A Better Chocolate Babka

Hey Guys A Great Read on Chocolate Babka, my all time favorite cake no question asked.

Written by Melissa Clark, of the New York Times. Hope you ENJOY:



A chocolate babka has charms that aren’t always apparent from its dowdy exterior. Beneath the bumpy streusel and sunken crust lies a soft yeast-risen cake, buttery as brioche, shot through with sticky, fudgy veins of chocolate, and drenched in enough sugar syrup to render it moist, tender and just the slightest bit sticky. It’s a cake as sexy on the inside as it is modest on the outside. New York pastry chefs and home cooks are riffing on this traditional Eastern European loaf to make it their own.

The pastry and filling are ready to roll.(Credit...Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times)

There’s the chocolate-cookie studded babka at Sadelle’s, Breads Bakery’s Nutella loaf, Bklyn Larder’s ganache-filled version. Baz Bagel, running even further with the trend, bakes its babka into bread pudding.

Then there’s the chocolate krantz cake from “Jerusalem,” the cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, which has caused a minor sensation on baking sites, spawning variations including one filled with chocolate and raspberry jam, another soaked in honey syrup.


Before all the current hoopla, babka was just a nice Jewish cake from the old country with barely any recognition beyond the lox-loving set. Arguably too rich for breakfast and too bready for dessert, a babka is there to be noshed on all day long — with coffee, with tea, with seltzer and lemon, or by itself after the last bagel has been schmeared and has disappeared.


Naturally, Russ & Daughters, the appetizing store on the Lower East Side, carries it, as the shop has for the last two dozen or so years. Before that, said Joshua Russ Tupper, one of the fourth-generation owners, Lower East Side shops were more specific.


“You wouldn’t buy babka at an appetizing shop,” he said. “You’d buy it at a bakery. Originally we just sold fish, and candy for some reason. Not bagels. Not cream cheese. Not babka.”


But as the bagel shops and dairies and bakeries closed in the 1970s, Russ & Daughters expanded. Now people from all over the country use mail order to get their babka, which Mr. Tupper describes as having the right balance between the not-too-sweet cake and rich chocolate filling, which you need to see swirled throughout when you cut a slice


Twisting the halves together as if braiding them.Credit...Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times


“Figuring out how to get that balance is the challenge,” he said.

Because I’m never one to miss out on a pastry trend — coupled with my deep-seated love of all things appetizing — I decided to try my hand at babka making, too.

Much to the delight of my neighbors, I baked up dozens, working my way through my Jewish cookbook collection and recipes on the Internet.



A fudgy swirl inside.Credit...Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times


I learned many things along the way. The first is that one should never enter into babka making lightly. Babkas need time. They can take all day or even longer to make, both because refrigerating the dough in between steps makes it easier to work with, and because a longer proofing period gives the loaf a more complex flavor.


As partial compensation, babka freezes beautifully, so most recipes yield two loaves: one for now, and one to defrost for your next brunch. Although cinnamon sugar is the most classic of the babka iterations, and chocolate the most noble, you can in fact fill a babka with pretty much any kind of thick, sweet delicious goo, and it will come out great. Jam, dulce de leche, homemade ganache, Nutella and hot fudge sauce from a jar will all work. In this recipe, I ended up choosing my favorite dark chocolate fudge frosting, which stays soft after baking. And as a final touch, instead of the usual brown sugar streusel scattered on top, I prefer the intensity of bittersweet cocoa crumbs. Traditionalists may think it overkill. But I say, if babka is going to be your chocolate delivery system of choice, you may as well wear it proudly. Babka Recipe:

Shopping List

INGREDIENTS


FOR THE DOUGH:

  • ½ cup/118 milliliters whole milk

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce/7 grams) active dry yeast

  • cup/67 grams granulated sugar, plus a pinch

  • 4 ¼ cups/531 grams all-purpose flour, more as needed

  • 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)

  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten

  • 10 tablespoons/140 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing bowls and pans

