First off, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
I haven’t had a chance to write in a little while as I’ve been a tad preoccupied with other things. We’ve just been joined by a tiny squatter who is taking up all of our time and hogging the PlayStation, but she is quite cute.
Charged with Attempted Baking
After a burst of enthusiasm in the early to mid lockdown days (coinciding with the Great Home Baking Rush of 2020), my baking spree cooled off. Most of my efforts at that time were concentrated on bread (sourdough, the word of the year) but this time I turned my attention to sweet things. First off with triple chocolate brownies from a Jane’s Patisserie recipe and then a chocolate babka as seen on the Great British Bake Off. I was only vaguely aware of babka as a concept before seeing it on TV, but it’s going to become a house favourite here. A babka is a sweet braided bread which originated in Jewish communities in Poland, made with an enriched dough. Babka can have a range of fillings including chocolate, nuts, cinnamon and fruit. I cut a few corners with the recipe as there was no dark chocolate in the house (I substituted milk with hazelnuts) and I swapped out the roasted hazelnuts for chopped walnuts and pistachios. The filling almost didn’t work as melting the chocolate, butter and sugar left me with a sludgy mess which refused to turn into a beautiful velvety smooth homogenous mix. Adding the cocoa powder helped somewhat, but it didn’t matter to the end result as it still tasted delicious. It did make the braid more difficult though as the layers didn’t stick together so the whole thing had to be handled with care.
The guts of the process are relatively simple. Make an enriched yeast dough (enriched referring to the addition of milk and butter). Roll it into a rectangle. Spread that rectangle with a melted combination of sugar, chocolate, butter and cocoa powder. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and roll up into a cylinder. Divide that cylinder in two, and make a two stranded braid. Squash the result into a loaf tin-size and leave to prove in the tin for an hour or two (till doubled approximately). Then bake at a higher temperature, and drop the temperature for the last stretch of cooking. Finish the whole thing with a sugar syrup glaze. I wasn’t holding out much hope after the early filling disaster, but the end result was rather excellent and something I’d happily try again.
The Outer Worlds
Aside from baking and babying, I’ve been catching up with The Outer Worlds, a Fallout-esque space epic first person shooter. Does that paint a picture for you? After a rocky start (I didn’t gel with the combat system at first) I really started to enjoy it. I’ve put a fair amount of time into it (gaming is easier than writing when you’re holding a baby) and would recommend it to any fans of open world sci-fi games. It’s a little bit like a silly version of Mass Effect, and feels very reminiscent of the earlier Fallout 1 and 2 games.
That’s it for now, but I’ll be back soon (ish) with a Christmas update. Hope you all have a fantastic festive period!