Archive | October 2014

Babka for Breakfast

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I imagine that you have had  moments in your life where you vividly remember  eating something utterly delicious- and that memory  stays with you. Well, for me, one of these moments was when I went to New York with my family at 12 years old and first ate pecan pie. What a heavenly invention pecan pie is. About 10 years ago I had another of these moments, when I ate chocolate babka for the first time- moist, chewy, tender and chocolatey- a cross between a bun, bread, cake and heaven.  I had never tasted anything quite so wonderful.  Our friend’s friend called Evan had brought over the babka with him from America and I was lucky enough to be around to try it.  We were just talking about Evan last week and I became obsessed with finding the perfect chocolate babka recipe and dear reader I think I found it.

I started by looking in my very extensive collection of cookery books. My New York Times Jewish cookbook had a recipe which involved using 16 eggs yolks- what were they thinking! Peter Rheinhart had a recipe but it looked a little dry. Then I came across a post called ‘Better Babka’ on Smitten Kitchen That’s more like it- sticky, rich, delicious. The original source for this recipe was Jerusalem by Ottolenghi I tried this  recipe and was duly impressed. The reason why it’s not dry (a sin where babka is concerned) is that it has large amounts of sugar syrup poured all over it the moment it comes out of the oven.

Now I like chocolate- any friend of mine will testify to this- however, even for me the chocolate flavour was incredibly strong- infact too much and that’s saying something. I thought that the ‘better chocolate babka’  would indeed be better if it became cinnamon babka. So here’s my adaptation of the recipe with a buttery cinnamon sugar running through out.



4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup  granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
3  eggs
1/2 cup water
3/4 teaspoon  salt
150 g   butter  at room temperature

Cinnamon filling

150g butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 tsp cinnamon


1/3 cup water
6 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar

1. Make the dough

Combine the flour, sugar and yeast in the bottom of a food mixer. Add eggs and 1/2 cup water, mixing with the dough hook until it comes together; if it doesn’t come together at all, add extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a mass. With the mixer on low, add the salt, then the butter, a spoonful at a time, mixing until it’s incorporated into the dough. Then, mix on medium speed for 10 minutes until the dough is completely smooth; you’ll need to scrape the bowl down a few times.

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Coat a large bowl with oil and place the dough inside, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for at least half a day, preferably overnight. Alternatively you can let it rise at room temperature for 2 hours and then put it in the fridge for another hour.

2. Make the filling

Cream together the butter with the sugar and cinnamon

3. Assemble the loaves

Butter two 9-by-4-inch  loaf pans , and line the bottom of each with a rectangle of baking parchment. Take half of dough from fridge (leave the other half chilled). Roll out on a well-floured counter to about a 10-inch width (the side closest to you) and as long in length (away from you) as you can when rolling it thin, (10 to 12 inches)

Spread half of the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Brush the end farthest away from you with water. Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, tight cigar. Seal the dampened end onto the log.  If you put the log onto a lightly floured baking tray in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes it will make it easier to cut- but you can skip this if you want

Gently cut the log in half lenghtwise and lay each piece next to each other, cut sides up. Pinch the top ends gently together. Lift one side over the next, forming a twist and trying to keep the cut sides facing out.  Transfer the twist as best as you can into the prepared loaf pan.

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Cover with cling film and leave to rise another  1 1/2 hours at room temperature. Repeat process with second loaf.

4. Bake your babka

Pre-heat oven to 375°F (190°C).  Place each loaf on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 25 minutes and check if its done using a skewer. If its not quite done you’ll feel a little resistance or see some dough on the skewer. It may need another 5 min and if its looking a little dark., turn the heat down to 170.

While babkas are baking, make the syrup. Bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. As soon as the babkas leave the oven, brush the syrup all over each. This will take a little time to do- there’s quite a lot of syrup- but you wouldn’t want it to be dry would you!

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There is no reason not to start eating it straight away when its still warm- but it’s also great for breakfast lightly toasted.


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And now for some news from the World Bread Awards

Westminster Hall filled with hundreds of fabulous loaves for the World Bread Awards

from @foodtradeHQ

picture from @foodtradeHQ

Some serious judging going on

picture from @dipnaand

picture from @dipnaand

My Highbury Sourdoughs just out of the oven

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Each entrant had to get two of the same loaf to Westminster Cathedral Hall in London by 11am on 17th September.  I made my Highbury Sourdoughs with white, spelt and rye flour, using the Tartine method. I had to get up at 5.30 to get them out of the fridge where they had been fermenting over night. I left them to warm up to room temperature for a couple of hours, then baked one in my oven and the other in my neighbour’s oven. I went off to work and my darling daughter took them in on the tube to central London

A picture of my daughter in San Francisco

Last night was the award ceremony and it was all worth it because I won GOLD in the baked at home category!


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