I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: there is a singular, luminous joy I get from simply following a recipe versus having to create it from scratch for an assignment. It’s a completely different experience than development, or even tweaking in that you just don’t have to think. It’s a hands-off, no-thought-required, King-Arthur-take-the-wheel situation, and it’s blissful.
It reminds me of how essential cookbooks and yes, high-quality recipe websites are in my life. Not just any old book or blog, mind you: I mean the time-tested ones. Chefs who have been at it for years or food writers seasoned enough to put forth something thoroughly vetted and not just flung together to meet their blog post quota for the week: that’s what I look for. At this point in my particular hustle, I don’t have time to waste learning from people who shouldn’t be in a position to teach, especially when I need a masterclass in one of the most intricate breads out there.
I can’t put into words the feelings I’ve had when the word “babka” is mentioned. Terror. Awe. Fascination. Intimidation. Love. Fierce inadequacy. Every time I see one, I get struck with an intense desire to attempt it about half a second before fear takes hold, and so I avoid it: push it off to some undetermined future, more “seasonally-appropriate” date.
Friends, that date is now. Or rather, smack in the beginning of summer, when my baking self-confidence was at an all-time high, bolstered in part by binge-watching Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood bake their way through both The Great British Baking Show and TGBBS Masterclass. I was ready: I could do this. All I needed was a detailed tutorial from a highly reliable source.
Enter King Arthur Flour’s blog, “Flourish,” – points for naming that, KAF, because it’s stellar any way you look at it. The entire site is a fantastic source for information, but their Bakealongs are top-notch. They’ll teach you everything, and they’ll do it with a level of detail that makes me look positively succinct. So many words, but those words will get you through whatever baked good it is you’re trying to conquer.
Although it may not seem like a feat for me to battle a babka and win, it really is. I love baking, but I’ve never had the patience I should have for it, and have spent years completely screwing up anything with yeast and kneading involved. Either I’ve mellowed or just learned from years in a kitchen, but I daresay I’ve gotten the hang of it. Summer got away from me this year, or I would have taken the time to post it then: it’s fall now, and I can’t think of a more perfect time to remind you to try making this.
This is 100% not an original recipe, people, although I do plan to do some variations on a theme with it this fall and winter. You can find the recipe for this beautiful loaf – actually, two of them, because the recipe makes two at a time, perfect for gifting – right here at KAF’s Flourish site. They have a step by step tutorial based on what you’d like to do: I attempted the harder version where you slice the dough rolls open lengthwise and twist them together, but there’s a version where you don’t have to participate in that level of crazy.
It feels good to write for myself: it’s been awhile, I know. Why is it that good habits are so difficult to get back into on a regular basis? Somehow blogging and heading out to the gym are on equal footing in that way right now: impossible to imagine.