Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Chocolate babka

This thick and buttery babka is made even better with the addition of a decadent chocolate filling! Eat one and gift the others to a friend (or eat both on your own - I won't tell).

Ever heard of babka? It's a Polish yeast cake that looks like a twisted bread loaf. It's nothing short of buttery, chocolate-y amazingness that you won't want to stop eating. It is a bit like brioche, except with chocolate.

We saw a recipe for chocolate babka recently (maybe from one of our food magazines), and my husband said that we had to make this. I finally found some time to make it and was surprised that it took 2 days. I made the dough one afternoon, allowed it to rest/rise overnight in the refrigerator and then shaped and baked it the next day. Most of the time was spent waiting, so this wasn't a hard recipe to make at all.


We start with a basic brioche-like dough, then add a chocolate filling and roll it up like cinnamon rolls. Then you slice the roll in half, twist it up and bit and bake it. And when it comes out of the oven, you douse on some simple syrup. Yum...

This babka was so incredible that we decided to keep both loaves to ourselves. Yup, no sharing this time. We normally share everything that I make, so this was definitely unlike us. We ate the first loaf in about 2 days and started the 2nd loaf shortly afterwards.

I hope you try this babka. If you don't know what to do with the second loaf, please send it to me. We'll happily devour it for you.

Chocolate babka
Dough
  • 4 and 1/4 cups (530 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • Zest of 1 small lemon or half an orange
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup water plus more as needed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter (150 grams or 5.3 ounces) at room temperature
  • Sunflower or other neutral oil, for greasing
Filling
  • 4 and 1/2 ounces (130 grams) dark chocolate (or 3/4 cup chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Syrup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 6 Tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar
Directions
Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment (or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer/mixing by hand), whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast and zest. Add the eggs and 1/2 cup of the water and mix on medium speed until a dough forms. If it's too dry, add one teaspoon of water at a time until it comes together. Then add the butter a little bit at a time until it is fully incorporated. Keep mixing for a good 5-10 minutes until a smooth, pliable dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a generously greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to rest for at least 12 hours, or preferably overnight. Note that the dough will NOT double.

Make the filling: In a medium sized bowl, melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave and mix until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon and mix well until a paste forms.

Form the loaves: Generously grease two loaf pans and set aside. Take the chilled dough out and divide it in half. Put one piece back in the refrigerator while you work with the first piece. Roll it out to a 10 inch long rectangle. Spread the filling on top of the rectangle and leave a half inch border all around. Roll the dough up, jelly-roll style, with the longest side facing you. Place the dough in the freezer for 10-15 minutes while you repeat with the other piece of dough.

Take the loaves out of the refrigerator and cut each in half, lengthwise. This will get messy! Place them cut-side up on a clean working surface. Take two halves and place them next to each other. Pinch the ends together and twist the rest of the "strands" together. Try to make sure the cut side is visible for a better presentation. Repeat with the other two halves of dough. Place them in the prepared loaf pans and allow them to rise at room temperature for another 1 and 1/2 hours.

Bake the babka: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Bake your loaves for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Make the syrup: While the loaves are baking, bring the sugar and water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Pour this over the bread after you take them out of the oven.

Keep babkas in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep well for about 5 days or can be frozen and thawed.

Yield: Two loaves

Source: smitten kitchen

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