Thursday, March 22, 2007

I am not what you think I am

In case you think I am only a loaf of boring, plain white bread.

I am not. I am more sophisticated than that. Eventhough you can not see through my surface.

Unless I am willing to open up to you.

Then, you will see what lies beneath my boring skin.

Hello, my name is Chocolate Babka. And I am delicious. My life is more interesting than other breads. Life would be more wonderful if only I am a few more inches taller. I am obviously too short for a standard babka...

Chocolate Babka
adapted from Gourmet Dec 06
makes 2 loaves (I halved the recipe and made only one loaf)

For dough
3/4 cup warm milk (105–115°F)
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoons active dry yeast (from two 1/4-oz packages)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
2 whole large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened

For egg wash
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk

For chocolate filling
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, well softened
2 (3 1/2- to 4-oz) bars fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped
1/4 cup sugar

Special equipment: a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; 2 (8 3/4- by 4 1/2- by 2 3/4-inch) loaf pans; parchment paper preparation

Make dough:
Stir together warm milk and 2 teaspoons sugar in bowl of mixer. Sprinkle yeast over mixture and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If yeast doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Add 1/2 cup flour to yeast mixture and beat at medium speed until combined. Add whole eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low, then mix in remaining 2 3/4 cups flour, about 1/2 cup at a time. Increase speed to medium, then beat in butter, a few pieces at a time, and continue to beat until dough is shiny and forms strands from paddle to bowl, about 4 minutes. (Dough will be very soft and sticky.)

Scrape dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Assemble babkas with filling:
Line each loaf pan with 2 pieces of parchment paper (1 lengthwise and 1 crosswise).

Punch down dough with a lightly oiled rubber spatula, then halve dough. Roll out 1 piece of dough on a well-floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into an 18- by 10-inch rectangle and arrange with a long side nearest you.

Beat together yolk and cream. Spread 2 1/2 tablespoons softened butter on dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Brush some of egg wash on long border nearest you.

Sprinkle half of chocolate evenly over buttered dough, then sprinkle with half of sugar (2 tablespoons). Starting with long side farthest from you, roll dough into a snug log, pinching firmly along egg-washed seam to seal. Bring ends of log together to form a ring, pinching to seal. Twist entire ring twice to form a double figure 8 and fit into one of lined loaf pans.

Make another babka with remaining dough, some of egg wash, and remaining butter and chocolate in same manner. Chill remaining egg wash, covered, to use later. Loosely cover pans with buttered plastic wrap (buttered side down) and let babkas rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until dough reaches top of pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Alternatively, let dough rise in pans in refrigerator 8 to 12 hours; bring to room temperature, 3 to 4 hours, before baking.)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Brush tops of dough with remaining egg wash. Bake until tops are deep golden brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped (when loaves are removed from pans), about 40 minutes. Transfer loaves to a rack and cool to room temperature.


bp said...

Haha, I like how you introduced this guy ;p

novice baker said...

hey BP,

thanks! Sometime I feel like a chocolate babka too:P

The Queen of Quite a Lot said...

This looks good--especially since we are Seinfeld fans and there is that one episode about Chocolate and Cinnamon Babka.

Do you just eat it plain or do you put something on it? Do you just serve it with milk? I wonder if a scoop of vanilla ice cream would go good with it.

We'll have to try it!

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