Sunday, August 1, 2021

Babka (Two Kinds: Chocolate and Pecan Cinnamon)

Chocolate Babka

Pecan Cinnamon Babka

Twice the Babka awesomeness

I've been seeing lots of posts on Instagram of people making babka, or at least making breads using the technique of slicing a rolled log of dough lengthwise and twisting. And since this seems to be a summer of baking and blogging, AND since I purchased another pair of 7" x 3" loaf pans, I decided it was time I tried my hand at babka, even though I've never tasted it before now.

If you want a more straightforward recipe that does not involve making small loaves of two different kinds of babka, you may want to look at the recipes from Food & Wine and Butternut Bakery linked here. I'm just going to describe what I did because it's all I know.

What is produced from the recipe below is even more delightful than I expected. Crisp on the outside, soft and buttery on the inside bread with such flavorful fillings that made my mouth and my tummy very happy. I think I like the pecan cinnamon version slightly better because it develops this super tasty, chewy, caremely crust. The pecan flavor really stands out as I cut the amount of cinnamon in half, and it is just so, so good. I can't even do it justice with words. You just have to try it.

I've said too much already. If you've never made or eaten babka before, I think this is a solid recipe. If you're used to baking, you can probably adjust pan sizes to fit what you have at home. I think if you have standard size loaf pans, you could used these same amounts and just end up with one loaf of each kind.

Go ahead and do it. You know you want to.

Adapted from Food & Wine and Butternut Bakery

Bread Ingredients:
  • 4 cups King Arthur All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 10 tablespoons butter (salted) cut into tablespoons, room temperature
Chocolate Filling Ingredients:
  • 4.5 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped (I used 13 Dove Milk Chocolate Promises)
  • 1.5 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 4 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup finely ground chocolate wafer cookies (I used Oreos w/ filling scraped out)
  • 1.5 tablespoons honey
Pecan Cinnamon Ingredients:
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup crushed toasted pecans
Chocolate Glaze Ingredients:
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 18 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises)
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped (I used 6 Dove Milk Chocolate Promises)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
Instructions for Dough:
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.
  • In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk, egg, and egg yolk.
  • Using the dough hook attachment, mix at low speed until ingredients are incorporated. Then turn to medium and mix until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes.
  • Add all of the butter and mix on low speed until butter in completely incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides down the sides as needed during mixing. Continue mixing until you have a uniform "tacky dough."
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Divide dough in half, and form each half into a flat square, about 3/4 to 1 inch in thickness.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Instructions for the Chocolate Filling:
  • In the top of a double boiler, melt the chopped chocolates with the butter. Stir occasionally until smooth and then allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Once cooled, stir in ground cookies and honey.
Instructions for the Pecan Cinnamon Filling:
  • Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl.
Assembling the Babka:
  • Line 4 loaf pans (7" x 3") with parchment paper (see photo below). Then butter the parchment paper with a thin layer of butter. Set aside.
  • Remove dough squares from the refrigerator, and on a surface lightly greased with vegetable oil, roll out one of the dough squares to a rectangle approximately 11" x  20".
  • Spread one of the fillings evenly over the surface of the dough using an offset spatula. Leave a margin on one of the long sides of about 1/4 inch.
  • Using the edge of a bench scraper if necessary, roll the dough lengthwise fairly tightly. Press gently to seal the end once you're done rolling.
  • Cut the dough log into two equal logs.
  • Cut each of the shorter logs in half lengthwise.
  • Flip one of the halves so that you have one narrow end and one wide end for each of the loaf ends (see pics below).
  • Carefully twist the two halves keeping the cut sides up.
  • Place the twisted loaf into a prepared pan and then repeat with the other half log.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until puffed, but not necessarily doubled, about 2 hours.
  • Repeat with the other dough square and prepared filling.
Baking the Babka:
  • While loaves rise, preheat the oven to 365 degrees Fahrenheit (I combined two different recipes, so I somewhat averaged the recommended temps).
  • When loaves have risen, bake at 365 degrees for about 38-42 minutes, or until well browned and springy to the touch on top.
  • Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack in the loaf pans for about 5 minutes before removing the bread from the pans using the parchment lining to lift the loaves up and out.
  • Allow loaves to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

Instructions for the Chocolate Babka Glaze:
  • In a double boiler, melt the chopped chocolates with the butter. Stir until smooth and then stir in the corn syrup. 
  • Spoon the glaze evenly over the cooled chocolate babka loaves.
  • Allow chocolate to set before cutting the chocolate babka. This will take 30-60 minutes.

Once babkas are cooled and set, you can slice and eat.

Store uneaten babka in a sealed bag or container, freezing leftovers you do not plan to eat within two days.

Makes 4 small loaves

This is such an involved recipe, I have way too many pics. These are just a few. Click on this link to see a video of how the folks at Food and Wine made the chocolate Babka. They formed it differently than I did, but it's a good way to see much of the process.

3" x 7" on the left & 4" x 8.25" (standard) on right

Scrumptious pecan cinnamon Babka

Delicious chocolate Babka

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