Chocolate Babka

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Yield: 2 loaves

Recipe photo

This overstuffed yeast loaf, filled with two kinds of chocolate, nuts, and cinnamon, is based on a traditional eastern European bread. The classic version, often shaped in a twist and topped with streusel, is a perennial best-seller at Jewish bakeries in many major North American cities. This simpler recipe — streusel-less, and baked "straight," no twisting — makes two lovely, tasty loaves.

Our thanks to Maggie Glezer, and her book, "A Blessing of Bread," for the inspiration for this recipe.

Chocolate Babka

star rating (8) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 2 loaves
Published: 08/19/2010

Ingredients

Dough

Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup diced pecans or walnuts, toasted if desired

Glaze

  • 1 large egg beaten with a pinch of salt till well-combined

Directions

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1) Combine all of the dough ingredients, just till everything is moistened. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Then mix/knead it till it's soft and smooth.

2) Let the dough rise till doubled, 1 to 1 ½ hours.

3) Gently deflate the dough, and divide it in half. Set the pieces aside, covered, while you make the filling.

4) To make the filling: Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and espresso. Stir in the melted butter. The mixture will look grainy and oily; that's OK.

5) Shape each half of the dough into a 9" x 18", ¼"-thick rectangle. Don't be fussy about this; 19" or 20" is as good as 18".

6) Smear each piece of the dough with half the filling, coming to within an inch of the edges.

7) Scatter half the chips and nuts over each piece.

8) Starting with a short end, roll each piece gently into a log, sealing the seam and ends. Place each log of dough into a lightly greased 9" x 5" loaf pan.

9) Tent each pan with plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise till they're very puffy and have crowned a good inch over the rim of the pan, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 300°F.

10) Just before baking, brush each loaf with the egg glaze; pop any air bubbles with a toothpick. Then, cut a deep vertical slash the length of each loaf, cutting through at least 3 layers.

11) 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 deep-golden brown.

12) To ensure the loaves are baked through, insert an instant-read thermometer into the center of one loaf. It should register at least 190°F.

13) Remove the loaves from the oven, and immediately loosen the edges with a heatproof spatula or table knife. Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out of the pans onto a rack to cool completely.

Yield: 2 loaves.

Reviews

1
  • star rating 02/04/2015
  • Subtle Llama from Atlanta, Georgia
  • Used this recipe my second time ever making babka (this was my first time making real bread). Partner and I agreed that it tasted way better than bakery babka we've tried. This was the easiest dough preparation I found and so moist, flavorful, and light when baked. I doubled the amount of filling because chocolate. Overall experiencing of eating was satisfying and decadent. I won't be looking for another recipe any time soon.
  • star rating 12/21/2014
  • breadgeek from KAF Community
  • What a beautiful loaf and not difficult to make at all. I made 2 loaves yesterday and will make 2 more today to give as holiday gifts and will be adding this recipe to my holiday baking list! It is a bit rich - more like a dessert but it is such a special treat. I used SAF Gold Instant yeast and it worked beautifully in this sweeter bread.
  • star rating 12/16/2014
  • ALENE from MIICHIGAN
  • DIVINE!
  • star rating 04/19/2012
  • CascadesPhotography from KAF Community
  • Easy easy easy, tasty tasty tasty x4! The dough is easy to work, and smells yum with the vanilla, the filling is perfect, I did not have the espresso powder, but I used a New Orleans blend coffee (doubled). I cut one loaf as directed, but was concerned at the deflation, the 2nd loaf I only pricked with a vent hole, in the end I liked the appearance of the loaf where a large cut was NOT made, I'm not sold that any cuts or vents are needed. However the end result was amazing for both loaves. I posted photos on my home page, I'm now to this site, (and to baking) so not sure how to share the photos here. Thanks so much for this website, I got started with "Joy of Cooking" to learn how to bake, love it, great book! However, this site is expanding my possibilities!
  • star rating 10/20/2011
  • chef girl1 from KAF Community
  • If I was given an option for more stars I would have given this recipe more. It was fabulous. Rich and delicious. We devored the first loaf within 12 hours and I saved the second loaf for a family function. I heated the leaf up in a 325 oven for about 20 minutes and it came out smelling, feeling ,and especially tasting like I had just baked it. The whole family couldn't believe how good it was. Two chocolate covered thumbs up for this recipe!!!
  • star rating 03/24/2011
  • suible5096 from KAF Community
  • I took this to a potluck - and it was a big hit. It really isn't very hard to make - although it does take some time. I think it took me much closer to 6 hours from the very beginning to the very end. Still, it was pretty easy, but with the 20 minutes added at the beginning and the 15 minutes at the end . . . I didn't have any problems getting the bread out of the pans - but I used vegetable oil spray and made sure the entire pan was coated. I did change the recipe very slightly - I added dried cherries to the chocolate chips and nuts. For me, the recipe is too rich - too sweet, but it certainly was a big hit. I very well may make it again for company.
  • star rating 08/25/2010
  • Jeanne loves to bake from KAF Community
  • Every time I think I found the best recipe, I find another one that is just as amazing. This was fantastic! The loaves are lovely and delicious. The aroma in the house is wonderful :) Variations I used: 1 c water, unsalted butter (always!), and nonfat dry milk. I varied the flour, although that wasn't suggested in the recipe. I used 2 1/2 cups of KA unbleached bread flour and the rest was KA unbleached all purpose. I put mine in my bread machine on the dough setting. Worked great. I twisted both loaves so they looked more traditional, but I only split the top of one of them. I have only tasted the split loaf, but they both look beautiful. I will probably try streusel topping on one loaf next time, too. I baked them 35 minutes, lightly tented them for 15, and they were perfect upon removal. I did have a little trouble with the bottoms sticking to the pan. I was in a rush and asked my husband to grease the pans lightly, and I think maybe they needed just a bit more grease. The texture is nice - moist inside, lovely golden-crisp crust. One warning: this takes a while! After the initial rise and then the rolling and filling, they require a substantial rise time again. Made for a later night than I expected. If you're more organized than I am, though, and thoroughly read your recipes and prepare, you'll be fine. :) Enjoy. These are well worth the time!
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