Bonus bread recipe is here one week early! I was supposed to take on the Korovai showstopper challenge this weekend and create a celebration loaf for my daughter’s 8th birthday. She requested a four-tier stack of cat loaves that were made in the likeness of our four cats.
And because we have a couple of tabby cats, I thought it would be clever to make a chocolate babka and have the chocolate veins serve as the stripes. This was great … in theory. In practice, not so much. I couldn’t really shape the dough so I just made a regular babka loaf.
Luckily, my daughter’s birthday isn’t until next Friday, so I still have next weekend to make her cat korovai.
- The chocolate filling can be made up to a week ahead. Cover and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Let it come to room temperature before spreading onto the dough.
- Make sure your parchment paper is taller than the sides of the loaf pan. This makes it easier to pull the loaf out when it’s baked.
- I used a Frankoma clay loaf pan to bake the bread. If you’re using a metal loaf tin, check your bread at 25 minutes instead of at 30 minutes.
Chocolate Babka (makes 1 loaf)
- 250g bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 5g salt
- 7g instant yeast
- 50g unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 135ml warm whole milk
- 1 large egg
- 50 grams granulated sugar
- 90 milliliters heavy cream or half-and-half
- Pinch kosher salt
- 85 grams dark chocolate, 72% cacao
- 56 grams unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 66g granulated sugar
- 80ml water
- Place bread flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the butter, milk, vanilla extract and egg, and combine by hand until the mixture comes together into a soft dough.
- Place dough on a generously floured surface and knead for about 5 – 8 minutes or until the dough starts to form a soft smooth skin.
- When your dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a lightly oiled bowl. You also can prod the dough with your finger, and if it bounces back fairly quickly, it is ready. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for at least 1 hour, but you can leave it to prove for up to 3 hours. It should almost double in size.
- While the dough is rising, make the filling. Combine sugar, cream and salt in a medium sauce pan and simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar completely dissolves. Remove from heat. Add chocolate, butter and vanilla and stir until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
- Line the loaf tin with parchment paper, leaving extra parchment paper to hang over the sides. Set aside.
- After dough is done proving, tip it onto a lightly floured surface. Without knocking it back, roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 33 x 25cm. You should have a long edge facing you.
- Spread the chocolate evenly over the dough; no need to leave a border.
- Roll up the dough tightly and slightly seal the ends. Cut in half lengthways then twist the two dough lengths together. Tuck the ends under to hold the twist.
- Transfer to the loaf pan then cover with a plastic bag. Leave to rise again for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
- About 10 minutes before the dough finishes its second prove, preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C.
- Bake babka for 25 minutes, if using a metal loaf pan, or 30 – 35 minutes, if using a clay / ceramic loaf pan. It’s done if it sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom of the loaf.
- Whilst it’s baking, make the syrup. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a simmer over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
- As soon as the bread is out of the oven, pierce it all over with a paring knife, going all the way through to the bottom. Pour the syrup all over the top of the loaf, letting it soak in as the bread cools.
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