But seriously, Babka is one thing that I enjoy baking. Like I have mentioned before, I'm not the world's greatest baker. But there is something about the Babka that appeals to my skills. I do think that I have narrowed it down. The Babka itself looks beautiful and intricate, however, the detail of the Babka really comes from being messy. Unlike pies or cakes where you need to spend careful time sealing up the dough or frosting every angle, with babka, you literally take a knife to the center of it, let the fillings spill out and then twist it. The messier you are, the greater beautiful chocolate swirl you have. My kind of baking.
Now I also don't like letting things rise because I have little patience when I am baking. However, for the first time, I let this dough rise in the fridge overnight. I'm telling you it was well worth the wait. This dough was amazingly easy to roll out and so firm from being in the fridge. I would give it a try! This Chocolate and Cinnamon Babka recipe was inspired by the lovely Smitten Kitchen.
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
grated lemon or orange zest. I happened to have a grapefruit on hand, so I used that.
3 large eggs
1/2 cup cold water.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package of instant yeast
1/2 cup unsalted butter cubed.
3/4 cups dark chocolate or chocolate chips
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup confectioner sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon.
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons sugar
Combine flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and zest in a large mixer bowl. Add in water, eggs, and cubed butter, mixing with the dough hooks on low speed. Mix until the dough becomes elastic and starts pulling away from the side of the bowl (about 5 - 7 minutes). You'll likely need to scrape down the bowl a few times in between. I also ended up adding more flour to this because my mixture was pretty wet.
Coat a large bowl with oil (I used vegetable). Place plastic wrap over the bowl and place dough in the refridgerator. I let it rise overnight but it's best to let the dough rise for at least 4 hours.
For the filling place the chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute, stopping every 20 seconds or so to stir chocolate. Once it is fully melted stir in the sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon.
Coat a 9x4 inch loaf pan with oil on all sides. To assemble the loaves, take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll out on a floured surface. Roll it out thin and aim to have the dough be about 10-12 inches in length. Place the filling in the middle of the dough and spread evenly across the dough leaving about 1 inch around the perimeter. Roll up the dough like a cigar or a cinnamon roll. Seal the edges tight and brush some water on the edges to ensure the dough stays in place. Now take a serrated knife and cut the middle of the log so you have two pieces with the chocolate filling exposed. Lay the two logs next to each other with the cut sides facing out. Carefully layer the two pieces over each other forming a braid. Seal the ends together on both sides. Place into the loaf pan. Don't worry if it doesn't fit perfectly. I formed mine to be kind of an "S" shape. I also had to trim some of the sides off. Cover with a damp towel and let it rise in a warm place. The loaf should almost double in size, about 1 or 1 1/2 hours.
Bake the cakes at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. You should be able to stick a wooden toothpick in the center and take it out clean. While the Babkas are baking bring water to a simmer/boil and add in the sugar and honey and stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove the water mixture from the heat to cool. Once the Babka is done, brush the glaze all over the loaf.
You can keep your Babka fresh for about 5 days or you can freeze them if you want to keep them longer.