Saturday, December 16, 2017

Champagne-soaked Babas

December brings festive times and a festive bread.  Lien, our kitchen of the month, (Notitie van Lien), challenged the Babes to create a Champagne-soaked Baba.  This is a delicious and easy bread to make, so there are no excuses not to bake along!

This is similar to a batter bread, which I have made many times.  I purchased small panettone papers from King Arthur Flour, and they were perfect for this bread, making 6 small babas.  They don't need a special baking pan.  I placed mine on a sheet pan, which worked fine, but next time I would be sure to allow sufficient space between them.  I didn't want to deflate the dough by moving them, but I did notice that the bread was browned nicely on the non-touching sides.

I bought a huge bottle of champagne for the syrup.  Now, I have to figure out what to do with the remainder.  I also had leftover syrup, but I did use that each time I treated myself to a baba, by splitting the bun in two and drizzling the syrup over the cut sides.  Pretty tasty.

Finally, I opted to cover the tops with a simple sugar glaze.  I couldn't find apricot jam in the pantry, although I did locate a jar of apricot-mustard jam from Germany.  Didn't think the mustard would be a favorite flavor profile on a sweet bun, but I could be wrong.

As I mentioned earlier, this is an easy bread to bake.  Definitely use the syrup as it keeps the bread nice and moist.  You can substitute other liquids for the champagne.

We hope you decide to bake along with us this month.  Send your results to Lien by December 29 to be included in the Buddy Roundup.

Champagne Baba

(1 large or 12 small baba’s)


100 g water

1 tsp instant dry yeast

1 TBsp sugar

100 g bread flour


180 g bread flour

½ tsp fine salt

¼ tsp instant dry yeast

1,5 tsp vanilla sugar

3 large eggs

90 g melted butter

soaking syrup:
150 g sugar

177 g water

120 g champagne (or Asti Spumante or fruitjuice)

200 g apricot jam (or use a sugar glaze)

Mix all the ingredients for the sponge together in a large bowl (the one you’ll be kneading the dough in). Now sprinkle 180 g bread flour over the sponge, so it is covered and leave to rest for about 1 hour.

Now add the salt, ¼ tsp dry yeast, vanilla sugar and eggs. Start to mix this. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment. When it comes together after a few minutes, add the melted (and slightly cooled) butter and keep working it. The dough is a bit batter-like, but be sure to get some gluten developed.

Place it in the molds. You can use a loaf tin or a round baking form (I used a paper Panettone mold (Ø13,4 x H 9,5 cm), filled about half way up. Cover with plastic and leave to rise until 2-3 cm under the rim of the mold.

In the meantime don’t forget to preheat the oven to 180ºC (350-360ºF).

Bake for about 45-55 minutes, until golden brown on top. If the bread gets too dark too soon, protect the top with a sheet of tin foil. Check the temperature in the bread with a thermometer, it should be about 93ºC. Take out of the oven and the tin and place on a deep dish. Poke the bread with a long wooden skewer from top to bottom. Brush the syrup all over it, and get as much as possible inside the bread, so take your time. Collect the syrup from the plate and keep pouring and brushing it, until all in absorbed in the bread.
Now heat the apricot jam in a small pan and let it boil, add a little water if it is too thick. Brush or pour it over the top. You can also opt for a simple sugar glaze. This topping keeps the moisture in.

The baba is best eaten on the day that it’s baked. But if not, keep in the fridge.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Easy English Muffins

Over the years, I've tried quite a few recipes for English Muffins.  This month, Babe Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms, offered up yet another version, and it is pretty easy to do.  The only caveat is that you have to think ahead by about 24 hours, but that's hardly a problem.

These muffins don't require kneading; they don't need to be rolled out; and they don't need special rings.  When it's time to form them, you just drop large dollops of dough onto a baking sheet that's been sprinkled with corn meal.  I didn't find it necessary to use a lot of corn meal, and didn't have any problems with sticking.  It was just enough to add that traditional crunch on the outside.

Like pancakes, the muffins are cooked on a griddle or in a large frying pan.

When ready, just split them open by using a fork, which helps create that great bumpy texture.  Then, they are ready for toasting.   Butter and jam?  Yum!  Mini pizzas? Yes.  Eggs benedict?  Definitely.  So many uses!  There's no excuse for not giving these a try.

English Muffins

adapted from Serious Eats, Stella Parks


Makes twelve 3 1/2-inch muffins

ACTIVE TIME:  20 minutes  
TOTAL TIME:16 to 30 hours

·         10 ounces bread flour (2 cups; 285g)
·         5 ounces whole wheat flour (1 cup; 140g) (makes a more tender interior)
·         2 3/4 teaspoons (11g) kosher salt; for table salt, use the same weight or half as  much by volume
·         1 1/4 teaspoons (4g) instant dry yeast (not rapid-rise)
·         12 ounces cold milk (1 1/2 cups; 340g), any percentage will do (helps create nooks and crannies)
·         3 1/2 ounces honey (1/4 cup; 100g)
·         1 large egg white, cold
·         5 ounces fine cornmeal (1 cup; 145g), for dusting - don't skip this
·         Roughly 1 ounce bacon fat, unsalted butter, or oil (2 tablespoons; 30g), for the griddle


      Make the Dough and First Rise: In a large bowl, mix bread flour, whole wheat flour, kosher salt, and yeast together until well combined. Add milk, honey, and egg white, stirring with a flexible spatula until smooth, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic and set aside until spongy, light, and more than doubled, 4 to 5 hours at 70°F. (The timing is flexible depending on your schedule.)

.   Second Rise: Thickly cover a rimmed aluminum baking sheet with an even layer of cornmeal. With a large spoon, dollop out twelve 2 2/3-ounce (75g) portions of dough; it's perfectly fine to do this by eye. If you'd like, pinch the irregular blobs here and there to tidy their shape. Sprinkle with additional cornmeal, cover with plastic, and refrigerate at least 12 and up to 42 hours.  

    Cook on the Griddle and Serve: Preheat an electric griddle to 325°F or warm a 12-inch cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. When sizzling-hot, add half the butter and melt; cook muffins until their bottoms are golden brown, about 8 minutes. Flip with a square-end spatula and cook the other side. Transfer to a wire rack until cool enough to handle, then split the muffins by inserting a fork around the edges to pull them open a little at a time. Toast before serving and store any leftovers in an airtight container up to 1 week at room temperature (or 1 month in the fridge).  Can also be frozen.

The Bread Baking Babes get together each month to make a bread chosen by one of us. The Babes who baked along are: