Bakealong Chocolate Babka

Its a new month which means a new bakealong challenge. Need a refresher on what that means? Check out this post for more info.

this month brings chocolate babka. If you’re unsure what babka is, it’s a sweet yeast dough filled and twisted before being topped with streusel. This one has a pretty common chocolate filling, with the addition of chocolate chips and chopped nuts. I’m not usually  fan of babka, but this one is so good, I couldn’t stop eating it.

Like last time, I’ll post the recipe with photos and my own notes in bold. You can check out the original recipe here. Also like last time, I recommend using the buttons at the top of the recipe to switch to ounces or grams for a more exact recipe.

Pay attention to the times in this recipe! I thought it would have 30 min to 1 hour rises like other doughs, but each rise is 1 1/2 to 2 hours and another hour to bake. I made the mistake of starting this after work and didn’t get to bed till late because of it.

DOUGH

  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
  • 2 tablespoons instant yeast, SAF Red or SAF Gold instant yeast preferred the little packets in the baking aisle are fine, but if you plan on making bread often, invest in a large bag of good yeast.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature*
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

FILLING

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa, Triple Cocoa Blend, or the cocoa powder of your choice, Dutch-process or natural  I used Dutch processed 
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder I didn’t have this and honestly I don’t know if I would have liked it anyway
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips I used mini chips
  • 1 cup diced pecans or walnuts, toasted if desired

GLAZE

  • 1 large egg beaten with a pinch of salt until well-combined

TOPPING

  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the dough ingredients (starting with the lesser amount of water), mixing until everything is moistened. Add additional water if necessary to enable the dough to come together. If your dough looks like my picture add more water, my dough was too dry when I tried to kneed it.20170404_185240
  2. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Then mix/knead it until it’s soft and smooth. I used the dough hook in my mixer.20170404_193218
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and cover the bowl. The dough is going to rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until it’s quite puffy.20170404_212825
  4. Gently deflate the dough, and divide it in half. Set the pieces aside, covered, while you make the filling.IMG_0310
  5. To make the filling: Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and espresso or not. Stir in the melted butter. The mixture will look grainy and slick; that’s OK.IMG_0311
  6. Shape each half of the dough into a 9″ x 18″, 1/4″-thick rectangle. Don’t be fussy about this; 19″ or 20″ is as good as 18″.
    Smear each piece of the dough with half the filling, coming to within an inch of the edges. I rolled mine a bit longer to get more, thinner layers. Also don’t just plop the filling in the middle and spread. It’s thick and can be hard to.spread thin, so I dropped small amounts all over the dough, then spread it all out to form anot even layer.
  7. Scatter half the chips and nuts over each piece. If desired, process the chips in a food processor first, to create smaller bits of chocolate and a less chunky filling. I just used mini chips instead.IMG_0312
  8. Starting with a short end, roll each piece gently into a log, sealing the seam and ends.IMG_0313
  9. Working with one log at a time, use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthwise (not crosswise) to make two pieces of dough about 10″ long each; cut carefully, to prevent too much filling from spilling out.IMG_0314
  10. With the exposed filling side up, twist the two pieces into a braid, tucking the ends underneath. Repeat with the other log.IMG_0315
  11. Place each log into a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Don’t stress to much if this is a little messy, there’s a streusel that will help cover up any mess.IMG_0316
  12. Brush each loaf with the egg glaze. Mix together the topping ingredients until crumbly, and sprinkle half the topping over each loaf.IMG_0317
  13. Tent each pan with plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise until they’re very puffy and have crowned a good inch over the rim of the pan, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.IMG_0318
  14. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 300°F.IMG_0319
  15. Bake the bread for 35 minutes. Tent lightly with foil, and bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes (for a total of 50 to 60 minutes); the loaves should be a deep-golden brown. I swear to god the hardest part of this recipe was lightly tenting with tinfoil and NOT having it blow off before I could even close the oven. It’s not even a convection oven!IMG_0320
  16. To ensure the loaves are baked through, insert a digital thermometer into the center of one loaf. It should register at least 190°F.
  17. Remove the loaves from the oven, and immediately loosen the edges with a heatproof spatula or table knife. Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out of the pans onto a rack to cool completely. I just want to reiterate loosening the loves when they’re warm. I forgot to, and they were difficult to remove once they cooled.
  18. Slice the babka and serve it at room temperature; or rewarm individual slices briefly in a toaster, if desired. Store any leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.IMG_0323

The dough is really the most important part of this recipe, which means you can play around with the filling to.use the flavors you want. I’m already thinking about making a cinnamon nut, or a nutella babka soon.

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