Love that Babka!

Would you believe me if I said my husband has had a bit of a Babka Obsession for at least the last six months? It’s true. The man has been bugging me about babka since last spring!

A while back, (quite a while, if I’m being honest), Eric and I were enjoying a quiet evening at home with our favorite show – Seinfeld! If you’re a fan, then you remember the infamous “Dinner Party” episode. The gang stops off a cake and bottle of wine before heading to a dinner party for the evening. Hilarity ensues.

Elaine insists on getting a chocolate babka – only to find she misses the last one because she didn’t take a number before getting in line at the bakery. She’s stuck with the “lesser babka.” The cinnamon. There’s a hair involved.

In other words, it’s hilarious.

So Eric looks over at me and says: You should make babka.
Me: Okay.
Pause, pause. Blink, blink.
Eric: What’s a babka?
Me: Um. I’m not sure.

Commence scratching of head.

Luckily there was a laptop nearby. Google to the rescue! We learned that babka was a cross between a yeast bread and sweet cake. A sweet, buttery yeast dough is folded around a sweet filling (such as chocolate or cinnamon).We also learned that this delicious bread is a favorite of Jewish families at Hanukkah.

His eyes went wide – like a little kid in a candy store. “I want that!” He declared. YUM. I was intreguied too. I love trying new things and learning about other’s traditions. And it’s always and honor and pleasure to try them in my own home, even if I’m not all that familiar. I love expanding my knowledge and my palate. I made a mental note to make Eric a babka.

And so began the Great Babka Obession of 2009. He’s been asking and asking me to make one. And asking. Again and again and again. I kept telling him I would but I just never got around to it. When I opened my December issue of Cooking Light and it fell right to a chocolate babka recipe, I figured it was a sign – time to make my husband his babka. And since the holidays are just around the corner, I decided this was the perfect time to try it!

Two words: Oh. My. Delicious! Absolutely delicious. Eric watched with excitement as I sliced into the buttery, golden brown exterior…

To reveal the swirls of chocolately goodness inside. Oh, it’s just so good. Perfect for dessert or a decadent holiday breakfast. A loaf of this along with some specialty coffee or tea would make a delightful and special homemade gift this season.

The best part of all, is it’s pretty easy to make. A little time consuming, but really, this is an easy to dough to make and even easier to work with! It rolled like a dream. The chocolate filling isn’t overly sweet and I loved the subtle hint of spiciness from the cinnamon. And it’s oh-so pretty.

Don’t wait months and months to try this like I did….you will not be disappointed!

CHOCOLATE BABKA (Recipe Source: Cooking Light, December 2009)

**Note** When rolling the dough around the filling, really roll it and pinch it tight. As tight as you can. I don’t think I rolled mine quite tight enough (see the gaps in the photo…) Also, if you want clean, nice slices where you can really see the swirl inside, it is essential you let the bread cool completely before cutting into it. It’s so soft and delicious, it will smoosh and turn to mush if you try to cut it when it’s warm. Just try to resit the warm, chocolatey goodness. It will be hard. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Dough:

  • 1  teaspoon  granulated sugar
  • 1  package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3/4  cup  warm 1% low-fat milk (105° to 110°)
  • 6  tablespoons  granulated sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 7.5  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 2/3 cups), divided
  • 5.85  ounces  bread flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 5  tablespoons  butter, cut into pieces and softened
  • Cooking spray

Filling:

  • 1/2  cup  granulated sugar
  • 3  tablespoons  unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 4  ounces  semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Streusel:

  • 2  tablespoons  powdered sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
  • 1  tablespoon  butter, softened

DIRECTIONS:

1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and yeast in warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer; let proof for 5 minutes. Stir in 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and egg yolk. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 6 ounces (about 1 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour and bread flour to milk ; beat with dough hook at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add 5 tablespoons butter, beating until well blended. Scrape dough out onto a floured surface (dough will be very sticky). Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add 1.5 ounces (about 1/3 cup) all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft).

2. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft free place for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let dough rest 5 minutes.

3. Line the bottom of a 9 x 5–inch loaf pan with parchment paper; coat sides of pan with cooking spray.

4. For the filling, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and chocolate in a  bowl; set aside.

5. Place dough on a heavily floured surface; roll dough out into a 16-inch square. Sprinkle filling over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border around edges. Roll up dough tightly, jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam and ends to seal. Holding dough by ends, twist dough 4 times as if wringing out a towel. Fit dough into prepared pan. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

6. Preheat oven to 350°.

7.  For the streusel, combine powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, and 1 tablespoon softened butter, stirring with a fork until mixture is crumbly; sprinkle streusel evenly over dough. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; the remove. Cool bread completely on wire rack before serving.

ENJOY! 🙂

One year ago: I was baking up a storm for an event at work. Click to see all the holiday goodies I made – all the recipes are linked there!

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5 Comments

Filed under bread, chocolate

5 responses to “Love that Babka!

  1. I’m a huge Seinfeld fan and know the episode you refer to–I think of it every time I hear the word “babka”. Yours looks so good, I’m going to have to try this recipe.

  2. I made Babka for the same reason – but opted for cinnamon, which takes a backseat to no babka! Yours looks delicious. Mmm.

  3. Eric (Erin's Loving Husband)

    The babka was excellent, and I didn’t have to endure hours of hardships in a New York bakery to get it!

  4. This would be a great afternoon tea snack!

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