Imagine a mouthful buttery, fluffy brioche. Its cottony texture is interspersed with a creamy-decadent bittersweet chocolate swirl. Notes of cinnamon fly high overhead while bits of crunchy baked streusel dot the terrain. That’s what a big bite of chocolate babka tastes like, friends. I can’t sell it any harder than that.
There’s word on the street that babka takes a lot of time and effort to make. Which isn’t true. You can have the whole thing done in about four hours and have a cooled loaf waiting for you by tea time. Trust me, this isn’t hard. Start by assembling your ingredients. Next, grease a standard 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan and place a piece of parchment in it like so. Grease a little more.
Begin by combining the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle.
While that’s stirring on low, combine the wet ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk them together.
Combine the two.
Stir them together on low until everything is moistened. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and sticky.
Add the butter and knead another 3-5 minutes until it’s all incorporated. You may need to scrape the bowl once along the way.
Turn the dough out into a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 – 1 1/2 hours until it’s about doubled in bulk.
Sorta like this.
Remove it to a floured board and apply the pin.
Roll in one direction…
…then the other.
Stretch the corners by hand to make a square shape if need be. That’s absolutely in the rule book. You want your sheet about twice the length of your pan, 16 inches or so, though you can always stretch your roll later so don’t sweat it too much.
Now paint egg wash around down side edges and far edge.
Apply a dusting of cocoa powder.
And sprinkle sugar over it.
Apply your chopped chocolate. This is six ounces of bittersweet chocolate chips chopped in the food processor for 30 seconds or so. Hey, it’s what I had.
Now sprinkle on a little cinnamon.
Begin the roll with the side closest to you.
Gently roll it up with two open hands, your fingers outstretched.
As you get to the end you’ll want to again tug out those corners.
Pinch the ends shut so no filing leaks out.
Twist the roll a couple of times on one end, then the other (in opposite directions). This will help with the swirling action.
Now then. Fold the roll in half…
…and give it two twists.
Place the roll into the prepared pan, paint it with egg wash and let it proof for the same amount of time it took to rise. Probably around an hour. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and set up a rack in the lower third of the oven.
After the proof time is up paint the roll again with egg wash and sprinkle it all over with streusel.
Bake it for 25 minutes or so, then rotate the pan. Bake another 10 minutes and check the browning. If it’s getting very dark, apply some loose foil. You want to be sure the sides brown as well as the top. When it’s about to here, take it out and cool it on a rack for about ten minutes.
At that point gently de-pan it by pulling up on the parchment. Let it cool at least an hour before slicing. Several hours or overnight is better, but who can wait for something like this?
In my ideal world my layers would be more defined. Next time I may cut the proofing time a bit, which will probably help with that.
But I’m not complaining, friends. You really need to try this.