C’est Si Bon: Chocolate Babka

Butter. Butter and sugar. And eggs. And (wait for it) CHOCOLATE
Butter and sugar and eggs and chocolate.
That’s what Jewish Babkas are made of, or at least the one I’ve been ogling for a few months over at Smitten Kitchen. The thing is, like I said, it’s made of loads of butter and sugar and eggs… and the only way I could justify baking this bad boy was to wait for an occasion when I could give most of it away. So when the end of the semester rolled around and it was time to hand in my Theory seminar paper, I knew the day had finally come. I made it for our last day’s potluck, and let me tell you — it was a hit.
A real hit, a la those old Yoplait commercials“I-can’t-believe-you-didn’t-buy-this!” good, people-talking-about-it-the-next-day good, “what-is-this-MADE-of?!?!”* good. 
Lots of sugar, a little spice. I think it all turned out quite nice.
*The “?!” punctuation mark has a name: the interrobang. This non-Standard punctuation mark is often used to express disbelief or excitement. Both were present at my theory seminar. Many thanks to Ania for first bringing to my attention the existence of the interrobang.  
Chocolate Babka 
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 3 loaves. I baked two and froze one (which you can do after step 10).
1.5 cups warm milk
2 packages dry active yeast (1/4 oz each)
1.75 cups sugar
3 whole large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1.75 cups (i.e. 3.5 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, and at room temperature
2 bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips (you want around 2.25 lbs, but I had slightly less. We also threw them into the blender and pulsed them a bit to make the pieces smaller)
2.5 Tablespoons  ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon heavy cream (you can make amazing biscuits with the leftover cream)
we also added some dried fruit — raisins — though craisins would have been great too. whatever you like.
Streusal topping (I couldn’t bring myself to use even MORE butter, but I’ll include the recipe to this below)

1. In a small bowl: pour in warm milk with a pinch of sugar, then sprinkle the yeast on top.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes — it’ll get crazy foamy.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup of sugar, 2 eggs, and your egg yolks. Combine your egg and yeast mixtures and whisk them to combine.
3. Because I don’t have an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (one day… one day) I simply used a wooden spoon to combine the flour and the salt. I then added the egg mixture and mixed to combine. Add the butter and keep on mixing til everything is incorporated (and by all means, if you do have a mixer, use it! I have a hand mixer but didn’t feel like pulling it out).
4. Turn out your dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. You don’t want your dough to be excessively sticky, but sticky nonetheless. Place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave aside in a warm place until doubled, about an hour. (Now, the original recipe says to butter the bowl before you put the dough in, but seriously, there is no need. I didn’t, and it didn’t stick).
5. Combine chocolate, the rest of the sugar, your cinnamon, and dried fruit if you’re using it in a large bowl. Cut in 1 1/2 sticks of butter using two knives, until everything is well combined. Set aside for later.
6. The original recipe instructs you to generously BUTTER three 9X5X2 3/4 inch loaf pans… but I lightly buttered them (so much butter!). Beat your last egg with the tablespoon of cream, and set this aside for later (it’s your egg wash).
7. Now that your dough has risen, punch it down and transfer to a clean surface. After letting it rest for 5 minutes, cut into 3 equally-sized pieces. Keep the 2 pieces you’re not working with covered in plastic.
8. Using a rolling pin, roll out 1 piece of dough on a generously floured surface. You want to end up with a square that is about 1/8 inch thick and 16 by 16 inches. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect.
9. Brush the edges of your square with the egg wash. Sprinkle 1/3 of the chocolate filling evenly over the dough, and leave a 1/4 inch border to facilitate rolling. Now roll it like a cinnamon roll, nice and tight, pinching the ends to seat it.
10. Now’s the semi-tricky part. Take the roll and twist it 5-6 times. Brush the top of the roll with the egg wash. Now crumble 2 tablespoons of the filling over the left half. Fold the right section over the left section so that you sandwich the filling in the between the two. Finally, fold the ends under, punch to seal, and twist twice more. Place in your pan and repeat these steps with the remaining two pieces of dough and your filling. At this point, you may choose to continue and bake, or freeze by covering in plastic wrap and placing inside a plastic bag (sand pan, of course!)
11. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Now brush the top of each loaf that you are baking with the egg wash. I chose to sprinkle some cinnamon & sugar on top, but I’ll go ahead and give you the recipe for the buttery streusel topping I just couldn’t bring myself to make:
12. Cover your loaves loosely with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 20-30 minutes.
13. Bake loaves for about 55 minutes (until golden). Be sure to rotate the pan 180 degrees midway through to ensure even baking. Once 55 minutes are up, lower the temperature to 326 degrees F and bake for 15-20 minutes more.
14. Remove your pans from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once completely cool, remove from pans and just give yourself over to the buttery, gooey, chocolately goodness. Because you’re worth it.

For those who dare add even more butter, to make the streusel:

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, at room temperature
In a large bowl combine all the above ingredients, and using a form, stir until everything is combined and you have formed delectable crumbs.
This entry was published on May 12, 2010 at 12:26 am. It’s filed under pastry and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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