Chocolate Babka – a Jewish Sweet Bread

I was watching a Netflix food show when I got to know about this dish. I knew instantly that I have to try this. I am so glad that I did this. Yes, it’s a bit of a process and takes some effort, but you need to try this once. The end result will justify the whole thing.

INGREDIENTS

DOUGH

  • 2 cups flour + 2 tbsp for dusting
  • 1/4th cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp of instant dry yeast + 5 tbsp of milk to activate the yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg
  • 75 grams butter, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp water

FILLING

  • 1/2 cup bitter-sweet chocolate
  • 50 grams butter
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp powdered sugar
  • chopped almonds/walnuts

SUGAR SYRUP

  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp water

METHOD

  1. Warm around 5 tbsp of milk to activate the yeast. It shouldn’t be too warm. You should be able to dip your finger in the milk. Add the yeast and let it sit for 10 minutes. If the milk is too warm the yeast will be dead. After 10 minutes the yeast mixture should be foaming. If not, discard the mixture and start again.
  2. In a bowl, mix Flour, Sugar and Yeast mixture. Combine them well and then add the eggs one by one. We will add two eggs to the dough. Try to make a dough. If the mixture feels dry add a tbsp of water and make a dough.
  3. Add the butter, 1 tbsp at a time. Knead the dough well until all the butter is incorporated in the dough. You are done when you have a smooth dough and a clean bowl. You can use a stand mixer for the same if you have one.
  4. Next, it’s time to proof the dough. Lightly oil a clean glass bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover it and place it in a warm place. I usually put in inside my microwave and keep it switched off. If you are making it in winter or in a damp rainy day, switch on your microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Switch it off and then place it inside microwave. It should proof for at least 2 hours. After 2 hours, the dough should double in size.
  5. While the dough is resting, it’s time to make the chocolate filling.
  6. Put the butter in microwave and let it melt completely. Take out the butter and add the chopped pieces of chocolate to it. Let it sit for 5 minutes and the heat from the butter melt it.
  7. Combine the chocolate and the butter mixture and add the cocoa powder and powder sugar. combine them well so that there’s no lump. This mixture should be a bit dry and not too runny. Else it will be all over the place while you are placing the filling in the dough. If the mixture is runny, add a bit more cocoa powder.
  8. Now, flatten the dough, put it on a floured surface and roll it out in a rectangle. I usually eyeball the thickness, but if you want to measure, it shouldn’t be more than a centimetre.
  9. Now spread the chocolate mixture leaving around the sides, about 1/2 inch. Spread the chopped nuts in a uniform manner.
  10. Now roll the dough tightly length-wise. Once the dough is rolled, cut it in half, again length wise, leaving around 2-3cm from top. The braid the dough together and pinch the end of the open side. Remember, always keep the filling side up else it will spill.
  11. Now transfer the dough in a baking pan that is already lined with parchment paper. I use an 11 inch loan pan for this.
  12. Now, proof the babka again for another hour in a warm place before baking. Do not skip this step .
  13. Once the proofing time is over, preheat the oven to 180 degree c.
  14. Prepare an egg wash by beating one egg with 1 tbsp water. Brush the dough well with the egg wash.
  15. Bake the babka for 45-50 minutes, approximately, or until golden brown. Keep an eye on the babka as each oven acts differently.
  16. When the babka is almost done, prepare your sugar syrup. Mix water and sugar in a pan till the sugar is completely dissolved. Do not brown the sugar syrup.
  17. Once the babka is done and take it out of the oven and brush it well with sugar syrup. Do not wait for the babka to cool down to apply the sugar syrup. If you skip this sugar syrup, your babka will not have the glossy shine to it.
  18. Now let it cool down properly before you dig into it.

TIP : For the filling, you can use, Nutella or peanut butter or any other readymade spread. But try to add some chopped nuts to it as it gives a nice texture to it.

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