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For a great tutorial, check out the Baking Bible Bake Along with ROSE'S ALPHA BAKERS. The link is on the left side of the blog. We will also be posting "OUT-BAKES" from the book, on this blog, including step-by step photos and other extras.

Bubka Bliss

Feb 23, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose

I first met fellow author and baking sister Marcy Goldman in Montreal during the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) annual conference. She had invited me out to her home for a visit along with two other bakers and it was an enchanting experience to be in her kitchen tasting the cakes she made for us as we all talked baking. She also presented me with a beautiful rolling pin of her design which I used yesterday to roll out the bubka from her new book A Passion for Baking. I am sitting here (having already eaten a piece for breakfast and I don't usually eat breakfast, trying to fight off the impulse to defrost a slice I stashed in the freezer to make just such a temptation less convenient.

One of our fellow bloggers asked me what I thought of Marcy's bubka compared to the babka I had described in a previous posting. So of course I had to find out first hand even though I knew it was going to be wonderful--all the more so!

First let me explain the name bubka. In both Polish and Yiddish, babka is a diminutive of baba or babcha, meaning old woman or grandmother. When I was growing up, my grandmother described an old woman as an "alta bubba." No doubt Marcy's ancestors come from the same location in Russia near the Polish border (Minsk) as bubka seems to come from bubba. Come to think of it, maybe it was a distant village as my grandmother used the word bubka to describe little hard things that are undesirable as in "it's not worth bubkas"! But a bubka or babka by any other name will taste as sweet and this is a cake/bread that deserves all the attention and enthusiasm it gets.

According to the New York Times, my dear friend Arthur Schwartz, whose book Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking is due to be published in April, writes that: ''Babka, in its original form, was stout and round, just like grandmothers used to be before they went to aerobics classes and practiced yoga.''

Now to Marcy's bubka itself. Compared to Anne Amernick's (to which I referred in the prior posting) it is less cakey and more bready, i.e. less tender and more chewy which I personally find more satisfying. This texture is mostly because it employs a combination of bread flour and unbleached all-purpose (I used Harvest King flour which is about the same protein percentage). Marcy describes the recipe as "...it strikes the right notes of sweet and bready," and for me this resulted in the perfect balance between bread and cake. The dough is so lively it virtually bursts from the pan on baking. In fact, I would use a larger bread pan than the 9 x 5 recommended to keep it from spreading sideways as much. (My 9 x 5 pan is 7 cups but my All Clad 10 x 5 is 8 cups and I think that would be just perfect.) For those of you who weigh, I used 412 grams/almost 15 ounces of flour for half the dough.

To continue with the comparison, Marcy's bubka has less egg and butter but more water which makes it lighter and moister. In fact, it is quite similar to my kugelhopf but moister which I prefer! I also adore the brown sugar/almond paste in the filling. Some oozed out to form crunchy edges on the crust--confession--I who write in no uncertain terms to let the bread cool completely before cutting kept attacking this bubka to eat those crunchy edges until finally I could stand it no longer and cut a whole still hot slice and consumed it all!

In the process of making this bubka I have quite fallen in love with Marcy's new book A Passion for Baking along with Marcy herself! That is because she provides a real and personal presence in this book. Starting with the cover which shows her hand (and what is more eloquent or definitive of a baker than her hand) drawing a heart in the flour on the counter, you see the love she has for her craft. Right beneath it are the words: "Bake to celebrate . Bake to nourish . Bake for fun." Does this not say it all?! It reminded me of the visit to her home when she shared that before cleaning up her work counter she always drew a heart in the flour that remained on the surface. In fact, her son when he was only 12 took the photo that inspired this cover. It is the hand of a ballerina baker!

Marcy dedicates this book to her sons: "...I love you more than words can say and far more than infinite fields of golden wheat. You are the gold of my heart." But anyone who opens this book will feel her love and generosity pouring out to all her fellow bakers as well, and in full measure.

Note: Marcy generously is offering this recipe below. Do check out her site: www.betterbaking.com

Baker's Bubka With Crumb Topping
Bubka is pure heaven to me - because it strikes the right note of sweet and bready. It is also relatively easy to make - not as complicated as true Danish with its rolled in blocks of butter but certainly richer and moister than a sweet dough. I often use a bread machine to make the dough - although I have to give the mixing a hand at first by using a rubber spatula, just to get the rich dough properly going.

