Chocolate Babka

 

IMG_1537There’s been a hole in my heart since that whole brioche debacle a few months back, and I decided that I had to try again. Because that’s what you do when you’re learning to bake! You try, fail, swear, kick scream and lose your mind, and then after a length recovery you try again.

So I came across this, how you say, “chocolate babka”. As I understand it, it is a sweet bread that Jewish people like to make. Apparently there’s a Christian version too. But I’m not here to give you a history lesson. This blog is supposed to be informal – that’s why the pictures are shoddy and the banner looks like crap. I don’t know anything about graphic design. I’m slowly learning, but I’ll tell you that while trying to create that banner I cried.

Anyway, I knew I had to give bread-baking another go. And I didn’t totally blow it this time. Well, you can be the judge of that. But remember this: when you bake something, nobody remembers what it looked like. They remember how it tasted. And you can learn from all my petty mistakes.

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Chocolate Babka

INGREDIENTS

Dough:

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 package (2½ teaspoons) quick rising yeast
  • grated orange zest of 1/4 orange (or about 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup water (cold is ok) and up to 1 to 2 tablespoons extra, if needed
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup butter at room temperature
  • canola oil or melted butter, for greasing

Chocolate filling:

  • 6 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chip
  • ¼ cup butter, cold is fine
  • Scant ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder

Glaze:

  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar

Method:

1. Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and orange zest in a stand mixer. Add eggs and 1/4 cup water, mixing on low until dough comes together. You may want to scrape the bowl periodically, and if the dough is too dry to come together, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until it does.

2. Mixing on low, add the salt, then the butter, one spoonful at a time until it’s incorporated into the dough. Mix at medium speed for 6-10 minutes or until dough is smooth and has pulled away from the sides of the bowl.

3. Place dough ball into a large, greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerat.e for at least 12 hours or overnight (I had mine in overnight). The dough will expand but not quite double.

4. Grease a 9×4″ loaf pan with vegetable oil or butter. Line the bottom with a square of parchment paper. Set aside. Remove the dough from the fridge and dust counter (or any large baking surface) with flour. Roll out dough to about a 10-inch width, horizontally, then roll vertically (away from you) as long as possible, about 10-12 inches.

5. Prepare chocolate filling. Melt butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in icing sugar and cocoa until you’ve formed a smooth spreadable paste. My mistake here was that I prepared the filling too much in advance – it will be easier to spread while it’s still warm.

6. Spread the chocolate filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch perimeter. Brush the edge furthest away from you with water. This will act as glue to seal the log we’re about to make. Roll the dough up tightly into a log. Press the dampened end onto the log. Carefully transfer the log onto a parchment-lined tray or cutting board and freeze for 10 minutes. This will firm up the log and make it easier to slice.

7. Trim the last 1/2-inch off each end of your log. With the gentle touch of a Christmas sprite, slice the log in half lengthwise and lay both halves next to each other, cut sides up. Pinch the top ends together carefully. Lift one piece over the next, repeating until you reach the end. Transfer the twist into the loaf pan (to the best of your ability) and, if you wish, hide the ends of the log by tucking them inwards.

*The mistake I made with this step is that I moronically didn’t realize i was supposed to twist the dough more than once. So my loaf isn’t as impressive looking as it could have been. Please learn from my derpy brain.

8. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Go read Reddit or something. Go pet your dog. Go talk to your slippers.

9. Hi again, friend (or imaginary person that isn’t even reading this post).
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake babka for 30 minutes (I checked it at the 25 minute mark). A wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf should come out clean when it’s done and slide in easily. If the babka needs more time, the skewer will come out with dough on it, and will feel more resistance when inserted. (If you find that it’s browning too quickly, cover it with foil and send it back into the oven). You can keep checking every five minutes or so near the end.

10. Make the glaze while the babka is in the oven. Bring the sugar and water to a simmer until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside. When the babka comes out of the oven, immediately brush all the glaze onto the loaf with a pastry brush. It will immediately begin to sparkle and glow in the sunlight, or, if you baked this at night, you will see beams of light bursting from the folds of the babka, and tiny unicorns climbing out of the pan.

11. Hi mom
 IMG_1448Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and orange zest in a stand mixer.

 IMG_1453IMG_1455 IMG_1456 IMG_1457
Add eggs and 1/4 cup water, mixing on low until dough comes together. You may want to scrape the bowl periodically, and if the dough is too dry to come together, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until it does.
IMG_1458

IMG_1462IMG_1463

Mixing on low, add the salt, then the butter, one spoonful at a time until it’s incorporated into the dough. Mix at medium speed for 6-10 minutes or until dough is smooth and has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. The sound of the buttery dough slapping around in the bowl is weirdly satisfying.
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IMG_1467Place dough ball into a large, greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerat.e for at least 12 hours or overnight (I had mine in overnight). The dough will expand but not quite double.

IMG_1468

Grease a 9×4″ loaf pan with vegetable oil or butter. Line the bottom with a square of parchment paper. Set aside. Remove the dough from the fridge and dust counter (or any large baking surface) with flour. Roll out dough to about a 10-inch width, horizontally, then roll vertically (away from you) as long as possible, about 10-12 inches.

IMG_1499IMG_1503
Yeah I used a tape measure. 
IMG_1494Prepare chocolate filling. Melt butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in icing sugar and cocoa until you’ve formed a smooth spreadable paste. My mistake here was that I prepared the filling too much in advance – it will be easier to spread while it’s still warm.

IMG_1504 IMG_1507
Spread the chocolate filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch perimeter.
IMG_1508 IMG_1511
IMG_1512 IMG_1513
Brush the edge furthest away from you with water. This will act as glue to seal the log we’re about to make. Roll the dough up tightly into a log.
IMG_1514 IMG_1515
Press the dampened end onto the log. Carefully transfer the log onto a parchment-lined tray or cutting board and freeze for 10 minutes. This will firm up the log and make it easier to slice.

IMG_1516Trim the last 1/2-inch off each end of your log. 
IMG_1522 IMG_1523
With the gentle touch of a Christmas sprite, slice the log in half lengthwise and lay both halves next to each other, cut sides up. Pinch the top ends together carefully. Lift one piece over the next, repeating until you reach the end. Transfer the twist into the loaf pan (to the best of your ability) and, if you wish, hide the ends of the log by tucking them inwards.
IMG_1524 IMG_1525

IMG_1526 Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

IMG_1529 Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake babka for 30 minutes (I checked it at the 25 minute mark). A wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf should come out clean when it’s done and slide in easily. If the babka needs more time, the skewer will come out with dough on it, and will feel more resistance when inserted. (If you find that it’s browning too quickly, cover it with foil and send it back into the oven). You can keep checking every five minutes or so near the end.

Make the glaze while the babka is in the oven. Bring the sugar and water to a simmer until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside. When the babka comes out of the oven, immediately brush all the glaze onto the loaf with a pastry brush. It will immediately begin to sparkle and glow in the sunlight, or, if you baked this at night, you will see beams of light bursting from the folds of the babka, and tiny unicorns climbing out of the pan.

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You could totally make this.

Adapted from smitten kitchen.

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7 Comments

  1. I really love your blog, your posts are all so beautiful and everything looks delicious! I just followed you, it would be great if we can support each other 🙂 I am so glad I got to discover you <3

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