As we waited for the dough to rise, Lawrence fired up the Seinfeld episode, “She Got the Babka”. Suffice it to say, sometimes baking at home is best!
Last weekend, the thought of a babka for Sunday popped in my head. My pantry held all the essentials, even chocolate, so I ran upstairs to my office in search of two pages I was pretty sure were in my “do sometime” pile: Daniel Boulud’s babka from Elle Decor. Ta da!
I won’t call it an easy project. But if you enjoy baking, it’s fun. (And need I mention how divine chocolate tastes with bread??) If you’re game, start before it gets too late in the day so you have time to mix the brioche-like dough and let it rise for 2 hours. After that, you can stash it in the fridge for overnight and start on phase 2 (“chocolate”) in the morning, which ends with another couple hour rise. If you’re intent on eating babka for early morning breakfast, make it the day before, it stays fresh for at least 2 or 3 days.
Here’s the best part: twisting the ropes of dough and layering them in the pan:
Recipe adapted from original by Daniel Boulud, published in Elle Decor March 2017.
- 1 cup milk, heated to lukewarm
- 1 package (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 6 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 3 egg yolks mixed with 1 tablespoon water
- In bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, pour in the lukewarm milk. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface and let dissolve a couple minutes. Add the flour, sugar, eggs, and salt, and mix on the lowest speed for 6 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- With motor running, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, continuing to mix on low speed until each tablespoon of butter is completely incorporated before adding the next. The dough should be moist and sticky. Transfer dough to a buttered bowl, cover, and set in warm place to rise for 2 hours.
- Punch down the dough and form into two balls. Proceed with this recipe or wrap each ball separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use (up to overnight).
- Grease and flour a large pullman loaf pan, approx. 13" x 4", or use one large, round cake pan (9 or 10"). Combine all chocolate filling ingredients except the butter in a large bowl. Pour the melted butter over and stir until smooth. If the chocolate doesn't melt completely, gently warm the mixture on the stove top (bain marie). In a small bowl, whisk together the egg wash (egg yolks + water) and set aside.
- Divide each dough ball so you have 4 pieces of dough. Using a rolling pin and a lightly floured surface, roll each into an approximate rectangle, 12" x 10". Brush each with the egg wash then spread one-quarter of the chocolate filling on each. Starting with the long edge, roll each tightly into a rope, stretching will happen naturally, aim to get the rope about 14" long (from 12").
- Place two ropes side by side, twist them together, and place in the prepared pan, or form a ring if using the round cake pan. Cut the remaining ropes lengthwise down the center. Twist each individually, and then twist two together to form a coiled rope (repeat with other two). Place side by side on top of the dough in the pan. Let rise in a warm place for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake the babka for 35 - 40 minute (interior temp should reach 200° F). Let cool about 15 minutes in pan before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.