Tattered, Trains and Tiaras

All the pretty stuff is from Tattered - you don't have it at home yet do you?
I think that fist on the travel plaza sign means they serve a nice lox.
And Ms. Stewart - such a tease. 

***Update - Sometimes my tech skills are more PONG than SIRI. If the link to Tattered below doesn't work just go old school and type in the address bar www.facebook.com/untattered

This weekend I had the opportunity to travel via bus, car and train to the outer limits of city life in Minneapolis and visit some friends who live in Sleepy Hallow Clearwater, MN. I was honored to be invited to attend and contribute to the Second Second Annual Holiday Sale at Tattered (VISIT THE SITE). This pop up shop of upcycled, collected and vintage goods will make your home look better and now taste better (because my food is now on sale there). 

And your home needs to be better.
Just look around now.
You need better throw pillows. 
BACK TO ME!
So post man pantie unbunching at the office on Friday I loaded up my wares, grabbed my countriest of man handbags (not really I took my favorite – you could hide a body in there.  A fun sized body but a body nonetheless), and hopped on the train. I felt just like Rosemary Clooney racing to Vermont in White Christmas. Hoping that some old man doesn't hit on me like they did her in the sad drama of a movie. 
Two things to discuss from this overnight adventure:
1.       Eating at Travel Plaza’s – which is the bougie way to say gas station
2.       Chocolate Babka and How I Was Afraid I Magically Turned Straight
Let’s start with number one. It’s quick and tasty. Like my last blind date. 
If you find yourself in the center of Minnesota on the corner of Highway 24 and Interstate 94 there you will find a cornucopia of life and food. Staffed with what seems to be an unending supply of teenagers with a passion for Clearasil and chit chat this nouveau Nelson’s Mercantile (that’s a Little House reference for you hard core Minnesotans) is a must stop. Clearwater Travel Plaza houses a full sized bakery, restaurant, mobile phone store, gift shop, pub, and truckers lounge. Now I’ve seen a few “independent films” that involve trucker’s lounges and I am going to go out on a limb and say that this trucker’s lounge is not like those.  I’ll find out next time. 
I found myself at Clearwater Travel Plaza picking up a Chicken and Wild Rice Pizza. Yes you read that right.
Chicken and Wild Rice Pizza. 
And it was amazing! White sauce with wild rice and chicken covered in mozzarella cheese cheerfully made by some 4H star of Stearns and Wright Counties. While breaking bread with friends Mini Martha and Super RA I had to mentally yell at myself, “DO NOT UNHINGE JAW AND INHALE BENJAMIN! YOU MUST REMAIN COOOOOL!” If you ever find yourself in a room of gay men and carbs as the primary food source you will find yourself surrounded by bold face liars. You hear things like,” I caaaan’t! Yoga in the morning” or “It’s almost swimsuit season” or “my trainer would kill me”. When in reality they are all thinking, “that bitch better not take the last piece and if I stay close and time it right I can pretend to put it in the fridge while secretly eating it in the mud room so those greedy tiara wearing queens can’t judge me.”
Gay Gospel Truth.
Long story short – get the damn pizza when there is nobody else home. Pop in some CSI: Whatever Cop Makes Your Lady Bits Tingle and eat until you fart and make yourself laugh. 
On to number two:
The reason I was invited to the holiday sale extravaganza at Tattered (VISIT THE SITE) was not for my 20 years of retail experience, my keen eye for visual merchandising or my lumberjack sex appeal to draw in customers. It was for my bread. 
A few months back I was divining my way through the bible that is www.marthastewart.com and I came across the New Testament Book of Breads. Chapter 2 Verse 6-8 I read the words that would forever change my faith in baking, “Chocolate Babka”. My inner Jew started schvitzing with excitement. I knew at once I had to take on the challenge.
Now months have gone by and I am obsessed. I have made The Holy Bread babka multiple times. I have repurposed it as French toast, breakfast bakes, dessert, midday snack, lunch and dinner.  It will now be the go to hostess gift I bestow upon non-believers. And it was the housewarming gift that I sent with SAGL to Mini Martha (he’s from the Crafting sect of the coven, not the food sect that I belong to – we get along as core believers in the almighty being Ms. Stewart). Which in turn got me the invite to exclusive Second Second Annual Tattered Holiday Sale. 
As the doors opened at 10 am for the sale of the century I was mentally reciting passages from Dolly Parton’s Book of Wisdom: Steel Magnolias, “I'M A CHAIN!” My food was now being brought to the country masses of central Minnesota!
Here is where things get scary…
I’m standing behind the counter of the exclusive Second Second Annual Tattered Holiday Sale using my sales prowess to up the ante of the area woman’s holiday table setting when out of the blue my biggest babka fangirl took 5 minutes off my life expectancy. As she hoovered up the samples of babke we had on hand she uttered this, “oooooooohhhhhhh mmmmmmmyyyyy gaaaaaaawwwwd your bread has changed my life”. Now I have heard this before but never from a woman.
So as my head began to spin and my hands got clammy I slowly sat down on the super cute and masculine workshop stools the Mini Martha provided. It was then that Ms. Stewart herself came to me in a vision. Bathed in a buttercream of light and swathed in caramel cashmere Ms. Stewart said, “She’s talking about my bread your dumb beeyotch – calm down. No woman is ever going to swoon over your bread. Your bread is for men only.” Then she started screaming at her personal assistant.  Who probably deserved it. 
Then my biggest fangirl bought two loaves and I was all “stop it…oh I know how good it is”. 
Long story short – Chocolate Babka is manna from Ms. Stewart. Thankfully I still do not attract women. At least the ones born as women. And you need to find your way to Tattered (VISIT THE SITE) for the next sale. 
Ms. Stewarts Chocolate Babka
From Martha Stewart Living May 2000 (aka Chapter 2 Verses 6-8)
Ingredients
1 ½ C Warm Milk, 110 degrees
2 (1/4 ounce each) packages Active Dry Yeast
1 ¾ C plus a pinch of Sugar
3 Whole Large Eggs, Room Temperature
2 Large Egg Yolks, Room Temperature
6 C All Purpose Flour, plus more from work surface
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 ¾ C Unsalted Butter, cut into 1” pieces, Room Temperature, plus more for bowl and loaf pans
2 ¼ Pounds Semisweet Chocolate, finely chopped
2 ½ Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Heavy Cream
Streusel Topping – 1 2/3 C Confectioners’ Sugar, 1 1/3 C All Purpose Flour, 12 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature. Using a fork or food processor mix all until fully combined with varying sized clumps.
Directions
1.       Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
2.       In a bowl, whisk together ¾ cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks.  Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.
3.       In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and a smooth, soft dough that's slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.
4.       Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
5.       Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined; set filling aside.
6.       Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans; line them with parchment paper. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream; set egg wash aside. Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.
7.       Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling.
8.       Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling.
9.       Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve.
Bake on beeyotchs.  May the power of Ms. Stewart be with you.