I always wondered what on earth babka was. After watching an episode of Seinfeld, I knew it was something delicious. I knew it was a baked good. I knew chocolate was best. I knew it was worth fighting for. But I still didn’t quite know exactly what it was.
Was it bread? Was it cake? Was it to be eaten for afternoon tea, for dessert, with jam, with butter? I thought it was time to find out.
Given I don’t live in New York City, Eastern Europe or Israel, this was something that needed to be attempted at home. So I compiled my yeast, my chocolate and my endless amounts of butter and got to work.
Every moment I added more butter, I thought how decadent the babka would be. Every time I sprinkled more sugar, it got me thinking that babka is definitely a dessert – a cake made with yeast, to put it simply.
The two loaves of babka took at least 3 hours to make from start to finish. But was it worth it? Is chocolate babka as good as they say?
The answer is yes. Alex and I devoured the first babka in a matter of two days. The second babka was promptly inserted into the freezer so at least we can enjoy a bit more for next weekend, but I do believe that it too will not make it past Sunday.
So what’s so good about a chocolate babka? The dough is buttery and flaky – very similar to a croissant. The swirls of chocolate spread throughout make every mouthful a joy. The sweet and crunchy streusel topping means that no part of the babka is left plain and tasteless, not even the crust. I’m on the babka bandwagon.
- 4 cups (600g) bread flour
- 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
- 1 tbsp instant dried yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup (180ml) lukewarm milk
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 200g unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (110g) brown sugar
- 100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 75g butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
- 1/4 cup (35g) plain flour
- 40g cold butter, chopped
- Grease two 11cm x 22cm (4.5 in x 8.5 in) loaf tins. Line base with baking paper.
- Place flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a large electric mixer fitted with a hook. Stir to combine. Make well in centre and add milk and egg. Knead for 1-2 minutes until a soft dough forms. Add butter and increase speed to medium. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Stand, covered with a tea towel in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
- Filling: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Punch down dough with fist. Halve dough. On a lightly floured bench, spread dough into a 35cm x 25cm (14 in x 10 in) rectangle. Dot half of the filling onto dough and spread lightly with fingers. Starting at one long edge, roll dough into a log, gently pulling until about 45cm (18 in) long. Shape into a U and plait. Place in prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Stand, covered with a tea towel, in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F).
- Streusel: Combine ingredients in a bowl. Rub in butter with fingers until clumps form. Sprinkle over proved dough.
- Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Stand for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes.