If you’ve never made Chocolate Babka before, then all you need to know is that it’s half bread, half cake, and 100% delicious! This yeast-based dough is sweet, soft, and buttery, making it hard to have just one slice. I also love how beautiful each slice is thanks to the layers of chocolate throughout the babka bread.
“It may seem like it is labor-intensive to make babka bread from scratch because making the swirls of chocolate can come off as challenging, but the process is surprisingly easy! There is no need to be intimidated by the long prep time, as most of it is just the dough rising in the fridge.“
For the Dough:
• 4½ cups all-purpose flour (540g)
• ½ cup granulated sugar (100g)
• 2¼ teaspoons instant yeast (1 .25-ounce packet)
• 4 large eggs at room temperature
• ½ cup whole milk at room temperature
• 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
• 10 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (142g)
For the Filling:
• ½ cup unsalted butter cubed (113g)
• ½ cup heavy cream (120mL)
• 8 ounces chopped dark chocolate (225g)
• ¾ cup powdered sugar (90g)
• ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (30g)
For the Syrup:
• ⅓ cup granulated sugar (66g)
• ⅓ cup water (80mL)
For the Dough:
• Whisk together the flour, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the eggs, milk, and salt and mix on low speed using the dough hook attachment until combined and a dough starts to form, for about 2 minutes.
• Add the butter a tablespoon or so at a time, waiting for the butter to be incorporated before adding more. Once all the butter has been added, continue kneading until a smooth elastic dough forms, about 10 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. The dough will still feel sticky but will be very stretchy.
• Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl, turning to coat. Then cover and chill overnight or for at least 8 hours.
For the Filling:
• In a small saucepan, combine butter and cream. Heat over medium heat until butter is melted and the mixture is steaming. Add the chocolate and stir until melted, then remove from the heat. Whisk in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Transfer to a bowl and let cool until thickened to a spreadable consistency, about 1 hour.
For the assembly:
• Butter 2 (8×4-inch) loaf pans or spray with baking spray with flour. Then line with parchment paper.
• On a lightly floured surface, divide the chilled dough in half, (you should use a scale) and return one dough ball to the fridge. Gently roll the dough into a 12×16-inch rectangle. Spread half of the filling on the dough to the edge on three sides, leaving a 1-inch border on one short side. (The dough may pull a little bit while spreading, but it shouldn’t tear.) Starting at the short side opposite the border, roll the dough into a tight coil, and pinch the seam to seal.
• Using a large sharp knife or a dough cutter, cut the dough in half lengthwise. Position each half parallel to each other with the cut sides facing up. Twist the halves together, keeping the cut sides facing up, and tuck the ends under. Gently place in a prepared loaf pan.
• Repeat with the second half of the dough and the remaining filling.
• Loosely cover the pans and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until noticeably puffed. (It won’t quite double in size)
• Preheat the oven to 350F.
• Bake the risen loaves for 40 minutes or until the tops are golden brown, and a wooden pick can be inserted into the center without resistance and comes out clean. Tent the loaves with aluminum foil ( shiny side up) if they are browning to quickly.
For the Syrup:
• While the babkas are baking, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from the heat.
• Brush the loaves with the syrup immediately when they come out of the oven. Let the babkas cool for 30 minutes in the pans. Serve warm or at room temperature.
• This recipe makes 2 (8×4-inch) loaves.
• For fast-acting yeast, you can dissolve it in a warm (110F) mixture of milk with 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Set aside until bubbly and add to the dry mixture.
• I love using high-quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Dutch-processed cocoa powder is darker, less acidic, and fudgier in baked goods. I like using Hershey’s or Ghirardelli.
• To be extra sure that a loaf has finished baking, you can use an instant-read thermometer to check if the internal temperature has reached 190°F. This method is also great if you don’t have a long enough toothpick to get to the middle of the loaf.
• Don’t skip the syrup at the end. It not only makes the exterior shiny but helps keeps the bread from drying out.
• If you don’t have a mixer, you can mix the dough with a wooden spoon in a large bowl before kneading the dough by hand. It will take at least 10 to 15 minutes. Be careful not to over flour the counter if you’re hand kneading, as you don’t want to incorporate too much additional flour into the dough.
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