Dough
1 1/2 cups warm water (100 to 110 F)
2 tablespoons rapid-rise yeast
3 large eggs
2 yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups bread flour

Filling
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped almond paste
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped almonds, optional

Egg Wash
1 egg, pinch sugar

Crumb Topping
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup scant confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Generously spray two 9 by 5 inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line a double-up baking sheet with parchment paper. For an extra large bubka, use a 10-inch angel food cake pan, also sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place the pans on the baking sheet.
In a mixer bowl, hand whisk the water and yeast together and let stand 2-3 minutes to dissolve the yeast. Briskly whisk in the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, almond extract, lemon juice, sugar, salt, milk powder and all-purpose flour. Then stir in the butter and most of the bread flour. Mix dough, then knead as it becomes a mass, with a dough hook or by hand for about eight to ten minutes, until smooth and elastic, adding in more bread flour as required.

Remove dough hook and cover entire mixer and bowl with a large, clear plastic bag. Allow to rise, about 45-90 minutes until puffy or almost doubled in size.
This is also an ideal dough to refrigerate overnight and resume next day, allowing dough to warm up a bit before proceeding.

Whisk an egg in a small bowl for the egg wash.

For the Filling, in a food processor, process the butter, sugar, almond paste, corn syrup, cinnamon, and almonds to make a soft paste or filling.

For the Crumb Topping, in a small bowl, cut the butter, confectioner's sugar and flour together to make a crumbly topping.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate the dough. Divide dough in two portions. On a well-floured work surface, roll dough into a 16 inch square. Spread on the filling over dough surface. Roll up dough into a large jellyroll. Cut in half. Place both halves in prepared pan, beside each other - it doesn't matter if they are a little squished. Brush well egg wash and sprinkle with some sugar. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Spray the tops of both loaves with nonstick cooking spray. Place the pans on the prepared baking sheet and cover with the large, clear plastic bag. Let rise until the bubka is flush or a touch over the sides of the pan, 45-75 minutes. Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with Crumb Topping.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake 40-50 minutes (55-70 minutes for one large bubka) until bubka is medium brown. Cool in pan fifteen minutes before removing to a rack or serving plate.

Makes one large or two medium bubkas.

Comments

I got Marcy's book and already flagged several things I want to try. The only thing the worries me is how she deals with flour. A lot of the recipes give a 2 cup range, like 5-7 cups, which is quite wide. I wish she would have given weights for flour, or a smaller range anyway.

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add more butter or a tablespoon or two of golden or corn syrup.

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I love the Chocolate Buttercream Icing in the Cake Bible, which is just chocolate and butter, but it hardens a little too much if I ice it hours before the party. Any suggestions?
Thank you,
Sharon

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Amazing! I've never made babka before. I did add an extra half cup of bread flour to the dough so that it cleaned the sides of the bowl while mixing. The bread still seemed to turn out well and not dry.

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this bread sounds like one my grandmother made. she called it bookda(sp) she was bohemian. is this the same or is there recipe for something called bookda? been trying to find a recipe for years. lori

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A terrific chocolate filling is Nutella spread, about 3/4 cup per loaf.

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Louise Allen
Louise Allen
04/ 9/2008 07:06 AM

Marcy Goldman’s betterrbaking.com chocolate shmear for “Best Chocolate, Cinnamon or Poppy Babka” found at http://www.betterbaking.com/viewRecipe.php?recipe_id=1010 is the best I have ever eaten. (The babka which Rose posted is Marcy's) I use it for babka and rugelach. I make 2 modifications: (1) add some cream (or ½ and ½ or milk) to make it slightly smoother and (2) add a little expresso or coffee powder (which I always add when I bake with chocolate to enhance the flavor).
Marcy’s charges $1.99 per recipe – but it is well worth the charge because you will never taste anything like it.
Louise

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Hello from Victoria, B.C., Canada,

I have and love your books Rose and I look forward to your next book too.

I am wondering if you might be able to suggest a chocolate filling for the babka recipe posted here. When I was in Toronto, I was able to buy amazing chocolate babkas and chocolate "buffalo" buns at a Jewish bakery. I would appreciate any suggestion you might have, if you do not mind. I don't want to ask too much of you either.

Thank you very much.
Sincerely,
Karen

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Cheryl--Scroll up to the top of this page to where Rose's picture is on the left-hand side of the screen. Under her pic it says "Newsletter," and under that, "Forums." Click on "Forums." On the next screen, click on "Show and Tell," then on the thread title "This Year's Easter Baking." That's where I posted the pics!

