No matter how much I try to reason with the results of this election, no matter how much I try to tell myself that this is not the end of the world, that four years isn’t enough time to reverse all the progress we’ve made in the last eight, my mind keeps stubbornly coming back to this: Once again, a smart, competent, incredibly qualified woman lost the job to an unqualified, insulting, brutish man.
No matter how much I try to understand what drove so many people to vote for him, no matter how much I try to tell myself that perhaps I (we) really weren’t listening to them, didn’t understand their plight, that their fears and hopes were not taken as seriously as they should have been, my brain keeps repeating this: Half of the voters (slightly less than half to be exact) either chose to ignore or chose to reward (with the Presidency!) speech and behavior that expressed hate for just about everyone other than white, able-bodied, heterosexual, Christian men.
And yet, life goes on. So be good to one another. Continue to defend the rights of those who fought so hard for them. Take time to enjoy those that you love and the things that bring you joy. Remain hopeful but vigilant. Cook and eat great food. Make this chocolate babka and forget all your worries for those few minutes when you bite into a soft, luxurious slice of chocolate heaven.
And always remember: progress never happens in a straight line.
Chocolate Babka – Adapted from Bon Appétit
½ cup whole milk, warmed
1 ¼-ounce envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons)
¼ cup granulated sugar, plus more
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoon turbinado sugar
Pour milk into a measuring glass or small bowl; sprinkle yeast and a pinch of granulated sugar over milk. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Whisk egg, egg yolk, and remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in yeast mixture.
Combine salt and 2 cups flour in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add egg mixture and beat on low speed until nearly incorporated, about 30 seconds. Switch to dough hook and add 7 Tbsp. butter; beat on medium-low until butter is completely incorporated, about 8–10 minutes. The dough will be sticky.
Using a spatula or a spoon, scrape dough onto a lightly floured surface and using a spatula or dough scraper, fold it several times from the edge over the top, until very smooth (dough will still be wet and a little sticky). Transfer to a large buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1½–2 hours, then chill 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°. Generously butter a 8½x4½” loaf pan. Heat chocolate, cocoa, 2 tbsp. butter, 1 tbsp. granulated sugar, ¼ tsp. cinnamon, and ⅛ tsp. salt in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until chocolate and butter are melted and mixture is smooth. (Alternatively, microwave on medium power 1 minute, stirring halfway through.)
Turn out chilled dough onto a clean lightly floured surface. Roll out to a 22×12″ rectangle and orient so a long side is facing you. Using an offset spatula, spread chocolate filling over dough to extend to the edges. Roll up dough away from you like a jelly roll, pulling lightly on it as you roll to maintain thickness. (Use a metal bench scraper if needed to help dough release from surface.)
Cut log in half crosswise. Set halves so they are side by side and touching. A long side should still be facing you. Place one half over the other to make an X, then twist the two ends on one side twice. Repeat on opposite side. (You should have a total of 4 twists.) Transfer bread to pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 30 minutes.
Whisk egg and cream in a small bowl and brush egg wash over loaf. Sprinkle top with turbinado sugar.
Bake babka, rotating pan halfway through, until golden brown, 50–60 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let babka cool in pan 15 minutes, then turn out onto rack, running a paring knife around edges to help loosen if needed. Let cool completely before slicing.