Okay, Babka isn’t exactly a Hungarian dish, but you can find it in bakeries in Hungary, so that counts. Right? Most common in Poland, Babka is made throughout Central and Eastern Europe. I have had Babka in bakeries, but I’ve always been afraid to make it at home. I’ve had a recipe from Martha Stewart that I wanted to try for ages and when I saw that one of my favorite bloggers (Smitten Kitchen) had tested and approved the recipe, I had to try it!
Don’t be frightened by the massive amounts of butter in this recipe; it is for three loaves. This is definitely a special occasion treat and not something that you make on a whim (although, I did… but I often do things on a whim that a normal person would not). I made this for Easter at my in-laws and it was a massive hit (so massive that I think I’m going to have to make it every year from here on out). If you have ever had the Reduced Fat Chocolate Twist from the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, this is like that, but better (and obviously not reduced fat).
I completely forgot to take a picture of the finished product (it was glorious!) so I’m leaving you with a picture of my little guys on their Easter egg hunt.
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk, scalded and cooled to warm (about 110 degrees)
- 2 (1/4 ounce each) packages active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 cups, plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 3 whole large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks… Oh my goodness!) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for the bowl and pans (I melted another stick, but I didn’t use all of it)
- 2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped (I used chocolate chips and ran them through my food processor)
- 2 ½-3 Tablespoons (yes, Tablespoons) ground cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
- Streusel topping (see below)
- In a small sauce pan over medium heat, scald the milk and then cool until warm to the touch (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Combine the yeast and 1 Tablespoon of sugar in a large bowl and add the warm milk. Let sit for about 5 minutes until foamy.
- In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and 2 egg yolks.
- Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.
- Add salt and mix to incorporate.
- Add the flour, one cup at a time until the flour is almost completely incorporated.
- Add the butter and mix until it is completely incorporated (I used my hands). The dough should be soft and smooth and only slightly sticky when squeezed. (you can do all of this in a Kitchen Aid mixer … Martha and Smitten Kitchen both do, but I find that mixing by hand tends to yield better results).
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for a few minutes making sure that your dough’s consistency is uniform.
- Melt a few Tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Using the butter that you just melted, coat the inside of a large bowl with butter and place dough in bowl.
- Brush the dough on all sides with the melted butter.
- Cover with a very warm, damp dishcloth and set aside in a warm place to rise until the dough has doubled, about 1 hour. (I set up a proof oven by putting really hot water in a cake pan and placing it in my oven).
- While the dough is rising, make the filling.
- Using a food processor, pulse the chocolate for a few times until the pieces start to look like bread crumbs (there will be larger pieces too, don’t worry… and don’t run the food processor for too long or the blade will get hot and start to melt the chocolate.
- Place chocolate, remaining 1 cup of sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Stir in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined (if the butter is at room temperature, this will be very easy); set filling aside.
- Generously butter three 9-by-5 inch loaf pans and line them with parchment paper.
- Make and egg wash by beating the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream and set aside.
- Punch back the dough, transfer to a clean surface and let it rest 5 minutes.
- Cut the dough into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece.
- On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square.
- Brush the edges with reserved egg wash.
- Crumble 1/3 of the chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides.
- Roll the dough up tightly like a jelly roll and pinch the ends together to seal.
- Twist the roll 5 or 6 times.
- Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off
- Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold the ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 times, and place into the prepared pan.
- Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and filling.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make the streusel topping (see below)
- Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash.
- Crumble 1/3 of streusel topping over each loaf.
- Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 30 minutes to rise.
- Remove plastic wrap and bake loaves at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, for about 55 minutes, until golden.
- Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 15 more minutes. Babkas will be deep golden.
- Remove from oven and allow the loaves to cool completely in the pans.
- Remove from pans, slice and serve.
- 1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter. Using a fork, stir until fully combined.