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Cheryl--Scroll up to the top of this page to where Rose's picture is on the left-hand side of the screen. Under her pic it says "Newsletter," and under that, "Forums." Click on "Forums." On the next screen, click on "Show and Tell," then on the thread title "This Year's Easter Baking." That's where I posted the pics!

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Hane, unfortunately I can't seem to find the forum that you listed.

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Oops--IMG code won't work in this thread! I posted a pic of the bubka in the forum under "Show and Tell" as "This year's Easter baking."

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Here's my bubka pic. This is the cheese one--the two cinnamon-almond ones had to go back into the oven because they were still a little doughy.

Like the one in Rose's picture, my bubkas did have gaps inside. I wish I had read Constance Felton's post (suggesting painting the rolled-out dough with egg wash before adding the filling and rolling it up) before I made these--but I'll be sure to follow her advice next time!

[IMG]http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y28/tippy52/cheesebubka.jpg[/IMG]

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Louise Allen
Louise Allen
03/25/2008 10:29 PM

Like Theresa, I love the round cinnamon bread I grew up on – it had to be made in a fully enclosed circular pan. I just made Rose’s raisin cinnamon swirl and it was fantastic – all I need is the pan. Does anyone have any idea on where to buy a fully enclosed round (circular) pan? Thanks, Louise

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Would it be okay to use an angel food pan, 9 x 5 and also a 8 x 5 pan? I am hoping to see the pictures of Hane's babka.

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I just finished making this GORGEOUS recipe for tomorrow's Easter dinner. Like Louise, I covered the loaves with foil to slow down their browning. I also made them in THREE 9" x 5" x 3" loaf pans, not two, and it worked out perfectly. (I put cheese filling into the third one to accommodate nut allergies.)

Now to tidy up the kitchen enough so I can take some pics and post them!

Thanks for sharing this recipe, Rose. I already like it even more than the babka recipe I've used till now.

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sue epstein
sue epstein
03/11/2008 03:03 PM

I agree that Marcy's bubka recipe is wonderful.

My grandparents were also from Minsk and I remember my grandmother telling me that you could tell where a person was from by whether they said bubka or babka! Either way, they're divine!!

In Israel we don't get all the different types of flour that you do in the States and bread flour is only available commercially in 25 kg. sacks. I do, however, get fresh ground whole wheat flour from a person who grows and grinds his own flour.

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Theresa, my soft white bread in the bread bible is as soft a bread as you'll find in any recipe!

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hey louise--i was just going to say the same thing--thank you! also i sliced some of it and froze the slices--fantastic!

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Louise Allen
Louise Allen
03/ 8/2008 10:16 AM

I find the top gets brown before the babka is done. I cover with tin foil when it gets brown and bake till the internal temperature is 190. Louise

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I read the recipe on this past Wednesday and had to try it; I let the dough rise overnight on Thursday and baked the babkas on Friday. They are wonderful, but a little doughy in the middle - should I have baked them longer, even though they were browned on top? What should the inner temperature be? One other question and a comment - can they be freezed successfully? (I hope so, because one of the loaves is in the freezer as I write this.) The comment - the recipe for the crumb topping is far too generous; you can halve the amounts and still have more than enough.

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Andrea Harris
Andrea Harris
03/ 8/2008 12:44 AM

What is chopped almond paste? Is it something I can make at home? Also, my oven (which I love) offers a range of convection and non-convection modes. For this recipe (and for most baking) I use either bottom only heat or top and bottom heat. Do most US ovens only use bottom heat?
Aaaaah. Australia.

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you're welcome!

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viviane barzel
viviane barzel
03/ 7/2008 11:15 AM

Excelent recipe !

Todah rabah
Viviane
from Jerusalem /Israel

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I have a question...there is a local store that makes a circular cinnamon bread. It is a very fine crumb, tightly swirled and coated heavily with cinnamon sugar.

I do not have the molds, but would like to recreate this bread. I have tried severasl white bread recipes, but i can not get the same tender crumb. Does this have to due with being baked in a fully enclosed molded pan or can I do somethng else to obtain the same moist soft crumb??

