I was still in the mood to play with dough after making the cinnamon rolls, so I dug up a chocolate babka recipe that I’ve wanted to try. I’m also beginning to feel as though I could use the practice. It’s so hard for me to predict how yeast recipes will turn out based on the ingredients, so I’m usually a bit nervous with the outcome. This dough however, came together just as instructed. After mixing all of the ingredients, the dough was very soft and sticky, and smelled wonderful. I was excited. I imagined slicing a nice thick piece of bread and spreading it with butter, that taste slightly sweet like challah with chocolate.
I formed the dough, rolled it out , and baked it without incident. Ok, well I had a little bit of trouble with forming the figure eight for some reason, but I decided not to worry about it and put the bread in the oven. The entire time I was putting this together though, something didn’t feel right, like I did something wrong. I reread the directions and everything seemed fine, so I waited and waited for the bread to bake.
I finally took the bread out of the oven, waited for it to cool a bit, then sliced a nice thick piece, preparing myself for babka nirvana. It was good, very good, but not as sweet as I thought it would be, and the chocolate was a little on the dry side.
Slightly disappointed, I began to clean up the kitchen. As I’m grabbing bowls, and putting away canisters, I grab one of my kitchen towels on the counter and I see a measuring cup with sugar and half a stick of butter behind it. I forgot to add this to the chocolate filling!!! Good grief. I was so worried about chopping the chocolate fine enough for the bread, that I completely forgot about adding the butter and sugar. I know this would fix the sweetness issue I had, but I’m not sure if the butter would’ve made a difference. I guess I’ll have to make this again to find out.
Note: I only had one loaf pan, so I prepared the second loaf as instructed, but I sliced the dough and put them in an oversized muffin pan. They turned out well.
- 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
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk
- 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 (I only had super sized chocolate chips on hand, so I chopped those instead)
- 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
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.)
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.
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. Via epicurious.