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chocolate almond babka slices

“Cinnamon takes a back seat to no babka. People love cinnamon. It should be on tables at restaurants along with salt and pepper. Anytime anyone says, “Oh this is so good, what’s in it?” The answer invariably comes back, “Cinnamon.” “Cinnamon.” Again and again. Lesser babka?? I think not.” – Jerry Seinfeld

Just like the Black & White cookie – this babka brings “two races of flavor living together side by side in harmony.” Enter the Elaine-loving chocolate babka, and the Jerry-touting greatness ¬†of the “lesser” cinnamon babka in this explosion of dual-babka heaven! Don’t “go in with a lesser babka” – serve an empirically superior combination of cinnamon and chocolate. A perfect babka for dinner parties, breakfast, or lazy afternoons on the couch at teatime.. ūüôā

Ingredients

Bread:

2 tbsp  instant yeast
3/4th cup lukewarm almond milk
6 tbsp Earth Balance
6 tbsp  sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 TBS plain coconut milk yogurt
3 ¬Ĺ cup ¬†all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
Filling:
1 ¬Ĺ cups coarsely grated chocolate chips
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/4th cup Earth Balance
Directions:
1.  Whisk the yeast into lukewarm almond milk and set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, or the bowl of a KitchenAid, cream together the sugar and Earth Balance until smooth.  Add the yogurt to the bowl in a couple of additions, mixing constantly for 30 seconds between each addition.  Add the vanilla and mix until light and fluffy.

3.  Add 3 C of the flour and salt and continue to mix until it all comes together.

4.  Now mix in the almond milk + yeast mixture and let it mix until it forms a soft dough.  Add in some or all of the remaining 1/2 C flour as needed for a soft, but not not sticky dough.

5.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for another 2-3 minutes. You will have a soft, supple, but not sticky dough.chocolate almond babka

6.  Let this rise for about 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight, making sure to remove it from the fridge two hours before baking.

7.  For the filling: butter and cinnamon together in a bowl.

8.  Once the dough has risen, roll it out into a sheet with a thickness of 1/8th to 1/4thinch. Make sure to keep it dusted well with flour at all times, or else it might stick.

9.  Spread the cinnamon mixture over it, and then spread out the chocolate.

10.  Roll the sheet of dough and then pinch the seams to seal it. Roll it to a length of about 24 inches. Place onto cookie sheet.  Cut the log down the middle lengthwise, making sure to keep the top end attached. Twist over each other to get the braided look.

11.  Let the dough proof for another 1-2 hours.chocolate almond babka

12.  Preheat the oven to 350F and bake for 20-25 minutes.

chocolate almond babka

Happy Baking!

On this day in History: Chocolate Duo Almond Bark

“Look to the cookie, Elaine..look to the cookie.”

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My new favorite egg replacer in baked goods is coconut yogurt! ¬†I’m obsessed with trying it out for all kinds of things. ¬†This kugelhopf recipe turned out great the very first time I tried it. ¬†I just took a non-vegan recipe I found on the web, replaced two eggs with 4 ounces of yogurt and voila! ¬†Light and tasty kugelhopf. ¬†For those of you who’ve never had it before, kugelhopf is a breakfast sweet bread from Austria or Alsace, depending on your nationality. ¬†I did use the “traditional” kugelhopf pan, but really, any 11 cup (or greater) bundt pan will work just as well.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
1 cup almond milk
7 tablespoons Earth Balance, or other vegan margarine
6 tablespoons cane sugar
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces plain coconut (or soy) yogurt
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries or raisins
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange or lemon zest
About 20 whole blanched almonds
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Instructions:

1. ¬†Stir together yeast and water in a small bowl and let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

2.  Heat almond milk with 6 tablespoons Earth Balance and cane sugar over low heat, stirring, until mixture is warm, butter is melted, and sugar is dissolved.

3.  Sift together flour and salt into large mixing bowl. Make a well in flour and add yeast mixture. Add warm almond milk in a slow stream, mixing at low speed with paddle attachment (or with a study wooden spoon, if mixing by hand Рyes, it can be done!). Increase speed to medium and beat in yogurt, then beat in craisins and zest. Continue to beat until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. (Dough will be very sticky.)

