A classic eastern European Jewish bread that contains chocolate…(gasp)…and I’d never heard of it.
I’ve found a new obsession: the King Arthur Flour monthly Bakealong Challenge. Each month, King Arthur Flour posts a new recipe on their blog and then baking enthusiasts like me bake, snap pictures and share! This Chocolate Babka was for the month of April. Yeah – I’m a ways behind (like they started the Bakealong Challenge in August 2016 with Pane Bianco). However, I am dedicated to catch up because these are FUN and awesome!
I suppose, my Friends, that you were wondering if I’d dropped off the face of the earth? I sorta did. We bought a house on a small acreage in April and moved!! No more apartment for us! Did you know that moving is number three on the list of top stressful situations (death of a loved one is #1 and divorce is #2)? The boys had to start a new school 6 weeks before the end of the school year AND ride the bus for the first time. Cody had to set up a new home office. Bella had to get used to the awesomeness of a fenced yard and running free!!
I’m very proud of how well the boys adjusted. Jack tried out for the local majors baseball team and made it! Charlie signed up to be in the talent show at the new elementary school and sang “I’m Still Standing” from Sing. They’ve made a few friends and Charlie admitted he was happy to be in the new house. I think I’m almost over the “mom guilt” of disrupting their lives.
Our new piece of the world is in a valley. We have a beautiful view of the Black Hills to the West and South. On the North side is a ranch with a few bulls and lots of horses (I love that sound!) – they come right up to the fence that separates our properties and Charlie was out there with Cody petting them. To the East is the rest of the valley and then out to the prairie. We are in the country folks! I now talk about “going to town” and it is great! I’ve never seen so many stars at night.
It is also a little overwhelming. I think Cody and I were getting pretty used to the easy apartment life. No home maintenance. No yard work. Well…we have WEEDS. We have a driveway that turns into a lake every time it rains. We have acres to mow and baby trees that need constant watering. We have wildlife, and I’m not talking about those sweet deer either. The neighbors told the story of a mountain lion under their back deck this spring and another neighbor had a badger. 🙂
As you probably guessed, the most important part of this adventure is the kitchen (for me). This Chocolate Babka is the first baking I’ve done in my new kitchen. This is a fun recipe. I love the feel of kneading yeast dough and how amazing it smells. Chocolate Babka is really made just like cinnamon rolls except the filling is a mixture of butter, sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder and espresso powder sprinkled with chocolate chips and toasted nuts. Rather than cutting the rolled up log of dough, it is twisted over and then placed in a loaf pan lined with a parchment paper “sling” (for easier removal). The top is sprinkled with a streusel that kept falling off and ending up in my mouth…
The twist makes a pretty pattern in the baked Babka. I should have taken more pictures because as the loaf is sliced, the pattern changes.
This Chocolate Babka bread is very rich and the chocolate is dark and “adult” (if I make it again, I’ll use milk chocolate chips for the boys because they would have liked it sweeter).
I loved it. Especially warmed up a little bit.
- 1 to 1¼ cups lukewarm water
- 2 large eggs
- 6¼ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup nonfat dry milk
- 2 T instant yeast
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup sugar
- 2½ tsp salt
- 10 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 T vanilla extract
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅓ cup dark cocoa
- ½ tsp espresso powder
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, mini preferred
- 1 cup diced pecans or walnuts, toasted
- 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.
- Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
- Mix/knead the dough until it is soft and smooth.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and cover the bowl.
- Let the dough rise 1½ to 2 hours or until quite puffy.
- Deflate the dough gently and divide it in half. Cover each half while making the filling.
- In a medium mixing bowl combine the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa and espresso powder.
- Stir in ¼ cup melted butter.
- The mixture will appear grainy and slick - this is correct.
- Measure out 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 1 cup diced pecans or walnuts.
- Assemble the Babka:
- Shape each piece of dough into a 9" x 18", ¼" thick rectangle.
- Spread it with half the chocolate filling, leaving an inch bare around the edges.
- Scatter the nuts and chocolate chips on top.
- Roll the dough into a log.
- Pinch the edges together to contain the filling.
- Double the log back on itself, like a skinny horseshoe. Then, give the horseshoe a twist.
- Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.
- Place each log into a lightly greased 9"x5" loaf pan lined with a parchment paper sling to help remove the loaves once they are baked.
- Top the Babka:
- Make a streusel topping: 4 T melted butter, ½ tsp ground cinnamon, ⅔ cup powdered sugar, ½ cup all-purpose flour.
- Beat 1 large egg with a pinch of salt.
- Brush each loaf with some of the beaten egg and sprinkle each loaf with half the streusel topping.
- Let the Loaves Rise:
- Tent each plan with plastic wrap and let the loaves rise until they are very puffy and have crowned a good inch over the rim of the pan, 1½ to 2½ hours.
- Bake the Babka:
- Place the two pans on a baking sheet.
- Bake the bread for 35 minutes.
- Tent lightly with foil and bake an additional 15-25 minutes.
- The loaves are done when deep-golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf registers at least 190 degrees F.
- Remove the loaves from the pans and cool completely on a cooling rack.