FOR THE FUDGE FILLING:

  • ½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar

  • ¾ cup/177 milliliters heavy cream or half-and-half

  • Pinch kosher salt

  • 6 ounces/170 grams extra bittersweet chocolate, preferably between 66 and 74 percent cocoa, coarsely chopped

  • 8 tablespoons/112 grams/1 stick unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons/10 milliliters vanilla extract

FOR THE CHOCOLATE STREUSEL:

  • ½ cup/60 grams all-purpose flour

  • 3 tablespoons/45 grams granulated sugar

  • 1 ½ tablespoons/11 grams cocoa powder

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 4 ½ tablespoons/64 grams unsalted butter, melted

  • cup/60 grams mini semisweet chocolate chips

FOR THE SYRUP:

  • cup/135 grams granulated sugar

PREPARATION

  1. Prepare the dough: In a small saucepan or a bowl in the microwave, warm the milk until it’s lukewarm but not hot (about 110 degrees). Add yeast and a pinch of sugar and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, until slightly foamy.

  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, or in a food processor, mix together flour, 1/3 cup sugar, the salt, the vanilla, the lemon zest (if using) and the nutmeg. (If you don't have a mixer or processor, use a large bowl and a wooden spoon.) Beat or process in the yeast mixture and eggs until the dough comes together in a soft mass, about 2 minutes. If the dough sticks to the side of the bowl and doesn’t come together, add a tablespoon more flour at a time until it does, beating very well in between additions.

  3. Add half the butter and beat or pulse until the dough is smooth and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Beat in the rest of the butter and continue to beat or pulse until the dough is smooth and stretchy, another 5 to 7 minutes. Again, if the dough sticks to the sides of the bowl, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

  4. Butter a clean bowl, form the dough into a ball and roll it around in the bowl so all sides are buttered. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place (inside of a turned-off oven with the oven light on is good) until it puffs and rises, about 1 to 2 hours. It may not double in bulk but it should rise.

  5. Press the dough down with your hands, re-cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight (or, in a pinch, for at least 4 hours, but the flavor won't be as developed).

  6. Prepare the filling: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, cream and salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Scrape mixture into a bowl. Stir in chocolate, butter and vanilla until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. Filling can be made up to a week ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge. Let come to room temperature before using.

  7. Prepare the streusel: In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Stir in melted butter until it is evenly distributed and forms large, moist crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips. Streusel can be prepared up to 3 days ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge.

  8. Prepare the syrup: In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 2/3 cup/158 milliliters water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.

  9. Butter two 9-inch loaf pans, then line with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches of paper hanging over on the sides to use as handles later.

  10. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide in half. On a floured surface, roll one piece into a 9-by-17-inch rectangle. Spread with half the filling (there's no need to leave a border). Starting with a long side, roll into a tight coil. Transfer the coil onto a dish towel or piece of plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes. Repeat with the other piece of dough.

  11. Slice one of the dough coils in half lengthwise to expose the filling. Twist the halves together as if you were braiding them, then fold the braid in half so it’s about 9 inches long. Place into a prepared pan, letting it curl around itself if it’s a little too long for the pan. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until puffy (it won’t quite double). Alternatively, you can cover the pans with plastic wrap and let them rise in the refrigerator overnight; bring them back to room temperature for an hour before baking.

  12. When you're ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Use your fingers to clump streusel together and scatter all over the tops of the cakes. Transfer to oven and bake until a tester goes into the cakes without any rubbery resistance and comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. The cakes will also sound hollow if you unmold them and tap on the bottom. An instant-read thermometer will read between 185 and 210 degrees.

  13. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, use a skewer or paring knife to pierce them all over going all the way to the bottom of the cakes, and then pour the syrup on top of the cakes, making sure to use half the syrup for each cake.

  14. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.


Loved Making these Babka Cakes Hopefully you guys enjoyed this as much as I did.


Have a sweet day,


Mr. Sugar Life

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