A tale of the babka

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A tale of the babka

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If you had asked me if I was a baker prior to the year 2020, I would have unequivocally said no. A cook? Yes. But a baker? Absolutely not.
But that was before the global Covid-19 pandemic. I worked in the cruise industry prior to the pandemic and I travelled a lot for my job. I was not home enough to really jump into and try to master baking. Following mandatory quarantine in March 2020, I suddenly had extra time on my hands. Further, I was laid-off from my job in early June and ended-up with even more time on my hands. Like so many around the world during quarantine, I took up baking. But unlike the many who tried sourdough, I started with making standard wheat breads and then went straight to enriched breads like babkas or challahs.
The photos I am attaching here show my progression as a baker. My first babka was fine and tasted great, but as you can see, I have improved in technique and in flavor over time. My favorite babka recipe comes from King Arthur Flour. As a new baker, I relied on the King Arthur Flour website for flour and yeast tips, baking tools, and recipes. I was too hesitant to add walnuts the first time and I accidently used a quick-rise east instead of standard yeast. As time went on, I felt more comfortable adding walnuts and raisins. I also felt more comfortable working with the dough to perfect the twisting technique of the babka.
I relied on trial-and-error for most of my recipes, but I also watched all episodes of the Great British Baking Show and found some videos that gave me the basics of flour, yeast, and water. My family were very surprised by this newfound baking skill. But they enjoyed tasting the results. I have enjoyed bringing people together over food – and I have enjoyed giving loaves as gifts.
I am still trying new bread recipes and plan on continuing to bake even as life slowly returns to our new normal.

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This item was submitted on August 7, 2021 by Sarah Peterson using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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