Chocolate Babka

 

IMG_9878

chocolate babka

I have been intrigued and intimidated by the twisty beautiful sweet bread known as the “Babka” for some time now.  I talked myself out of attempts to make it assuming it would we way too hard and should probably be left to the professionals, but you guys, I did it, and IT WAS AWESOME!  I’m certain that if I can pull this off, you can too, so don’t wait as long as I did and seriously just make this, you’ll be so glad you did!  I did enlist the help of my favorite food blogger @smittenkitchen Deb Perelman who gave super helpful step by step instructions and tips.  I can’t say I strayed to far from her recipe, but I’m excited to mix it up in future batches.  I’m sure you could make this with a cinnamon spice filling that would be epic or even something fruit-ish like with raspberry jam and cream cheese.  Listen to me getting all excited about the babka possibilities of my future.  Please enjoy!

Dough –

4 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons instant (rapid rise) yeast

grated zest of half an orange (you could also do a lemon, but orange was sublime)

3 large eggs

1/2 cup water (cold is fine) and up to 1-2 tablespoons extra if needed

3/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup butter at room temperature

 

Filling –

4 1/2 ounces (130 grams) dark chocolate (or 3/4 cup chocolate chips)

1/2 cup butter (cold is fine)

scant (means, not all the way full) 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional, but awesome)

 

Syrup –

1/3 cup water

6 tablespoons sugar

 

Make the Dough

  1. Combine the flour, sugar yeast and zest in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add eggs and 1/2 cup water, mixing with the dough hook until it comes together; this may take a couple of minutes.  It’s okay if it’s on the dry side, but if it doesn’t come together at all add some extra water a tablespoon at a time.
  2. With the mixer on low add the salt and the butter, a spoonful at a time, mixing until it’s incorporated into the dough.
  3. Mix on medium speed for 10 minutes until dough is completely smooth; you’ll need to scrape the bowl down a few times.  After about 10 minutes, the dough should began to pull away from the sides of the bowl.   I needed to add a few extra tablespoons of flour to help this process along.
  4. Coat a large bowl with oil – I used the mixer bowl by taking my dough out for a minute and greasing it down then plopping the dough back in.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.  (don’t worry if it doesn’t look like it doubled, it won’t rise as much as you think – but it will still work!)

Make Filling IMG_9871

  1. Melt butter and chocolate together until smooth.  Stir in powdered sugar and cocoa; mixture should form a spreadable paste – but it’s not super thick – it thickens up as it cools.  Add cinnamon if desired.

Assemble Loaves

  1. Coat two 9-by-4 inch loaf pans with oil or butter and line the bottom of each with a rectangle of parchment paper.  Take half the dough from the fridge (leave other half chilled).  Roll out on a well-floured counter to about a 10 inch width (side closest to you) and as long in length.  So about a 10×12 inch square or thereabouts.
  2. Spread half of the chocolate mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border all around.  Brush the end farthest away from you with water.  Roll the dough into a long tight cigar and seal dampened end.  Keep as cold as possible – I put my cigar in the freezer while I rolled out the other half.  IMG_9876
  3. Repeat these steps with the other half of the dough
  4. Gently cut log in half right in the middle, then cut your now two logs length-wise right down the middle opening them up and lay them next to each other cut sides up.  Do the same with your other cigar/log of dough.
  5. Pinch the top ends together and gently lift one side over the next, forming a twist, keeping the cut sides up because they are so pretty.  Pinch at the other end once you’ve made your twist.  Don’t stress out if it isn’t perfect – it will all look great and taste amazing and the next rise will hide mistakes for you.
  6. Put your twisted dough into the prepared loaf pan and repeat with other dough.
  7. Cover with damp tea towel and let rise a good 1 1/2 -2 hours at room temperature.  Pre-heating oven to 375 towards the end of your rise.

Bake and Finish Cakes

  1. With oven at 375 – Remove towels, place each loaf on the middle rack of your oven.  Bake for 30 minutes, but you can check doneness at 25.  Mine needed the full 30.  My first I took out too early and it was a bit undercooked in the middle.  If your babka is done you will feel almost no resistance when you push in a toothpick or cake tester.
  2. Make syrup while babka’s are baking.  Bring sugar and water to simmer until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool a little.  As soon as your babka’s leave the oven, brush the syrup all over each.  It will seem like too much, but will taste perfect.
  3. Let cool about halfway in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way (not something we had the patience for but suit yourself).

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen 2016

 

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