Thank you!
Theresa

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Constance Felten
Constance Felten
03/ 5/2008 06:11 PM

Dear Rose,

I was thrilled to see this, as I love Marcy too and use her Jewish Holiday Baking book all the time. I have had problems with babka layers separating pretty dramatically and unappetizingly to some degree, and remembered an old King Arthur Flour Baking Sheet tip that had one lightly paint the rolled out dough with egg wash before adding filling to act as a kind of glue. My cinnamon swirl bread never separates when I do this, and of course I never do it for sticky buns or cinnamon rolls, since I want those to unswirl deliciously. Hope this helps someone who wants his/her babka to hold together a little more firmly. Constance

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This is for Sher Feb. 29: I haven't baked this recipe but may I suggest using metal pans and don't use the even one baking sheet. This maybe the reason the loaves didn't reach the correct temperature and bake the interiors of the loaves.

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Norene!!!

as i started reading i thought "who might this be--a relative from toronoto"? who indeed! how great to hear from you. (bloggers--norene was the first person ever to invite me to travel teach when she was living in montreal and what a fun time we had!)
my dad is 93 1/2--too bad they live so far apart (same for us).
xoxo

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Hi Rose,

Greetings from snowy Toronto! I loved reading your posting on Marcy Goldman's babka and loved the photo - so yummy! You've definitely captured the essence of Marcy's "passion for baking" which is so similar to yours! I've also had the pleasure of being in her Montreal kitchen - and your New York kitchen as well, although it's been much too long since that's happened.

After reading this posting, I guess I'll have to update my shopping list to make sure I have the ingredients on hand to bake babka this weekend. I'll probably make it a project to do with my 93 year old mom. She is definitely a baba (grandmother) who is passionate about all things home-made and loves to work with yeast!

So this weekend will be Babka with Baba!

Norene Gilletz, Cookbook Author/Food Writer
www.gourmania.com

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Andrea Harris
Andrea Harris
03/ 5/2008 12:59 AM

Dang! Now I have to go back to the store for even more ingredients. What a wonderful review. Thanks.
And thanks for writing the Bread Bible. I don't know if I could survive without the "Levy's Real Jewish Rye" in a land where rye bread doesn't have caraway seeds (Australians don't seem to like the flavor.)

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that's great to know! funny that the words sound so similar.

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Dear Rose, in your introduction you said, 'Come to think of it, maybe it was a distant village as my grandmother used the word bubka to describe little hard things that are undesirable as in “it’s not worth bubkas”! '

I'd heard that saying too, from friends as I grew up, but I remember it being pronounced "bupkuss." So I looked it up:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_words_of_Yiddish_origin

Probably your grandmother was using the word "bubkes" or "bupkis" which literally means "goat droppings." (Something small, hard and undesirable, sure enough!)

A babka or bubka, though, that's another matter altogether...whether it's a bread or a grandmother!

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use my recipe for hearth bread on the back of the gold medal harvest king flour bag but shape it in to a loaf.

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patty     harris
patty harris
03/ 3/2008 11:37 AM

how to do a sandwich bread with out it crumbly a fall apart and a crunchy crust!
i know how to bake and do bread but when it comes to a sandwich bread, i do nont have a recipe! thank patty and thak you for your site! oh i tryed to open a bakery, but not enough money! i have all the taring and i live in my kitchen and create all kinds of beautiful ckes, breds and food! i love my blessing!

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"Babcia"
I found a reference to a Lithuanian potato cake called babka on wikipedia. I also found a recipe for it here:

http://books.google.ca/books?id=P3cYe89EW9cC&pg=PA14&lpg=PA14&dq=lithuanian+babka&source=web&ots=Qa8cEuKGk5&sig=AcRvzK4QzmpeKpLKLY_4Nn-yd_4&hl=en

I hope this helps.

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Thanks Louise and Rose!

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Has anyone tried white whole wheat flour for the all purpose? Does it work? It would make it a little healthier...Carol

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this is what i wrote on the posting:
(I used Harvest King flour which is about the same protein percentage).For those of you who weigh, I used 412 grams/almost 15 ounces of flour for half the dough.)

RULE: ALWAYS USE UNBLEACHED FLOUR FOR BREAD BAKING.

