Category Archives: How to Videos

Useful Tips When Baking My Chocolate Babka

I recently created a YouTube video on how to make the most scrumptious Chocolate Babka ever! Babkas are rich, sweet, European-style yeast breads filled with anything from cinnamon and sugar to nuts and jams and my favorite flavor– the Chocolate Babka full of chocolate bits, cocoa and brown sugar.

Now many people may say, “Oh, pleeze, it’s too much effort to making a Babka”. To the naysayers I say, you are mistaken. The small amount of effort needed is so well worth it that I guarantee you’ll be baking Babka before you know it. A little alliteration never hurt anyone either!

The yeast dough is quite easy to put together, especially since instant yeast is used. Instant yeast can be combined right in with the dry ingredients. No more proofing the yeast with warm water and waiting to see if it’s alive. I use instant yeast, also, known as fast-rising yeast, for all of my yeast breads.

The addition of rich ingredients such as: whole milk, butter and egg yolks makes the dough feel silky and satiny. This dough definitely feels different than a pizza dough. It is important to remember that rich yeast dough will not rise as high because the fat-based ingredients actually shorten the gluten strands within the dough which will create a more tender baked good. Enough baking science.

After the dough has risen, it is cut in half. Be sure that you don’t just rip it with your hands. Take a chef’s knife or a dough cutter and CUT it in half. This way you won’t destroy the gluten strands which could prevent your dough from rising later on in the oven.

Next we roll out each half to a large rectangle. Like I say in the video, try not to use any flour if you can. Too much flour can create a very DRY yeast bread. Now if you really need a bit of flour go for it, but use as little as possible. The dough is so silky that it rolls out beautifully and I don’t get need any flour at all!

Once you place the filling over the dough press on it with a rolling pin to help the filling adhere to the dough. Now as you roll up the dough, from the longest edge into a very tight spiral, be sure to gently pull back to create an even tighter log. If you do this you will get a well formed Babka with many lovely spiraled layers of chocolate filling peaking through after baking. Trust me, it is a beautiful thing!

The log is then cut in half crosswise. The two smaller logs are crisscrossed and twisted, and then gently placed into a loaf pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, and has had the two longest sides covered in parchment paper and then sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Next a light streusel topping is scattered on top and the loaf is baked for 40-45 minutes or until nice and brown. Every oven is different so a good rule of thumb is to rotate the loaf pan halfway through the baking time.

It’ll smell so good when it comes out of the oven, but don’t be tempted to take it out of the pan until it has cooled. Babkas, may seem old world, like a lost art. However, making and eating Babkas, is NEVER a lost art. Try this recipe and experience what I am talking about.

I’ve included the link to the YouTube video, if you want to watch me make one:

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail

Tuiles

Tuile, which is a French word meaning roof tile, is a very thin, crispy wafer cookie. These cookies are very flexible while still warm from the oven, so they can be molded into almost any shape desired. When cooled, they are a sweet, crispy cookie that elevates even the simplest dessert to a new level.

Makes approximately 14-16 tuiles depending on the size

2 large egg whites

½ cup superfine sugar

½ cup all purpose flour

2 tablespoons plus 1 ½ teaspoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons heavy cream

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg whites and sugar on medium speed until foamy.
  3. On low speed, add the flour and blend well. Stop the machine and scrape the sides of the bowl down using a rubber spatula.
  4. Add the butter and cream to the flour mixture and blend until well combined. The batter can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.
  5. Remove about 1 ½-2 tablespoons of batter and place it into a small bowl. Using a spoon, blend in the teaspoon of cocoa powder. This darker batter can be used to pipe onto the light batter to add some decorative detail to the tuiles before they are baked.

To Create Edible Bowls

  1. Place a silicone baking mat over the bottom of an overturned sheet pan of the same size. Place about 1 tablespoon of batter onto the mat over to one side. Using a small offset spatula, spread the batter to a 5-6 inch rough circle. Drop another tablespoon of batter onto the other side and spread it out to create another circle of the same size. You will only be able to bake 2 cookies at a time.
  2. Place the darker batter into a small pastry bag fitted with a small plain pastry tip.
  3. Pipe a dark line around the perimeter of each circle.
  4. Bake the circles at 350°F for 9-10 minutes rotating the pan every 3 or 4 minutes until they are light brown. Watch to make sure the tuiles do not become too brown.
  5. Remove from the oven and using a small ice cream or cereal bowl or even an overturned ramekin, gently and carefully place one of the warm tuiles upside down over the bowl or ramekin shaping it into a bowl shape. Keep it in place until the tuile cools and hardens. Repeat with the other circle over another ramekin. You should now have 2 edible bowls.
  6. Repeat making more circles with batter and decorating them with the darker batter. Bake them off and shape, repeating to get as many bowls as you need.
  7. Keep tuile bowls in an airtight, cool, dry container for up to three days.

