkin challah)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips

Instructions

  1. Cut bread into 1/2- to 1-inch cubes; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the bread and cinnamon chips.
  3. Once combined, add the bread and cinnamon chips; toss to coat.
  4. Pour into greased baking dish and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1 hour (or up to overnight).
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325F. While the oven is preheating, set the bread pudding on the counter to take the chill off.
  6. Once the oven is preheated, remove plastic wrap from bread pudding and cover pudding with aluminum foil bake 20 minutes covered, then remove cover and bake for an additional 30 -50 minutes, until the bread pudding no longer releases liquid when pressed and the internal temperature reaches 165F.
  7. Cool bread pudding on a wire rack for 30 minutes to 1 hour, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill until ready to serve (4 hours or up to overnight). This is where the magic happens.
  8. When ready to serve, either reheat individual servings of bread pudding for about 30 seconds each (being careful not to overheat them) in the microwave or reheat the entire pan in the oven by placing it in a cool oven, covered with aluminum foil. Set oven to 350 and by the time your oven is heated the bread pudding should be warmed through (you can poke it to check, if you like).
  9. Serve with creme anglaise, ice cream, or cinnamon-spiced whipped cream.

Notes

My bread pudding came out beautifully, but you could easily make the following modifications if you are short on any ingredients, however your cooking time may be slightly less: - You could use just 1 cup of pumpkin puree instead of one whole can, keeping other liquid ingredients the same - If you are using a full can of pumpkin puree, you could easily get away with reducing the whole milk and cream by another 1/4 cup each (or just reducing one by a half cup) - You could use all heavy cream or sub in half-and-half instead of using a mixture of heavy cream and whole milk

*As is - this recipe will create a nice crust on top of the bread pudding. If you prefer to not have a crusty top to your bread pudding, leave it covered for the entire baking time.

*The bread pudding magic really happens after its chill in the fridge, so you could serve it fresh from the oven but I strongly recommend the chill. This is what transforms the lower portion to the texture of pumpkin pie.

*You can (and I did) wrap individual servings of bread pudding tightly in plastic wrap and freeze them to enjoy later. Place in refrigerator to thaw and then heat for 30 seconds in the microwave (or warm in the oven).

http://wee-eats.com/2014/10/14/pumpkin-pie-bread-pudding/

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pumpkin challah

pumpkin challah 7435

‘Tis the season for pumpkin and I’ve been practicing my bread braiding lately so naturally my next step would be to braid pumpkin. I mean, duh, obviously.

I believe challah is traditionally a four-rope braid and, although my skills are vastly improved from my first attempt, I have not quite achieved that level of skill yet. So, for the sake of everyone’s sanity, I stuck with practicing my three rope braid. Next time I think I will be ready to level up my skills to four ropes.

Having never made challah, apparently there are about a bajillion different recipes and a katrillion ways to make it, so basically every source of research was useless to me. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to keep it dairy-free, because I feel like if you’re putting dairy in your challah it is no longer challah.

Not that it isn’t some other dairy-licious egg bread, it’s just not challah. Not really. And why would I want to have not-challah when I was craving challah?

pumpkin challah 0007

The end result was surprisingly good, especially when you take into consideration that I had almost no idea what I was doing. It had the perfect challah texture that I was looking for. Though the pumpkin gives the bread a stunning orange hue, the pumpkin’s flavor wasn’t overly pronounced. In fact, if you left out the cinnamon and spices you could easily serve it alongside dinner.  Either version will transform beautifully into french toast or bread pudding, but more on that coming later.

This bread, like all bread, is best eaten the day its made but will freeze beautifully as well. Since I lost my memory card last weekend when I made this bread, these pictures are actually from my defrosted loaf.

pumpkin challah

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 1 loaf challah

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 package instant dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks, whites reserved
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 Tablespoons + 1 Tablespoon neutral vegetable oil; divided
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour + 1 cup, reserved
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Instructions

    Make the dough
  1. Mix yeast with water and sugar; set aside 5 minutes until foamy.
  2. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat in the pumpkin, 3 tablespoons oil, honey, eggs, yolks, and salt. Beat on medium speed until combined.
  3. Add 1 cup of flour and beat on low until combined. Add additional cup and continue beating until combined.
  4. Continue adding remaining 2 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, kneading until smooth and elastic.
  5. If the dough is too wet and stick, continue adding last cup of flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough becomes smooth. I actually ended up dumping mine out onto the counter to knead by hand so that I could judge the texture better. You want it to be soft enough to keep a dent when your finger pokes it, but not sticky enough to stick to your finger.
  6. Once desired consistency is reached, pour 1 tablespoon of oil into a large bowl. Add dough to bowl and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set in a warm place until doubled in size 60 to 90 minutes.
  7. Shape the dough
  8. Once doubled in size, gentlly punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly-floured surface.
  9. Divide into 3 equal portions, and roll each into a 14 to 17-inch rope. (You could do a 4 or more ropes of dough but I'm not that skilled).
  10. Once braided, place onto baking sheet and cover with oiled plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set in a warm place to proof until doubled in size, another 60 - 90 minutes.
  11. When nearing the end of the bread proofing time, preheat the oven to 375 F. I usually set mine above the stove and turn the stove on about 30 minutes into proofing. The heat from the stove warms the top of the oven just enough to give my bread an extra boost.
  12. Beat remaining two egg whites. Brush bread with egg white and place into oven. Bake 40 to 50 minutes.
  13. Check on the bread at the 30 minute mark, if it is browning too quickly tent with foil and continue cooking. You can tell the bread is done when it is a beautiful deep golden brown and is firm and hollow when tapped. The internal temperature should be around 190F, for those of you who are into that sort of thing.

Notes

This bread, like all bread, is best eaten the day it is baked but will freeze beautifully as well. To freeze bread, wrap tightly in plastic wrap then again in foil to freeze. Thaw bread still wrapped at room temperature for a few hours or overnight.

If you don't want to make this all in one day, you could allow the bread to do its first rise overnight in the fridge. Bring to room temperature for 30 minutes to one hour before proceeding with shaping the dough.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/10/07/pumpkin-challah/

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