Babushka Delight

As a child, Liz’s father did the bulk of the cooking in their home. Norm Robinson was a creative and resourceful culinary artist, never cooking from a recipe and always applying the creativity required when feeding a family on a meager budget. As a hungry child, when Liz began smelling tasty aromas waft from the kitchen she would consistently ask, “Dad, what’s for dinner?” And much to her chagrin he would he would respond, “Babushka Delight…and then insert a random number.” A variation of Baked Ziti would be called Babushka Delight #14 and Pork Chops and Rice entitled Babushka Delight #982…no rhyme or reason for the numbering system and never a dish or number repeated. Night after night, meal after meal, our table and stomachs were warmed with a series of meals made by a loving father each entitled Babushka Delight. As a child, anxious for dinner, Liz found his predictable answer a bit silly. Now, as an adult, when contemplating the daily questions, what shall we have for dinner?” she hears the trusted words of her father ringing clearly in her mind…”Well, tonight we are having Babushka Delight.”

Burke grew up working inside the delicious walls of a professional kitchen at his families business, Jacob Lake Inn nestled near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. While standing on milk crates Burke joined his parents to help peel potatoes, crack eggs, flip burgers, and sling hash. Through this process Burke developed the confidence of a chef, the speed of a line cook, and the creativity of a working mans Iron Chef.

Growing up in a foodie family has real benefits for a newly married couple. For Burke nothing brings a bigger smile than the potential of a handful of chopped onion, celery, carrot, and garlic sautéing in a few hearty splashes of a fine olive oil…and Liz is more than happy to sample the tasty outcomes.

Together Burke and Liz enjoy nothing more than a fine meal shared with family and friends. In keeping with tradition of both families, Babushka Delight is a collection of their favorite recipes and culinary creations.


The Texas Rich’s

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Thoughts on Yeast

I’ve been reading a few cookbooks about bread making and it’s actually pretty interesting. It appears that the basic process and ingredients for bread making are the same with a few slight differences according to the type of bread you are hoping to create. There seems to be large conversation about the kind of yeast you use and people seem to be divided into some clear yeast camps. This is what I know about yeast:

Types of Yeast:

· Cake Yeast- the traditional yeast; needs to be dissolved in water. Typically used by high-end bakers and can be sold in bulk.

· Active Dry Yeast- the traditional dry yeast needs to be dissolved usually with a bit of sugar. Some people report that they would only use this kind of yeast if they wanted the bread to have a sweet overtone. Active dry yeast has to be rehydrated first. (Use water that is no hotter than what you can comfortably put on the back of your wrist. If the water temperature is higher than 49C(120F), the yeast will start to die.)

· Instant Yeast– contains a bit of yeast enhancer (citric acid, maybe some other stuff?) and is possibly more concentrated than active dry; does not need to be dissolved. This seems to be the most popular kind of yeast by most bakers, according to cookbooks and blogs, and it can just be tossed into the mix as a dry ingredence and does not need to proof.

· Bread Machine Yeast- exactly the same as instant, just in a different package. Some bloggers use bread machine yeast as an all purpose yeast and use outside of their bread makers.

· Rapid Rise Yeast-larger amounts of yeast enhancers and other packaging changes to the granules. Does not have to be dissolved. Works very fast and its intended for straight dough that you want to complete within an hour or so. Generally not used by artisan bakers who seek slower, not faster, rise.

Types of Flour

· Bread flour- is a high-gluten flour that has very small amounts of malted barley flour and vitamin C or potassium bromate added. The barley flour helps the yeast work, and the other additive increases the elasticity of the gluten and its ability to retain gas as the dough rises and bakes. Bread flour is called for in many bread and pizza crust recipes where you want the loftiness or chewiness that the extra gluten provides. It is especially useful as a component in rye, barley and other mixed-grain breads, where the added lift of the bread flour is necessary to boost the other grains.

· All-purpose flour is made from a blend of high- and low-gluten wheat, and has a bit less protein than bread flour — 11% or 12% vs. 13% or 14%. You can always substitute all-purpose flour for bread flour, although your results may not be as glorious as you had hoped. There are many recipes, however, where the use of bread flour in place of all-purpose will produce a tough, chewy, disappointing result. Cakes, for instance, are often made with all-purpose flour, but would not be nearly as good made with bread flour

· Whole Wheat flour is simply wheat that has been milled into flour with some, or all, of the germ and bran still attached. Different varieties of wheat contain different amounts of protein, and the more protein is contained in the flour, the higher gluten it has.

· Self raising flour is generally all purpose flour that has had baking powder mixed in, and do not require any additional baking powder to be added when making biscuits, pancakes or muffins.

I am glad that I spent some time chatting with Melinda and Ben about the basic bread making process before I dove into the reading. Their instruction and scaffolding have made all of the difference in helping reduce my uneasiness about yeast. I am finding that it is important for me to couple conversation with independent reading. I need to process verbally and its great to have someone who I can ask clarifying questions.


  1. Hey Burke,
    I love that your putting all of this online. Oh what I would give for some fresh homemade bread this morning. Hope Texas is treating you right

  2. I've been thinking about yeast in the last few days. The one you left out is wild yeast. It is actually the yeast that is on the grains before they are ground up into flour. In order to make a start, you simply mix flour and water (or pineapple juice, if you listen to some people) and over a few days the yeasts multiply, you have to tend them and feed them, but it looks like a very interesting way to do it.
    I'm thinking of making my own wild yeast start and messing round with sourdough and other similar breads. I even read about one method that develops a full flavored bread with a muck milder "sour" flavor. Aparently, the sour flavor comes from bacteria that grown along side the yeasts, so changing the environment for the bacteria can change the flavor of the dough. Maybe I'll mix up a start when I get home...
    By the way, I'm making mini baguettes with the basil parm recipe tonight when I get home. Going to eat it as a roasted tomato caprese sandwich. Yum.

  3. Also, I'm attempting to do the bagguetes outside the dutch oven. I'm cooking them on a pizza stone. I form the baguettes and place them on parchemnt paper. To create the steamy environment, I bought a throw-away aluminum caserole pan (not much mass so I don't have to pre-heat it, but I do have to pre-heat the stone). I place the parchment on the stone (using a cookie sheet as a peel) and then put the aluminum pan on top to trap the steam. I don't think It's quite as good as the dutch oven, but I can shape the dough better and I don't have to worry about a 500 degree dutch oven burning me or getting dropped.