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Louise Allen
Louise Allen
03/ 1/2008 06:29 AM

I forgot to add that i often need to add a little flour for the babka dough to hold together (do not know the technical term) so that it forms a ball when it is being kneaded with the dough hook. I add a little at a time till it gets just right. I hope this helps. Louise

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Louise Allen
Louise Allen
03/ 1/2008 06:24 AM

i bake my babka to 190 degrees. The top does sink alittle. I made them this week for a shiva and they were gone in no time and I was asked to make them again for tonight. try again - it is worth it! Louise

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The picture of this bread looked so scrumptious that I HAD to bake it today! However, mine had a few problems and I'm not sure why. I used bleached AP flour since it didn't specify which, and added a total of 4 cups of bread flour. I baked the loaves in a 9x5 glass Pyrex dish. I doubled two sheet pans together and set the pans on them to bake. They rose beautifully, but after baking for 50 minutes and cooling in the loaf pan for 15 it still was very gooey on the inside...not just from the filling, but from undercooked dough. When I turned the one loaf out onto the cooling rack it sunk and fell apart. Of course, it is still getting eaten...all but the middle...kind of in chunks. :-) It has a very good flavor, but doesn't ever resemble a loaf of bread! Since I hadn't taken the second loaf out I put it back in the oven for 15 more minutes and covered the top with foil. It still only registers 180 on the thermometer. Did I use the wrong kind of AP flour, or put enough bread flour?...was it the glass pans? Maybe the double sheet pans kept it from cooking on bottom? Has anyone else tried this bread? It's VERY tasty and the topping has a wonderful crunchy texture so I'd like to try again.

I would appreciate anyone's input.

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Hi Rose,

I'm mixing the dough for the Baker's Bubka and even after 4 c. flour it still isn't smooth and elastic. The recipe calls for a total of 6 c. flour and I don't want to add too much. Any suggestions?

Thanks.

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When I was a child my Polish immigrant Mother made a baked potato roaster pan with potatoes, salt pork, eggs, oatmeal and?? and called it Bubka. I've been trying to find something like this but Babka (Easter Bread) comes up everywhere. Anyoe ever heard of this dish? You bake it, cool it, cut it and fry in the salt pork fat.

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just finished making marmalade, mixing a pugliese dough, and eating a piece of defrosted bubka for lunch and got your delightful note. the concept of 'upgrading'from the kitchenaid recipe book made me LOL! and all this before noon!

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tony ventti
tony ventti
02/28/2008 10:00 AM

Thanks, Rose.

I don't have the cake bible yet. But I have followed your website closely and have learned a lot about bread making.
I am currently baking from a kitchenaid recipe book. I will soon be upgrading to the cake bible.

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18 months and believe me i've tried it at 18 1/2 months and not as strong. (i wrote this in the bread bible which it sounds like you may have?)

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tony ventti
tony ventti
02/26/2008 03:53 PM

Hi Rose,
I love bread and have recently started baking bread at home from scratch. I made several unsuccessful attempts before and they were all miserable failures. I baked a french bread a couple days ago armed with a lot more information and some experience. The bread turned out beautiful. That elusive oven spring was achieved in flying colors. The bread puffed up into a beautiful, voluptous loaf.
I am very excited about the possibilities.
My next attempt would either be a brioche or a babka. Can't wait to try.
On a related topic. I bought some vital wheat gluten way back, maybe a year ago. Its been sitting in my refrigerator(not freezer) ever since. I have never used, never will since I now know how to develop gluten. Should I discard it or can I give to a friend? How long does vital wheat gluten last in the refrigerator?
Thanks.
Tony

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the panettone is perfect as is. you might risk adding flour to it if you use the same shaping technique.

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The Bubka looks delicious, more similar to a cinnamon bun since I don't know much about.

At the final shaping, rolling and folding bread dough like this seems to work out the structure of the baked bread. I wonder if I could make panettone with this folding method.

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Zach Townsend
Zach Townsend
02/23/2008 04:32 PM

Thanks Rose for this wonderful posting. Not being a bread baker, I love reading about these things because it's something new for me. In fact, I had always wondered about Babka, wondering if it was similar to brioche, but seems it does not have the quantity of egg or butter that brioche does.

Looks delicious!

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thanks you louise from both me and marcy!

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Rose - I am so happy you tried Marcy's babka. I did not know if I was being a bit pushy asking you twice if you had made it - but I could tell from the picture of the recipe from the NY times that Marcy's recipe was really superior. Everytime I make it, people go crazy for it! They say they are dieting and are not going to eat any - and then finish it up. She also has an unbelievable chocolate babka shmear that I also use for my rugelach (I make Joan Nathan's rugelach recipe which is also unbelievable). The only thing I do different is to add enough cream to the chocolate shmear to make a good paste.
The smell in the house while it is baking is unbelievable and if I am lucky will last a day.
My family is also from Poland near the Russian border so I guess it is in our blood. I think I will have to make one today! Louise

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