Bread- Homemade Bread. Is there anything better? The smell of dough rising, the aromas of yeast, flour and salt in the oven filling your home with wafts of pillowy warmth. Is there anything better than fresh bread out of the oven slathered with creamy butter- I submit there is NOT!
I’ve been doing a lot of bread baking this past year and tackling the glorious Chocolate Babka was on my “to do” list. Babka is made with an enriched dough of eggs, butter and instant yeast that rises overnight. Braided with ribbons of dark chocolate that melt into the rising bread, will leave your home smelling like chocolate chip cookies and bread. Baking bliss.
Served with piping hot coffee I cannot think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning. Pull out that New York Times crossword, curl up in front of the fire with your favorite cashmere throw and enjoy the day!
A few tips:
• Start the day before if you want the Babka for breakfast.
• The dough will prove for 2 hours and then need to be chilled overnight.
• It also needs to rise for 1 1/2 hours before baking and then it needs to cool completely for a hour before slicing.
• Make certain you roll out the dough thinly before spreading the filling. This insures more layers.
• Use softened butter when making the dough.
• Knead to dough for just a few minutes to make it extra supple before rolling.
• Sifting the powdered suagr and cocoa is a must.
• The Babka needs to cool completely before slicing. Patience is key.
Chocolate Babka- <br>Total time 14 hours (includes an 7-8 hour chilled rise)
- For the Dough:
2 cups + 2 TBSP All Purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
6 TBSP water
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus butter for the pan
- For the Chocolate Filling:
3 oz. Bittersweet/Dark Chocolate- 60% cacoa, chopped
5 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 TBSP espresso powder
- Syrup: Pour on when bread is right out of the oven
4 TBSP water
4 TBSP sugar
Directions- FOr the Dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine, the FLOUR, YEAST, SALT and SUGAR.
- Add in the EGGS and WATER and mix until the dough comes together and forms a ball. You may need to scrape down the sides.
Set the mixer to low and add in the BUTTER, one tablespoon at a time until it is fully incorporated. Turn up the mixer to medium and let the dough mix for another 8 minutes. The dough will be smooth and glossy.
- Lightly BUTTER a medium bowl, place the dough inside, cover with plastic and allow the dough to rest for 2 hours at room temperature. Make certain the dough is away from any drafts.
Transfer the covered dough to the fridge to rest for 7-8 hours or overnight.
- After the dough has rested for 7-8 hours, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. This is a good time to make the chocolate filling.
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured board. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Roll the dough out to a large rectangle that is about 1/4″ thick.
Method- For the chocolate filling:
- In a small sauce pan, melt the 5 TBSP BUTTER and the chopped CHOCOLATE until smooth.
- Sift the COCOA, INSTANT ESPRESSO POWDER and POWDERED SUGAR (icing sugar) together into a small bowl. Stir the dry mixture into the butter and melted chocolate and stir until smooth.
- The filling will be a thick paste. BUTTER a medium size loaf pan.
- With an off-set spatula, spread a thin layer of the filling onto the rolled out dough leaving a 1″ border/gap around the edges. Brush the end furtherest away from you with a little water to help seal the dough once rolled.
- Starting at the end closest to you, roll the dough up into a log. To get the tighest roll with the most layers, pull the dough towards you then roll- this creates a bit of lift under the dough so you can have a tight spiral.
- With a very sharp knife cut the log in half lengthwise. (See photos). Leave the cut side up and tuck the end closest to you under itself and seal together. Then gently lift the piece on the right over the piece on the left- keeping the cut side exposed.
Repeat, lifting the left side over the right side- like braiding, but not going underneath- just lifting over and placing down. (See photo)
- Tuck both ends under and gently lift the dough and putting the cut side up to expose the chocolate. Place the dough into a well buttered 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan.
- For baking the Babka:
- Pre heat your oven to 375 degrees.
- After you have twisted/ braided the dough and placed it into the loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1- 1 1/2 hours at room temperature.
- Bake the loaf at 375 for 30-40 minutes or until the top is a deep golden brown. Cover with foil if it browns too quickly.
for The Syrup:
- While the babka is baking, bring the 4 TBSP WATER and 4 TBSP SUGAR to a boil and simmer until all the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove the Babka from the oven and place it on a wire rack while still in the loaf pan. Brush it immediately with all the warm syrup.
This will make the top glossy and keep the bread moist. USe all the syrup.
- Let the bread rest for 30 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely for one hour on a wire rack.
- The bread freezes very well. It will keep for up to three days if stored in an airtight container.