Chocolate Hazelnut Babka Recipe

From a rich but obscure history in Poland and Eastern Europe, babka is undergoing a renaissance, now gracing the covers of major food magazines. This yeast bread has similarities to brioche but is rolled thin, paired with chocolate and then twisted and topped with a chocolate or sugary glaze.  Baked in a high loaf pan the result is an irresistible combination of rich bread and luscious filling. Though appearing complicated, babka is surprisingly simple to make and the possibilities for fillings and toppings are endless.

Use the Folding Proofer during the critical final rise to give the loaf enough lift for a beautiful layered look when sliced.

Printable Recipe          recette imprimable

Yield: One loaf.

Timing: Start this bread at least 10 hours before serving.

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Ingredients:

Dough:

  Volume Grams Ounces Baker’s %
Whole milk, slightly warm ½ C 100 4.0 0 %
Sugar, fine 1 tsp 4 0.14 1.5 %
Instant yeast 2 tsp 6 0.2 2.3 %
Unbleached all-purpose flour 2 C 260 15.8 100 %
Salt, fine 1 tsp 6 0.21 1.9 %
Large egg 1 60 2.0 0 %
Unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces 6 T 90 3.0 0 %

Filling:

  Volume Grams Ounces
Unsalted butter 7 T 100 3.5
Sugar, fine ½ C 100 3.5
Bittersweet chocolate, coarsley chopped ½ C 80 3
Cocoa powder, unsweetened natural 5 T 40 1.4
Espresso powder ½ tsp 3 0.1
Cinnamon ½ tsp 3 0.1
Hazelnuts*, coarsley chopped & toasted ½ C 65 2.1

*Optional – substitute almonds or walnuts

Syrup glaze topping:

  Volume Grams Ounces
Water ¼ C 59 2
Sugar, fine ¼ C 50 1.8
Honey 1 T 21 0.75

Chocolate glaze topping:

  Volume Grams Ounces
Bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped ⅓ C 57 2
Milk chocolate, finely chopped ⅓ C 57 2
Unsalted butter 6 T 85 3
Corn syrup, light 1 T 20 0.75

Equipment: Brød & Taylor Folding Proofer, stand mixer (optional), rolling pin, 8½ x 4½” / 21.5 x 11.5 cm loaf pan, and 8” x 12” / 30 x 50 cm parchment.

Mix first 4 ingredients. In a medium bowl, or the stand mixer bowl, mix the yeast with milk and sugar and about a quarter of the flour.

Make main dough.

By hand: Combine butter with ingredients in the bowl and mix. Add the egg and salt and combine well. Gradually add the flour until it is evenly incorporated.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 8 minutes.

By stand mixer: Using a mixer fitted with a dough hook on low speed, combine butter with ingredients in the bowl, and then add the egg and salt. Gradually add the flour until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and knead until the dough is smooth for about 5 minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Refrigerate the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap for 6-12 hours and place in the refrigerator. Another option is to skip the refrigeration and roll out dough following the instructions below. However, doughs often improve with a rest and rise period, so we recommend refrigeration.

Prepare Proofer and pan. When refrigeration time is complete, set the Proofer to 80 °F / 27 °C and place the water tray in the middle of the warming plate in the base of the Proofer. Pour ¼ C / 60 ml water into the tray and place the rack on top of the tray. Generously grease the sides and bottom of the loaf pan. Cut a piece of parchment to line the long sides and bottom of the pan overhanging the two long sides. This will help you easily lift the loaf from the pan when it is finished baking.

Make the filling. Melt the 7 T of butter in a small saucepan. Add sugar and stir until almost completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add the bittersweet chocolate. Let stand 1 minute and then stir slowly until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add the cocoa powder, espresso powder and cinnamon. Stir slowly to combine. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Roll out dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll the dough out to a rectangle about 12 x 20” / 30 x 50 cm. If the dough contracts and resists when rolling, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow the partially rolled out dough to rest 5-10 minutes. After the dough has relaxed, continue to roll it out to the final dimensions.

Spread filling on dough. Spread the filling over the surface of the dough and all the way to the edges. If using nuts, sprinkle the toasted and coarsely chopped nuts over the chocolate filling. Starting on one of the long edges of the dough, roll up tightly into a log that is 20”/ 50 cm long.

Shape the babka. Using a sharp and floured knife, slice the dough completely in half lengthwise. Lightly re-flour the knife before each cut. Roll the two lengths so that the cut sides face up. Overlap the end of one cut half over the other with the cut sides still facing up. Next take the other cut half and lay it over the other, taking care that the cut sides are always facing up. Continue making a twisted rope-like dough, overlapping and twisting the two halves of the dough together into one piece of twisted dough. If any filling or nuts fall out, just place them in the bottom of your prepared loaf pan.

