Sunday, 16 October 2016

Chocolate Babka

World Bread Day 2016 (October 16)It's that time of the year again where baking and blogging for breads is compulsory for the World Bread Day. I don't mind it at all. In fact, I look forward to it come October knowing that I will add something in my list of breads that I've tried. As always every year this is hosted by the very generous Zorra of Kochtopf.

I have decided to bake something with chocolate to hit two birds with one stone. For it is also Chocolate Week here in UK. This recipe I adapted from a special insert in the current September issue of Waitrose's magazine. It is very good except that the filling was quite runny. So the instructions said to cut it in half lengthwise and then twist them together, I knew that it will be a messy affair if I did that. Hence, I just twisted them intact. I expected that it won't be too good looking when finally baked but I was rewarded with a nice swirl inside that was revealed when cut. And the taste of the bread itself was excellent. This is a definite keeper of a recipe. I just have to tweak that filling so it won't ooze out too much.

Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka

7 g  sachet easy bake yeast
250 g  strong white bread flour
3 Tbsp  dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp  fine salt
1/4 cup  whole milk
1 large egg - beaten
75 g  unsalted butter - softened

1/4 cup  whole milk
75 g  milk chocolate - finely chopped
50 g  dark chocolate - finely chopped
1 Tbsp  cocoa
3 Tbsp  caster sugar
1/2 tsp  vanilla extract
1/2 tsp  ground cinnamon

3 Tbsp  dark brown sugar
3 Tbsp  water

*For the dough:
**Manual method:
  1. Gently warm the milk in a pan until it is just lukewarm, remove from heat. Stir in the yeast and set aside for about 5-10 minutes. By then, then yeast should be foaming (it is activated). If not, discard it and start again from the beginning with fresh milk and yeast.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the milk-yeast mixture, egg, and butter.
  3. Knead mixture in an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment for 6-8 minutes or mix and knead by hand for 10 minutes until smooth.
  4. Cover with cling film, put in a warm place and leave to double in size (about 2 hours).

**Bread machine method:
  1. Put all ingredients according to the manufacturer's instructions (usually with the yeast first) and put on the dough program. This will include its first rising.

*For the filling:
  1. While dough is doing its first rise, heat the milk until steaming. Remove from heat and then add the chopped chocolates.
  2. Stir until chocolates has completely melted.
  3. Add in all the other ingredients. Stir to mix completely. Set aside to cool completely.

  1. Punch down dough and lay out on a floured surface. Roll out to a rectangular size about 12 x 18 inches (30 x 45 cm).
  2. Spread the chocolate filling all over the dough. Roll up tightly like a log starting from the short end. Pinch the edges to seal it.
  3. Trim the ends of the roll. Cut in half lengthwise with a floured knife.
  4. Tightly twist the two strips over each other with the filling facing outwards.
  5. Transfer to the prepared tin. Cover with cling film or tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place to double size (about 1 hour).

**For the glaze:
  1. While the dough is doing its second rise, place the sugar and water in a saucepan and boil for about 2 minutes until syrupy. Set aside.

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked through.
  2. Brush half the syrup over the babka and leave for 15 minutes.
  3. Brush again with the rest of the syrup then cool completely on a wire rack.

Chocolate Babka

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs of Beef

Braised Short Ribs
A surprisingly delicious beef stew was unearthed from the Bon Appetit website. I bought a kilo of meaty beef ribs (short ribs) in the Birmingham market a few weeks ago and was looking for a recipe to make a tasty dish out of it. And I was not the least disappointed. The things that made it standout are the bones, which gave extra flavour, the garlic (surprising I know) and the excellent red wine I got in our pantry.

This is great with rice, mash potatoes, or just boiled new potatoes with steamed veggies on the side. I only cooked half of the recipe so I adjusted it accordingly.

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs of Beef

1 kg  bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion - chopped
1 large carrot - peeled, chopped
1 celery stalk - chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp plain flour
2 tsp double-concentrated tomato puree (tomato paste)
375 ml  [half a bottle] dry red wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon)
5 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
4 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs oregano
1 sprig rosemary
1 fresh or dried bay leaves
1/2 head of garlic - halved crosswise
2 cups beef stock

  1. [Optional] Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F.
  2. Season short ribs with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat oil in a large oven-proof pot over medium-high. Brown short ribs on all sides in batches, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 2 Tbsp. drippings from the pot.
  4. Saute onions, carrots, and celery in the same pot and cook over medium heat. Stir often, until onions are browned and tranlucent, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add flour and tomato paste. Stirr constantly, until well combined and deep red, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Stir in wine, then add short ribs with all of its juices. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer uncovered until wine is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
  7. Add all herbs including the garlic. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook until tender for about 2-2.5 hours.
    Cook on the hob in very low heat until short ribs are tender, about 1.5 hours.
  8. Transfer short ribs to a platter. Strain sauce from pot into a measuring cup. Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard.
  9. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in shallow bowls over mashed potatoes or boiled new potatoes with sauce spooned over.

Braised Short Ribs