Tuesday, March 1, 2016

RECIPE // Blood Orange Espresso Babka


About a year ago, Robbie and I decided to get rid of all TV except for basic cable. We had flipped through hundreds of channels without finding anything to watch, and realized that this scenario was occurring too frequently. It was so nice to go from watching TV every day to only watching it occasionally. Since then we have relapsed once, but during this cable-less period I discovered two of my favorite shows. The first was A Chef's Life, a PBS docuseries about a Southern-born, New York chef who returns home to open a farm-to-table restaurant. The second was The Great British Baking Show.


In the UK the show has been on for six seasons, but PBS has only aired the last two seasons. If anyone knows where I can watch the previous four, I would be forever indebted to you. The show is a baking competition, but it is the farthest thing from cooking competition shows in the US. Twelve bakers leave for the idyllic English countryside to leisurely cook. The cut throat attitude you're used to is gone; the bakers spend almost as much time helping each other as they do baking their own pastries. To make it even more relaxed, the bakers are get to practice and perfect their recipes during the week leading up to each episode. This show is the most relaxing thing to watch on TV.


On one episode the bakers were tasked with baking a pastry similar to babka. I've always wanted to make babka because its a close relative to my favorite bread, brioche. You basically roll out brioche dough super thin, cover it in a chocolate filling, roll it up, twist it into a loaf, and bake! Procrastination got the better of me though, and it was pushed to the back of my mind. Some time later I was watching PBS again, when Martha Stewart came on to bake, of course, babka. It seemed like a divine message brought to me by the Public Broadcasting gods. I couldn't ignore it. So if you have also seen that episode of the Great British Baking Show, and that Martha Stewart special, don't ignore this third message to bake babka.


Blood Orange Espresso Babka

For the dough:

1 package of yeast
1/3 c of milk, room temperature
3 tbsp + 1/2 tsp of sugar
zest of 2 blood oranges
4 large eggs
2 3/4 c of flour
2 tsp salt
1 c + 4 tbsp unsalted grassfed butter, softened and cubed

For the filling:
8 oz of bittersweet chocolate
1 c unsalted grassfed butter, softened
3 tbsp of instant espresso powder
1/4 c of 100% dark cocoa powder
1/4 c of sugar

For assembly:
Unsalted grassfed butter
1 egg
2 tbsp of cream

For the glaze:
Juice of one blood orange
3 tbsp of sugar

Begin the dough by mixing the yeast, milk, and 1/2 tsp of sugar in a bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes, or until the yeast begins to bubble.

In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine the milk mixture with the remaining sugar, blood orange zest, eggs, flour, and salt. Mix on low speed for 5 minutes. Slowly add the butter, while increasing the speed to medium. Once all of the butter is incorporated, continue to mix for 10-15 minutes, or until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Move the dough to a floured bowl and cover with linen or plastic wrap, and let rise for 2 1/2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

While the dough rises, make the filling. Chop the bittersweet chocolate as finely as possible. Crumble all of the ingredients for the filling together. The smaller the pieces are, the easier it will be later. Divide the filling in half.

Once the dough has finished rising, punch it down and divide it in half. Take one half of the dough and begin to roll it out on a floured surface. Continue to roll it thinner into a 14x18 inch sheet. Take one half of the filling and spread it evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch gap on all sides. Starting at a short end, roll the dough onto itself, until you have a 14 inch long roll. Wrap in parchment paper and put it into the freezer for 20 minutes. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough and filling.

Grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans with butter and line each pan with two strips on parchment paper going lengthwise and widthwise. This will make removing the loaves so easy. Take the two rolls out of the freezer and uncover. Trim a half inch of dough from each end of both rolls. Cut each roll in half, lengthwise. Take two halves of one roll and begin to place them in a loaf pan. Starting at one end, twist the loaves around each other until both halves fit snugly into the pan. Repeat this process with the other two halves. Cover the loaves with linen or plastic wrap and put them into the refrigerator. Allow them to rise overnight.

The next day, remove the loaves from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk an egg with 2 tbsp of cream, and brush over both loaves. Bake the loaves for 30-35 minutes or until they have reached a deep golden brown color.

While the babka bakes, start the glaze. Stir the blood orange juice and sugar in a saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once it has reached a boil, remove the glaze from the heat. Remove the babka from the oven and transfer to a wire cooling rack. Immediately brush the babka with your blood orange glaze and allow to cool.