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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chocolate Babka

The Altitude Adjustment Section
Babka takes me back. Babka is made from sweet yeast dough rolled and filled and then twisted into a loaf pan where it rises and then bakes. It takes a while, but most of the time you are just waiting for the dough to rise. So rent a movie, and make a Babka, it will certainly make you a better person. From start to finish, this takes 6 hours (or you can do it overnight).

3/4 cup warm milk (105-115 degrees)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups flour plus extra for rolling out dough
2 eggs
1 large yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) softened butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
5 tablespoons very soft butter
5 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 cup chopped walnuts(optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

To make dough, stir together the warm milk, 2 tablespoons of sugar in the bowl of your electric mixer, sprinkle the yeast over top and let sit until foamy about 7 minutes. Add 1/2 cup flour and beat at medium speed till combined. Now add whole eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat till combined. Reduce speed to low and add the 2 3/4 cup flour i/2 cup at a time. Increase speed to medium, and add the 10 tablespoons of butter a few pieces at a time. Continue beating till dough is shiny and forms strands from the paddle to the bowl — about 4 minutes. Dough will be a sticky mess at this point, don’t worry. Scrape dough into an oiled bowl and let rise in a warm place till doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Have some coffee.

Now back to work. Line 2 loaf pans with parchment paper. Punch down dough with a lightly oiled spatula and then cut it in half. Place dough on your table, which has been lightly floured. Roll out into rectangle 18 X 10 inches, long side nearest you. Beat together the egg yolk and the heavy cream and brush just the edge in front of you. Sprinkle the chocolate over the dough, if you want to you can add the raisins, cinnamon and walnuts at this point. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top. Don’t go to the edge when doing this; leave a 1/2 inch border all around. Now roll dough up tightly pinching the seam firmly. Now bring the ends together to make a ring, and then twist twice to form a double figure 8 and place into prepared loaf pan. Do both halves of the dough. At this point, I put the pans in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap and let it rise over night. But you can also let it rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours till dough reaches top of pan. If you let the dough raise in the frig overnight, let it sit at room temp for 4 hours before baking.

To bake, brush tops of dough with remaining egg wash (I sprinkled them with some cinnamon and sugar) and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes till dark brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped. You can keep babka in your freezer for wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil for 3 weeks, but not in my house!