4.  Grease kugelhopf mold with remaining tablespoon Earth Balance. Put 1 almond in each depression in bottom of mold (the almonds are only decorative; you can skip them altogether if your mold has no depressions), then scrape spoonfuls of dough evenly into mold (dough will be very elastic). Cover top of mold with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a warm place until it fills pan, about 1.5 Р2 hours (depending on temperature in room Рto speed things up set heat the oven to its lowest setting, then turn heat off, but let dough rise in the warm oven).

5. ¬†Remove pan from oven, if using that to rise it. ¬†Preheat oven to 400¬įF.

6.  Remove towel from kugelhopf and gently peel off plastic wrap. Bake kugelhopf in middle of oven 15 minutes, then loosely cover mold with foil and continue to bake until golden and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes more. Cool in pan 2 minutes, then invert cake onto a rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. Dust with confectioners sugar.

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Whole Wheat Chapati

In India, bread and rice are not eaten at the same meal, it’s an either/or relationship. ¬†If you’ve never tried to eat your curry or dal with just some chapati (aka roti) or naan, believe me, you won’t be disappointed! ¬†I admit, I was a little skeptical at first, since I could not imagine having Indian food without rice, but just having a couple of chapatis makes a light, satisfying meal.

Ingredients:

2 C Whole Wheat Flour

1 tsp salt

1 TBS olive oil

1 C warm water +/- 1/4 C

Instructions:

1.  In medium mixing bowl, combine flour and salt.  Then stir in the olive oil and 3/4 C of the warm water.

2.  Turn out onto a flat surface to kneed the dough.  Kneed a few times.  If there is a lot of flour hanging around, drizzle some of the extra water onto it.  Continue to kneed for a minute or two, adding enough water to create a soft, but not sticky dough.

3.  Cover with a towel and let sit for up to 2 hours, but at least half an hour.

4.  Heat griddle, or cast iron skillet to medium low.

5.  Cut dough into 12 sections and roll each into a ball.

6.  Roll out two pieces of dough, as thin as you can.  Let them rest for a minute.  Then give one piece another turn with your rolling pin to flatten out a little more.  Take that dough and place it bottom side down in the skillet.  Take another ball and roll it out.  Flip the chapati in the skillet (you should see brown freckles on the cooked side).  Give a second rolling to the dough you rolled out at the beginning.  Flip the chapati again (again, once you see some brown freckles), but leave only for 10 seconds or so.  Remove from heat.  Repeat this process of cooking, rolling, flipping, re-rolling, flipping, remove, until all chapatis have been cooked.

Serve with your favorite dal or curry!

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Potato House Rolls

potato rolls1Potato bread? Dinner rolls? …hmm – you no longer have to decide between the two, why not have both?! It’s no secret I love mashed potatoes in my breads, I mean who doesn’t love potato bread? Seriously, I want to know – you may want to consider seeking professional help. This recipe is based on the one in Isa and Terry’s Veganomicon, with minor changes. I did let the dough rest overnight, just to make things easier on me, and they turned out fine (I made them for Christmas day last year – but they are also great for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday). So if you have the time to make them the night before because you won’t have the time on the actual day you need them…they’ll be perfectly fine! This typically makes about 24 rolls, but I didn’t have a muffin tin, so I turned them into one giant pull-apart loaf!

Ingredients:

1.5 C warm water
1 C hemp or oat milk
2 TBSP EB vegan butter
1 (1/4 oz) packet yeast
5-5.5 C AP flour (I used a blend of AP and oat..maybe 50/50, whatever’s on hand)
2 TBSP brown sugar
2.25 tsp salt
1.25 C moist mashed potatoes
olive oil for brushing rolls with

Directions:

