Most babka recipes, I’ve noticed, are not only complicated they make enough for 2-4 loaves. This one, thanks to he addition if instant yeast, is quite simple. It makes a single loaf but can be scaled up to your heart’s content (remember, baking recipes — especially yeast-based recipes — can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, quintupled, whatever) with no ill effects).
For the Dough
9.5 ounces (1 3/4 cups) bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1/2 cup) whole milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle, combine all the dry ingredients and stir on low speed to combine. Meanwhile combine the wet ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk them together. With the machine running on low, pour the wet ingredients into the dry. When everything is moistened switch to the dough hook and turn the machine up to medium. Knead until a dough comes together, then add the butter and continue kneading until it’s incorporated and the dough is smooth and sticky, about 5 minutes. Remove the dough to a lightly greased bowl and allow it to rise for 1-2 hours until it has about doubled in size.
For the Filling
1 egg, beaten thoroughly in a small bowl
about 1 ounce (1/3 cup) cocoa powder
about 2.5 ounces (1/3 cup) sugar
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
For the Topping
1/2 recipe streusel (Variation 2, scroll all the way down!)
Shaping and Baking
When the dough has doubled in size, roll it out into a square, about 1/8 inch in thickness. Paint egg wash on three of the edges. Sift on the cocoa powder and sprinkle sugar over all of it save for a roughly 1-inch strip along the egg-painted sides. Sprinkle the chocolate over then dust the whole thing lightly with cinnamon.
Roll the dough sheet up starting from the edge that has no egg wash. Give it a half dozen twists, then fold the roll in half. Give it two or three twists and lay it gently into a well-greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan. Paint it with egg wash and let it rise in a warm place until the dough comes up to the lip of the loaf pan, about another hour. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Paint it once again with egg wash and sprinkle it all over with streusel. Bake 35-40 until it’s nut brown and springs back when tapped. remove the pan from the oven, loosen it all around and allow it to cool for an hour before unmolding it and cooling it the rest of the way.
For a delicious-looking chock-full-o-nuts version, check out jenreviews.com.