Thursday, February 23, 2012

An Announcement

I have a secret.

Okay... so it's not really a secret.

I'M ENGAGED!!!!! (I am yelling this.  YELLING.)

Oh... and I'm watching Toddlers & Tiaras.  I can't help it.  The fiancee and I just love it.  Ohmagawd I just typed FIANCEE.  Geeking out now.

I'll spare you the cheesy, mushy details.  Just know that I'm psyched.  PSYCHED.

Let's talk about bread before I blow a gasket, shall we?

This bread has essential ingredients for goodness: citrus, spice, vanilla and chocolate.  Ooooooo chocolate...

This bread was a huge lesson in planning ahead (something, as I'm sure you can remember me saying before, it's something I do not excel at).  Not only should you begin this the day before... you should begin this the morning before.  Yeah.  For realz.

Or not.  But you'll spend all of your wee hours in the morning feeling cracked out and looking to play with the cat.  Who is NOT looking to play with you.

You make a yeast dough (as you do) in the usual way, and you let it rise overnight (or for a few hours).  Punch it down and let it rise again, shaping it into a stretchy rectangle.  AND THEN YOU COVER IT WITH GOODNESS.

It's filled with almond paste and chocolate.  It's rolled, twisted, folded and stretched.  I love it.  I love watching it evolve.  Also, I love my girlfr-FIANCEE.  OMGOMGOMG.


It's chocolate bread.  It's chocolate FOR BREAKFAST bread.  Do you see what I'm saying here?  We're eating chocolate in the morning.  This is great news for our inner children.

Do you see that?  The cracked topping?  The stretchy dough?  Oh my goodness, kids.  You have GOT to try this bread.  Did I mention I am going to marry Cori?  Because I am.  True story.  Look out for US.

Have it with coffee.  Have it with tea.  Either way, make sure you let it cool... let's plan for making cutting this bread easier on ourselves by letting it settle down.  The smell will be unbearable, I know.  Just... easy does it.

I encourage you to make this.  Plan ahead for it.  Plan for your future bread/wife/husband/child/pet rat.  Plan for it, but also look forward to the surprises that are sure to come along the way.

Chocolate Almond Babka Bread
Adapted from The Food Network Magazine

The Dough:
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (about 1/2 a packet)
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg yolk plus 1 whole egg
1 3/4 cups bread flour (plus more for dusting)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for brushing the pan

The Filling:
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
6oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

The Topping:
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the dough, mix the yeast a two tablespoons warm water (about 105 degrees) in a bowl.  Let sit for 5 minutes and is foamy (no foam = no use;  toss it and start over).  Put into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and add the milk, sour cream, egg yolk, and 1/2 cup of flour.  Beat at medium speed until combined.  Slowly add in the remaining 1 1/4 cup flour until combined, creating a sticky/wettish dough (approx 4 minutes).  Bringing up the speed to med-high, add the whole egg, sugar, salt and vanilla.  Beat until creamy; about 4-5 minutes.  Add 1 tablespoon at a time of the butter, beating well until incorporated.  The dough should be a wet and sticky blob.  Blobs are good.

Brush a large bowl with butter.  Place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Set in a warm place and let rise for 1 1/2 hours, when it has almost doubled in size.  Stir the dough with a rubber spatula to punch it down, recover it, and place in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 3 hours).

When the dough has rise, generously dust a large sheet of parchment paper with flour and turn out the dough onto it.  Pat the dough into a small square shape, then roll it into a 11"x15" rectangle.  Slide the dough and the parchment paper onto a large, rimless cookie sheet; brush off the excess flour with a pastry brush.  Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel; let rise 1-2 hours.

While the dough chills, make the filling.  In a food processor, pulse the almonds and sugar until fine. Add the butter, egg, vanilla and orange zest and pulse until smooth.  Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Also, make the streusel topping.   Mash the powdered sugar, flour, and butter in a bowl with a fork until crumbly.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Butter an 8 1/2"x4 1/2" loaf pan.  Spread the almond filling over the dough, leaving a 1 inch boarder around the entire edge.  Cover all of the almond filling with the chopped chocolate.  Beginning at a short side of the rectangle, use the parchment to help tightly roll the dough into a tube, brushing off excess flour as you go.  Pinch the ends of the tube to close.  Twist the dough several times, then fold in half, and twist again.  Place into the prepared loaf pan.  Cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm area to get puffed up for about 2 hours.

*preheat the oven to 350 degrees; place rack in middle section of the oven)

Brush the loaf with the beaten egg, then sprinkle all of the streusel topping over it (it will look like a snowy mountain).  Bake for 1 hour (or 1 hour and 10 minutes), when the dough springs back when you poke at it.  Loosen with a butter knife but let it cool for 1 hour in the pan on a rack.  Turn out onto the rack to finish cooling.  Slice and serve to loved ones.

Fortune cookie message, hours after the proposal.