This delicious sweet morning bread native to Eastern Europe is the perfect accomplice to your morning cup of coffee. Baking babka is a therapeutic process, it requires thought and patience but it’s an extremely rewarding recipe for taking the next step in your bread baking.
What is babka?
Babka is a sweet braided bread that originated in the Jewish communities of Poland and Ukraine. It is made with a yeast-leavened dough that is rolled out, spread with a filling such as chocolate, cinnamon, fruit, or cheese, then rolled up, braided and baked. It’s very popular in Israel where it is known simply as ‘yeast bread’ and has lots of variations. It is often topped with streusel for an extra crunch.
How to make babka:
Prepare the dough:
To make a perfectly fluffy babka dough, you’ll need sugar, milk, active dry yeast, eggs, flour and butter. You’ll mix all the dry ingredients together while the you slowly melt the milk and butter together. You’ll then add the milk mixture and eggs to the flour mixture and mix to form the dough. Then, you’ll need to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with some clingfilm and then allow to rise for about an hour.
Make the filling:
Melt the butter, sugar and chocolate until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the cocoa powder. Pour into a bowl and let cool and thicken.
Shape the dough:
Punch down the dough then roll it out into a rectangle 30 x 40cm. Gently spread the chocolate filling all over the dough, then sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts. Tightly roll the dough to form a log and slice the rolled dough down the center to expose the filling inside and twist the two pieces together.
Allow the dough to rise again:
Place the babka into a greased-lined loaf pan, cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
Time to bake!
Bake for 15 minutes at 355F, then reduce the oven temperature to 320F and bake for another 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool fully before serving.