Last week I attempted Babka. I've tried it twice before, and I wasn't quite successful either time, so since then I have referred to Babka as my "Mt. Everest of baking." I'm happy to report that as of then, I have conquered the mountain!
This babka is ah-maz-ing!! And frankly, I wanted to make it again a few days later, but was deterred because of the amount of time it took for it to rise and my not-so-free day. Suffice it to say, though, that this will be a recipe you'll be seeing over and over again in the near future.
See, B had a visitor in town last week and I wanted to bake something for him. His last guest in March got Red Velvet Bundt Cake and New York-Style Coffee Cake Crumb Muffins -- and seeing as the guests know each other, I didn't want to let him down, and made some treats while he was here, too. The babka was the perfect treat to make -- and it was well received! I left the almonds out because of my dislike of nuts in my baked goods, which made the babka extra chocolate-y, and in my opinion, prefect. The boys completely agreed!
Next up, I think I'm going to try for a cinnamon version...
For the dough:
2.25 tsp or 1 packet active dry yeast
3/4 cups milk at 110F
6 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
6 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
3 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp salt.
For the filling:
3/4 cups finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted and finely chopped (I left these out)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold, unsalted butter
For the streusel:
2 Tbsp soft, unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sufar (I used light brown sugar)
1 pinch salt
For the egg wash:
1 Tbsp water
Make the dough.
Stir the yeast into the milk to dissolve.
Let sit until foamy.
While the yeast proofs, cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add the oil and vanilla and mix well to combine.
Then add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing until each yolk is incorporated before adding the next.
Increase the mixer speed to high and beat the mixture for about 2 minutes.
Turn the mixer to low.
Add the flour and salt.
Add the milk and yeast mixture.
Switch to the dough hook attachment.
Mix the dough until a soft, tacky dough forms.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead by hand for two more minutes. The dough should feel soft, supple, and smooth.
Move the dough to a clean oiled bowl and cover with plastic crap. Let the dough rise at a moderate room temperature for about 2 hours or until almost doubled in size. *You can also let the dough rise overnight in the fridge and shape it the next day.
Prepare the filling while the dough is rising.
Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl and use a pasty blender or bench scraper to cut the ingredients together into a streusel-like crumble.
To shape the bread:
Roll the risen dough on a lightly floured surface into a roughly 15x18 inch rectangle.
Gently lift the dough to make sure that it will easily release from the work surface.
Sprinkle the filling mixture evenly over the top of the dough leaving a 1/4-inch border around the edges.
Roll the dough from the long end into a tight log about 20 inches long.
Gently bend the dough into a "U"-shape.
Twist the arms of the dough 2 or 3 times around each other to form the loaf.
Pinch the seams together.
Place the dough into a greased x-5 inch loaf pan.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the babka fills the pan, 1-2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Prepare the streusel:
Combine all of the streusel ingredients in a bowl and mix until crumbly.
Make the egg wash by mixing together 1 egg and 1 Tbsp of water.
When the loaf has risen completely, brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash.
Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the top of the loaf.
Use a toothpick to poke a few holes in the top of the load which will release any air pockets trapped between the folds of the dough and the filling.
Put the load pan on a baking sheet and place it in the oven.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Rotate the pan and bake for 20-30 more minutes.
The loaf will be deep golden brown on top and sound hollow when the bottom is tappen when finished. *You can also use a thermometer to check the internal temperature (it should be 185F).
Let the babka cool to room temperature before slicing.