Transfer to pan. Shape the loaf by gently and slowly pressing on the ends, while keeping the loaf twisted at a consistent thickness. Carefully lift and place into the prepared pan.

Proof the Babka dough. Place the babka loaf in the Proofer and allow it to rise for 2 hours until puffy and almost doubled in size.

Prepare to bake. After about 1.5 hours of the proofing time, place a baking rack in the bottom third of the oven with ample room above for the loaf to rise. Preheat the oven to 375 °F / 190 °C.

Bake Babka. Bake on the middle rack for 25-30 minutes. (If choosing Syrup glaze topping, prepare while babka is baking.) Test whether the loaf is fully cooked by inserting a skewer into the center to check whether it comes out clean. Try to insert the skewer primarily into the dough, instead of the filling. There may be some bits of chocolate filling clinging to the skewer. Remove from oven, leave loaf in the pan, and place on a cooling rack.

Make topping. Select one of the two babka topping choices below:

Syrup glaze topping: This topping can be prepared while babka is baking in the oven. Bring the water, sugar and honey to a boil in a small saucepan and allow to slowly boil for about 2 minutes. Stir and remove any foam that rises to the surface with a spoon. Remove from the heat and set aside. After the babka has baked and is still slightly warm in the pan, spoon or brush the room temperature syrup topping over the babka. Try to cover all surface areas and use an amount to your preference. Let the babka cool completely before lifting the loaf out of the pan. If you try to remove the loaf while it is still warm the babka can fall apart or may break.

Chocolate glaze topping: This topping should be started after your babka is finished baking and on a cooling rack. Set your stove top to the lowest setting and melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in both the dark and milk chocolate pieces. The chocolate pieces will melt slowly. When smooth and completely combined with the butter, add the corn syrup and stir. Remove slightly warm babka from the loaf pan. Gently and slowly peel away parchment from the sides. Spread the glaze on the top and sides of the babka and let the loaf rest and cool completely until set, about 30 minutes.

Storage. Babka will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature or it can be frozen for 2 months. If freezing the loaf, be certain to wrap well.

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2018-04-11T16:54:37+00:00 Bread & Sourdough, Recipes|8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Anne Wallace December 13, 2016 at 3:51 am - Reply

    Hello,
    Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the quality of both your products AND your well written, wonderful recipes.
    Such a pleasure to see a company pursue excellence in all they do!
    Happy holidays to all at Brod & Taylor

    • Diane December 13, 2016 at 2:15 pm - Reply

      Thank you for taking time to write such a thoughtful note. We are passionate about our products and all the foods our customers can make. We particularly enjoy bringing new people into the world of making foods at home with fresh local ingredients. A wonderful holiday season to you as well.

  2. Walt Gunster December 16, 2016 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    Check the ounce measurements for the Syrup Glaze, a bit much. The recipe looks delicious!

    • Diane December 16, 2016 at 8:43 pm - Reply

      Walt, Thank you for alerting us about this mistake. The error has been corrected and we appreciate your notification. All the best in baking!

  3. Nina December 16, 2016 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    I’m going to make this but am wondering when slicing the dough in half then rolling with cut side up and twisint like a rope for each piece, instead of placing the other half on top can this be done separately as two loaves instead of one?.

    • Diane December 16, 2016 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      Nina, Yes, you could divide the dough in half, fold each half and twist into each pan. However, the pans would need to be half the size of the one we use. There are paper gift pans which work well and also metal reusable smaller pans. Good luck with your idea. We have not made smaller loaves but they will make lovely gift loaves! Happy holidays in baking.

  4. Walt Gunster December 22, 2016 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    I made the Babka today and had a problem determining how thick the chocolate espresso mix for the inside should be. As the recipe went, it was a very granular liquid, the sugar never did melt. I added about 2 cups of nut flour to it and got something that would go to the edges without dripping all over the place. Looks good, and I can’t wait to taste it.

    • Diane January 27, 2017 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      Walt, Hopefully your modifications worked. The nut flour sounds delicious but consistency makes us wonder whether the loaf was able to hold together after it baked and cooled. Babka can fall apart when lifted out of the cooled loaf pan if the filling consistency is not satisfactory. As far as the sugar being granular, we found this happens with organic sugars. In the case of using the organic cane sugar, we place the sugar in a food processor with the blade insert and run the processor for about 5 minutes or until the sugar is super fine. This allows the sugar to dissolve more completely with the other ingredients. All the best in baking.

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