chocolate babka

Martha’s Chocolate Babka

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chocolate babka

I’ve never been comfortable with yeast. I’ve made a cinnamon roll or two here and there… and that french bread that one time, but never a big ol’ loaf of bread in a loaf pan with rolling and twisting and jelly-rolling and all that good stuff. So, I made it my Sunday project to try out this chocolate babka recipe I’ve had bookmarked for months.

I’m not the first food blogger to attack this 1 1/2 lbs of butter,  2 1/4 lbs of chocolate monster known as chocolate babka, but I couldn’t find any detailed images of the step-by-step process, particularly the “twisting” part of shaping the babka, so that’s where I come in…  with my flour-covered camera.

The only difference between Martha’s original recipe and my version is:

  1. I reduced the amount of cinnamon, mostly because I ran out of cinnamon. Whoopsies. I’m also not a HUGE fan of cinnamon and chocolate together so that’s why, too. #post-bakingrationalization
  2. I only have one loaf pan, so I baked one in the loaf, one in a 10″ round springform pan, and one in a bundt pan.

I wouldn’t categorize this recipe under “difficult” per se, but it does require a lot of patience and attention to detail. There are a lot of steps, and you’ll have a bunch of dirty bowls as a result, but it’s totally worth it to have your entire house smell like chocolate and butter. Totally worth it. It’s as rich and delicious as it sounds, and it’s so impressive looking you could give it out as a gift!

To quote one of my favorite taste testers:

It taste like a scone and a croissant had a chocolate baby!

That it does, my friends. That it does. Let’s start.

chocolate babka

What you’ll need: flour, sugar, milk, cinnamon, dry active yeast, semi-sweet chocolate (not all 2.25 lbs pictured), eggs, and butter (not all 1.5 lbs pictured).

chocolate babka

In a medium bowl, add warm milk and sprinkle with yeast and a pinch of sugar. Let the yeast bloom, about 5 minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine eggs, egg yolk and 3/4 cup of the sugar. Add to the yeast mixture and whisk to combine.

chocolate babka

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine flour and salt. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on low to combine.
How good is this action shot, btw? Don’t you want salt now? lol

chocolate babka

Add the yeast / egg mixture to the flour and mix on low to combine, about 30 seconds.
Switch to the dough hook and add in 2 sticks of butter (cut into 1″ pieces). Beat into submission (about 10 minutes until it’s smooth).

chocolate babka

Turn the sticky dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few turns until it’s smooth. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let her rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
Tiny kitchen hint: My kitchen had nary a warm place this weekend, so I turn my oven on to 200 for a couple minutes, then turn it off and let my bread rise there. There’s your warm dark place, emo ass dough!

While the dough is being emo, rising in its dark warm place, prep the chocolate filling and streusel topping.

chocolate babka

Finely chop chocolate – you can do this by chopping into rough pieces and then pulsing in a food processor a couple times. Add in the sugar and cinnamon.
Use two knives to cut in the room temperature butter. If your butter isn’t room temp, this part is gonna suck.

chocolate babka

For the streusel, combine powdered sugar, flour and butter using a fork. You want chunks here – ranging from 1″ to crumbs.

chocolate babka

Yay, the dough doubled! Punch it down, turn it out onto a clean surface and let rest for 5 minutes.

chocolate babka

Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. While you’re working on one, make sure you’re keeping the rest of the dough covered with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out.

chocolate babka

Roll out the dough into roughly a 16×16″ square. The dough should be 1/8″ thick. Brush the edges with egg wash (egg + 1 tbsp cream beaten).

chocolate babka

Top with 1/3 of the chocolate filing, leaving 1/4″ border around the edges of the dough.

chocolate babka

Begin to roll the dough up like a jelly roll, making sure to keep the roll tight (keep it tight, keep it right!). Pinch edges together to seal.

chocolate babka

Twist the roll about 5-6 times. It’s the same twisting motion as if you’re wringing out a towel, but much more GENTLY, since this is dough and chocolate and butter and not a wet washcloth.

 

chocolate babka

Brush the entire top of the roll with egg wash. Add 2 tbsp of the streusel onto the top of the left side of roll, making sure it’s sticking to the egg wash and not falling off. Fold the right side of the roll over the left, over top of the streusel.

chocolate babka

Tuck in the ends and twist two more times. It should look like this.

 

chocolate babka

Place in prepared pan (buttered and lined with parchment paper). Egg wash the top and top with 1/3 of the remaining streusel. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest another 20-30 minutes. Repeat with the other two thirds of remaining dough.
Bake at 350F for 55 minutes, rotating half way through. Reduce heat to 325F and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until bread is a deep, golden brown.

chocolate babka

Boop!! OMG you guys, I made bread!

chocolate babka

Confession: I only own one loaf pan.
Confessions Pt. II (#nousher): I thought I bought two loaf pans but it was actually ONE loaf pan with a meatloaf insert. Womp.
I figured this was as good a time as any to see how this bakes up in different shapes. I used one 10″ round springform pan (bottom left), one bundt pan (top) and one loaf pan (bottom right). They all came out delicious and did pretty well with all the same cooking times. Maybe I’d cook the bundt one a little less next time.

 

chocolate babka

The round version was prettiest to me…

chocolate babka

…and by “prettiest” I mean “it was the first one I could cut into right away”. Lookadatrightthere!

chocolate babka

The loaf, however… the loaf was just swirly and delicious and gorgeous. I totally impressed myself *pats self on back*

chocolate babka

The round bundt version also came out pretty!

 

chocolate babka

I mean, come on.

 

Martha’s Chocolate Babka

barely tweaked from martha
makes 3 loaves (I made 1 loaf, one 10″ round and 1 bundt) in ~3.5 hours
The babka can be prepared up to step 8 and frozen for up to a month before baking. When ready to bake, remove from freezer; let stand at room temperature for about 5 hours, and bake.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees
2 (1/4 ounce each) packages active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups plus a pinch of sugar
3 whole large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and baking pans
2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped*
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon heavy cream

for streusel topping (Makes 3 3/4 cups)

1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

Directions

for the babka

Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

While the dough is rising, prep the chocolate filling and streusel topping.


for the chocolate filling
Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined; set filling aside.

for streusel topping
In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter. Using a fork, stir until fully combined with clumps ranging in size from crumbs to 1 inch. Set aside.


Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans; line them with parchment paper. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream; set egg wash aside. Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.

Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns – like you’re wringing out a towel, but way more gentle.  Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.

Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve. Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month.

* After chopping the chocolate into moderately sized chunks, I used the food processor to pulse the rest of the chocolate in two batches to small bits. It saved a lot of time!

 

chocolate babka

but really. c’mon.

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2 replies
  1. Chocolate Lady
    Chocolate Lady says:

    Adding these ingredients to my grocery list for today. I absolutely love chocolate babka! Your photographs are amazing! Thank you!

    Reply
    • holly
      holly says:

      I make this for the holidays usually! It’s always a crowd pleaser among my family and friends!

      Reply

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