Sourdough Babka Bites

Babka Bites |

It is with sadness that I write this post as this is the last challenge for the Sourdough Surprises Group.  In the nearly two years I’ve been a part of the group, I have grown as a baker and in my understanding of my starter and how to use it.  With the encouragement of the monthly challenges, I have learned to use my starter not only in traditional yeast breads, but also in unusual ways such as granola bars and pasta.   I have made simple quick breads and challenging technical bakes such as croissants.  I believe that this group is the sole reason that the sourdough starter I grew for another challenge group in 2011 is still living today, nearly 4 years later.  I have become comfortable enough with sourdough that it is actually now my yeast of choice.  Thank you, Sourdough Surprises!  I will miss you.

Now, on to the current challenge. This month’s challenge, appropriately, is holiday breads.  Breads are a pretty traditional use of sourdough starter.  Holiday breads can be a little tricky to make as they are often enriched (lots of butter and sugar) which makes the yeast slower to rise.  The house is also chillier, making for very long rise times.  For my holiday bread, I decided to make Babka Bites, a mini version of the Jewish Babka loaf.  It wasn’t until I was writing up this post that I realized that my very first Sourdough Surprises baking challenge in 2013 was traditional Babka!  How appropriate to come full circle with my last challenge also being a variation on Babka.

Babka Bites have been on my to-do list since I got The Holiday Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer last year.   Babka is traditionally a rich brioche-type loaf which is swirled with chocolate filling.  Babka Bites are a smaller version of this holiday loaf, baked in a mini-muffin pan instead.  The idea is to keep one from eating slice after slice of Babka.  The recipe was an epic fail in this regard as it’s really easy to just pop these babies into my mouth, one after another after another!

To make the dough for the Babka Bites, I made a sponge using 1/2 cup of active sourdough starter as well as a little sugar and some extra flour.   The next morning, when the sponge was bubbly and active, I mixed in the remaining ingredients.  As I am not keeping kosher or observing Jewish holidays, I used regular butter in the dough and filling in place of the margarine.  I let the dough rise at room temperature for a couple of hours, then moved it into the refrigerator to continue to develop and to delay having to continue with the recipe until the next morning.

The dough is divided into two.  I only have two mini-muffin pans, so I put the other half in the fridge to use after baking the first batch.  The dough is rolled into a rectangle and spread with a rich chocolate filling and sprinkled with mini chocolate chips.

The dough is rolled up and cut just like cinnamon rolls.  The spirals are placed into lined mini muffin cups and baked until golden.  I had a bit of trouble with the filling running out, which may because of my butter substitution, but the resulting Babka Bites were delicious and all too snackable.

Babka Bites |

5.0 from 1 reviews
Sourdough Babka Bites
Recipe type: Holiday bread
Cuisine: Eastern European/ Jewish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 48
Chocolate swirled sweet bread baked in mini muffin cups.
  • For the Sponge:
  • ½ C active sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ¼ C. (35g) all purpose unbleached flour
  • For the Dough:
  • ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 C (280g) all purpose unbleached flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 T unsalted butter (or margarine), softened
  • ¼ cup (60ml) canola/vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg white
  • For the Filling:
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter (or margarine)
  • ¼ cup (20g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup (60g) mini chocolate chips
  1. Mix the sponge ingredients together and cover loosely. Let stand at room temperature or in a warm place until the mixture is bubbly and light. I typically do this overnight on my counter or in the oven with the light on.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the bubble sponge and the remaining dough ingredients and mix until combined.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. I let mine sit a couple hours at room temperature and then moved it to the fridge overnight. Let it come back to room temperature before continuing.
  4. Make the filling by beating the butter until creamy. Add the cocoa and sugar and beat until combined.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325F/160C. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll half the dough out into a 9"x12" rectangle. Gently spread half of the filling over the dough using a silicone spatula. Sprinkle with half of the chocolate chips. From one of the long sides, roll the dough up into a cylinder. Cut the cylinder into ½" slices (you will have approximately 24). Place each slice into a paper-lined mini-muffin cup well.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Store covered at room temperature for up to four days or freeze for up to three months.


