Nosh Out On Delicious Chocolate BabkaBack
Babka is a dense Polish bread that is swirled with chocolate or cinnamon and often topped with nuggets of cinnamon-sugar streusel. Until recently, it could only be found in Jewish or Eastern European bakeries and the occasional grocery store.
What makes babka so irresistible is the contrast between the slightly dry layers of bread and the sticky, delicious swirls of chocolate spread. Because it manages to be both light and dense at once, it’s difficult to stop at just one slice!
Laden with chocolate, butter, and old-world charm, this babka is luscious served as dessert, with coffee, or as breakfast. And, while it’s perfect alongside coffee, it’s by no means limited to morning consumption and can be all-too-easily noshed on as an afternoon snack or dessert. While baking, the rich dough becomes incredibly tender, so it pulls apart in buttery pieces that melt in your mouth.
- 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
For egg wash
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk
For chocolate filling
- 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
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 8 3/4- by 4 1/2- by 2 3/4-inch loaf pans
- 1 parchment paper
- 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.
Babkas keep, wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil, frozen 3 weeks.