Chocolate Babka

"Babka takes time and patience, but it makes an awesome gift," says Duff.

Total Time:
11 hr 45 min
Prep:
1 hr
Inactive:
10 hr
Cook:
45 min

Yield:
2 9-by-5 inch loaves
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients
  • For the dough:
  • 1 1/4 -ounce packet active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus a pinch
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • For the topping:
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • For finishing:
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
Directions
  • Make the dough: Sprinkle the yeast over the milk in a liquid measuring cup; add a pinch of sugar and set aside until bubbly, about 7 minutes. Combine the flour, the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, the eggs, yeast mixture, salt, vanilla, nutmeg and lemon zest in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead until soft and smooth, about 5 minutes. Knead in the butter in three additions, dusting the dough with flour if it's too sticky. Transfer the dough to a large bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down the dough, re-cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the fridge overnight.

  • Make the filling: Heat the sugar, heavy cream and salt in a saucepan until scalding. Pour over the bittersweet chocolate chips, butter and vanilla in a bowl. Whisk until smooth and shiny. Let cool to room temperature.

  • Make the topping: Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a separate bowl; work in the butter with your fingers until the mixture is sandy and chunky. Stir in the mini chocolate chips; set the topping aside.

  • Form the loaves: Cut the dough in half with a bench scraper or chef's knife. Using a rolling pin, roll each half into a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Using an offset spatula, spread the filling on both dough rectangles, all the wayto the edges. Starting from a long side, tightly rolleach rectangle into a log. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate 15 minutes. Unwrap the logs; cut each in half lengthwise with a bench scraper or chef's knife. Twist the halves together a few times, starting from the middle. Coat two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray and line with parchment, then spray the parchment. Place a dough twist snugly in each pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 1/2 hours.

  • Finish and bake the babka: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush each loaf with butter and sprinkle with the topping. Bake until browned, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, make some simple syrup: Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan; simmer, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Let cool. Pull the loaves out of the oven and immediately poke a bunch of holes in each with a wooden skewer. Pour 1 1/4 cups simple syrup evenly over the loaves.Let sit 10 minutes, then remove the babka from the pans, remove the parchment and let cool completely on a rack.

  • Photograph by Andrew Purcell


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