Friday, June 26, 2009

Ultimate Indulgence: Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka
Home Cooking

Lots of sources I've read for making babka claim that it will be one of the fattiest, sugar-loaded recipes recipes you'll ever attempt. I ignored all that and went for it anyway. Until a couple of months back, I had no idea what babka was. I've heard references to it on Seinfeld (you much get chocolate babka and not cinnamon babka if you want to impress) but could never put name to image or taste.

One fateful day, I had a taste of the choc-cinnamon babka at Max Brenner in Sydney. It was, in one word: delicious. I had it warm and topped with oozing chocolate. It's still such a fresh memory in my mind.

It didn't really occur to me to bake my own babka until I came across a recipe in Nick Malgieri's 'The Modern Baker'. I really like this cookbook and he gives a lot of tips so I thought that if ever I'm going to try and make my own babka, this is the recipe I'll follow.

That's not to say I didn't make my own little alterations. For one, I halved the recipe to make 1 loaf, not 2. I figured if I was going to embark on a journey of chocolate and butter overkill, I probably wouldn't need a second loaf. I also added a crumb topping - just to be cool and interesting. Nah - the truth is I saw some other recipes that had a crumb topping and jealously wanted to have that for my own babka.

Chocolate Babka with Streusal Topping
Makes 1 loaf


For the dough
  • 150mL warm milk
  • 1 satchet of dry yeast
  • 55g butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extrcact
  • 1 and 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp of plain flour
For the filling
  • 110g of dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup walnut or pecan pieces, coarsely chopped
For the topping
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 30g butter

1. In a stand mixer, combine the milk, yeast, sugar, salt, butter and egg yolks.2. Add the flour a third at a time. Let the dough rest for 2min.
3. Whiz on slow for another 2min.
4. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and pop it in a buttered bowl. Cover with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for an hour.5. Meanwhile, make the filling by putting the filling ingredients in a food processor and blitzing until finely chopped.6. To make the streusel topping, combine the flour and icing sugar. Add the butter bit by bit, crumbling between your fingers until it's like fine breadcrumbs. Press together to form larger crumbs.7. After an hour is up, turn the dough onto a floured bench. I found my dough to be extremely sticky and difficult to work with. Press it out nice and flat into a rectangle. Layer on the filling.8. Roll the dough up like a log and press the ends togther. I tried to be tricky and folded the log in half to twist but bits of chocolate burst out so I recommend against doing this. My 'fancy' move caused a lot of problems so yeh... just don't.8. Place the log in a buttered and paper-lined bread tin. Cover this with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise to double its size (1-2hrs, depending on temperature of your room).9. Once the loaf has risen, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Crumble the struesel topping over the top of the loaf. Bake for 30-40min until the loaf is golden and risen.

This was definitely not an easy baking feat. There were lots of steps involved, many of them being messy and sticky. This recipe also uses up a lot of eggs, butter and good chocolate so you don't really want to stuff it up. On the whole, I think I did alright.

I had a problem with the struesel topping getting burnt but it wasn't distractingly bad. There was more chocolate in one half of my babka than the other and that's due to the stupid twisting thing I tried to do. I should have left my loaf to rise more before baking it too - I guess impatience got the better of me. In the future, I'll also put more cinnamon because I like to have that EDGE.

All that aside, this was a good tasting loaf. It smells so wonderful baking in the oven. When sliced apart, the chocolatey layers were just so pretty. I served mine with molten chocolate, Max Brenner-style.

Decadent and luxurious.


  1. Wow - you did well on a complex recipe - looks scrummy. I love that Seinfeld episode!

  2. I just got the Seinfeld complete series :D

    The babka recipe was 'involved' but lots of fun to do.