Chocolate Babka

Now that the nice weather is back I find myself back to my old self of cooking and baking.  I just love this cool weather!!  I think one thing I really missed during the hot and humid Summer was baking.  Not necessarily cake, but bread and different pastries.  I could feel my creativity come back (not that I have a lot).  There are few recipes I wanted to try making at home, one of the recipe is for Chocolate Babka.  Going to a nice bakery, a whole ring or loaf of Chocolate Babka can cost almost $12.00!  With that as my incentive I tried tackling babka today.  Babka’s origin can be traced to Jews living in Eastern Europe.  It’s made of yeast dough, where the dough is twisted when baked, and almost always have cinnamon or chocolate fillings.  Also, many times it’s topped with streusel.  
The recipe I used came from Epicurious and Gourmet magazine, but revised it a little to adjust to my style and taste. 

Yield: Makes 2 loaves
Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 6 hours

For dough

  • 3/4 cup warm milk (105–115°F)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast (from two 1/4-oz packages)
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
  • 2 whole large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened

For egg wash

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk

For chocolate filling

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, well softened
  • 2 (3 1/2- to 4-oz) bars fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Special equipment: a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; 2 (8 3/4- by 4 1/2- by 2 3/4-inch) loaf pans; parchment paper

For simple brown sugar crumb topping

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, room temperature

Make dough:
Stir together warm milk and 2 teaspoons sugar in bowl of mixer. Sprinkle yeast over mixture and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If yeast doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
Add 1/2 cup flour to yeast mixture and beat at medium speed until combined. Add whole eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low, then mix in remaining 2 3/4 cups flour, about 1/2 cup at a time. Increase speed to medium, then beat in butter, a few pieces at a time, and continue to beat until dough is shiny and forms strands from paddle to bowl, about 4 minutes. (Dough will be very soft and sticky.)  ** I diverted from the recipe here and kneaded the dough using the French method (slamming the dough to the counter and folding.  Repeat this process for approximately 10minutes until the dough is smooth, non-sticky, and has elasticity). 
Scrape dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
IMG_1175 Dough before rising
IMG_1176 Dough after rising
Assemble babkas with filling:
Line each loaf pan with 2 pieces of parchment paper (1 lengthwise and 1 crosswise).
Punch down dough with a lightly oiled rubber spatula, then halve dough. Roll out 1 piece of dough on a well-floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into an 18- by 10-inch rectangle and arrange with a long side nearest you.
Beat together yolk and cream. Spread 2 1/2 tablespoons softened butter on dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Brush some of egg wash on long border nearest you.
Sprinkle half of chocolate evenly over buttered dough, then sprinkle with half of sugar (2 tablespoons). Starting with long side farthest from you, roll dough into a snug log, pinching firmly along egg-washed seam to seal. Bring ends of log together to form a ring, pinching to seal. Twist entire ring twice to form a double figure 8 and fit into one of lined loaf pans.
Make another babka with remaining dough, some of egg wash, and remaining butter and chocolate in same manner. Chill remaining egg wash, covered, to use later. Loosely cover pans with buttered plastic wrap (buttered side down) and let babkas rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until dough reaches top of pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Alternatively, let dough rise in pans in refrigerator 8 to 12 hours; bring to room temperature, 3 to 4 hours, before baking.)
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Brush tops of dough with remaining egg wash. Bake until tops are deep golden brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped (when loaves are removed from pans), about 40 minutes. Transfer loaves to a rack and cool to room temperature.
IMG_1180
IMG_1184

Note: Babkas keep, wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil, frozen 3 weeks.

My opinion:  We all absolutely loved this babka!!  I personally loved how the dough turned out.  I seriously think the French method of kneading helped.  Next time, I will make plain babka  because I loved the dough so much!!!  Let the babka cool completely to slice without the bread crumbling down.  However, if you don’t mind the look of it, slice it when it’s semi-warm and eat while it’s still warm!!  What a treat!!  Please keep in mind, this recipe isn’t for one of those spontaneous moments, you have to plan this out because it does take 6 hours (mostly waiting for the dough to rise).  This is a great recipe if you can plan it out, and when you have different chores around the house to do.

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2 thoughts on “Chocolate Babka

  1. totally amazing and scrumptious-looking… this would be perfect for a Christmas breakfast i think… or even Easter… i m gonna make some time this weekend if i can to bake both this and the cinnamon rolls ne 😉

  2. it takes a very detail-oriented, meticulous, patient person to bake, which suits you perfectly!! i have gotten so bored these days, i need to pick up a hobby…my family loves bread and pastries but i don't know if i have the stamina to do it! it looks delicious though *sigh*

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