Copycat Recipes – Famous Desserts!

So another week done, another theme done! I hope that that you got a kick out of some of the recipes this week, I admit tracking them down and having to put my thinking cap on to try and substitute ingredients without sacrificing flavour was a real challenge. One that I admit that I quite enjoyed. Today’s recipes didn’t have any kosher conflicts, though they are all dairy. The only one that I think you could easy convert to non-dairy, without sacrificing anything would be the lava cake. You could try and make the cream cheese icing for the cinnamon rolls with non-dairy cream cheese, but I’m not 100% how it would taste. Any brave cooks out there that try it, drop me a note and let me know how it goes!


Cheesecake Factory Vanilla Bean Cheesecake“Cheesecake Factory” Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 ⅔ cup crushed graham cracker crumbs (about 13 full sheets)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
3 (250g) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
seeds of 2 vanilla bean pods
3 large eggs
¾ cup sour cream
⅓ cup heavy cream

For the mousse:
1 cup white chocolate, roughly chopped
1 ½ cups heavy cream
¾ (250g) package cream cheese, nearly at room temperature
1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
seeds of 1 vanilla bean pod

For the whipped cream topping:
¾ cup heavy cream
1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
seeds of ½ a vanilla bean pod (optional)
berries and mint, for serving*

* Click here to learn how to clean these ingredients.

Directions:
For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the outside of a 9 inch springform pan with a sheet of 18 x 18 inch heavy duty aluminium foil (make sure the foil has no holes, you don’t want any water to leak in).

In a bowl, mix together the graham crackers crumbs and sugar, stirring to combine. Pour in the melted butter, and mix with a fork until evenly moistened. Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan and press it evenly into the bottom. Bake the crust in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then remove it from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

For the filling:
Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Have a large roasting pan ready and boil about 4 litres of water (you may not need all of it). In a mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer blend together the cream cheese, sugar and seeds of 2 vanilla beans just until smooth (scrape down side and bottom of bowl occasionally throughout entire mixing process). Mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just until combined after each addition. Add the sour cream and heavy cream and again, mix just until combined. Tap bowl forcefully against counter top about 30 times to release any large air bubbles. Pour over cooled graham cracker crust and smooth into an even layer.

Place the cheesecake in roasting pan then place roasting pan in oven and carefully pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. Bake in the preheated oven until the cheesecake is set but still jiggly in the centre, about 65 minutes, then leave it in the oven and leave the door closed, letting it rest for 10 minutes. Then remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Tent the cheesecake with foil and chill in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight.

For the mousse:
Melt the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl on 50% power in 30 second increments, stirring between intervals, until melted and smooth (or alternately melt in a double boiler). Set the chocolate aside and let it cool until it’s just lukewarm.

In a mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form, and then add the sugar and whip it again until stiff peaks form (the cream should get to the point where it’s starting to lose that wet sheen and it should become quite thick. Tap any excess cream of beater blades), set the whipped cream aside.

In a separate mixing bowl whip the cream cheese with the seeds of the vanilla bean until smooth. Mix in the white chocolate (it may appear slightly gritty, that’s fine). Add in half of the whipped cream mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until nearly combined, then add the remaining half of the whipped cream mixture and fold until combined and no streaks remain. Pour the mousse over the cold cheesecake and spread into an even layer. Tent the pan with foil then return to the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 ½ hours.

For the whipped topping:
In a mixing bowl whip the heavy cream with the seeds of ½ of a vanilla bean until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and whip again until stiff peaks form. Run a knife around edges of cheesecake then spread the whipped cream over mousse layer within 2 hours of serving. To serve remove foil from the pan, pull the latch and remove the springform pan ring. Garnish with raspberries and mint if desired, and cut into slices.


