The last few weeks I have been experiencing with the making of different types of breads and especially the sweet breads. I don’t know why but there is something quite satisfying in watching a dough rising. But most and foremost that once baked and cut through, the inside of the loaf is buttery, soft and super tender…. It just screams for Breakfast time! I like making the dough on Saturday, leave it in the fridge over night and shape it on Sunday morning. You can just leave it to proof while getting ready and then pop it in the oven for 30min and you get a super delicious breakfast treat that will beat most of the brioche type of bread you can buy in the Supermarket. Plus what’s better than saying to your loved one(s) “C’est moi qui l’ai fait!” (I baked it myself!).
Last week I came across an amazing picture on Food52 of, what I didn’t know at the time, is called Babka. Look at it it’s just so gorgeous! I couldn’t stop thinking about it all week. And so this weekend my new challenge got easily planned: I was gonna try to make my very own Chocolate & Pecan nuts Babka! And you know what it’s sooooo easy! At the first sight it looks a little intimidating because of the ways it swirls and the mix of chocolate & buttery dough. But I strongly believe that anyone can make it with just a little bit of patience (you will need to let the dough proof twice). So please give it a try, take pictures, eat the whole damn thing and then send me your results – I’d love to see your beautiful homemade Babka!
Dark Chocolate & Pecan nuts Babka:
Cooking time: 6hrs
Ingredients for the dough:
– 300gr all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
– 50gr granulated sugar
– 15gr fresh yeast
– Grated zest of 1 small lemon or half an orange
– 3 large eggs
– 1/4 cup water
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 100gr unsalted butter at room temperature
– Sunflower or other neutral oil, for greasing
Ingredients for the filling:
– 65gr dark chocolate
– 60gr unsalted butter, cold is fine
– 25gr powdered sugar
– 15gr cocoa powder
– a handful pecan nuts, chopped
Ingredients for the syrup:
– 1/3 cup water
– 75gr granulated sugar
Make the dough: Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and zest in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add eggs and the water, mixing with the dough hook until it comes together; this may take a couple of minutes. It’s okay if it’s on the dry side.
With the mixer on low, add the salt, then the butter, a spoonful at a time, mixing until it’s incorporated into the dough. Then, mix on medium speed for 10 minutes until dough is completely smooth; you’ll need to scrape the bowl down a few times. I usually found that after 10 minutes, the dough began to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it doesn’t, you can add 1 tablespoon extra flour to help this along.
Coat a large bowl with oil (or scrape the dough out onto a counter and oil this one) and place dough inside, cover with plastic and refrigerate. Leave in fridge for at least half a day, preferably overnight.
Make filling: Melt butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar and cocoa; mixture should form a spreadable paste.
Assemble loaves: Coat a loaf pan with oil, baking spray or butter, and line the bottom of each with a rectangle of parchment paper.
Take the dough from fridge. Roll out on a well-floured counter to about a 25cm width (the side closest to you) and as long in length as you can when rolling it thin.
Spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 4cm border all around. Brush the end farthest away from you with water.
Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, tight cigar. Seal the dampened end onto the log. Gently cut the log in half lengthwise and lay them next to each other on the counter, cut sides up.
Pinch the top ends gently together. Lift one side over the next, forming a twist and trying to keep the cut sides facing out (because they’re pretty). Don’t worry if this step makes a mess, just transfer the twist as best as you can into the prepared loaf pan.
Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise another 1 to 1 1/2 hours at room temperature.
Heat oven to 190°C. Remove the towel, place the loaf on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 30 minutes, but there’s no harm in checking for doneness at 25 minutes. A skewer inserted into an underbaked Babka will feel stretchy/rubbery inside and may come back with dough on it. When fully baked, you’ll feel almost no resistance.
If your Babka need more time, put it back, 5 minutes at a time then re-test. If it browns too quickly, you can cover it with foil.
While your Babka is baking, make the syrup: Bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool somewhat.
As soon as the Babka leave the oven, brush some syrup all over it. It will taste just right — glossy and moist. Let cool about halfway in pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way before eating.
You can do your Babka ahead: You can easily keep for a few days at room temperature. Longer, I’d freeze them.
The Dutch boyfriend’s opinion:
Hate to be the bad-guy here, but unfortunately it wasn’t as amazing as I thought it would be. I mean, it was definitely good, but it just did not blow my mind. While it was in the oven it smelled great, and before when Raph was all over the kitchen throwing flower and chocolate everywhere my stomach could be heard for miles. But alas, in the end it was not very special. Maybe I am getting used to great food…