A non-traditional, exquisitely delicious flavor pairing
1 babka loaf | about 4 hours total prep + rising + baking
Babka can seem like a very daunting task but this recipe makes it extremely doable and produces a fail proof result. As long as the yeast is fresh and the dough is kneaded patiently, the babka will be successful. Once a rare sighting in bakeries, babkas have since become extremely popular thanks to the many Jewish New York bakeries adding them to their menus. At their essence, they’re brioche breads swirled with layers of cinnamon sugar, chocolate sauce, or even matcha black sesame. This recipe was inspired by Shannon Sarna’s Basic Sweet Babka recipe and modified for a unique filling and healthier dough.
The sugar syrup is a must and should not be skipped. Not only does it give a beautiful appearance and delicious crunch to the babka, it helps to preserve the moisture within the bread, allowing the bake to stay fresh for longer.
For the brioche dough
- 2 teaspoon dry active yeast, make sure the yeast is fresh and not expired. Store yeast in the fridge or freezer to keep it fresh for longer
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water, about 105F to 115F for ideal yeast activation conditions
- 1/4 teaspoon white sugar
- 1/6 cup white sugar
- 2 + 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup whole or 2% milk
- 6 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted (or 3/4 of one stick of butter)
- 1 egg
- 3-4 tablespoons water, optional
- 1/2 cups chocolate hazelnut filling
- 1/2 cup finely shredded non-sweetened coconut flakes
- a little less than 1/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 teaspoon vanilla
- Start by combining the yeast with 1/4 tsp white sugar and lukewarm water in a bowl. Make sure the water is between 105F to 115F and let the yeast sit for 10-15 minutes until foam forms on the top.
- In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, mix the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, 1/6 cup white sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk over high heat until it starts to simmer slightly. Remove from heat immediately and let it cool for 1 minute.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the foamed yeast water, the milk, melted butter, and egg. Mix on slow until a dough forms which takes about 2-3 minutes. Scrape the slides of the bowl, the dough should leave a clean bowl. Add 3-4 tablespoons water of water if the dough is too dry. This can happen if you use whole wheat flour)
- Then, alternating on low and medium speed, knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until the dough is completely smooth. The completed dough should be shiny and elastic but not stick to any surfaces. A stretch windowpane test will tell whether the dough is completed. This step can vary in time but make sure to let the stand mixer rest in between to prevent overheating the motor.
- Place the dough into a greased bowl with a damp paper towel or plastic wrap on top to prevent drying. Let the dough rise in a warm spot between 75-78F for 2 hours until the size has doubled.
7. After 2 hours, lightly flour a surface and roll out the dough as thin as possible without ripping, about 2-3 cm in thickness. The dough should be easy to work with and not sticky.
8. Spread 1/2 cups chocolate hazelnut filling across the dough in a thin layer, careful not to rip the dough. You can add more chocolate hazelnut if desired, up to a total of 3/4 cup. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of shredded, non-sweetened coconut flakes on top of the chocolate hazelnut sauce.
9. Starting from the shorter end of the dough or the width, roll up the dough horizontally. Then with a sharp knife, cut the log in half, leaving the top of the log connected.
10. Braid the two log halves by twisting them alternatively. Once they are braided, pinch the ends of the two sides together and tuck it under the braid.Place the braided babka into a buttered loaf pan. Make sure both ends are tucked underneath the bread for better presentation. Proof the dough for another 40 minutes in a warm location.
11. Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup by combining a little less than 1/4 cup water, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/3 teaspoon vanilla into a small saucepan over high heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat and let it cool.
12. Preheat the oven to 350F then bake the dough for 20 minutes. Take out the babka and immediately glaze with two layers of the sugar syrup. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown on top and the toothpick or chopstick comes out clean from the center. Remove from the oven and immediately glaze with another 3 layers of sugar syrup. Let it cool and serve.