How to Make Delicious Chocolate Babka at Home
Today: Call it bread or call it dessert — this babka will bring you nothing but good things.
I first made babka a couple of years ago when I was set to meet a pair of internet friends in real life for the first time. I wanted to make a nice little sweet to go with the tea we were scheduled to have, and I wanted a treat that would be impressive and totally delicious, but not too over the top. I also had to carry it on the subway for an hour, so it had to be easily portable.
With all of its twists and swirls of sweet filling, I knew that babka would be just the thing — but I couldn’t make just any babka. It had to be a chocolate babka. I whipped up a loaf, much like the one I’ve made here, and it was a hit and a half. I don’t know if it was just the bread, but I am happy to say that the ladies I served it to have become near and dear to me, so I always think of this babka as my own personal friendship bread. Elaine was right: You can’t beat a babka.
Babka is traditionally made from an enriched dough that’s rolled up and filled with a sweet filling: usually chocolate or cinnamon, and occasionally studded with almonds, dried fruit, or poppy seeds. I tend to like a bit of spice with the chocolate in my sweet breads, so I went heavy on the chocolate here, light on the cinnamon, and added some chopped almonds for crunch.
More: Another crunchy, sweet way to make friends? Homemade Kouign Amann.
This dough can rise overnight in the fridge, so if making the dough and forming the loaf seems a bit complicated, feel free to spread the steps over the course of two days.
To make the dough, you will need:
2 1/4 teaspoons (or 1 packet) active dry yeast
3/4 cup milk at 110º F
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Stir the yeast into the milk to dissolve. Let it sit until it’s foamy.
While the yeast proofs, cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the oil and vanilla extract, and mix well to combine. Then add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing until each yolk is incorporated before adding the next. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat the mixture for about 2 minutes.