Babka Wreath

Basically every weekend for the last month I’ve had bread braids on the brain.  I kept pondering making delicious babka inspired buns or a twist or a whole loaf, but I never had the time.

Well yesterday… I had time.

I’ve recently become obsessed with the Bake from Scratch magazine, and in their Holiday issue they had a feature on Northern European wreath breads, all simply stunning and begging to be made for a weekend baking project.  The Norwegian Julekake really caught my eye as I felt it was so versatile with fillings and I loved its braided shape.

I decided to try using the cardamom infused julekake dough with the chocolatey babka filling I tried and loved last year and it came out perfectly.  The dough had less cardamom flavour than I anticipated as the chocolate really stands out (if you want, sprinkle some cardamom over the filling if you’re looking for that subtle spice) and it was torn apart instantly at a 20 person family gathering.

One thing to note is be sure to use a baking sheet that’s on the larger side as the wreath will really expand while baking.  Like – double in size expand.  AKA perfect for a crowd.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • Egg wash: 1 egg whisked with 1 tsp water

Filling

  • 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

Steps

Bring milk just to a boil over medium heat.  Remove from heat and add sugar, butter and salt, whisking until incorporated.  Set aside to cool slightly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, stir warm water and yeast until combined.  Add milk mixture and mix until incorporated.  Stir in eggs.

Add flour and cardamom and mix on low until combined.  Increase mixer speed to medium-low and mix until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Place dough in a greased bowl and cover directly with plastic wrap.  Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

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Meanwhile, make the 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.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Punch down risen dough to expel air and roll into a 24×12 inch rectangle on a floured surface.  Spread chocolate filling onto dough rectangle, leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Tightly roll up the dough from the long side as if rolling cinnamon buns and press the edge to seal once rolled.

With a sharp knife, slice the roll lengthwise down the middle.  With cut sides facing up, tightly twist each piece around the other, forming a long  “braid”.  Form into a circle and pinch the edges together (this side may look “rustic”, but it will all come together after baking!)  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.

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Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together 1 egg and 1 tsp water for an egg wash and lightly brush it all over the dough wreath.  Bake for 40 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

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Dough recipe adapted from Bake from Scratch

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