“Cinnabons” Cinnamon RollsCinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:
For the dough:
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
½ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup margarine
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
⅓ cup margarine, softened

For the cream cheese icing:
6 tablespoons margarine
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup cream cheese
½ teaspoon vanilla
⅛ teaspoon salt

Directions:
For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl.  Add the sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and flour to the bowl of a mixer and mix well. Pour the milk/yeast mixture in the bowl and using the dough hook, mix well until well incorporated. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approximately 16 inches long by 12 inches wide. It should be approximately ¼ inch thick. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

To make the filling, combine the margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Spread the mixture evenly over the surface of the dough. Alternatively you can spread the margarine first on the dough and then the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. The roll should be about 18 inches in length. Cut the roll into 1½ inch slices. You might find it easier if you use a piece of floss instead of a knife. Place the cut rolls in the prepared pan. Cover them with a damp towel. Let them rise again for another 30 minutes until they double in size.

Bake the rolls for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cooking time can vary greatly! While the rolls are baking make the icing by mixing all ingredients together in a bowl, and beating together well with an electric mixer until fluffy. When the rolls are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool slightly before, spreading generously with icing.


Chili's Molten Lava Chocolate Cake“Chili’s” Molten Lava Cake

Ingredients:
4 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
6 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup flour
½ cup coconut oil
caramel sauce, for drizzling (optional)
vanilla ice cream

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a microwave-safe bowl combine 2 cups of the chocolate chips and butter. Microwave for 2-3 minutes, in 45 second intervals, whisking between each interval until smooth. Whisk in the powdered sugar until completely combined. Add the eggs and egg yolks, and whisking again to combine. Add the vanilla and flour, whisking one last time.

Generously spray eight 1-cup oven-safe cups with cooking spray, and evenly fill with batter. Bake on a cookie sheet in the oven for 13-15 minutes until the outer edges are set and the centre is still soft. Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool for 2-3 minutes before inverting onto a plate drizzled with caramel sauce (if using).

While the cakes are baking, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine the remaining chocolate chips with the coconut oil and microwave in intervals of 30 seconds, stirring in between until smooth (should take about 2 minutes total). This will make “magic shell chocolate sauce”. Once you are plating your cakes, top each cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and drizzle a little “magic shell sauce” and let it sit for 30-45 seconds to harden.


“Momofuku” Crack PieMomofuku Crack Pie

Ingredients:
For the oat cookie crust:
non-stick vegetable oil spray
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
5 ½ tablespoons (packed) brown sugar, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
½ cup all-purpose flour
⅛ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon (generous) salt

For the filling:
¾ cup sugar
½ cup (packed) brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry milk powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
6 ½ tablespoons heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Directions:
To make the oat cookie crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 13 x 9 x 2 inch metal baking pan with parchment paper and coat it with non-stick spray. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, and continue to beat until pale and fluffy. Add the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute.

Turn the oat mixture out onto the prepared baking pan, and press it out evenly to edges of pan. Bake until it is light golden on top, about 17 to 18 minutes. Transfer the baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely. Using your hands, crumble the oat cookie into a large bowl and add 3 tablespoons butter, and 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it is moist enough to stick together. Transfer the cookie crust mixture to a 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Using your fingers, press the mixture evenly onto bottom and up the sides of the pie dish. Place the pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.

To make the filling:
Position the rack in the centre of the oven and preheat it to 350°F. Whisk both sugars, milk powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Add the melted butter and whisk again until blended. Add the cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Pour the filling into the crust. Bake the pie for 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble). Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Continue to bake pie until filling is brown in spots and set around edges but centre still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes longer. Cool the pie for 2 hours in the pie dish on a rack. Chill uncovered overnight. Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into wedges and serve cold.

Copycat Recipes – Famous Breads!

So one of the downsides of keeping kosher, is that you do not get to partake in the wide world of non-kosher eating establishments, and some of their notoriously, good and addictive dishes. This week I thought I would track down some famous restaurant recipes and get you as close a copycat recipe as possible so that you could make them at home, kosherizing where needed.

I thought I’d start like you would if you were actually dining in one of these restaurants, and get you some of their delicious bread recipes that for those that keep kosher could only previously dream and drool about. You will notice that several of these recipes are in fact dairy. You can read up about the ins and outs of dairy bread here, or you can make these breads non-dairy, or pareve, by replacing the milk and butter with non-dairy alternatives, such as soy milk and margarine.

