Just a couple months ago, my husband and I decided to do something very ‘Millennial’: we cut our cable. After years of spending a ton of money watching a handful of TV networks, we finally wisened up about the whole affair. And for years we watched perhaps a few favorite networks and programs regularly – nowhere near the 500+ channels available. It was a waste, or better yet, a thief of money, time and brain power.
The irony is that my 9 – 5 6 profession is in advertising, meaning that television, programming and tv adverts are all a part of my field, and I certainly need to have a continuous knowledge and familiarity with them in some form.
And yet, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve also discovered the incredible calm and gentle peace that fills our home without having constant nonsense, talking heads, terrible news, glib reality tv characters or any other general mindless annoying noise always audible in the background. You see, to give my thoughts more room and quiet for them to grow and develop, to allow so much more space to laugh, communicate with my better half and hear his thoughts, to help ease the chaos and anxiety that naturally builds up in me from a day’s work or from any personal struggle I may be facing – recapturing that room, that time, that space is like nothing I’ve ever held.
It truly is priceless. And it’s about time we took it back from the thief who stole it for far too long.
This is not to say that we don’t watch TV at all – we actually kept our streaming services through Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, and we added live streaming through Hulu which actually allows us to watch a slew of programming live just like cable or satellite. We also have a trusty tv antenna – you could call it the 21st century digital rabbit ears! It works great and keeps us aware of local news and happenings, which as you can imagine in the Northeast, is imperative for the volatile weather alone. And it’s not to say we don’t enjoy binging a few great shows now and then, or watching our absolute favorite show everyday, Jeopardy (yes, you read that right).
We are now, however, so much more selective about what is invited into our home through the stupid TV than ever before. And we LOOOOOOVE the new quiet in our house. We can hear our own thoughts, we enjoy more time to meditate and it helps to truly slow down the days a bit.
And for the times when the thoughts in our heads get a little too loud among the deafening quiet of the house, we found ourselves a little turntable and some fantastic albums to help bring back the balance and harmony. While I worked away from home for a couple days, we played some Ella Fitzgerald jazz and some Erik Satie classical, and cozily enjoyed the weather and the days indoors.
What I din’t mention earlier is that with Hulu’s streaming service, we get to watch all of the Seinfeld we can take. And let me tell ya – we can take a whole lot of Seinfeld! And after being inspired recently by a few gorgeous babka’s on my IG feed (check out Erin Clarkson @cloudykitchen for the same babka inspo), I knew it was high time for some babka baking.
I first had babka in Los Angeles – unless you live near a Jewish bakery or neighborhood, you may not know about babka or have ever tasted its divine flavor. But I’m here to tell you that everyone on this good earth should enjoy some babka at some point in their lives.
So after my experiments with it, here’s my own adapted recipe for Chocolate Spiced Babka. It’s rich, decadent yet light, and you’ll be tempted to eat the whole loaf in one fell swoop if you aren’t careful.
Just don’t say I didn’t warn you. And you’re welcome!
Chocolate Spiced Babka
– ½ c whole milk
– 2¼ tsps dry active yeast (1 package)
– ¼ c granulated sugar
– 1 large egg
– 1 large egg yolk
– ½ tsp salt
– 2 c AP flour, plus extra
– 6 TB unsalted butter, softened and cubed in 1/2 inch pieces
– ½ c semi-sweet chocolate (either chips or chopped baking chocolate)
– 6 TB unsalted butter
– ¼ c powdered sugar
– ¼ c unsweetened dutch processed cocoa
– 2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1 tsp salt
1. In a small saucepan over low heat and using a candy thermometer, warm the milk to 115° F. Remove from heat, and whisk in the yeast to the milk. Let the yeast develop in the milk for 10 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, egg and egg yolk together until creamy. Add in the milk mixture and whisk together until well combined.
3. In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed, mix together salt and flour for one minute. Switch the paddle attachment to the hook attachment. Turn mixer on to low speed, and slowly add the egg mixture into flour and mix for one minute. Add the 6 TB cubed butter, increase mixer speed to medium-low, and continue to mix until the dough is smooth and elastic and pulling away from the sides of the bowl, for about 8-10 minutes.
4. Lightly flour a clean surface. Place the dough from the mixing bowl onto the floured surface. Lightly knead the dough for about 15-20 seconds, just to form a smooth round ball. Grease a large bowl with cooking spray or canola oil, and place the dough in the bowl, turning it over a few times in the bowl to fully coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place it in a draft-free area in your kitchen, preferably at around 73° F. Let the dough rest and rise to double in size for about 1.5-2 hours. After dough has risen, chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
5. In a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips and butter over medium-low heat, stirring continuously until the chocolate is melted and butter is fully blended. Remove from heat, and whisk in powdered sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and salt until smooth and well combined. Let mixture cool for about 10-15 minutes.
6. Spray a 9″x5″ loaf pan with cooking spray, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Lightly flour a 20″x14″ clean surface area.
7. Punch down the risen and chilled dough just once in the bowl, then remove it from bowl and place it on floured surface. Roll the dough out to a 16″x12″ size with the long side facing you. Using an offset spatula or a silicon spatula, spread the filling evenly across the dough, leaving a one-inch border on the long sides of the dough.
8. Slowly roll the dough up away from you tightly, and press the edges to seal the dough. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll in half lengthwise, opening the two pieces striped-side up. Gently begin twisting the two dough pieces around each other, and place the dough into the prepared loaf pan, striped-sides up. Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise for another hour.
9. Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake for 30 minutes. Cover the loaf pan with aluminum foil, rotate the pan from its previous position in the oven, and continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes, until the top crust is golden.
10. Remove from oven and let babka rest in loaf pan on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes. Remove babka from loaf pan by inverting it onto rack and gently sliding loaf out of pan. Use a butter knife to help loose the loaf from sides of loaf pan.