To Create Other Tuile Shapes like Spoons, Flowers, Etc.

Tuile molds or stencils are easily purchased from baking suppliers online.

  1. Lay a silicone baking mat over an overturned sheet pan of the same size.
  2. Lay a tuile mold on top of the silicone mat. Pour some batter over the mold and keeping the mold in place spread the batter using a large offset spatula so that the batter thinly covers the mold completely.
  3. Gently peel the mold off the silicone mat.
  4. Using the darker batter outline each tuile piping decorations as you desire.
  5. Bake the tuile or tuiles at 350°F or 6-9 minutes rotating the sheet pan every 3 or 4 minutes until they are a very, light brown. Do not allow the tuiles to get too brown.
  6. Using a clean offset spatula, gently peel the tuile off the mat and shape it as you wish or place it onto a clean sheet pan covered with wax paper.

Note

Superfine sugar can be found in most grocery stores or online. It is just granulated sugar that is finely ground so that it dissolves more quickly.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Makes approximately 1 quart

1 cup whole milk

1 vanilla bean, sliced in half lengthwise

2 cups heavy cream

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons all purpose flour

6 large egg yolks

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over medium high heat. Remove from the heat.
  2. On a cutting board, using a small sharp knife, scrape down both halves of the vanilla bean placing the black seeds into the hot milk. Add the pod halves to the milk as well. Allow the mixture to steep for 15 minutes. Remove the pod halves and discard.
  3. Add 1 cup of the heavy cream into the milk, and again bring the mixture to a simmer.
  4. In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour and egg yolks for about 1 minute or until thickened and the color turns a pale yellow.
  5. Slowly whisk the hot milk and cream mixture into the sugar and yolks.
  6. Pour the mixture back into the same saucepan and place it over medium heat.
  7. Using a whisk, stir constantly until the custard thickens slightly.
  8. To allow the custard to cool quickly, pour the custard through a strainer set over a medium bowl which has been placed into a larger bowl of ice and water. Allow it to cool over the ice water bath for about 10 minutes.
  9. Whisk in the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream.
  10. Cover the bowl and chill for several hours or overnight.
  11. Process the custard in an ice cream machine following the manufacturer’s directions.
  12. Pour the processed ice cream into an airtight container and freeze until firm.

Additions

After processing, pour soft ice cream into a bowl and quickly fold in one or more of the following:

  • 1 ½ cups chopped nuts
  • 1 ½ cups chopped semisweet chocolate or mini chips
  • 1 ½ cups fresh, pitted cherries, halved
  • 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, cut into small chunks
  • 1 ½ cups fresh, pitted and peeled peaches, cut into small cubes
  • 1 ½ cups chopped halvah
  • 1 cup room temperature ganache
  • 1 ½ cups mini peanut butter cups or other small candies

Cream Puff Swans

Cream Puff Swans
Makes approximately 16-18 swans

Cream Puff Dough

1 cup water
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil.
3. Quickly add flour and stir with a wooden spoon. A ball of dough will form. Lower the heat and cook for about 1 minute while mixing constantly. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool for several minutes.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing to incorporate with each addition. The dough should hold its shape.
5. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip with about 2/3’s of the dough. Pipe swan bodies spacing them evenly onto a parchment-lined sheet pan.
6. Using a small round tip and the remaining dough, pipe a neck and head for each swan body onto a different parchment paper lined sheet pan making extras in case of breakage. Bake necks in a 375° F. oven for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Place cream puffs or swan bodies in a 425° F. oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350o F. and continue baking for 15 minutes or until the swan bodies are puffed, brown and crisp. Cool.

Stabilized Whipped Cream

3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted if lumpy
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. In a small heatproof bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cold water. Stir and set aside.
2. Heat 1 inch of water to a simmer in a saucepan or skillet big enough for the bowl of gelatin to fit inside. Place bowl of gelatin into hot water bath just long enough to melt down the gelatin. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of the heavy cream just to cool down the gelatin.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer using the whip attachment, beat the remaining heavy cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, the melted gelatin, and the vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form.

Assembly

1. On a cutting board, slice each swan body in half crosswise. Cut the top portion lengthwise to form two wings. Leave bottom part intact.
2. Fill pastry bag, fitted with a large star tip with cream, and fill each bottom with cream. Place one wing on each side and stick a head and neck on front of each swan. Dust with powdered sugar.