Tender brioche bread swirled with chocolatey goodness.
Are you drooling? Because I am.
Babka is a traditional Jewish bread that is usually filled with chocolate or cinnamon. I chose chocolate because why would you not choose chocolate?
I happened upon this bread over spring break. Chocolate? check. Time? check. People to help me eat it? check. Mood to conquer bread making? check. My beloved kitchen? check.
Okay I’ll let you in on a secret. I used to be terrified of yeast. I always felt like the yeast just wanted to die no matter how nice I was to it.
Well here’s the trick that I didn’t know: there are two types of yeast … one has a death wish and the other doesn’t. Active dry yeast requires you to heat the water or milk to activate it. There is a specific temperature the water or milk has to be at… if it’s not warm enough the yeast won’t activate and if it’s too hot you’ll kill the yeast. The second type of yeast is instant yeast which can be mixed right into your dry ingredients. Thus there is no chance to kill the yeast. Another bonus for instant yeast is that it rises faster than active dry yeast does.
So how do you make this scrumptious bread?
I won’t lie this bread does take some time, but it isn’t tricky or difficult to make. So make the dough in an electric mixer (unfortunately this dough cannot be made by hand or with a hand mixer). Then let the dough sit in the refrigerator for at least 7 hours. I know I don’t like waiting either but this isn’t something you can skip. After the rise time, the dough is a really neat texture…it’s really spongy and squishy. Roll out the dough (picture 2). Smear the chocolate filling on and roll it up (pictures 3, 4, and 5). Trim off the ends of the log and I would suggest eating the trimmings it you aren’t afraid of a little raw egg! Now here is the weird part. You are going to cut the log down the center and then twist the two pieces together (pictures 6, 7, and 8). It’s so pretty all twisted together. Unfortunately you need to let it prove for another hour and a half. This is a very sleepy bread and it likes to take long naps.
Then bake it up and when it comes out of the oven brush the sugar syrup on top. The syrup helps the bread stay moist and not go stale as quickly. This recipe makes 2 loaves but the first loaf only lasted about 2 hours in my house!
This bread can get very chocolatey. If you are not a chocolate fanatic, I would suggest skipping the chocolate chips and just sticking with the chocolate paste. No one complained but I thought it could do with a little less chocolate and that way the fantastic brioche would really shine!
Happy bread making!
- 4 cups (450 g) all purpose flour, divided plus more for dusting
- ½ cup (110 g) granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon instant yeast *
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup salted butter at room temperature, cubed
- Vegetable oil
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate
- ½ cup salted butter
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- ½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- Place 3¾ cup flour, sugar, and yeast in a stand mixer bowl and combine with a spatula.
- Add eggs and water and mix in the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment on medium speed until the dough comes together.
- Add salt, sprinkling it around so it doesn't end up in a clump.
- Add butter a few cubes at a time on low speed.
- Beat the dough on medium speed for 10-18 minutes until it is elastic, smooth, and pulls away from the side of the bowl. If at 12 minutes your dough is still sticking to the bowl, gradually add the extra ¼ cup of flour.
- Lightly grease a bowl with the oil. Place the dough in the greased bowl and turn it over so that the dough ball is lightly covered. Cover with plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate the dough for 7 hours up until overnight. The dough should be doubled in size.
- Melt the 4 oz of bittersweet chocolate and the butter in the microwave in 20 second increments.
- Whisk in the powdered sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon until smooth.
- Let cool.
- Grease 2 loaf pans with cooking spray and line the bottom and long sides with parchment paper.
- Divide the dough ball in half and cover the half you aren't using and put it back in the fridge.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and shape it into a somewhat rectangular shape that is 15 x 11 inches. See photos above to clarify the assembly instructions.
- Spread half of the filling over the dough leaving a ½ inch border all the way around. As the filling cools it might get really thick. If it gets too thick to spread, microwave it for 10 seconds.
- Sprinkle ½ of the chocolate chips over the chocolate.
- Roll the dough up tightly like you would for cinnamon rolls so that you end up with a 15 inch long roll and the 11 inch side is all rolled up.
- Cut about ½ inch off each side of the roll.
- Cut the roll in half lengthwise. So the filling should be very visible along the length of both halves. See photos.
- Roll the halves over so that the filling is facing up and not to the side.
- Twist the two halves together so that you have a plait with the filling showing on top. See photos.
- If the plait is longer that your loaf pan, sort of squish it together so that it is fatter and not as long.
- Lift the plait up and put it in the loaf pan. Don't worry if there are gaps between the dough and the pan.
- Cover the pan with a damp tea towel and place in a nondrafty place for 1½ hours so it can rise. I put mine in the turned off oven or the microwave.
- Repeat the assembly steps for the second dough ball.
- When there is about half an hour left of rise time, preheat the oven to 375ºF and make the syrup by heating the sugar and water in a saucepan until all of the sugar is dissolved. Let cool.
- Bake the cakes for 25-35 minutes until it is browned on top and not doughy in the middle. If they start to brown too much, cover the pan with aluminum foil shiny side down and keep cooking.**
- When the cakes come out of the oven, brush the syrup over the top. Use most of the syrup between the two cakes but you don't have to use all of it.
- Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.
** I usually have to cover it for the last 10 minutes of baking.
Adapted from Pretty Simple Sweet.