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The Daring Bakers’ December 2015 Challenge: Gateaux Pithiviers

Gateaux Pithiviers |

Blog Checking Lines:  For the month of December, Kat challenged us to make Gateaux Pithiviers. 

Gateaux Pithiviers, also called Galette des Rois or King’s Cakes, are elegant-looking desserts that have been on my baking bucket list for a long time.   Gateaux Pithiviers are a cake-sized puff pastry round filled with a delicious almond paste mixture called Frangipane.


Gateaux Pithivers are traditionally served at Lent, though we enjoyed having it for Christmas.  I guess we will all be experts by the time Lent rolls around!  It’s a pretty simple dessert to make if you purchase your own puff pastry, but even if you make your own puff pastry as we did, it’s not much harder to do.  It was a little tricky to pull off such a fancy dessert in the midst of holiday baking, but at least each of the steps can be done separately and chilled to spread the work out.

The most time consuming step is making the puff pastry from scratch.  Fortunately, the recipe made a big enough batch that I have extras in the freezer for a future use.  The dough comes together quickly in the food processor and then is folded around a block of butter.  The dough-enclosed butter block is rolled out and folded on itself a total of 6 times, forming lots of layers that will puff and become flaky when baked.  It’s magical!  Two rounds are cut from the puff pastry.  A filling of almond meal, sugar, eggs and rum or Armagnac is shaped into a disk and placed between the pastry layers and sealed with the scalloped edge.  A brushing of egg wash to make it dark and shiny in the oven and some decorative cuts in the top and it’s ready to bake.  The finished pastry is cooled to room temperature before eating and keeps for several days.  It’s delicious!

The full recipe and process for making puff pastry can be found on the Daring Bakers’ site where there are nice step-by-step instructions with  pictures.  Purchased puff pastry may also be used.

The Daring Bakers' December 2015 Challenge: Gateaux Pithiviers
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
Cake-like pastry made from puff pastry and filled with almond paste filling.
  • For the Frangipane:
  • 1½ cups/ 100g blanched almonds (or 100g almond meal plus extra if needed to thicken)
  • ⅓ - ½ cup (65-100g) granulated sugar, depending on your sweetness preference
  • 4 Tbsp. (55g) butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. almond extract
  • zest from 1 lemon or ½ an orange or 2 tangerines
  • 2 Tbsp. Armangac or Rum.
  • For the Gateaux Pithiviers:
  • 1 lb (45g) puff pastry
  • 1 batch of frangipane
  • 1 large egg
  1. To make the frangipane, grind the almonds (if using whole blanched almonds). Mix the ground almonds with the remaining ingredients. If necessary, add a little more almond meal to thicken to that the paste can be shaped into a 6" disc. It will be fairly loose. Chill at least 30 minutes.
  2. Beat the egg well to make an egg wash.
  3. Divide the puff pastry in half and keep one in the refrigerator while working with the other.
  4. Roll the dough out ion a lightly floured surface and cut out an 8" circle of puff pastry. Carefully move the pastry to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Brush a ring of egg-wash around the edge of the pastry, do not allow the egg to go voer the sides as this will prevent rise.
  6. Center the disk of frangipane on the pastry and place the baking sheet in the refrigerator.
  7. Roll the second half of the puff pastry out and cut out another 8" circle.
  8. Take the filled half out of the refrigerator. Place the second 8" round on top of the first one. Quickly use your fingers to press the two layers together without warming the pastry or allowing the filling to squeeze out.
  9. Press two fingers of one hand into the pastry and use the back of a small knife to push an indent in between your fingers to form a scalloped edge.
  10. Brush the entire top with egg wash, once again being careful not to go over the edges.
  11. Starting in the middle of the pastry, draw long sweeping cures out to the edges with a sharp knife.
  12. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  13. Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.
  14. Bake the Pithiviers for 10 minutes at 425F/220C, and then reduce the heat to 350F/175C and bake for another 20 minutes. The top should be a dark bronze color. If necessary, bake slightly longer to achieve good color.
  15. Allow the Gateaux Pithiviers to cool completely before serving.


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