After my first attempt at bread making turned out so well, I couldn’t wait to try a variation. I was planning on making a very simple bread still, perhaps something with toasted sesame seeds and a bit of whole wheat flour…but then I saw this! Shaheen touts it as The Recipe for “yeast-o-phobes” and since I was, I confess, a yeast-o-phobe until just a few days ago I was instantly curious. I now knew how to successfully mix flour, water, and yeast to create something edible, but I was still taking baby steps and I found her reassurances encouraging. The hook was the fact that her recipe contained over a cup of grated chocolate…need I say more? I literally brought my laptop to the kitchen so that I could bake right away.
(please excuse my very lumpy chocolate filling, it doesn’t look at all appetizing, haha)
Chocolate Cinnamon Babka (from The Purple Foodie)
For the Bread…
2 T instant yeast
3/4 C lukewarm milk (I used my 2% and it turned out fine)
6 T butter
6 T sugar
1 t vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
3 ½ C AP flour
1 t salt
For the Filling…
1 ½ C dark chocolate coarsely grated*
1 t cinnamon, ground
4 T butter (or half a stick)
*Note: I had plenty of dark chocolate chips, but no solid bars for grating. I decided to chop the chips up as finely as I could which worked, more or less. I highly recommend grating your chocolate though, if possible, because not only will it make the filling easier to spread, but the appearance of the baked babka will be much nicer. **UPDATE: Shaheen made a great recommendation (see Comments below) that – if using chocolate chips – you can melt your filling and spread over parchment or Silpat to set before transferring onto the rolled-out dough.
- Whisk the yeast into the milk and set aside to dissolve for about 5 minutes or so.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth.
- Add the yolks, one at a time, and thoroughly mix each one in for about 30 seconds or so before adding the next. Add the vanilla and mix until light and fluffy.
- Add the flour and salt and continue to mix to incorporate.
- Add the milk/yeast mixture and mix until the dough comes together. I had to set aside my electric mixer here and continue with a wooden spoon my dough was so thick. See Beezer’s Notes below.
- Knead by hand for a few minutes until you have a “soft, supple, golden dough”.
- Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise for about 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerating, remove the dough from the fridge 2 hours before baking.
- Shortly before baking, mix the chocolate, butter, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Now, you can decide to make one giant loaf or two smaller loaves. Shaheen suggests dividing the entire rolled dough in half later, but I didn’t have the counter-space to make one giant roll. I made two “small” loaves separately- which turned out to be very large in my case! – and if you’d like to do the same, divide the dough in half here. Roll the dough out (either the half you’re working with or the entire ball) to about a 1/4″ in thickness. Dust with flour as needed to avoid sticking.
- Spread the chocolate mixture over the dough (half the mix if making 2 loaves), leaving the very edges uncovered.
- Tightly roll the covered dough up and gently flatten it a bit. Pinch the two ends to seal them.
- Cut down the middle of the roll lengthwise, leaving about an inch uncut at the top.
- Slowly and gently twist the two “legs” of the loaf around each other to mimic a braid.
- Repeat with the other half of dough, if making two loaves.
- Bake two loaves for 15 – 20 minutes or one giant loaf for 20 – 25 minutes. Note: the dough does brown quickly, but Shaheen explains it’s a result of the sugar content and to not worry. Well, I worried – it being something I do well – and removed the loaves from the oven a tad too early. As a result, the deepest pockets of dough were slightly undercooked. Don’t make the same mistake! The Purple Foodie knows what she’s doing! 🙂
- Eat immediately (but carefully!), let cool for a few hours, or let it proof for a day (my recommendation). See below.
Although I’m going to skip ahead for a second and tell you that I was ultimately amazed by this bread (or is it technically a “cake”?), it did have me worried. Early on my dough seemed thicker and drier than Shaheen’s soft yellow one. Maybe I had added too much flour as a consequence of working with Cups rather than grams (which I used in my previous bread recipe) or maybe my King Arthur flour is heartier than whatever Shaheen is working with in India. Whatever the case may be, my suspicions were confirmed when I tried a bite of the babka fresh out of the oven: the gooey, melted chocolate was heaven but the baked dough seemed too, well…bread-y. It wasn’t as soft as I had expected and felt odd paired with the dark chocolate. I couldn’t taste the cinnamon either, which bothered me. Disappointed, I wrapped the two loaves up for the night.
I took one of the babkas to work with me the next day, thinking that even with the sub-par taste my coworkers would be glad for a chocolaty snack. To my surprise the entire loaf vanished at a record pace! Even an individual who “isn’t a dessert fan” ripped off a sizable chunk. Curious, I snuck a taste and was just as surprised as my coworkers when it was fabulous, haha! The flavors had proofed overnight and the cinnamon had found a way to shine through the rich dark chocolate. The bread too had improved with sitting and was now soft, slightly chewy, and worked well with the filling. I think I will still be conscious of the flour next time and add only enough to pull the dough together, but my Chocolate Cinnamon Babka redeemed itself overnight to find a permanent home in my recipe box!
Overall Enjoyment: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