Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chocolate Babka

   This time of year, with both Easter and Passover coming up, I like to make traditional cakes and cookies. As a teenager, I worked in a local Polish/Jewish bakery that not only had a delicious array of cakes and cookies, they also made traditional  Eastern European breads and pastries. Babka was one of my favorites.For those of you not familiar with it, it is a cross between a bread and a crumb cake.It is made with yeast,but has just the right amount of sweetness to make it the perfect accompaniment to your tea or coffee,and is incredibly delicious warm.This recipe comes from Martha Stewart, and would be a wonderful addition to your springtime celebrations!

1-1/2 c. warm milk(110 degrees)
2 packages of active dry yeast(1/4 oz each)
1-3/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
3-1/2 sticks of butter,room temperature
2-1/4 pounds of semisweet chocolate,finely chopped(I used chocolate chips,not chopped,worked fine)
2-1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp. heavy cream

Streusel Topping:
1-1/3 c. flour
1-2/3 c. powdered sugar
1-1/2 sticks butter,softened

   To make the chocolate filling, combine the semisweet chocolate,1 cup of sugar,cinnamon and 1-1/2 sticks of butter until combined. Set aside.

   Heat the milk to 110 degrees in a small saucepan. Pour into a bowl and sprinkle with the yeast and a pinch of sugar. Let sit 5 minutes until foamy.
   In the bowl of your mixer, whisk together 3/4 cups of the sugar , 2 eggs, and the egg yolk. Pour in the yeast mixture and whisk to combine.
   Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, Add the flour and salt and mix just until combined. Change to the dough hook,add 2 sticks of butter, and knead until the dough is smooth and only slightly sticky, about 10 minutes.
   Butter a large bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead once or twice, the place in the buttered bowl. Turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size. About 1-2 hours.
   Butter 3  9x5x2 loaf pans. Line with parchment if desired. Once dough has doubled, gently punch down,and turn out onto your counter. Divide into 3 equal portions. Cover two of them while working with the first.

    Roll out the dough into a 16 inch square. Place about one third of the chocolate mixture in the middle, but not close to the edges. Brush the edges with a mixture of the last egg and the cream. Roll up, jelly roll style, and pinch the ends together. Twist the loaf 5-6 times. Brush the top of the loaf with egg wash again, and sprinkle another 2 Tbsp. of chocolate mixture on half of the loaf. Fold one side over the other,twist 2 times,pinch the edges together,and place in the loaf pan. Brush the top once more with egg wash, sprinkle with streusel topping.Repeat with remaining dough. Cover loosely with plastic and let sit for 20 minutes.

   Preheat oven to 350. Place the babkas in the oven and bake,turning halfway through, for about 50 minutes,or until golden. Lower the oven temperature to 325 and continue to bake until a deep golden color. Remove, let cool, the sprinkle with additional powdered sugar if desired.

*** Wrap well if not using immediately. These also freeze well for up to one month.

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