Chocolate Babka

My family never made this because it takes too long. We always bought it at one of the great Russian or Polish bakeries in Chicago. But[ I learned this one from Lydia, the breakfast chef where I worked in Rochester. I used to show up for work two hours early (at 6 am!) to bake with her in the morning while she simmered her pea soup when the chef wasn't around to see. She taught me her family recipes like Austrian Shortbread, Chicken Liver Dumplings and this Babka. She used candied fruit and raisins. You can use cinnamon, too.]

Total Time:
4 hr 45 min
Prep:
30 min
Inactive:
3 hr 30 min
Cook:
45 min

Yield:
24 servings
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients
  • Sponge:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 ounces cake yeast
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • Dough:
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour, as needed
  • 1/2 cup butter, clarified
  • Filling:
  • 14 ounces almond paste
  • 5 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Directions

Make the sponge: Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and warm milk; then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature 1 hour.

Make the dough: In bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together the sugar, vanilla, salt, egg yolks and eggs until well blended. Fit the mixer with a dough hook, add the flour and sponge, and mix until combined; then drizzle in the butter. Mix with the dough hook until incorporated.

Place it in a greased bowl, covered, and let it rest and rise until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and mix together the almond paste, egg whites, and butter. Add the chocolate and mix until combined.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly flour a work surface, turn out the dough and punch it down to release the built up gases. Divide the dough in 1/2. Cover 1 piece with a damp towel as you roll the other

piece into a rectangle 8 by 14 inches and 1/4-inch thick. Let the dough rest while you roll the other out. Spread each with 1/2 of the filling, then roll them up jellyroll style and pinch the seams to seal them. Flatten the dough slightly with a rolling pin, then twist the dough 6 to 8 times. Allow the dough to rest a few minutes. Make spirals with the dough and place them in 2 greased 8-inch cake pans. (Alternatively, lay the dough straight out in 2 greased tube pans.) Cover each pan with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in volume, about 30 to 60 minutes.

Bake the cakes for 45 minutes; then let cool in the pan.


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    I LOVE BABKA!!!
    Time consuming but worth it. It's not like most bakery babkas I've had before, but delicious nonetheless.
     

     
    I followed the recipe exactly and found the dough to be very sticky and hard to work with.
     
    Also, the recipe called for two 8 inch pans but it would have been better to split it between 3 or even 4 pans because the dough rose so high it overflowed out of the pans.
    I made this bread today. I learned of this bread from that famous Seinfeld episode & ever since then I've always wanted to try one. I found the perfect recipe here. I was not disappointed, this bread was delicious...not too sweet but just enough gooey chocolatey goodness. I could not find Cake Yeast anywhere & did a little research & was able to substitute exactly 11 & a 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast & it worked perfectly. This recipe is very time consuming but not so much that you're laboring away all day, a lot of down time with this one. Perfect to make on a rainy day.
    This recipe turned out great despite a few complications. The dough was easy enough to make, but I doubled the filling because I wanted to have lots of chocolate. It got very messy to say the least. However, the end product was worth it! Some of my family is from Czechoslovakia, and they all agreed that it tasted like kolatchys that their mother and grandmother used to bake! This is the third recipe of Gale?s that I have tried (without ever watching the episodes), and they have all been wonderful!
    At the request of my husband I made this Chocolate Babka for Christmas. I knew instantly that it was a going to be good when he started to shake and his eyes glistened at the first bite. My efforts were reconfirmed when we brought one of the two loves to the family dinner and the bread was devoured and not a word spoken.
    I asked an experienced baker if she thought that 5 cakes of yeast (3 ounces of fresh cake yeast) was too much for the 7 cups of flour in this dish. She agreed, and I reduced it to 2 ounces or the equivalent of 3 cakes of yeast. It was plenty of yeast to raise this much flour.
     

     
    Also, I found the dough very sticky, and thus added much more than the 5 cups in the dough while rolling it out. I would say that it could take at least one additional cups to get it to an easily handed dough. (other 2 cups in the sponge).
     

     
    My family loved the filling but wanted more filling!
    Thanks for the fantastic recipe. I followed the directions exactly and had no problems.I made it for our traditional Easter Brunch and it was awesome. I also bought one from our polish bakery and I preferred this one. Will definatley make again and will add it to my recipe collection.
    took a few tries and adjustments to get the right texture. Id rather buy it too!
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