Chocolate Babka

chocolate babka“Mmmm! Dad, this is probably the best thing we’ve ever made!”

Those were David’s words as he took a bite of the chocolate babka loaf that we’d left cooling for awhile after taking it out of the oven. And sure enough, it was quite amazing to taste – so good that it was not long after that the entire loaf had been devoured.

I had tried making it a couple of weeks earlier, and while it was good, it was not as good as I had hoped it would be. I know why it did not turn out as good as the second time: I did not let the dough warm up to room temperature long enough before putting it in the oven.  When I baked it a second time with my son, I did not make that mistake and the bread came out amazing!

I learned about this bread and how easy it is to make from Peter Reinhart’s video series on Artisan Bread Making. A fantastic course, by the way. I would never have thought to try this if I had not watched Mr. Reinhart make it. Some of my friends, family and acquaintances have seen photos of the finished baked chocolate loaf, and have asked for the recipe, so here goes:

One thing to be noted is that Peter Reinhart’s recipe calls for dark chocolate chips. I did not have those, but we had milk chocolate chips.  Even though we had to substitute the milk chocolate, it still came out very good. As well, you will need to start the dough the night before you want to bake the bread. Be sure to note that there is a recipe for the dough, and a separate recipe for the filling, which you can make just before you want to bake the bread.

Dough Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Instant Yeast
  • 6 Tablespoons (3 oz) Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 6 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 3 1/3 Cups All-purpose flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt

Method for Dough (1st Day):

Heat the milk in a small pot to around 97F. Add the butter, stirring until thoroughly melted. Stir in the oil.

Whisk in the yeast, sugar, vanilla and egg yolks.

In a mixing bowl, add the flour and salt and then stir in the milk mixture. Continue to stir until thoroughly mixed and you should end up with a smooth, soft and sticky dough.

Transfer the dough to a floured or oiled surface where you can stretch and fold it several times. The dough should firm up, when you should then transfer it to a an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When you are ready to make the loaf the next day, remove it from the refrigerator, and roll out the dough into a 15″ X 15″ square, with the dough about 1/4″ thick.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Chocolate Chips (we used milk chocolate, Mr. Reinhart used dark chocolate)
  • 8 Tablespoons (4 oz) Butter

With the chocolate chips in a mixing bowl, melt the butter and then pour over the chocolate chips. Mix thoroughly, coating all of the chips with melted butter. Some of the chocolate will melt a bit; you do not however need to try to melt them all.

Method To Finish Loaf (2nd Day):

Preheat oven to 325F.

After you have rolled out the dough, pour the chocolate/butter mixture onto the centre of the dough. Spread out leaving about a half inch border on all sides.  After you have evenly spread the filling, begin rolling the dough up, being sure to pinch the ends as you do to prevent the filling from leaking or squeezing out. You’re likely to get some filling on your fingers, and some will possibly squeeze out. Just rub it back into the dough.

After you have completely rolled the dough, cut it in half lengthwise, and then spiral the two parts together.

This will leave you with one very large loaf, or you can divide the dough into two, and bake two loaves in loaf pans.

babka loaf in loaf pan

Loaf resting in loaf pan before putting in oven.

Alternately, you could also bake one full loaf on parchment paper place on a baking sheet.  We decided to do two loaves, each in a loaf pan. If using loaf pans, make sure they are well greased.

Put the loaves in the loaf pans (or on the parchment paper lined sheet) and cover with plastic wrap for an hour before baking.

Peter Reinhart says that if you bake one full size loaf with this recipe (instead of dividing the dough into two), it will take 50 to 60 minutes to bake completely. We found that 35 minutes was perfect with the dough made into two separate loaves.

After baking, allow to cool for half an hour before removing from the loaf pan. It will still be quite warm and will need more time to cool before slicing and eating. You could also glaze the loaves as we did, using a mixture of 2 cups icing sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 cup of milk.

Enjoy. You will be wanting to make this again, soon!

babka slice