I’m not going to lie – I discovered babka through Instagram. I’ve seen it on so many food magazine, blogger and other feeds that it got stuck in my mind and I decided I had to try it.
Aside from looking insanely cool, the process of making babka is pretty interesting (as well as long…). For one thing, I’ve never incorporated this much butter into a dough before, not that I’m complaining. It creates a rich, smooth and sticky dough, which means that when it’s rising overnight you need to liberally grease your parchment so it doesn’t stick.
The filling is rich and chocolatey – the addition of sea salt brightens the flavour and adds a little something extra. It’s a bit difficult to not just eat it all off your finger while making the babka.
Here’s to trying new things and getting chocolate all over your hands and floor!
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 cup milk, warmed
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 stick plus 2 tbsp salted butter, room temperature
- 9 oz milk chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate chips)
- 3 oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 cup salted butter, cubed
- 1 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups finely ground chocolate wafer cookies
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
In a bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar and salt, set aside. In a mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the milk with the yeast and a sprinkle of sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and yolk and add the dry ingredients on top. Mix at low speed until all incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix at medium speed until the dough is smooth, about 3-5 minutes.
Add butter in two parts, mixing in each until incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed. Don’t worry if it looks like the butter is just sticking to the bowl, as you scrape and mix it will incorporate. Continue to mix until the dough is smooth and stretchy, 3-5 minutes.
Transfer dough to a well greased bowl and roll the dough around in the bowl so all sides are buttered. Cover the bowl with a towel and allow to rise at room temperature for 1-1.5 hours until risen (may not double but will increase in bulk).
Press down the dough with your hands and split dough in half. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with greased parchment paper, shape each dough half into squares and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
Remove dough from fridge while making filling.
To make filling, place both chocolates, butter and cream in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature, then add crushed wafers, honey and salt, stirring until incorporated.
Grease two 9×4 loaf pans with butter and line with parchment paper so there is 1-2 inches of overhang on the long side. Set aside.
On a floured surface, roll each dough square into a 16 inch square. Set aside 1/2 cup of chocolate filling.
Spread 1/2 of the remaining filling on one dough square using an offset spatula, you don’t need to leave space on the border. Tightly roll the square away from you as if you were rolling a cinnamon bun. Repeat with other dough square.
With a sharp knife, cut one roll down the middle length-wise. Take half of the remaining filling and spread it over the top and sides of one cut piece on the non chocolate side. Take each piece and overlap like a cross, twisting around like a braid. Fold in half so it is about 9 inches long and set into prepared pan. Repeat with other roll.
Cover loafs with a towel and allow to rise for 1-1.5 hours until puffed. Bake at 360F for 35-45 minutes until puffed and well browned.
While baking, make the syrup by combining sugar and water in a pan over medium heat. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves.
As soon as the loaves are out of the oven, generously brush syrup all over each loaf. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Recipe adapted from Food and Wine