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Chocolate Babka

It’s Easter week! That means Babka around here. If you have never tried Babka, I suggest you do. I like to say Babka, it’s a fun little word. And it’s a delicious little bread. A dessert bread actually.

polish chocolate babka

“Dessert bread?” you say.

Yep. It’s a thing. For those of you who may like something not too sweet to enjoy with a steaming cup of coffee after your big Easter meal. This is perfect.

The dough has a hint of cinnamon and swirled with a rich, chocolate filling and studded with toasted walnuts. It’s twisted and topped with a light, sweet streusel.

Polish Chocolate Babka

It’s perfect alone, but even better slathered with a bit of creamy, butter.

I had never made this particular babka before, but decided to follow along with the monthly King Arthur Flour Bakealong. If you haven’t tried one of their challenges, they are really great. They have step by step photo instructions and if you have any questions, there is a hotline number to call. These challenges are great if you are looking to become a better baker or just want to try out a new recipe. And of course you can always show off your delicious masterpiece on Instagram at #Bakealong.

I always hesitate to make breads because of the time they take with all the rising and resting. I’m not usually home for long periods at a time, and I’m not really familiar with breads enough to know what will happen if I say let it rise for an extra couple of hours, I guess I should call the hotline myself. But I was planning on not getting out of my pajamas the other day, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

I found this recipe to be really simple, it really looks harder than it is. It is impressive! You’ll get lots of ooohs and aaaahs if you bring this on Easter Sunday or any day, for that matter.

Let me know if you give it a shot and make sure you come join me for the May Bakealong!

Happy Easter!

Here is the recipe straight from King Arthur Flour!

Chocolate Babka
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Polish
An impressive sweet bread, loaded and swirled with chocolate, nuts and cinnamon. Beautifully braided and topped with streusel
  • 1 to 1¼ cups lukewarm water (110F)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6¼ cups All-Purpose Flour
  • ⅓ cup Nonfat dry milk
  • 2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature*
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • *Reduce the salt to 2¼ teaspoons if you use salted butter.
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup Cocoa powder, Dutch-process or natural
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips, mini chips preferred
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted if desired
  • 1 large egg beaten with a pinch of salt until well-combined
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅔ cup confectioners' sugar
  • ½ cup All-Purpose Flour
  1. Combine all of the dough ingredients (starting with the lesser amount of water), mixing until everything is moistened. Add additional water if needed to allow the dough to come together.
  2. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Then mix/knead until it's soft and smooth.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and cover. Let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for about 1½ to 2 hours, until nice and puffy. *see Notes
  4. Gently deflate the dough by giving it a gentle squeeze and divide it in half. Set the pieces aside, covered, while you make the filling.
  5. To make the filling: Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and espresso. Stir in the melted butter. The mixture will look grainy and shiny; perfect.
  6. Shape each half of the dough into a 9" x 18", ¼"-thick rectangle. If the dough "fights back," let it rest for 10 minutes, then stretch it some more. Don't be fussy about size; 19" or 20" is as good as 18".
  7. Smear each piece of the dough with half the filling, coming to within an inch of the edges.
  8. Scatter half the chocolate (make a thin layer), half the nuts, and half the chopped chocolate/chips over each piece.
  9. Starting with a short end, roll each piece gently into a log, pinching to seal the seam and ends. Working with one log at a time, use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut the log in half lengthwise (not crosswise) to make two pieces of dough about 10" long each; cut carefully, to prevent too much filling from spilling out. With the exposed filling side up, twist the two pieces into a braid (not really a braid, but more of a twist), tucking the ends underneath. Repeat with the other log. Place each log into a lightly greased 9" x 5" loaf pan.
  10. Brush each loaf with the egg glaze. Mix together the topping ingredients until crumbly, and sprinkle half the topping over each loaf.
  11. Tent each pan with plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise until they're very puffy and have crowned a good inch over the rim of the pan, 1½ to 2½ hours.
  12. Preheat your oven to 300°F toward the end of the rise time. (if using oven to proof, take breads out before you preheat!)
  13. Bake the bread for 35 minutes. Tent lightly with foil, and bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes (for a total of 50 to 60 minutes); the loaves should be a rich-golden brown.
  14. The bread is perfectly baked when it registers at least 190°F on an instant read thermometer.
  15. Remove the loaves from the oven, and immediately loosen the edges with a spatula or table knife. Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out of the pans onto a rack to cool completely.
  16. Slice the babka and serve it at room temperature; or rewarm individual slices briefly in a toaster oven with a little bit of butter, if desired. There won't be any leftovers, but if there are just store, well wrapped, at room temperature. Freeze for longer storage.




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