distinctive swirls of chocolate babka make the bread a
an old "Seinfeld" episode, Jerry and Elaine stop
at a bakery on their way to a dinner party, intending to buy
a chocolate babka as a hostess gift. But they’re thwarted
by the couple ahead of them, who buy the last babka — and
are headed to the same party! What to do?
bakery’s other options — carrot cake, Black Forest cake,
a Napoleon — are rejected with Seinfeldian logic. (You don’t
make carrots into a cake. I’m sorry.) Finally, Jerry
states the unavoidable truth: "You can’t beat a babka."
generally is known as a Jewish or Eastern-European bread,
rich with egg yolks and butter and enclosing various
fillings, the best of which is chocolate enhanced with
cinnamon. Variations abound. There are cinnamon-sugar
fillings, and fillings further embellished with dried fruit
(think cherries or raisins), or nuts (think chopped almonds
or pecans). Some bakers use Nutella, and even peanut butter.
Some babkas come topped with a crumbly streusel, and there
are always a few who dust theirs with powdered sugar.
honestly, you can’t beat cinnamon and chocolate.
better, a babka is one of those wonders of the kitchen that
deliver bang-up results through deceptively simple
techniques. The supple, buttery dough is a joy to knead, not
the sticky glob that makes people fear dealing with yeast.
Melted chocolate is spread over the dough, which then is
rolled up like a jelly roll.
can quickly twist and double this strand before placing it
in a loaf pan, or use a Bundt pan for a circular bread.
most spectacular babka is the ingenious Kranz cake
variation, in which the strand is split down the middle,
opened to reveal the chocolate, then crisscrossed to make a
you shape it, the goal is the same: a slice of rich bread
coursing with veins of dark chocolate.
out the show about nothing was on to something: You can’t
beat a babka.
1 large loaf.
This recipe offers two shaping techniques: for a
free-standing babka in the Israeli Kranz cake style, or the
more conventional loaf. The basic dough recipe is from
"Artisan Breads Every Day" by Peter Reinhart.
Roasted cinnamon (McCormick offers this) boosts the flavor,
but regular cinnamon is fine, too. The dough improves in
flavor by resting in the refrigerator overnight, making
baking day even easier.
tbsp. instant yeast
cup lukewarm milk
tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
c. all-purpose flour
dark chocolate chips or chunks
tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
cinnamon, preferably roasted
cup powdered sugar
the yeast into the lukewarm milk until dissolved, then set
bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream
together the 6 tablespoons butter and sugar until smooth. If
mixing by hand, beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for
about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla to the egg yolks and whisk
to break up yolks. Add to sugar in four parts, mixing well
after each addition. Increase speed to medium and beat for
another 2 minutes (same if by hand) until the mixture is
fluffy. Scrape down the bowl a couple of times.
medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt, then add to
the butter mixture. Pour in the milk and yeast mixture.
Continue to mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until the dough comes
together in a rough ball.
the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 2
or 3 minutes more. This is a pliable dough, barely sticky,
which makes it easy to knead. Resist adding too much more
flour. Knead until dough feels soft and supple and has a
dough into a ball and place top down in a large, lightly
oiled bowl, then flip upright so entire surface is oiled.
Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature to
rise for about 2 hours. It will swell, but not double in
can proceed with shaping the babka at this point, or place
the dough in the refrigerator overnight, to be rolled out
the next day.
you’re ready to shape the babka, first make the filling by
melting together the chocolate, 4 tablespoons butter,
cinnamon and powdered sugar. This is best done using the
the ingredients in a medium bowl, then place the bowl over a
saucepan filled with an inch or two of water; the water
shouldn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat the water to
simmering, stirring the chocolate mixture until it melts.
You can also do this in a microwave oven, but watch
carefully, melting it in 15-second increments. Set aside to
cool slightly while you roll out the dough.
shape the dough: For a loaf shape, grease a 5- by 9-inch
loaf pan or line with parchment paper.
lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 15- by
15-inch square, lifting the dough occasionally to keep it
from sticking to the surface. Spread the melted chocolate
evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch-wide border at the
top and a ˝-inch border on the remaining three sides.
Beginning with the bottom edge, roll up the dough
the seam side down, roll it back and forth to seal the roll
and extend its length to about 18 inches. Carefully begin
twisting the log a few times until the seam appears as a
gentle spiral down the length of the log. Bring together the
two ends, pinching them together to seal, then give the
doubled loaf another twist to make a figure 8 shape before
placing in the pan, tucking under the pinched end.
with a cloth and let rise at room temperature 1 to 2 hours
or until the babka looks puffy and fills the pan.
Kranz cake shape: Proceed as above to the point of rolling
up the dough and extending its length to about 18 inches.
With a sharp knife or metal scraper, cut the log down the
middle lengthwise and carefully turn each piece cut side up.
Place one piece over the other in an X, then crisscross the
strands to make a braid, pinching together each end and
tucking it beneath the babka.
place the braid on a sheet pan that’s been greased or
covered with parchment paper. Cover with a cloth and let
rise at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours or until the braid
bake: For either shape, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake
for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 30
to 40 minutes. Once baked, let the babka rest for 5 minutes
before removing from the pans to a wire rack to cool. Babka
is best served at room temperature after the chocolate has
had time to set.
information per 1 of 18 slices:
fat: 6 g
fiber: 2 g
exchanges per serving: 1 bread/starch, 1 other carb, 2 fat.