I recently made my very first babka — only it’s nothing like the traditional babka. This has got the always delicious garam masala in place of streusel. I’ve been stressed, busy, and deeply frustrated. However, there is at least one food-related thing to be learned from my intense work and personal stress — and that is…Chipotle and Ethiopian food are always there for you if you’re looking to go vegan cheaply, quickly, easily. And if you’re as stressed as I have been and you’re just trying to shovel whatever into your mouth to get you through the next big project — it’s good to know.
The fact of the matter is that I’m at a crossroads. Or, rather, I’ve been standing at this fork in the road for 6 months too long. Approaching the year mark at my first full time job. Next week. It’s a lot to realize, to adjust to, “working,” “adult” life (or, as I hate the most, the “real world”) — I realize that I must take turns, twist around myself, risk moves, reach lightly into stashed dollars for travel — for and to change. And then there’s nothing left but to get back out there, in what we call real; we chit chat, connect, draw webs around and to ourselves and others.
We slip into fitted black skirts and button 15 buttons of white.
We address each other politely, sell ourselves, our brand, we work by the light of computer screens, writing cover letter after cover letter after cover letter in a solo-symphony of struggle.
If you don’t you will end up living out the rest of your working life pushing the same papers around, becoming static in the repetition. It’s mid-afternoon, and I’m laying down the filling for these muffins. Breaking up the tasks, and my world with this food. I’m enjoying it, but afraid of Monday. On Sunday it’s really already Monday. Which begs many questions.
It seems that I am just unsure of which path to take, afraid of doors closing far more than I’m excited about them opening. So I come home and I just start stirring up these concoctions in the kitchen and then I leave my creations strewn all over the house, or, sometimes, other peoples’ houses.
I’ve been stirring up my passions, folding in my concentration, my devotion, loyalty for awhile now. I’ve been popping it all in the oven, expecting the best, taking out rebellion at a life that has become stale.
I needed a little break.
I made the dough for this babka yesterday after work. I let it rise for the 2.5 hours. And then I passed out. Completely. Out cold. I woke up this morning thinking about all that Chipotle, about the dough I kneaded despite my exhaustion. I thought about the crossroads. I’ve felt hungry for something of myself. Not an answer, probably, but a little of my own creativity.
It certainly helps that it goes well with coffee.
Tomorrow is another day to turn up the sound on my ambition and start to play. Baked and wired, so to speak, to inspire a new day.
* * * *
Garam Masala Chocolate Babka Muffins
Adapted from Shmooed Food
*makes 20-25 muffins
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- ¾ cup almond milk
- 2 small plain mashed potatoes
- 4 tbs. Earth Balance “butter”
- 1 12 oz. package vegan chocolate chips, ground in a food processor until finely chopped
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 4 tbs. Earth Balance “butter,” at room temperature
- *garam masala, to taste
1) Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners and spray the muffin papers with nonstick spray. Set aside. Meanwhile, whisk the warm water and yeast together in a bowl. Measure out the sugar and sprinkle a pinch of it into the water. Allow the yeast to proof for five minutes.
2) Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt together, and in another bowl mix the almond milk and mashed potatoes together (until there are no lumps). Add all the sugar, flour mixture, and milk mixture to the yeast and mix with a hand mixer until it pulls together. Turn the mixer speed up a notch and add the margarine a tablespoon at a time. Mix for 10 minutes. It’s true that the dough looks like a mess, but you kn0w — whatever, have fun with it! Dump it on the counter and knead it into submission. (How can women not all LOVE cooking, I mean REALLY… when else can you knead anything into submission???)
3) Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 2.5 hours. While the dough is rising make the chocolate filling by combining all the chocolate filling ingredients and kneading them together with your hands until the margarine is completely incorporated.
4) Scrape dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Press the air bubbles out and use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough out into a 16″x12″ rectangle. Spread evenly with the chocolate filling. Then cut the dough in half the long way and roll each rectangle up the long way. Cut each roll into twelve equal pieces and place each piece in a prepared muffin cup. Sprinkle garam masala on the top of each muffin. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or so. Preheat the oven to 350º during this final rise. Bake muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, loaves for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.