This Eastern European recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. It was one of my favorite bakery treats growing up. It had an exotic blend of chocolate and cinnamon mixed with the yeastiness of bread that I found addictive. It’s great with coffee. Wrap the cooled babka in plastic wrap and it will last a week.
Makes 3 loaves.
- 1 1/2 cups milk, 110 °
- 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 cups sugar (divided into 3/4 cup and 1 cup)
- 3 large eggs, room temperature (divided into 2 eggs and 1 egg)
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature divided into 1 cup (2 sticks) and 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks)
- 2 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
- Pour milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and a pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks.
- Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt.
- Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated.
- Change to the dough hook. Add 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated and make a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth.
- Coat a large bowl with cooking spray, place dough in bowl and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Place chocolate, remaining 1 cup sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Using a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter until well combined.
- Spray three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans with cooking spray and line them with parchment paper.
- Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon heavy cream to make an egg wash.
- Punch down the dough and let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece.
- On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.
- Crumble 1/3 of the chocolate mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border.
- Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist several times. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Bend roll in half (like a horseshoe). Fold right half of the roll over onto the left half. Crumble 2 tablespoons of filling over the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling.
- Heat oven to 350° .
- Make topping by mixing the confectioners’ sugar with flour and cutting in the butter with a pastry cutter.
- Brush the top of each loaf with the egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 minutes more.
- Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve.