Tag Archives: breakfast

Homemade Chai

Today I attempted to make chai for the first time, hoping to end up with something akin to the Tazo Chai that they sell at Starbucks, but perhaps a little spicier, like my absolute favorite chai: Dragonfly Chai.

Unfortunately, my end product isn’t spicy and tastes a bit earthier than I would have liked. Ugh. Maybe I’ll try again sometime, but now I’m feeling a little defeated.

Here’s the recipe I tried, does anyone have any suggestions as to how I could better it?

Homemade Chai
Adapted from Green and Clean Mom

Ingredients
12 cardamom pods (the big green ones) You can also just use cardamom seeds if you can’t find the pods.
4 sticks of cinnamon
1 star anise, broken into pieces
1 teaspoon whole cloves
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
10 whole black peppercorns (more for spicier tea)
1 scant teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon orange peel, grated (fresh or dried)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup black tea leaves
4 cups skim milk
1/4 cup honey

Method
Fill a saucepan or stock pot with 4 cups of water and add all of the spice ingredients except the tea leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes (longer for stronger flavor). Add the tea leaves for the last five minutes.

Strain, add 4 cups milk, reheat for a minute and then add the sweetener. Makes about 8 cups of tea.

Panettone

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Every Christmas for as long as I can remember my parents have bought a panettone for my grandparents to eat when they were here visiting us for the holiday. Until this year, however, I’d never tried panettone because my parents had always told me that the store-bought stuff is gross, stale, and generally not worth eating. This year, however, I made panettone for my grandmother. I tried it and I was pleasantly surprised only because I’ve never really heard anything positive about panettone.

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I used golden raisin, dried cranberries, and dried apricots in my panettone, but you could make a more tropical version using pineapple, mango, and papaya; you could really go crazy with dried fruit combinations.

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My orange zest was really moist, I’m not sure why, but it really didn’t adversely effect the recipe. In fact, it might have been a good thing, because I didn’t use the 1/8 tsp of orange oil that the recipe called for. The only problem I did have was that the fruit on the outside got a bit burnt, probably because of the high sugar content. I did cover the panettone with foil after about 25 minutes, but the fruit was already burnt.

Panettone
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

Biga (Overnight Starter)
3/4 cup (3 1/8 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
1/16 teaspoon yeast (just a pinch)
1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) water

Dough
all of the biga (above)
2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup (2 ounces) water
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/3 cup (2 1/4 ounces) sugar
2/3 cup golden raisins
2/3 cup slivered dried apricots
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons orange zest

Method
The Biga: Combine the biga ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, cover, and allow them to rest overnight (8 to 12 hours) at room temperature.

Dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients except the fruit, and mix and knead them together—by hand, mixer or bread machine—till you’ve made a soft, smooth dough. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until it’s puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk). Gently deflate the dough, and knead in the fruits.

Shape the dough into a ball and shape into a free-form ring on a well-buttered cookie sheet (you can use a ring pan if you have one). Cover the ring or pan and let the dough rise about 1 hour, using a buttered drinking glass to keep the free-form ring open if need be.

Bake the bread in a preheated 400°F oven for 10 minutes; reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake an additional 10 minutes; then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for 15 minutes (for a free-form ring), tenting with aluminum foil if the crust appears to be browning too quickly. Remove the panettone from the oven and cool completely.

Chocolate Babka

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Need I say more? This chocolate babka is to die for!

I originally wanted to make chocolate babka because I love the babka that appears on my family’s doorstep every Christmas courtesy of Zabar’s and my godfather. When I came across the recipe that Deb at Smitten Kitchen determined to be the best after all of her trial and error I knew it had to be good. The cinnamon really is an underestimated element here, don’t skimp or your babka will lack that extra oomph!

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I have made this babka three times and it has received rave reviews every time. However, from these three times I have learned a few things:

1. DO NOT USE CHOCOLATE CHIPS! I cannot emphazize this enough. I know it seems like a genius time saving plan, but don’t do it! Some chips will retain their chip-shape and it will break your heart when you pull it out of the oven. Trust me.

2. The original recipe says that you should roll the dough out to about 1/8 of an inch thick, but I have found that this is a) nearly impossible and b) if you do roll it that thin you have issues with tearing dough in the twisting step. Roll it thin, but not too thin. Trial and error is best here, each batch makes 3 loaves so there is plenty of time to learn.

3. The original recipe recommends that you bake the loaf/loaves at 350 for 55 minutes and then lowering the temperature to 325 for another 15-20 minutes. Through an error of my own the first time I baked this I learned that i prefer it baked at 325 for the entire baking time, although it does take a bit longer. Following the original instructions will yield a lighter, airier bread portion of the bread, but I prefer it to be denser (hence the lower baking temperature). It’s just a matter of personal preference.

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Ready for the oven!

I know it is a long and involved recipe, but don’t be daunted! It was the first yeast bread I ever made and it turned out great!

Chocolate Babka
As seen on Smitten Kitchen

When shaping the babka, twist dough evenly throughout the length of the roll a full 5 to 6 turns. The babka can be prepared up to step 8 and frozen for up to a month before baking. When ready to bake, remove from freezer; let stand at room temperature for about 5 hours, and bake.

Makes 3 loaves (you could downscale the recipe, but they freeze really well)

1 1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees
2 (1/4 ounce each) packages active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups plus a pinch of sugar
3 whole large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and loaf pans
2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped (use a food processor if you have one!)
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Streusel topping (below)

Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment*, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined; set filling aside.

Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans; line them with parchment paper. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream; set egg wash aside. Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.

Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling.

Heat oven to 350 degrees**. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.

Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve. Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month.

*Don’t sweat it if you don’t have one, I have made it with a stand mixer and by hand, it doesn’t change the quality at all!
**Or 325 if that’s what floats your boat (see note above).

Streusel Topping

Makes 3 3/4 cups (this is way more than I have ever needed, feel free to downscale)

1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter. Using a fork, stir until fully combined with clumps ranging in size from crumbs to 1 inch.