This month’s topic of the Bread Baking Day which was initiated by Zorra from 1x umrühren bitte is “Twisted Breads”, hosted by Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. When I read the theme I immediately knew I was going to submit Chocolate Cinnamon Babka. I’ve had 2 chocolate babka recipes on my to-do list for a long time, and now was the time to finally make it!
But this also meant I had to decide whether to make Peter Reinhart’s Chocolate Babka from his book “Artisan Breads Every Day” or the recipe I saw on Smitten Kitchen some time ago which sounded REALLY decadent but oh so good! I opted for Peter Reinhart’s version because I haven’t used the book yet and I thought it would be nice to begin baking from this book with this recipe.
Unfortunately, it didn’t really convince me. Mixing and shaping went fine, but in the oven the braid mutated into a big monster without a nice form (this is the reason why I don’t have a full length shot of the baked babka in this post – it was just too ugly). Also, it was almost too dark on the outside. And the flavor? Well, it was like pretty dry bread with chocolate chunks. Hmm, I expected something totally different from seeing the pictures in the book, but from the ingredients I should have known that a yeast risen dough can’t turn into a moist chocolate chunks & cinnamon cake. I’ll definitely give Martha Stewart’s recipe I saw on Smitten Kitchen a try to see how it compares to Peter Reinhart’s chocolate cinnamon babka. I do hope it tastes more cake-like…
Chocolate Cinnamon Babka
(adapted from Peter Reinhart’s “Artisan Breads Every Day”)
- 2 tblsp instant yeast
- 3/4 cup milk, lukewarm
- 6 tblsp butter, melted or at room temperature
- 6 tblsp sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 1/3 cups AP flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
- 1/2 stick butter, cold
- Sprinkle the yeast in the lukewarm milk. Stir to dissolve the yeast and set aside for about five minutes.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the vanilla to the egg yolks and whisk lightly to break up the yolks. Slowly add the egg yolk/vanilla mixture to the sugar mixture in four installments. When all the eggs are incorporated increase the mixer to medium high speed and continue mixing for another 2 minutes, or until the mixture is fluffy. Turn off the mixer, exchange paddle for dough hook and add the flour, salt, and lukewarm milk and yeast. Reduce the speed to low and mix for approximately 2 to 3 minutes to make a soft, supple, tacky dough. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead by hand for 2 minutes more, adding more flour as needed to make the dough pliable.
- Form it into a ball and place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover the top of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough ferment at room temperature for about 2 1/2 hours. It will rise somewhat, but will not double in size.
- While the dough is rising, prepare the chocolate cinnamon filling by grinding the frozen chocolate in a food processor until the chocolate is nearly powdered and add in the cinnamon. Cut the cold butter into 8 to 10 pieces, add it to the food processor, and pulse until the butter is evenly cut and dispersed into the chocolate mixture to make a streusel-like chocolate crumble. Set the filling aside at room temperature for later use.
- On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the risen dough into a 16” square, anywhere between 1/4” and 1/8” thick. Use a metal pastry blade or a plastic bowl scraper to lift and continually dust under the dough to prevent sticking. Sprinkle the chocolate/cinnamon/butter mixture over the entire surface, breaking up any clumps so that it covers the surface of the dough evenly (leave a 1/4″ border around the full perimeter without chocolate). Roll up the dough like a jelly roll log and roll the log back and forth to extend its length a few more inches.
- For the Israeli Kranz cake shaping method, cut the log down the middle lenghtwise with a metal pastry blade. Cross one piece over the other, then continue to criss-cross the pieces in both directions to form a braid. Put the braid on a sheet pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours until the babka has increased to aout 1 1/2 times its original size.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Poke a few holes in the top of the loaf with a toothpick to eliminate possible air pockets between the layers of chocolate and dough. Bake for 20 minutes and then rotate the pan and continue baking until the top is a rich dark brown. The loaf will begin to brown quickly because of the sugar, but it won’t burn, so bake until it is golden on both the top and bottom, about 50 to 60 minutes total time. The center of the loaf should register approximately 190ºF and the sides of the loaf should be a rich golden brown, not white. The loaf will sound hollow when thumped. The sides may feel soft because of the air pockets caused by the spirals. The bread will soften as it cools. Allow the bread to cool at least 90 minutes before serving—best served at room temperature after the chocolate has had time to set.