1. Combine 1 C of the warm water with the hemp milk in a medium-sized saucepan, then drop in the vegan butter. Heat over medium heat until the butter is melted and the hemp milk mixture has scalded. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to lukewarm.
2. In a measuring cup, mix together remaining 1/2 C of the warm water and the yeast. Set aside for a few minutes until the yeast is foamy.potato rolls2
3. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Using your hands, mix the mashed potatoes into the flour to form a crumbly mixture, as if you were making a pastry dough. Stir in the yeast mixture and the hemp milk mixture to form a soft dough, if the dough is very sticky, add a little flour, a few TBSP at a time, until a firm, potato rolls3smooth dough forms.
4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until elastic (about 8-10 minutes, 5-8 for freaks like me and Jo). Return the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and let rise for 2 hours (or overnight in the fridge), until doubled. When pressed with a finger, the dough should spring back slowly.
5. Preheat the oven to 400¬įF. Meanwhile, grease two 12-cup muffin tin (or line a baking sheet with parchment). Punch down the dough, knead briefly on a floured board, and roll into two thick 14-16-inch ropes. Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to slice the ropes into 72 1-2 inch walnut sized balls (if using the 12-cup muffin tin) or 24 balls (if using the baking sheet).potato rolls4
6. If using the muffin tin, place 3 balls into a muffin cup and brush with glaze. If not, place the 24 balls about 1.5-inches apart (close enough to where they’ll grow into each other) and brush with olive oil. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 25-35 minutes, until rolls have doubled in bulk. *Because I made them in a giant loaf, and therefore already touching, I didn’t let them rest the full time..maybe only about 5-10 minutes.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes (if making the giant loaf, it’ll take about 35-40 minutes), until the tops are shiny and browned. When the rolls are cool enough to touch, transfer from the pans to wire racks to cool completely..or indulge immediately.

potato house rolls

Happy Baking!

On This Day In History: Marinated Chickpea Salad

marinated chickpea salad6

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Bread Making 102 – Flours

Last year on this day, I posted Bread Making 101 in which I discussed some tips to help ease the making of your own bread. And as with every onset of wintertime, I get the urge to start baking up a bread storm..so I thought I’d talk about bread making a little bit more – if that’s alright with you! ūüėČ Let’s recap last years post a bit: You want quality ingredients, sufficient but not excessive kneading force, and an optimal rising environment. Sounds simple enough, right?!

Chickpea chili flatbread3Well, let’s delve a little further into the quality and types of ingredients for the second installment of Bread Making, shall we – specifically flours. I mentioned previously that I started off my bread making experience with King Arthur Flour‘s – at least what I would call the beginning of my ‘delicious’ bread making experience (sub par flours result in sub par breads). I also stated that since my switch to organics, I liked Bob’s Red Mill. In the 101 comment section, I was graciously informed by PJ Hamel, a baker with KAF, that they do in fact have a line of organic flours (thank you PJ)! Since then, I’ve been back on the KAF bandwagon! I don’t know if they do a special magical dance as part of their quality control for each bag of flour as it goes out, or what..but of all the breads I’ve made in the last decade, the ones I use KAF are always the BEST! Don’t get me wrong, I still like BRM..but nothing beats KAF in my book!

Okay, enough about flour brands..what about flour types? Obviously bread flour is a great option when making breads (I also like it because it can withstand mechanical kneading, and freakishly strong kneading like I have).  However, what I have found Рof course, this depends on the type of bread your making Рis that bread flour will result in a denser (as opposed to airy) texture. Sometimes that is exactly what you want, such as with sandwich breads or pizza doughs. Other times, you want a flaky and lighter texture..say, with things such as dinner rolls. This is when I would recommend using some all purpose flour in place of some of the bread flour (if only BF is called for). Then there are times when you want all the flaky with all the rise assistance, with things like Super Soft and Delicious Cinnamon Rolls. This is when I like to sub in a little bread flour in place of some of the all purpose. The higher protein content of bread flour is what assists the rising of a dough Рwhich is something to consider if you tend to have issues with your doughs not rising properly.

