I miss Mrs. Pirate so much. Did I ever tell y'all that she moved? Not super far, but a little farther than she was before, which makes our get-togethers much less frequent. Plus she was the one who usually planned them. Now she's planning get-togethers for a whole new group of friends.
But apparently, Mrs. Pirate misses me too. We've been trying to do better about meeting up this year. This past week alone we met up twice! The first time was just the two of us, for drinks and some good catching up, which we never seem to be able to do with kids around. The second time was when she invited me to join her new group of friends for a little Sip and Paint. You know, where you drink wine and paint a picture?
It was a fairly large group, but unsurprisingly all the women were super nice, and very funny. We were cracking each other up as we attempted to paint our beachy scene.
This is not my favorite piece I've done, I have no skill for cloudy skies. But it was a fun night, and the boys were in awe that I painted this. The finished product:
Despite the fact that the artist kept telling us not to compare, we all had our eyes on each other's work. And in the end, we ended up with some fairly different pictures, even though the basic premise was the same.
I've only done these at restaurants before, but this place had its own dedicated space. Which meant there was no food or drink to purchase and we had to bring our own. Not a problem. We had wine, fruit, nuts, cheese, and lots of other snacks. I was going to bring the chocolate babka I made this week out of my "A Blessing of Bread" book, but then on Friday night my family had a slice of the first loaf, and, well, we decided we didn't want to share. Yeah. It's that good.
I'm not a huge babka fan to begin with, so I was really surprised by just how good this was. It is simultaneously light and chewy, eggy and sweet - like a good challah. And while the babka's I've had have been a little heavy on the cinnamon, this one found the perfect balance. So for the painting crew? Fruit would be fine. But for you my friends, give this one a shot!
Chocolate Babka (From A Blessing of Bread)
18 Tbsp butter, softened (divided)
1 1/2 cups milk
2 Tbsp instant yeast
5 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups sugar, divided
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup chocolate morsels
- Heat the milk in a saucepan until bubbles form around the edges. Let cool until it's temperate.
- Once the milk is cool enough, whisk together the yeast and 1 1/2 cups of flour in a large bowl.
- Whisk in the warm milk until smooth. Let sit for 10-20 minutes, until it starts to get puffy.
- Mix one cup of sugar with the cinnamon. Reserve 1 Tbsp for the filling, then whisk the rest into the puffed batter.
- Whisk in the salt, vanilla, and egg yolks until smooth.
- Stir in the remaining 4 cups of flour, along with 10 Tbsp of the butter, mixing until the dough holds together. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead until it's a soft dough. Place the dough in a warm, clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 2-2.5 hours.
- While the dough is rising, butter or oil two 9-by-5 inch bread pans.
- After the dough has risen, melt the remaining butter.
- Sift the remaining sugar with the reserved cinnamon sugar and cocoa in a medium bowl.
- Add the melted butter and whisk the filling until smooth.
- Turn the fully risen dough onto a floured work surface and divide into two equal pieces. Roll one dough piece into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick. Smear the dough up to 1 inch of its edges with half of the cocoa filling.
- Scatter half of the chocolate morsels over the filling. Roll up the dough from one side like a carpet. Pinch the edges and ends into the roll to seal it. Pace seam side down in one of the prepared pans. Repeat with the second dough piece. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and let rise for 2.5 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 300 and whisk the egg with a pinch of salt. Brush the breads with this egg glaze. Bake the loaves for 50-60 minutes. Let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then let them finish cooling on a rack.