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From the Purple Foodie- ‘Chocolate Cinnamon Babka’ (Peter Reinhart’s ‘Artisan Breads Everyday’)) http://purplefoodie.com/chocolate-cinnamon-babka/

Makes: 1 really large loaf or two medium sized loaves

Verdict: A delicious sweet bread that tastes like a dense doughnut

The reaction to this bread was not as I had expected. I myself thoroughly enjoyed this Babka as did the few others who tried it. However, those who did not seem to appreciate this bread were those who insisted on comparing it to an American doughnut. As I have noted below, a Babka is specifically a dense sweet bread and should not be compared to doughnuts. It is meant to be dense, however this does not at all take from the splendid results this recipe produced

INGREDIENTS

Bread:
2T instant yeast
3/4 c lukewarm milk
6T butter
6 T (white) sugar
1 t vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
3 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 t salt

Filling:
1 ½ cups / 225g dark chocolate, coarsely grated [I used 75g for half the recipe and did not get a dry loaf]
1 t cinnamon, ground [I omitted]
1/4th cup unsalted butter / 4T

METHOD

(I used my hands)
  • With a fork, whisk the yeast into lukewarm milk and set aside for about 5 minutes
  • Cream together the sugar and butter until smooth, using a fork or hand mixer
  • Add the yolks to the bowl, one at a time, mixing constantly for 30 seconds between each addition
  • Add the vanilla and mix until light and fluffy.
  • Add the flour and salt and continue to mix until it all comes together
  • Now mix in the milk + yeast mixture and mix until it forms a soft dough
  • Knead by hand for another 2-3 minutes. You will have a soft, supple and golden dough.
  • Let this rise for about 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight, making sure to remove it from the fridge two hours before baking

For the Filling:

  • Mix the chocolate and butter (and cinnamon if using) together in a bowl
    [You can melt the chocolate over a pot of boiling water on the stove. Add butter while the chocolate is melting if the chocolate gets too dry during the melting process. Melt until smooth
  • Once the dough has risen, roll it out into a sheet with a thickness of 1/8th to 1/4th inch. Make sure to keep it dusted well with flour at all times, otherwise it might stick
  • Spread the chocolate mixture over it leaving a border on the sides so that mixture does not seep out

For the Braided Shape:

- Roll the dough into a log/cylinder
- Using a sharp knife make a slit in the log along the length of the log, starting at the top all the way to the bottom end, leaving a small amount of dough connected
- Use these two ‘arms’ to braid the dough into the shape above
- At this point, the dough can be further proofed for another 2 hours, but with the current temperatures touching 36C, this was unnecessary
- Preheat the oven to 350C/190F and bake for 15-20 minutes (for 2 medium-sized loaves) until the loaf turns a light, golden-brown colour
- This is best eaten fresh from the oven

Pressure Points

  • Proofing: When allowing the dough to proof keep in mind the temperature. Very high temperatures would mean that the dough will rise considerbaly on the first proof and a second one becomes unnessecary. Excessive proofing may result in a bread that smells/tastes too ‘yeasty’
  • Chocolate Filling: using milk chocolate results in a loaf that is too sweet, and using poor quality chocolate will produce a ‘confectionary’ quality loaf
  • This is a DENSE sweet bread, not a doughnut; consequently it is not supposed to be light and airy upon baking. To check for doneness simply ensure that the dough is not wet from the inside

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