February 25, 2010 in breads
Forgive me for posting this. You may very well gain 5 pounds just looking at the pictures.
This recipe, which makes 3 loaves, calls for almost an entire block of butter and a whopping 2 pounds of chocolate. Yeah, I had a bite and called it quits. It was an amazing bite though.
So what’s a babka? I didn’t know until about 5 minutes ago so I’ll share what I learned. According to Wikipedia it’s a spongy yeast cake that is served on Easter in Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Belarus, Ukraine and Western Russia. It’s usually filled with fruit and the chocolate version didn’t come about until modern times.
This recipe looks really intimidating but it’s not, I promise! I don’t have a fancy stand mixer (taking donations though! ;)) so I do everything by hand. It’s pretty much a brioche dough which means all of the butter is kneaded in. Obviously it gets pretty messy if you’re doing it by hand but once the butter is incorporated, it’s the prettiest dough.
Once you get ready to shape the loaves, there’s a lot of twisting, turning, and folding that I didn’t understand. You should’ve seen the first loaf. Chocolate EVERYWHERE. But the 2nd loaf looked better and the 3rd was almost perfect. So stick with it, it’s really not as complicated as the instructions make it out to be.
Now I think I’ll go defrost a piece that I “hid” from myself.
- 1½ cups warm milk (110°F)
- 2 envelopes (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
- 1¾ cups plus a pinch of sugar
- 3 whole large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3½ sticks (1¾ cups) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and pans
- 2 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1-2/3 cups confectioners sugar
- 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast and a pinch of sugar over the warm milk; stir until dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together Â¾ cup sugar, 2 eggs, and the yolks; add yeast mixture, and whisk to continue.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add the egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Switch to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until completely incorporated and a smooth, soft dough forms, about 10 minutes. The dough should still be slightly sticky when squeezed.
- Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead a few times until smooth. Place dough in a well-buttered bowl, and turn to coat with butter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- In a bowl, stir together chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and the cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in remaining 1Â½ sticks butter until combined; set aside filling.
- Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2Â¾-inch loaf pans and line with parchment paper, leaving a 1Â½-inch overhang along the sides. Brush more butter over the parchment, and set aside. Punch down the dough, and transfer to a clean work surface. Let the dough rest 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, beat the remaining egg with the cream. Cut dough into three equal pieces. On a well-floured work surface, roll out one piece of dough to a 16-inch square, about ⅛ inch thick. (Keep other pieces covered with plastic wrap while you work.) Brush edges of dough with the egg wash. Crumble one-third of the chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving about a Â½-inch border on the long sides. Roll up dough lengthwise into a tight log, pinching ends together to seal. Twist dough evenly down the length of the log, a full five or six times. Brush the top of the log with egg wash. Crumble 2 tablespoons filling down the center of the log, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold log in half into a horseshoe shape, then cross the right half over the left. Pinch ends together to seal and form a figure eight. Twist two more times, and fit into a prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- Preheat the oven to 350Â°F, with a rack in the lower third. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until dough has expanded and feels pillowy, about 40 minutes.
- Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325Â°F; bake until loaves are deep golden, 20 to 30 minutes more. (If the tops begin to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil.) Transfer pans to wire racks to cool completely. Babkas can be wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days.
- Combine sugar and flour in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger clumps remaining.
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker