Thursday, April 29, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger Alan Orloff

Today I'd like to welcome Alan Orloff to Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen. Alan has a new release--Diamonds for the Dead, which is getting great reviews. He's also writing a new series for Midnight Ink--The Last Laff series. Thanks so much for coming by today, Alan!
Thanks for inviting me to guest blog today. And what a great blog you have—combining mysteries and food? Genius!
I’m a cake kind-of-guy.
Some people prefer ice cream; others dig pie or candy or cookies. I even know one misguided soul who claims to be a flan lover. But when it comes to dessert, I’ll choose cake every time.
Such variety. Such wonderful flavors. And don’t even get me started on icing. (Hey, what other dessert can you write on? If they can have cell phone and Twitter novels, what about a novel written in icing on birthday cakes? I’ll volunteer to beta read that baby!)
So when Elizabeth/Riley asked me to guest blog here today, my thoughts immediately went to cake (although, I must admit, I also considered pulling out my Tofu-Cornapalooza recipe, but decided the public might not be quite ready for that. Maybe another time.).
Anyway, enough rambling. Let’s get our cake on!
Babka This recipe is for chocolate babka, a traditional eastern European cake (maybe Russian, I don’t know). This cake used to show up at my grandmother’s apartment from time to time. It didn’t last long. This cake also makes an appearance in my just-released novel, DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD, in a scene where the main character sits shiva for his deceased father. This babka is not real cake-y, but more of a cross between a rich egg-bread and cake. Most importantly, there’s chocolate!
Because I’m basically lazy, this recipe uses a bread machine for the dough.
Chocolate Babka
Put the following ingredients into the bread machine pan in order listed. Run on the dough setting.
1/3 cup milk
1/3 water
2 large eggs (no shell)
1/4 cup oil (cooking, not motor)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp yeast
Combine the following for the filling/topping.
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Melt 1/4 margarine in a bowl.
Grease a ten-inch fluted tube or bundt pan. Spoon some of the filling into bottom of pan.
When dough cycle is complete, divide dough into 16 equal segments. Roll each ball into melted margarine, then roll through the filling. Place into pan. Use eight balls for the first layer, then top with the remaining eight balls. Toss in any remaining filling (or eat it--hey, you deserve a treat!).
Cover and let rise for an hour to an hour and a half.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
After dough has risen, bake for about forty minutes, or until golden brown.
If you happen to be at the Malice Domestic convention tomorrow, look for me and say hello. I’ll be the one with babka crumbs on my chin. Actually, if you sit at my table at the New Authors Breakfast on Saturday morning, you can get your very own slice of chocolate babka to snack on later in the day!

Alan Orloff is the author of the just-released mystery, DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD (Midnight Ink). The first book in his new series is KILLER ROUTINE - A Last Laff Mystery, featuring Channing Hayes, a stand-up comic with a tragic past (Spring 2011, also from Midnight Ink). A former engineer, marketing manager, and newsletter editor, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two children. When he's not writing or reading, he's cooking and eating. For more info, visit


  1. Thanks so much for visiting the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today, Alan! And for sharing this GREAT recipe. I'm looking at the picture and thinking that 6 a.m. would be a *wonderful* time for some chocolate babka. :)


  2. Alan, welcome! How nice to see you on our blog! Love the babka recipe and can't wait for your new book!

  3. Alan, your cake looks and sounds delicious. Anything with chocolate has got to be good. Wishing you much success with your book and your new series.

    Thoughts in Progress

  4. This cake looks YUM DELISH!!! I love baking cakes and this is definitely going on my "to be baked" list. Thank you!

  5. Hi Alan - So great to see you in our kitchen! As usual, you have the wittiest posts. I love your idea of writing a novel with icing. I can see the titles now - "Sweet Revenge," "The Butter Did It," "Chocolate Dropped" -- okay, I'll stop. I love your titles, too, and I'm really looking forward to reading DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD and your upcoming LAST LAFF series. They sound like fantastic reads! Have a wonderful time at Malice. (Can't make it this year, but I'll be there in deadly spirit.)

    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  6. Looks yummy. Haven't attempted baking yet since we've moved (but then, it's only been a few days, and my kitchen stuff hasn't arrived). But the 9100 foot elevation will make baking a challenge, I understand.

  7. Hi Alan and welcome! Wonderful post. My grandmother (Busia) made babka regularly, but never chocolate! I have to try this. I really do. Wish I was going to Malice to sample some, but I guess I'll just have to make my own.

    Have fun at Malice!

  8. Elizabeth - Thanks to you, and all the other Kitcheners, for inviting me to post today. I love your blog (in fact, I made the bacon-wrapped string beans I saw here for Thanksgiving, and they were a big hit!) It's not that often people ask me for recipes :)

    Avery - Thanks! I can't wait for your book, too. Couple months, right?

    Mason - Thanks! That is an actual photo of the actual cake I made for Malice (don't worry, I put it in the freezer). And I didn't even have to use Photoshop!

    Kaye - Thanks! I hope your TBB (To Be Baked) list is shorter than my TBR list.

    Cleo - Thanks! The Butter Did It -- very nice! Maybe you'll get to Malice next year. I could always make another babka!

    Terry - I'm not sure, but I think the elevation modification requires you to double the amount of chocolate.

    Julie - Yeah, there are all different types of babka. I saw one that used almond paste, in addition to the chocolate. THAT sounds good.

  9. Alan -- doubling the chocolate. Sounds good, regardless of the outcome. Will have to apply that to all my baking attempts. At least eating the disasters will probably be easier.

  10. Babka -- always reminds me of the Seinfeld
    episode with the cinnamon babka. Oh, it looks
    delicious! Thanks for joining us, Alan!

  11. Terry - Strange, isn't it, how chocolate is recommended for every recipe modification.

    Jenn - Ha! Too bad there wasn't a Seinfeld episode about Tofu-cornapalooza. (That dish just doesn't get its due.)

  12. That picture made my mouth water. It looks delicious! If only I had a bread machine...oh, and most of the ingredients, I'd have cake instead of dinner tonight!)

  13. Jane - I love my bread machine. If only I could cook everything in it!

    Ladies of the Kitchen: Thanks again for letting me visit today. I enjoyed meeting some of your blog readers and I always enjoy spreading the word about cake.