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Waiter, There’s Something in My… Bread! April 25, 2007

Posted by Sarah in Baking.

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Last year at Christmas, my dad gave me a copy of the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. At the time, I wasn’t that excited because I wasn’t really a Martha fan (not that I was a hater either…), but I was always happy to get another cookbook, of course. I didn’t delve into it right away, like I do with other cookbooks. However, several months ago, it called to me. And I have enjoyed several recipes out of it since. When I saw her Chocolate Babkas, I knew I had to make it for my first “Waiter, There’s Something In My…” event. It looked so delicious.

I started making the bread on Sunday. It was the perfect day for bread-making because it was pouring down rain all day (much like it is right now…) It took quite awhile to make the bread, partly because I was taking my sweet time and partly because it took me awhile to grind up all the chocolate and get some of the ingredients to room temperature.

The other great thing about this recipe is that it makes 3 big loaves of bread. So, I baked one and froze the other two. The pictures do not even begin to describe how awesome this bread tasted. It was a very excellent sweet bread! Before I made this, I didn’t even know Babkas existed. Upon further research, I found that Babkas have Jewish and Russian roots. I’m not sure which Martha’s version takes after, but I do know that it tastes excellent!

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Chocolate Babkas

Adapted from Martha Stewart Baking Handbook

Bread Ingredients

1 1/2 cups warm milk (110 degrees)

2 envelopes (.25 oz each) rapid rise dry yeast

1 3/4 cups superfine sugar, divided (you can use regular, too)

3 whole eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, room temperature

6 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 lbs. bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped (you could use semi-sweet)

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon heavy cream

Streusel Ingredients

1 2/3 cups powdered sugar

1 1/3 cups flour

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature


In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast and a pinch of sugar over the warm milk; stir until dissolved. Let stand until foamy (5 min.) In a medium bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs and the yolks. Add the yeast mixture and whisk.

In an electric mixer, combine the flour and salt. Add the egg mixture and beat on low speed with the paddle attachment until it is almost completely mixed together (30 sec.) Switch to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks of butter and beat until completely mixed in and a soft, sticky dough forms, 10 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a flour surface and knead a little bit. Place in a well greased bowl (Martha recommends using butter) and flip to coat all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk (45 min. – 1 hr.)

While the dough rises:

In a bowl, stir together finely chopped chocolate, 1 cup superfine sugar, and the cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in the remaining 1 1/2 sticks of butter until combined.

Also, make the streusel topping. Combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until there are coarse crumbs.

Generously butter/grease three 9 x 5 x 2 3/4-inch loaf pans. (Martha recommends putting parchment in the bottom so it hangs over the sides to make it easier to get out. This is a good idea. I didn’t do it because I didn’t have parchment. My bread still came out okay…)

When the dough is done with the first rise:

Punch down the dough and put on a floured surface. Let rest 5 minutes. While waiting, beat the cream and remaining egg together.

Cut the dough into three equal pieces. Roll a piece into a 16-inch square (1/8 inch thick). Brush the edges with the egg wash. Evenly distribute 1/3 of the chocolate filling over the dough, leaving a 1/2 border on all sides. Roll the dough up tightly, jelly roll style. Then, twist the dough-log five or six times. Put the log into a horseshoe shape. Brush the top with egg wash. Crumble 2 tablespoons of chocolate filling on top of the dough and gently press into the top. Cross the right half over the left to make a figure 8; press the edges to seal. Twist the figure 8 two more times and put in the pan. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Sprinkle 1/3 of the streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover with plastic and set in a warm place to rise, about 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the loaves, rotating halfway through, about 55 minutes. Reduce the over to 325 degrees. Bake 20-30 minutes longer until they are a deep golden brown. Avoid under-baking the loaves or the center will not set up correctly. If the top browns too quickly, tent the loaves with foil.

Transfer the pans to wire racks to cool completely. These can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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Spicy Ginger Chicken and Vegetables April 6, 2007

Posted by Sarah in Dinner.

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On Tuesday, I was having a hankering for homemade Chinese food. I tweaked a New Best Recipe recipe and came up with this tasty meal. The heat ingredients are the ginger and the chili garlic sauce. I’m kind of a wuss about spices, but my husband (who likes super, super hot spiciness) agreed that it was okay in the spicy department. He thought it could use another hit of chili-garlic sauce, but it was of tolerable spiciness for me. So, adjust the garlic-chili sauce and ginger to your liking.

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Spicy Ginger Chicken and Vegetables


Adapted from the New Best Recipe

Place 1 lb. of boneless skinless chicken breast in the freezer for 20 minutes to make it easier to thinly slice. While the chicken is in the freezer prepare the marinade.


1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup dry vermouth or sherry

1 cup water

2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil (optional, I didn’t have any so I left this out and it was excellent)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

Combine soy sauce, vermouth or sherry, and water in a medium bowl. Mix the cornstarch, flour and sesame oil in another bowl.

Slice the chicken into 1/4” slices. Place in the bowl with the marinade. Let marinade for 20 minutes to 1 hour. While the chicken is marinading, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

1/4 low sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons dry vermouth or sherry

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon sugar

2-3 teaspoons garlic-chili sauce

3/4″ – 1″ of ginger, grated (about 4 teaspoons?)

peanut or vegetable oil

1 green pepper, chopped

about 1 cup sliced carrots

1 medium onion, sliced thickly

1 cup frozen (or fresh) peas

(or substitute any vegetables you like; I was going to add cabbage but it had gone bad…)

Whisk the chicken broth, vermouth or sherry, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, garlic-chili sauce, ginger, sugar and corn starch in a pourable measuring cup or bowl.

When all ingredients are chopped and ready to go, drain the chicken and place it in the cornstarch-flour mixture. Stir (or mix with your hands) to coat the chicken thoroughly.

Place a wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat until smoking. Add 1/2 the chicken in as flat a layer as you can. Cook, without stirring (I know it sounds weird), but separating the pieces gently, for about 1 minute. Stir to turn them over and brown them on the other side. Transfer to a clean plate/bowl. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok and heat until just smoking. Add the peppers, onions and carrots. Stir-fry until they begin to brown and soften a bit, about 1 minute. Place the chicken back in the wok and add the sauce mixture. Stir fry to combine and finish heating the chicken through. Cook until the sauce is thickened and coats the ingredients well. The vegetables should be tender-crisp and the chicken should not be pink. Add the peas and stir. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

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