This babka is made of soft and pillowy enriched dough and is filled and twisted with a decadent chocolate spread, then baked to golden, buttery perfection.
It’s simple enough to make, but does require quite a bit of time, most of which is inactive though! What I usually do is prep the dough in the evening and let it have its first rise. I also make the chocolate spread and then stick it in the fridge for the night along with the dough. Then in the morning I gently heat the spread for a few seconds the microwave (it should be spreadable but not hot at all), shape the babkas, allow for one more rise and then bake it off. Then it’s ready for a mid morning coffee treat!
Yield: 2 loaves
For the babka:
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 4 1/2 cups (558g) flour
- 10 Tablespoons butter
For the filling:
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 6 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder (optional)
For the syrup:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Heat the milk in a small sauce pan or the microwave until it is warm but not hot, about 105°F on an instant read thermometer. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the milk, yeast, and a tablespoon of the sugar. Mix to dissolve the yeast and let sit for a few minutes until foamy
2. Add the rest of the sugar, the eggs, and the flour. Mix with the dough hook on medium speed until a dough forms. With the mixer running, start adding the room temperature butter 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting until each one is almost incorporated before adding the next one. Don’t worry if the dough starts to look messy, it will smooth out. Once you’ve added all the butter keep kneading for about 8 minutes. The dough will become supple and smooth during this time.
3. Grease a large bowl with a bit of oil. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the bowl, cover, and let sit in a warm place for about an hour.
4. Grease a large container or a rimmed baking sheet that will fit inside your fridge. Divide the dough in half and loosely shape each one into a small rectangle and place in the container side by side. Cover and let rest for at least four hours or up to overnight.
Make the filling
5. In a medium saucepan add the butter, heavy cream and sugar. Stir until melted and the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk until chocolate melts and the mixture is completely smooth. Allow to cool.
6. Prepare 2 loaf pans by lining them with parchment paper and coating with butter or non stick spray.
7. Take out one of the rectangles of dough from the fridge, and place on a lightly oiled surface. Roll out the dough until you have a rectangle that is about 12” by 16” Spread half of the filling evenly on the dough. Beginning with one of the long sides of the dough, tightly roll it up into an even log. Rest the dough log on it’s seam, and with a sharp knife cut the log down the middle lengthwise. Turn each cut half so that the layers of chocolate are facing up. Pinch two of the ends together and create twists down the whole length of the dough. Place in the prepared loaf pan. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Loosely cover the loaf pans and allow to rise in a warm place for about an hour.
8. About 15 minutes before the babkas are done proofing, preheat oven to 350° F. Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden all over and an instant read thermometer reads 200° F when poked into the very middle. (About 30 minutes into baking I like to cover mine with foil to prevent too much browning. )
9. While the babkas are baking, make the syrup by heating all of the ingredients in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. When the babkas come out of the oven, pour the syrup over them, making sure to cover the entire top of each. Allow to cool before slicing.
Stored in an airtight container, the babka will stay fresh for about 2 days. They also freeze very well.