Boy oh boy, did you know babka tastes really really good? I mean, really good, like eat-the-crumbs-off-the-floor good? It took an afternoon of lessons learned, but I finished baking a babka loaf in time for dessert on Sunday. Christine was home in time for the tasting and I'm pretty sure she liked.
I did some research and discovered Martha had the best recipe, but it made three loaves. I reduced the recipe to make just one loaf, and I've retyped and added my personal additions (vanilla!) to the recipe below. This is by no means an every day indulgence. The amount of butter and chocolate in this recipe will my close arteries and my bank account if made every week, however after making this rich treat, I am one personal step closer to buying my new toy.
Whether you are intrigued with babka like I was after the infamous Seinfeld episode, or you are quite familiar with the pastry, I highly suggested making a loaf, or buying one, you won't be disappointing. Heck, ask me, I'll gladly make and share an extra loaf.
Babka Makes 1 loaf
Adapted from Martha
1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees
1.5 tsp active dry yeast
Squeeze of honey
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, divided
1 tsp vanilla
2.5 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbls butter, softened
12 ounces chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
4 Tbls butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup flour 5 Tbls butter, softened
Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and squeeze of honey over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture and yeast mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add 6 Tablespoons 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.
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.
Place chocolate, 1/3 cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using a fork, cut in remaining 4 Tablespoons butter until well combined; set filling aside.
Generously butter one 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pan; line with parchment paper. Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.
Brush edges with egg wash. Crumble 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. Bend roll in half and twist left half over right half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Fit into prepared pan.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Combine powdered sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and 5 Tablespoons butter to make streusel topping. Crumble streusel topping over loaf. Loosely cover pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.
Bake loaf, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 45 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until babkas are deep golden, 10 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire rack until cool. Remove from pans; serve. Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month, but mine never made it to the freezer.