KAF White Whole WheatWhite Whole Wheat flour – I love KAF 100% organic White Whole Wheat. I like it better than the non-organic equivalent, both flavor-wise and resulting bread consistency-wise. I don’t know why there is a difference between the two, at least in my hands..but I find the flavor of the organic to be less intrusive (wheaty) than the non-organic. Let’s just say that I can get away with using the organic in a cookie and nobody suspects it’s wheat, whereas with the non-organic there is a wheaty taste to the cookie (and you have the mental block of ‘healthy = not good tasting’). For kneading purposes, I find that the wheat flours tend to be tougher when it comes to kneading. You get the nutritional benefits of whole wheat, with a lighter wheat flavor – if that’s what you’re in to ūüėČ

Lastly, the ever present All Purpose flour. It is exactly as it’s name implies – all purpose. It’s good for kneaded breads, as well as light baked goods like cakes and brownies. It has an optimal gluten-producing protein – enough to assist in the rising of a dough but not so much that it would turn lighter items like cookies or cakes into dense throwing weapons.

My personal philosophy is that if you’re taking the time to make your own bread, you may as well not skimp on ingredients! And the MOST crucial ingredient is the flour…

anadama 9

Happy Baking!

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Anadama Bread

anadama 8This bread (adapted from The Bread Bakers Apprentice) takes 2 days to make, but on the first day you only put forth about 5 minutes of effort. Then, on the day of baking, from start to finish, you‚Äôre looking about about 3-4 hours. I like to either set up the soaker on a Friday or Saturday night, then bake on a day like Saturday or Sunday when I‚Äôll have several hours available where I don‚Äôt have to be somewhere else. This recipe makes two 1.5 lb loaves, or three 1 lb loaves, or 4 mini loaves. The molasses taste isn’t too prominent, so if you have an aversion (this means you Nik), this bread could give you all the goodness of molasses without having to deal with the taste.

Ingredients:

soaker
1 C cornmeal
1 C water, at room temperature

dough
2.5 C unbleached bread flour
2 C white whole wheat flour
2 tsp instant yeast
1 C warm water
1.5 tsp salt
6 TBSP molasses
2 TBSP Earth Balance vegan butter, room temperature
cornmeal for dusting *optional

Directions:

1. Make the Soaker: The day before making the bread, make the soaker: Mix the cornmeal and water in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature overnight.

anadama soaker
2. Make the Bread: The next day stir together 1 C of the bread flour, 1 C white whole wheat, yeast, soaker, and water in a mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and ferment 1 hour, or until the sponge begins to bubble.anadama 2anadama 3

3. Add the remaining 2.5 cups of flour, salt, molasses, and butter and stir (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients form a ball. Add water if necessary to make a soft, slightly sticky mass.

anadama 4anadama 5
4. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook), sprinkling in more flour as needed to make a tacky, but not sticky, dough. The dough should be firm but supple and pliable and definitely not sticky. It will take about 10 minutes of kneading to accomplish this (or 6 to 8 minutes in the electric mixer). The dough should pass the windowpane test and register about 77¬į to 81¬įF.

anadama 6
5. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it waround to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment the dough at room temperature for about 60-90 minutes, or until it doubles in size.
6. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 2 equal pieces of 24 ounces, 3 pieces of about 16 ounces, or 4 equal pieces for mini-loaves. Shape the dough into loaves and place them into bread pans that have been lightly oiled or misted with spray oil (the larger loaves should go into 9X5-iunch pans, the smaller loaves into 8.5X4.5-inch pans, and the mini’s in a mini-loaf pan, obviously). Mist the tops of the loaves with spray oil (or brush lightly) and loosely cover the tops with plastic wrap.

anadama 7
7. Proof at room temp for 60-90 minutes, or until the loaves crest above the tops of the pans. (If you want to hold back any of the loaves, place them in the fridge without proofing, where they will hold for up to 2 days. Remove them from the fridge about 4 hours before baking and proof them at room temperature, or until ready.)
8. Preheat the oven to 350¬įF with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Remove the plastic wrap. Mist the tops with a spray of water and dust with cornmeal (if dusting).
9. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes, and then rotate for even baking. After rotating, bake an additional 20-30 minutes for the larger loaves, or an additional 10-15 for the mini loaves. To know if they are properly cooked through, when you pop them out of the loaf pans, thump the bottom – if you hear a hollow sound, then they are cooked thoroughly.
10. When the loaves are done, remove them immediately from the pans and cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing…ideally you want to wait 1 hour before slicing, but I’ve never been able to resist the smell of fresh baked bread that long.

anadama 9

Happy Baking!

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