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Buns in the Oven: Nutella and Coconut Custard Babka (and my experience on OBGYN)

Disclaimer: I DO NOT have a bun in the oven. I'm just writing about my experience throughout my Obstetrics and gynecology clerkship in caring for ladies in ante-, post-partum, labor and delivery (L&D) and fertility clinics! Read on for strange baking/pregnancy metaphors and terrible writing... or just skip to the recipe at the end! :P
There's nothing quite like baking bread.... until you see what pregnancy and birthing babies entails. Seriously... hear me out! Let's start with the ingredients. When you're making a buttery bread like babka, you gather the freshest just-churned-out-of-the-cow butter, the roundest eggs and you best hope your flour is unbleached and milled by Bob Moore (of Bob's Red Mill) himself. Like good parents, you're driven to creating a perfect carbon copy of the both of you. You do what's right and get yourselves tested, pricked and prodded... You don't want to have any regrets, so you do all the necessary preparations.
However, nothing ever runs smoothly in life (how many times have you heard that?). Your oven is fickle, it heats up far too quickly and too much. Does it even run on gas or electric? You go and have it checked out. Some money spent on genetic testing, some on fertility pills, and you empty your pockets on finally getting IVF. You know that having a child will be like winning the lottery, or being friends with the president (hey, I don't know :P).
And before you know it...Jackpot! You're pregnant.
Every dough is different, according to where it is made, the time of inception and the ingredients used to create it. Your dough is soft, warm and lumpy in your hands. You lovingly knead and palm the dough and it squeezes and transforms into a shape you see fit. You scatter flour over the dough if it sticks and you tenderly knead it into a perfectly smooth round dome. You allow it to rise in the very place you know will be warm and secure.
Now, it's in the oven. You're anxious. Will it rise? Will bake evenly? You're prepare for things you might never expect. But, who would have thought about eclampsia, gestational diabetes or preterm labor? More like being gassy, constipated and swollen like a beluga whale. You feel your first contractions and panic mode goes into high gear. HOLY  @)*&@$*&!!
Get me to L&D now!, you're screaming. You do your breathing exercises, but you have no idea if they are doing anything for you. The doctor says you need to be dilated to 10cm before you can start pushing. You think, "What? That's the size of a mini watermelon!". You're half dressed, half awake, half praying for the baby to come out. You've immediately asked for the epidural even if it wasn't in your original plan (I found this hilarious. Literally, ladies who are purists and say no to drugs will succumb to it). And then you're ready to push. Your husband, the doctors, the medical students, the nurse, and even the cleaning staff are cheering you on. PUSH, they say. Your face is scrunched up like you've eaten half a lemon and you push as hard as you can.
It's crowning...and the head is out! You're relieved that the hardest part is over and you take a deep breath and push. Suddenly, your little joy comes right out of the oven and you hold her to your bosom. You're so so exhausted, but you find wonder in the tiny little hands and a sense of accomplishment. You're surrounded by the soothing warmth and new smells. The baby's bottom is as soft as a freshly baked bun. All round, warm and still pinkish from her difficult journey.

Baking, birthing... all so unpredictable and imprecise. All so scary and wonderful at the same time. But, you look at your little bundle and you think… hell yeah...I did it.
Sorry, for the lame ending! I tried to make it all flowery and beautiful, but sometimes I just need to tell it like it is. At the end of labor, the student (that's me!) takes another 10 minutes to pull out the placenta. You're actually shivering cold (possibly from blood loss) and the doc is giving you a "fundal massage", which is like mashing up your uterus so it can stop bleeding. Labor is definitely not the most glamorous part of having a child and what little ounce of shame you had has flown out the window. You know that thing where you care who sees your hoo ha's? Yeah, well that's gone. But, it must definitely be all worth it, because the human race is still not extinct. I won't understand it now...but maybe in the next 10 years ha.

Thanks for reading! I really went on a bend at the end... but trying to be honest! ;)
Babka 2 ways: Nutella and Coconut Custard 
adapted from thesmittenkitchen
makes two loaves or 12 muffins

4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup warm water, plus more if needed
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

Dark Nutella with Cinnamon
1/2 cup nutella
1/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped or semisweet chips
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Coconut Custard
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp butter, softened
3 tbsp sugar
3/4-1 cup shredded coconut

a little less than 1/3 cup water
5 tbsp sugar
  1. Dough: In a mixer bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, yeast, eggs and water. With a dough hook, put mixer in low speed until it starts coming together. Pick up a little more speed and add a little water if necessary (2-3tbsps). It will look a little dry, but that's okay. Add butter 1 tbsp at a time on low, waiting for it to be incorporated into the dough before adding the next. Mix on low-medium for at least 5 minutes before you see the dough pulling from the side and becoming smooth. Mix and scrape down the bowl for another 5 minutes. Place rounded dough in oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge to rise overnight.
  2. Filling: mix each filling separately, set aside
  3. Grease 2 loaf pans or muffin pans and line with parchment paper. Work with half of the dough from the fridge. Roll out onto a floured counter to 10x7"
  4. Spread Nutella mixture all over leaving a 1/2 inch border at the ends. Roll lengthwise away from you so you get a long rolled up tube in the end. Just like if you were to make cinnamon buns.
  5. Cut 1.5 inch rounds from it and transfer onto greased muffin pan. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for 1.5 hrs
  6. Repeat for coconut custard filling. Although, I made a loaf out of it, so it could look like this loaf.
  7. Heat oven to 375F and place loaf/buns on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 20-25mins. The loaf will need another 10-15minutes more. You can check for doneness but sticking a chewer in it and if it pulls with more resistance than it should, then it should go back into the oven. Cover the top with foil if it browns too quickly.
  8. Once it is almost done baking, make the syrup topping by microwaving water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Let it cool a little and then brush it all over the buns/loaf as soon as they come out of the oven. Let buns rest for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack (or gobble straight out of the pan!)


  1. Can you leave the dough for longer than overnight? I would be making it around 8-9pm and then not taking it out until 3-4pm the next day to bake. Work is getting in the way of baking.

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