What do you make for a work potluck that is thrown in honor of a departing colleague and friend who really hates potlucks? Well, it can’t be covered in mayo, and it shouldn’t be stewed beyond recognition, and it really can’t be covered in marshmallows. It has to be an anti-potluck dish. For this Seinfeldian dilemma one thing stuck in my mind – Babka.
And clearly this Babka had to be chocolate – there would be no inferior Babka made for this potluck.
I managed to find a Babka recipe that looked like the ones I remember from New York in Gourmet, but in reading through the online comments section, I was inspired to add a little almond paste to the recipe. Tempting fate? Perhaps – but with almonds and chocolate, really what could I mess up?
The dough itself was like no bread dough I had ever made before. Made with milk and eggs and 11 tablespoons of butter, the dough was shiny and sticky and looked like batter. But it rose – and, with the help of a lot of flour, it spread out to become a rectangle. After I spread the soft butter on the dough, I began flaking on some almond paste. My theory was that it would melt into the butter and chocolate – and it did, for the most part. A sprinkling of sugar on top of the chocolate and I was ready to try the twist.
A double figure eight is how the recipe described it, and – for the first Babka – I managed it perfectly. The second – not so much. But messy Babka is not the worst thing in the world. A second rise, 40 minutes in the oven later, and the loaves came out golden and shiny. My apartment smelled like the best bakery in the world and it was pure torture looking at them and not being able to taste. So at 11 at night I gave in and cut one slice – delicious!
It seemed to go over well at the potluck as well. Few people at my work place seemed to know exactly what Babka was, but that’s Nashville for you. All in all it was a fitting farewell anti- potluck dish. So long E – we’ll miss you!