I was very amused and delighted by Anabel's 2015 new years resolution to eat more waffles. It was a refreshing idea that a resolution could be about embracing something you love rather than depriving or attempting to reform yourself.
Now before I get to talk of dreams for 2016, let me say, if I were going to describe my 2015 holiday season with a catchphrase, it might go a little something like this:
While I recognize that gluten is not for everyone and am all for eating healthy, I decided that rather than begin the new year with reduction, I would continue my gluten bender full force and welcome 2016 with some babka!
Initially smitten with the notion of babka, I was quickly drawn to challah recipes as they are less finicky and lighter. And so, "babkallah." Brainstorming fillings, I asked the big question: could there be another babka option than chocolate?
This Mexcian chocolate Babka melds the traditional cinnamon and chocolate versions and also brings in a little heat with some cayenne. While reading up on Mexican chocolate recipes, I kept coming across the term "Mexican cinnamon," which I found curious as I'd only ever known there to be one cinnamon. Further investigation revealed-gasp!-another cinnamon?
Mexican cinnamon refers to Ceylon cinnamon, which originates from Sri Lanka and is more pricey and less common than Cassia cinnamon (from Indonesia and China). Ceylon cinnamon has recently come into vogue as the "safer" cinnamon since Cassia has been found to contain a naturally occurring compound called coumarin that can cause liver damage at high doses in sensitive people. It appears Cassia cinnamon still offers health benefits, however you may want to take a page from the Danes and limit your portions. I found some reasonably priced Ceylon cinnamon at Whole Foods and was pretty amazed at the taste difference. It reminds me of these cinnamon mint candies I used to love back in the day. While I'm not too worried about any cinnamon-related health risks, I would advise checking out Ceylon cinnamon for it's quite wonderful and distinct flavor.
Gluten or no gluten, I hope 2016 is a year of abundance, filled with more of the good things!
Mexican Chocolate Babkallah
Makes 2 standard bread loafs
1 C all purpose flour
1 C warm water (1/4 hot water, 3/4 tap)
2 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
3 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C honey
1/4 C olive oil
2 eggs + 1 yolk (save egg whites for egg wash)
2 discs Mexican chocolate (I used one package of Taza Chocolate)
1/3 C coconut oil
1/4 C coco powder
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 -3/4 tsp cayanne
1 tsp Mexican cinnamon
Cacao nibs, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, and cinnamon to sprinkle over filling (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
First, make the quick starter, mixing all the ingredients and allowing yeast to rise for about 45 minutes. Next, combine the starter with the rest of the dough ingredients and mix (I did this by hand, though you can also use a mixer or bread machine if you've got the tools). If dough is sticky, add more flour.
Set dough in bowl greased with oil and cover with table cloth or plastic wrap. Allow to rise at least 1.5 hours or until the dough has doubled in size (I let rise in fridge overnight).
After dough has risen, place on a floured service and kneed again for approximately 7 minutes. Break the dough into 2 equal balls. Roll each ball out, and coat with filling. Next sprinkle seeds, cinnamon, chocolate chips, and cocoa nibs (if you please). Roll up into a log. Wrap both logs in parchment paper and allow to set in freezer for approximately 20 minutes (this will making braiding the bread easier!)
After 20 minutes, remove logs from freezer. If the logs are longer than your bread pan, you can trim the excess at the ends and bake these in a mini loaf or muffin pan. Cut each log vertically down the center. Braid the logs and place in bread pans lined with parchment paper (I used the same parchment paper from setting the logs in the freezer).
Brush the bread with egg whites and place in oven. Bake for 20 minutes and then cover with foil and bake for approximately 10 more minutes, checking intermittently. If you are baking the ends in a smaller dish, this will cook faster and should be done around 15-20 minutes.