Honestly, Jewish baked goods are the best baked goods. Because Hanukkah started not too long ago, I decided to pause my massive cookie assembly line and put my Jewish baking skills to good use.
That means CHOCOLATE BABKA FOR EVERYONE!
Babka is a sweet buttery yeast cake, usually made for Passover. Originally, this thing was filled with dried fruit - now it’s mutated into a tasty chocolate or cinnamon version (and, remember what Seinfield has taught us – cinnamon babka is “the lesser babka”). This recipe - the only recipe you will ever need – combines both chocolate and cinnamon. Yes, this babka is the greatest babka.
Makes 3 loaves.
- 1 1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees
- 2 (1/4 ounce each) packages active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 cups plus a pinch of sugar
- 3 whole large eggs, room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and loaf pans
- 2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped*
- After chopping the chocolate into moderately sized chunks, I used the food processor to pulse the rest of the chocolate in two batches to small bits. It saved a lot of time!
- 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- Streusel topping (see below)
1. Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.
3. 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, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.
4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. 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.
5. Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined; set filling aside.
6. Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans; line them with parchment paper. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream; set egg wash aside. Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. 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.
7. Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling.
8. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.
9. Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve. Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month.
Makes 3 3/4 cups.
- 1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter. Using a fork, stir until fully combined with clumps ranging in size from crumbs to 1 inch.
Also, this babka can be prepared up to step 8 and frozen for up to a month before baking. That means you can have babka whenever your little heart desires. When you’re craving its sweet sweet goodness, take it out of the freezer and let it stand at room temperature for about 5 hours, then bake.
Now for the sexy part:
Large babka, medium babka, and baby babka. It was at this point when I noticed that I had forgotten the dang streusel. However, it was late and I just wanted to get these suckers in the oven – so streuselless they had to stay (Please don’t forget the streusel on yours. It’s the best part.)
Two out of the oven – the small one had already been cut up and was quickly being consumed.
By time we cut into the big one, the tiny one was nothing but a yummy little stump.