As of late, I have been on a pastry kick something serious. There is something about working on the dough and kneading it that gives me this feeling like I just spent the day at a theraputic spa. A bit much, but baking pastry, as finicky as it can be, is SUPER relaxing. Plus, I love how pretty pastries look straight out of the oven.
This weekend has been a whirlwind, from working, to kickball practice, to a gala. Needless to say, I wanted to create something that I never made before but also had a bit of inactive time–because no one has time to be working on dough constantly all day. Low and behold, coming in from stage right, babka! I’ve noticed this Jewish brioche making quite an appearance everywhere. It has been around for ages, but as of late, and through the mighty power of social media, everyone and their mama has been creating this delicious pastry. I would not consider myself as any particular expert on this bread, but after trying a slice at General Muir Bakery, here in Atlanta, I had a challenge presented to me, and I gladly accepted. So in the words of this millennium’s favorite Snapchatter and motivational speaker, DJ Khaled, “let’s see this major key.” Well, let’s see the major key to successful babka.
Looks like a lot of goodness! You have milk, flour, sugar, yeast, chocolate, cocoa, butter, and more.
Dough and my chocolate paste ready to roll.
Rolled out and filled!
Time to twist it out.
Oh boy, these are going to be pretty!
(yields two 9-inch loaves)
Dough (adapted by Pretty Simple Kitchen)
- 3.5 cups of all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1/2 cup warm (110 degrees) whole milk
- 2 large eggs , room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Grated zest of half of a medium orange
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature and cubed
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt (kosher or sea salt)
- Canola oil for greasing
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (make sure that your chocolate is not more than 60% cacao)
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder or cinnamon
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, dutch processed
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chopped hazelnuts (optional)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Make the dough: Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Once dry ingredients are well combined, add the eggs and milk, mixing on a low speed setting, allow the dough to come together (this will take about 3 minutes). With the mixer still on low, add in the salt and the butter, one cube at a time until it is well incorporated into the dough. Once butter is well incorporated, turn mixer to a medium speed and allow the dough to mix for 8-10 minutes. The finished product should be smooth and elastic.
- Take the dough out and place into a lightly oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in your refrigerator for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
- Make the filling: melt the butter and the chocolate together until smooth. Stir in the cocoa, powdered sugar, and espresso powder/cinnamon until the mixture is spreadable and the texture is like paste.
- Making the egg wash: Beat the egg yolk and cream together, until well incorporated and set aside.
- Making the loaves: Line two 9-inch loaf pans with parchment paper (or generously grease with butter). Remove dough from the fridge, and cut in half (leave the other half chilled). Roll out the dough on a clean and well-floured surface. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into an 18- by 10-inch rectangle with the longest side facing you.
- Spread half of the chocolate mixture, chocolate chunks, and/or hazelnuts evenly over the dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch border all around. Brush the border with the egg wash (chill the remaining wash). Starting on the long end furthest from you, roll the dough into a tight log. Gently pinch and seal the end of the log.
- Trim about ¾ inch off of both ends of the log. Using a sharp knife, gently cut the roll in half lengthwise. With the cut sides facing up, lift one side over the next, forming a twist/plait, ensuring that the cut sides are facing up. Gently pinch together the other end. Repeat the entire process with the second loaf
- Transfer loaves gently to prepared loaf pans. Cover with a dampened towel to let loaves rise at room temperature for an 1 to 1.5 hours.
- While loaves are rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring that the oven rack is placed in the middle.
- Baking loaves: Remove towels, brush the loaves with remaining egg wash, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer or toothpick comes out clean with no resistance.
- Making Syrup: While the loaves are baking, combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and ensure that the sugar is well dissolved. Once sugar is dissolved, take off heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Take the loaves out of the oven and immediately brush or spoon them with the syrup. Let the babkas completely cool in the pan before taking out or eating.
- Eat and enjoy the babka sliced. Babka will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature, but freezes nicely for up to 2 months when wrapped in plastic wrap and foil.
As always, let me know if you liked or tried this recipe.
With peace and love,
The Shy Girl.