Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Chocolate babka

Stun your friends and family with this beautiful chocolate babka from David Lebovitz. This sweet and chocolate-y bread is something you'll always remember!

For those of you keeping count, yes, I have made a chocolate babka before. But that was about a year ago so it was time to make another loaf. This one comes to us from famed blogger and current Parisian David Lebovitz. The previous recipe that I tried made two loaves, and because we were going to be out of town the days following this baking experiment, I made only one loaf this time (the horror! I know better next time).

In full disclosure, I wanted to share that I did not allow my dough to rest in the refrigerator for 6 hours. I just don't have for long waiting periods like that, particularly when there's bread that needs to be baked and eaten. I went straight from mixing the dough to rolling and filling it. This probably wasn't a good move on my part because my dough was super soft and the dough strands were hard to twist together. As a result, I had a chocolate-y mess on my hands (quite literally).

Despite my impatience, my babka baked up beautifully. I suppose it may have set even better had I allowed it to rest and meld all the flavors together. Regardless, I was still a huge fan of the final product - a soft, sweet, buttery, and chocolate-y bread with just the perfect bit of crunch from the simple syrup layer that I drizzled over the top.

Chocolate babka
Dough
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 3/4 ounce (20 grams) fresh yeast)
  • Scant 1/2 cup (100 grams) whole or lowfat milk, warmed
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons (3 ounces or 90 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
Filling
  • 7 Tablespoons (3 and 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 ounces (80 g rams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 5 Tablespoons (40 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Syrup
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (62.5 milliliters) water
  • 1/2 Tablespoon honey
Directions
Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the yeast, milk, sugar and 1/3 cup of the flour. Let it rest for about 10-15 minutes until foamy.

Fit the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Turn the mixer to low and add in the butter, egg and salt until well mixed. Slowly add in the remaining 1 and 2/3 cups of flour. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour, about 1 Tablespoon at a time. Turn the mixer to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 4-5 minutes.

Cover the dough and refrigerate for 6 hours or up to overnight (I skipped this step and went directly to the next step since I am impatient).

Make the filling: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and mix until most of the sugar has dissolved. Turn the stove off, remove the pan from the heat and add in the chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth and allow to rest for 1 minute. Then add in the cocoa powder and ground cinnamon and mix until well blended. Set aside.

Roll and shape the dough: Generously grease a standard 9"x5" loaf pan. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out onto a lightly floured surface to an approximate 12" x 20" rectangle. Brush the filling on top, leaving at least 1 inch around all edges free of filling.

With the long side of the dough facing you, roll the dough up, jelly-roll style. With a sharp knife, slice the bread down the middle, length-wise. Turn each half of the dough, cut side up. Pinch one of the ends together and cross one side of the bread over the other. Continue to twist the bread, making sure that the cut sides of the bread remain up. Pinch the remaining end.

Transfer the bread to your prepared baking pan and allow to rest in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.

Make the syrup: While the dough is rising, boil the sugar, water and honey in a small saucepan. Let the mixture boil for 4 full minutes. Turn off the stove, remove the pan from the heat and set aside and allow to come to room temperature.

Finish the babka: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Bake your babka in your preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center (without chocolate) comes out clean. Once the babka is done baking, pour the syrup over the top.

Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing and serving. Do not attempt to remove the bread from the pan while it is warm or else it may fall apart.

Leftover bread should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for about 3 or 4 days. It can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: One 9"x5" loaf; about 8-12 servings

Source: Barely adapted from David Lebovitz; originally adapted from the Honey & Co. Baking Book by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich

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