The moment I saw those Great British Bake-off contestants tackling chocolate bread, I knew I’d be making chocolate babka.
I first heard of chocolate babka in that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry and Elaine fail to buy one for a dinner party, but have never made – or eaten – any type of babka until now.
It turns out that making babka is a time-consuming, fiddly labour of love. Part way through the bread-braiding process, I thought “this is the first and last chocolate babka I’m going to make.”
And then I tasted that pillowy sweet dough laced with swirls and knots of chocolate and nuggets of toasted pecan. If I hadn’t been stupified by deliciousness, I could have happily started making another one immediately…;-)
Mushroom barley soup is a homely Jewish classic. I’ve been making this comforting, nourishing stuff for years. It’s perfect student fare, costing pennies a potful.
When the Great British Bake-off contestants were tasked with making a sugar-free cake, I immediately thought of Claudia Roden’s orange cake.
This Judeo-Spanish cake relies on puréed whole oranges for much of its sweetness, which I thought would make it relatively easy to adapt. And because it calls for ground almonds instead of flour, it’s gluten-free as well, which seemed in the spirit of the challenge.
As this was my first attempt at baking with agave nectar, I did some reading first. The recommendations are to cut the quantity of sugar by about quarter, reduce the liquid in the recipe and lower the oven temperature – all of which I did.