Why is this loaf the one? The one and only? Well, a lot of factors perhaps, but I don’t really know. Chalk it up to technique perhaps—there was a lot of expert help involved. It may be because of the sponge method—of which I am now a convert—or the egg wash on the inside, or the powder-like chocolate filling. It is probably all of these things.
So now, if you didn’t make the first Babka, please, please make round two. There is really no excuse.
For serious. There is no excuse.
Chocolate Babka [Redux]
Adapted from Chowhound
Makes three loaves—which more than justifies the time it takes to let the dough proof etc. By the time they’re out of the oven, you’ll be ready to eat a loaf right there. ABC—average Babka consumption—is about ¼ of a loaf per person per day. (Rough estimate….)
Time: 3 hours 15 minutes 45 minutes prep
4 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast (two 1/4 ounce packages)
¾ cups warm milk (110°)
¾ cups warm half and half (110°)
1 pinch sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature butter, plus more for oiling bowl and loaf pans
40 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 cup white sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1. Make Sponge: Combine half and half and milk and heat either in a microwave or over a stovetop until 110°. Be careful not to overheat because you could kill the yeast. (Yes, kill. Matar.) Whisk a pinch of sugar and all the yeast into the warmed milk until dissolved. Pour yeast mixture over 2 cups of flour and stir until just combined. Let proof in a warm place until sponge is doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
2. To make Brioche: Cream 1 cup butter and ¾ cup sugar in the bowl of a standup mixer until fluffy. Add 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks to the butter mixture and cream until pale in color and fully combined. (Mixture will have slightly grown in volume.) Take bulked-up sponge and tear into pieces, adding to the egg mixture. Stir until fully combined in the standup mixer, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining flour and salt and stir until just combined. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead until gluten has formed and the dough becomes translucent when stretched. Place in a well-buttered large metal bowl and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
3. While dough is proofing, make filling and streusel topping. For filling, take 32 oz. of the chocolate and pulverize in a food processor until extremely fine, almost powder-like. Chop the remaining 8 oz. of chocolate until very fine, but not quite as power-like. Combine chocolates with the reaming white sugar, ¾ cups butter, and cinnamon. Set aside. For streusel, cream together softened butter, powdered sugar, and flour until clumps form. Set aside.
1. Preheat oven to 330 degrees. Oil three loaf pans. Whisk egg and cream together for the egg wash. Weigh proofed dough and divide into three equal parts. Roll one part out on a well-floured surface until about 18 inches long and 12 inches wide. Brush egg wash over the entire surface of the rolled out dough. Weigh and divide chocolate, and streusel, into three equal portions. Sprinkle one portion of the chocolate mixture evenly over the rolled-out dough, leaving about a 1 inch border on all sides. Starting on one long side, roll the dough length-wise very tightly to create the longest possible cinnamon-roll type of loge. Tuck ends under and even out the log. Twist into a figure-eight shape and then continue twisting until dough starts to break. A couple breaks here and there are good. The more you twist, the more rings of chocolate there will be. Place in loaf pan, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle one portion of the streusel on top. Repeat for the remaining two dough, chocolate, and streusel portions.
2. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour and 1o minutes until Babka is set but still very moist. Cover with foil if Babka starts to brown to quickly. Store covered at room temperature for 3 days, or in the freezer for up to a month. Delicious toasted with more, yes more, butter or cream cheese. Also delicious as is.