Thursday, 23 October 2014

Chai Masala Babka for a very multicultural Diwali

This week, Paul's office has been awash with treats, as his colleagues have brought in mithai as part of their Diwali celebrations. Well, as you know, I'm not one to hesitate to adopt someone else's cultural practices, especially when they involve nice food and goodwill to others. The world news is increasingly grim so anything that celebrates "the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair" seems like a festival worth keeping to me, so I thought I should reciprocate and send something in to work with him.

Having spent quite a bit of time in Maya, in Sydney, I know there is no shame in buying your sweets, but I wanted to make something. And as much as I'd like to try making my own burfi or halwa, I was a bit hesitant to put my first attempt up for scrutiny by people who know what is what (we've got a tub of chicken curry from one of Paul's colleagues in the fridge for our tea tonight, it smells so amazing - this guy knows good food!).

But I am pretty confident with enriched breads. So. A nice Jewish babka, but instead of the chocolate or cinnamon filling, I used lovely Asian flavours - jaggery, chai masala and coconut cream.
Dough smeared with filling
I followed this method and recipe, substituting Australian 250ml cup measures throughout, because I couldn't be arsed doing a proper conversion. My substituted ingredients list is below. And my kitchen was so cold yesterday that I didn't need to do the rise in the fridge, I just gave it 3 hours at ambient temperature and it could have gone longer.

Chai Masala Babka ingredients (adapted from the Brown Eyed Baker)

For the Filling

1 cup palm sugar, grated
2 tbs strong white flour
2 teaspoons chai masala
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons creamed coconut, melted and cooled
1 egg white

For the Dough:

½ cup milk, heated in the microwave for 30 seconds with a teabag in it, then allowed to infuse 10 minutes
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups strong white flour
¼ cup caster sugar
1½ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
½ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and softened

For the Egg Wash:

1 eggwhite, lightly beaten

For the Chai Masala:

8 black peppercorns
Seeds from 20 cardamom pods
1/8 of a nutmeg
Pinch fennel seeds
2" piece of cinnamon
2" piece of fresh ginger, grated

To make the chai masala, grind together the dry spices, then add the grated ginger. I grated the jaggery first, which gummed up the grater quite a bit because it's very fudgey, and then grated the ginger so the ginger juice collected the rest of the jaggery goo.

I iced the baked and cooled babka with a simple water icing, flavoured with a little rosewater and vanilla. I haven't had detailed feedback yet, but I'm told the locusts descended and left not a crumb behind. Happy Diwali!


The Cat's Mother said...

What a lovely offering for the team. Did you get to taste any?

Alicia Foodycat said...

Sadly not! But having Murali's chicken curry for tea last night made it seem like a reasonable trade.

grace said...

what a shame you didn't get a taste! this is truly the most unique babka i've ever encountered. :)

Alicia Foodycat said...

Grace - I'm told it was very good! Nicely balanced spices.


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