Chocolate babka, a sweet yeasted cake filled with chocolate and cinnamon. It just sounds so delicious. I’ve read about others making it on several blog sites. Quite often the post starts off something like this… “The only reference I have to chocolate babka comes from Seinfeld”….yadda yadda yadda…
Well, not to sound like everyone else but it’s true. Most Seinfeld fans will say that it is their only reference to babka. It’s amazing what a TV sitcom can do for food, isn’t it? For me, Seinfeld alone is responsible for introducing mulligatawny soup and Drake’s coffee cake. Oh and I can’t help but think of the show everytime I see a Junior Mint, black and white cookie or a nonfat frozen yogurt place. I suppose this is sounding a bit crazy to some of you and if you’ve never seen the show, I am probably boring you. So on with the babka!
I’ve been wanting to make this for a very long time now. So what’s taken me so long? Well, the only recipe I thought looks good comes from Martha Stewart and it bakes three loaves! Not having made it before, I did not want to scale down the recipe. I’ve been hesitant because I was not sure what I’d do with that much babka. I finally decided to go with it and assumed I would find a takers for the extras. That was not hard at all!
If you are planning on trying this, give yourself lots of time. The dough needs time to rise twice and the baking time is long. I ended up using mini chocolate chips instead of finely chopped chocolate. If you can, I would definitely finely chop the chocolate. I think this will give it a smoother texture. It may seem like you’ve made a lo of streusel topping but it all melts in and makes it even better so don’t skip it!
Recipe (makes three 9 by 5 by 2 3/4 inch loaves) from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
For the babka
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1/2 ounce of active dry yeast
3/4 cup plus a pinch of sugar
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
6 cups all purpose flour plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces, plus more for greasing
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar into the milk. Stir and let it sit for five minutes until foamy. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, egg yolks, and yeast mixture. In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the 6 cups of flour and salt. Add the egg mixture and mix on low until the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 1 cup of butter and beat until incorporated and smooth, about 10 minutes. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, knead a few times until smooth. Place the dough in a buttered bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place to double in bulk. (About an hour)
For the filling and egg wash
2 pounds semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup butter
1 Tbs heavy cream
In a bowl stir together the chocolate, sugar and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender (or cake smoother) cut in the butter until combined. I another small bowl, whisk the egg and heavy cream and set aside.
For the streusel topping:
1 2/3 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
Combine the sugar and flour in a large bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Generously butter three 9 by 5 by 2 3/4 inch loaf pans and line with parchment paper leaving a 1-2 inch overhang on the sides. Brush more butter on the parchment. Punch down your dough and transfer it to clean surface and let it rest for five minutes.
Cut the dough into three equal parts. On a floured surface, roll out one piece into a 16 inch square, about 1.8 inch thick. Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash, crumble one third of the filling mixture over the dough leaving a 1 inch border. Roll up the dough into a tight log, then twist it five-six times. Brush the top of the log with egg wash and sprinkle some filling along the length. Fold the log into a horseshoe shape, then cross the right half over the left. Pinch it together to form a figure eight. Twist the whole thing again 1-2 times and fit it into the pan. Repeat with remaining dough.
Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash and sprinkle each with a third of the streusel topping. Loosely cover each with plastic wrap and let them rise in a warm place until the dough is expanded, about 40 minutes.
Bake the loaves, rotating half way through until golden, about 55 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and bake until the loaves are deep golden, 20 minutes more. If it is browning too quickly, loosely cover with foil. Transfer pans to a wire rack and let them cool. Wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.