For the “Olive Garden” Bread Sticks, if you wish to make them non-dairy, change the butter to margarine and leave out the Parmesan cheese altogether. The only recipe that I would not suggest changing would be the “Red Lobster” Cheddar Bay Biscuits, as the non-dairy cheese alternatives do not tend to melt the same way that regular cheese does, but you can always try!


“Texas Roadhouse” Rolls Texas Roadhouse Rolls

Ingredients:
1 cup warm milk (100°F)
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
⅓ cup sugar
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the board
1 egg
⅓ cup butter, melted plus ¼ cup butter, melted (optional)
1 teaspoon salt

Honey Cinnamon Butter:
½ cup softened butter (salted butter)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Directions:
In a cup or small bowl, stir together the warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Allow the yeast to proof and begin to activate while you prepare the other ingredients. Using a stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, egg, ⅓ cup melted butter, and salt. Add the milk mixture and process until you have a smooth dough; it will be stickier and wetter than regular bread dough. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turn the dough to grease all sides, and cover with a towel. Let rise until it has doubled in size.

When the dough has doubled, punch it down and turn it out on a floured board. Let rest for 10 minutes. Roll out the dough into a large, flat rectangle approximately ½ inch thick. Cut into 16 portions with a sharp knife and place on a greased baking sheet and let rise again, until doubled. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake the rolls for 10 minutes on the greased baking sheet. They will be light brown when removed from the oven. If desired you can brush the tops of the rolls with the remaining ¼ cup melted butter before serving.

Prepare honey cinnamon butter by combining butter, cinnamon, honey, and powdered sugar until well blended.


Olive Garden Breadsticks“Olive Garden” Bread Sticks

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt
4 ½ cups flour + extra flour for dusting board

Buttery topping:
4 tablespoons butter melted
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
⅛ teaspoon oregano

Directions:
Combine warm water, sugar, oil, and yeast in a large bowl of a mixer or a food processor. Add 4 ½ cups of flour and salt and process until the dough forms a nice uniform ball. Place dough in a bowl that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Cover bowl with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place. When the dough has doubled in size (this should take about an hour) place dough on a well-floured board and roll out dough. Roll out dough into a large rectangle. Cut in half horizontally, and then cut vertical strips of dough about 1 ½ inches thick. Roll the strips of dough into sticks. Place dough on a greased baking sheet, and allow them to rise until they have doubled in size (this should take about 45 minutes). You should get between 20 and 24 bread sticks from this recipe.

Melt butter, and stir in Parmesan cheese and oregano. For best results rub the oregano between your fingers as you place it into the butter. This will help release the oils of the oregano and make it taste even better. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Just before baking bread sticks brush them with the butter. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush any left-over butter topping on these just before serving.


“KFC” Buttermilk BiscuitsKFC Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups self-rising flour
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup chilled butter (you can use shortening)
2 tablespoons of butter melted (to top biscuits with)
2 ½ teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425°F. Cut butter into small cubes, if you use shortening chill it so you cut into small pieces. It is important to cut the butter into small pieces so it will make it easier to cut the butter into the flour. In a medium sized bowl combine self-rising flour, sugar, and cream of tartar. Add in cubed butter, and work butter into the flour until it reaches a large sand grained texture. Add buttermilk, and stir long enough to stir buttermilk into the dough.

On a floured surface turn dough out of the bowl, and shape flour into a round shape, use a rolling pin to gently roll out dough to about ¾ of an inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Brush tops of biscuits with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Bake biscuits for 12 to 15 minutes.


Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits“Red Lobster” Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Ingredients:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 ⅓ tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup cold water
1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup (1 stick) butter
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda until combined. Slowly add the oil, until all the lumps are gone and the mixture takes on a uniform texture. To this add the water and the grated cheese. Pat or roll out the dough to ¾ inch thickness. Cut the biscuits with a cutter or drinking glass, and place in a baking pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

While the biscuits are baking, in a small saucepan, melt the butter together with the parsley, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. After you remove the biscuits from the oven, brush the tops with the seasoned butter and serve immediately.


