So I'm scanning around looking for a great recipe to feature as this week's Recipe of the Week. And I stumble across a recipe on TastingTable.com. It's written by a guy with the last name of Cohen (like me) who starts his article with a Seinfeld reference (like me) and who is sharing a wonderful Fall recipe. Bingo! So, how could I NOT make TastingTable.com's recipe for Pumpkin Spice Babka this week's Recipe of the Week. Done!
And I guess for those that don't really know what a babka is, here's a good description from the website:
"For the unfamiliar, babka is a Jewish Eastern European bread made of a yeast dough that gets filled with ingredients like chocolate or cinnamon, rolled up, twisted and baked in a loaf pan. The sweet bread is known for its soft, brioche-like texture and distinct swirls of filling throughout." Chocolate and cinnamon are the most common flavors you'll see.
Now, about that recipe...
The recipe makes two loaves (gotta like that!). But I won't kid you, it involves an investment of time - about 3-3 1/2 hours or so (including rising and proofing). But it will be time so well spent! You wanna talk Autumn? This recipe includes pumpkin purée, brown sugar, cinnamon, and ground ginger, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. Can you smell it yet?
You make the dough first. Combine warmed milk, yeast and a teaspoon of sugar. Let it sit until it begins to foam, about 10 minutes. While that's foaming away, in a separate medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cinnamon. Add the remaining granulated sugar, the brown sugar and 3 eggs to that foamy yeast mixture. Whisk it together. Next you stir in the flour (slowly) until a dough forms. When you have a dough, transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead in the softened butter (with your hands), just a little at a time. A nice smooth dough will form. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. That will take about an hour.
Now turn your attention to the filling - which is super-easy. Just mix together all the filling ingredients - pumpkin purée, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg.
Once your dough is finished rising, it's time to put it all together. Preheat the oven to 350° and grease two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. Divide the dough into 2 balls. On a lightly floured surface, take one ball of the dough and roll it into a 14-inch square (about ⅛" thick). Spread half your filling over the whole thing (leaving about an inch margin at the top). Roll the dough up tightly starting with the side nearest you.
Now comes perhaps the only tricky part. You cut the roll lengthwise leaving about a 1/2" part connected at the end. So you stop 1/2" short of cutting all the way to the end. You should have two long halves that are connected at one end. Now twist the two parts (strands) together. Pinch the two parts together at the open end to seal it and then lay it in one of the prepared pans. Now, do the same thing with the second ball of dough.
Once you dough is in the two pans, cover them both (loosely) with plastic wrap and place them in a warm area. Leave them for about 45 minutes. They will expand to fill the two pans. This is called "proofing". Proofing is the final rise dough goes through just before baking.
Before baking, you beat the last egg in a small bowl and brush it onto each babka. Then it's into the oven to bake for 40-45 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through to ensure even baking. It is done when they are a golden brown and cooked through. Then just remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for a bit before removing from the pans, slicing, and serving.
As you know, in this space I like to share a little about the blogs and websites where I find these recipes. After all, these are sites I love - and, heck, it is THEIR work. I think these sites are definitely worth adding to your regular reading list - and TastingTable.com is no different. It's a website and a newsletter for people who love their food. They share recipes (of course), dining advice, and a bunch of great tips to make your cooking easier and better. Be sure to check them out!
RECIPES OF THE WEEK.
And be sure to visit the great blogs I mention. You'll be happy you did!