“Outback Steakhouse” Honey Wheat BreadOutback Steakhouse Honey Wheat Bread

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups warm water (100°-110°F)
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup honey
3 ½ cups whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons instant coffee
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 cups bread flour
rolled oats (for dusting loaves)

Directions:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a dough hook, stir together water, oil, and honey until mixed well. Add wheat flour to water mixture. Add the cocoa, yeast, coffee, salt, and stir until blended. Allow mixture sit for 10 minutes.

Stir in bread flour, one cup at a time, until dough clings to hook and almost clears the sides of mixer, about 3-4 minutes. Cover bowl with greased plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise in the bowl until doubled, about 30-60 minutes. Divide into 2 pieces. Cover each piece with greased plastic wrap, and let dough rest for 5 minutes.

Shape pieces into loaves, and sprinkle with oats. Place each loaf in a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Let dough rise until doubled, about 30-60 minutes. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 350 F. Bake at for 30-40 minutes.

Hamentashen

HamentashenThere are a million different flavours out there for Hamentashen! You can go old fashioned with prune or poppy seed, traditional with jam, or try some new modern twists! Below you’ll find a basic dough recipe, and then some new fillings to try this year! I hope you like them!

Ingredients:

3 cups flour
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
¾ cup margarine
¼ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
Filling of choice (See below for some options!)
egg wash (egg + water)

Instructions:

Sift together the baking powder, flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the margarine. Add well beaten eggs and mix together to form a soft dough. Roll out on a floured board to ¼” thickness. Cut with a large, round cookie cutter. Put a spoonful of desired filling in centre, and pinch together to form triangular pocket. Brush with an egg wash, put on a well-greased pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Poppy Seed Filling:

Ingredients:
¾ cup poppy seeds
2 tablespoons margarine
½ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons sugar
1 egg

Directions:
Beat the egg in a bowl and set aside. Melt the margarine in a small saucepan. Whisk in the coconut milk, sugar and honey and simmer over a low flame until the sugar is melted. Pour half the hot mixture into a cup. Very slowly drizzle the hot mixture into the beaten egg, whisking constantly. Slowly pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, whisking constantly. Simmer the mixture for 3-4 minutes until it thickens. Remove from fire. Whisk in the poppy seeds and refrigerate until fully cooled before using.

Fresh Cranberry Filling:

Ingredients:
1 (12 oz.) package fresh cranberries
1 ¾ cup white granulated sugar
1 ¼ water
Zest of one orange

Directions:
Bring water, sugar, and orange zest to a boil and continue to boil for about 10 minutes, until mixture is syrup–like. Add cranberries and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until berries pop. Remove from heat. Pour into bowl and refrigerate overnight or until chilled.

Apple Pie Filling:

Ingredients:
2 apples, very finely diced
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:
Peel and dice the apples very finely. Mix in the sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss until apples are fully coated.

Coffee Cake Filling:

Ingredients:
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped walnuts, pecans or cashews
2 tablespoons melted margarine
1 to 2 tablespoons apple butter

Directions:
Mix the sugar, cinnamon and nuts together. Slowly drizzle in the margarine in, and then toss to mix with the apple butter. You may find it easier to blend in the butter if you microwave it first for about 15 seconds.

Pecan Pie Filling:

Ingredients:
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup almond milk
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¾ cup pecan pieces
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Whisk together the maple syrup, almond milk, salt, and cornstarch in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat. Keep stirring continuously with a whisk until the mixture boils and thickens. Once boiling, turn off the heat and stir-in pecan pieces and vanilla. Allow to fully cool.

Lemon Bar Filling:

Ingredients:
½ cup arrowroot or tapioca starch
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 lemons, juiced (just under 1 cup juice)
zest of 1 lemon
4 eggs
¾ cup honey
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions:
Combine arrowroot or tapioca, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. In another bowl, combine eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, palm sugar, and maple syrup. Whisk wet ingredients into dry until dry ingredients are completely dissolved. Pour mixture into a medium saucepan on low-medium heat, and whisk continuously for 8-10 minutes until a thick custard forms. Be very careful to continue whisking on a lower flame or the eggs might scramble. Allow to completely cool.

Twisted Chocolate Babka – Шоколад Бабка

Chocolate BabkaThis recipe will make 2 loaf-sized chocolate babkas

Ingredients:

Dough:
4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
Grated zest of half an orange
3 large eggs
½ cup water (warm, between 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit) and 1 to 2 tablespoons extra, if needed
¾ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup unsalted butter or margarine at room temperature
oil, for greasing

Filling:
4 ½ ounces dark chocolate (or approximately ¾ cup chocolate chips)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, cold is fine
Scant ½ cup powdered sugar
⅓ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Syrup:
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Make the dough:

In a small bowl mix together the warm water and the yeast, with about 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let this stand aside and foam up. This should happen within 10 minutes.

Combine the flour, remaining sugar and zest in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low to combine. Add the foamy yeast water, and the eggs (one at a time), while the mixer is on low with the dough hook. Keep the machine mixing, increasing the speed as the ingredients come together to form a dough.

It’s okay if the dough is on the dry side, but if it doesn’t come together at all, add extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a mass. With the mixer on low, add the salt, then the butter, a spoonful at a time, mixing until it’s incorporated into the dough. Then, mix on medium speed for 10 minutes until dough is completely smooth; you’ll need to scrape the bowl down a few times. I usually found that after 10 minutes, the dough began to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it doesn’t, you can add 1 tablespoon extra flour to help this along.

Coat a large bowl with oil (or scrape the dough out onto a counter and oil this one) and place dough inside, cover with plastic place in a warm area to rise, about 2-3 hours. Once the dough has doubled (or close to it), stick it in the fridge to cool. This will help with the rolling out of the dough in the next segment.

Make filling:

In a small pot on med-low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar, cocoa and cinnamon; mixture should form a spreadable paste. Remove from the heat and set it aside.

Assemble loaves:

Coat two 9-by-4-inch loaf pans with oil or butter, and line the bottom of each with a rectangle of parchment paper. Take half of dough from fridge (leave the other half chilled). Roll out on a well-floured counter to about a 10-inch width (the side closest to you) and as long in length (away from you) as you can when rolling it thin, likely 10 to 12 inches.

Spread half of chocolate mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a ½ -inch border all around. Brush the end farthest away from you with water. Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, tight cigar. Seal the dampened end onto the log. I found that transferring the log to a lightly floured baking tray in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes made it much, much easier to cut cleanly in half. Repeat with second dough.

Trim last ½ -inch off each end of log. Gently cut the log in half lengthwise and lay them next to each other on the counter, cut sides up. Pinch the top ends gently together. Lift one side over the next, forming a twist and trying to keep the cut sides facing out (because they’re pretty). Don’t worry if this step makes a mess, just transfer the twist as best as you can into the prepared loaf pan. In one batch, mine was long enough to “S” inside the pan and I nested the trimmed ends of the log in the openings. Even if you don’t (and choose to bake them separately in a little pan, as I did in other batches), the dough will fill in any gaps by the time it’s done rising and baking, so don’t worry.

Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise another 1 to 1 ½ hours at room temperature. Repeat process with second loaf.

Bake and finish cakes:

Heat oven to 375°F. Remove towels, place each loaf on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 30 minutes, but there’s no harm in checking for doneness at 25 minutes. A skewer inserted into an under baked babka will feel stretchy/rubbery inside and may come back with dough on it. When fully baked, you’ll feel almost no resistance. If you babka needs more time, put it back, 5 minutes at a time then re-test. If it browns too quickly, you can cover it with foil.

While babkas are baking, make syrup:

Bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool somewhat. As soon as the babkas leave the oven, brush the syrup all over each. It will seem like too much, but will taste just right — glossy and moist. Let cool about halfway in pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way before eating.