Melt-in the mouth and flakey crust with a moist and buttery bread, filled with a rich chocolate hazelnut crunch filling.
Happy New Year’s Eve! To celebrate, I am making a Chocolate Babka! Over the past couple of months on Instagram, I have seen many baking bloggers making babka. The intricate twisting pattern caught my eye, and I wanted to learn how to do it! I did not expect this twist to be so simple! Babkas are an Eastern European Jewish Bread/Cake that is made from a buttery and eggy dough, and is traditionally filled with cinnamon or jam. However, the chocolate lover in me wanted to try the chocolate version.
Little did I know, making babka is a pretty intensive process. I began by making the filling because it is important for the chocolate filling to completely cool before rolling it into the bread dough. If the filling is not completely cooled, the picture perfect babka twist will not turn out and the chocolate will smear all over the bread dough. The filling is made by melting together the butter, sugar, and chocolate in a double boiler. Then, you remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the cocoa powder. Transfer into a separate bowl to cool. While I was waiting for the chocolate mixture to melt, I toasted hazelnuts in the oven until golden and then I coarsely chopped them. This will add a nice crunch to the final product.
While the chocolate filling is cooling, make the bread dough. This is the typical process for making very buttery, flakey bread, like brioche. Make the sponge with instant yeast, sugar, and milk (at about 110 degrees F) and set aside until frothy. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the flour and salt together. Add the eggs and sponge to the stand mixer and mix on slow speed for 2-3 minutes. The dough will be very firm at this point. Increase the speed to medium and slowly add the softened butter a tablespoon at a time. Between each tablespoon, mix well. It may take some time for the butter to incorporate fully. This long process of incorporating the butter is what creates the flakiness of the bread. Once the butter is all incorporated, continue to knead until the dough is very smooth and can pass the window pane test.
Roll the freshly kneaded dough into a 12 x 16 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface (make sure the long edge is closest to you). Spread the cooled chocolate fudge filling over top, leaving about a 1 cm boarder. Work quickly because the chocolate sauce will be more difficult to spread once poured out. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts on the top. As you would with cinnamon rolls, tightly roll the dough starting from the long edge closest to you making sure you are not stretching the dough any bigger than 12 x 16 inches. If stretched, the bread will not fit into the bread tin. Trim about an inch off each end to create clean ends.
To form the twist, rotate the spiral of dough 90 degrees so that the short end is closest to you. Using a large sharp knife, slice lengthways down through the middle of the dough, cutting it into 2 long pieces. Face each half upwards and gently seal the tops of each half. Begin crossing the right half over the left, then the left over the right, repeating until the ends touch to seal. Again, be careful not to pull and stretch the halves while twisting, or the bread will not fit in the bread pan. Carefully lift the twist into a greased and parchment lined bread pan and cover with plastic wrap. Proof until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Once proofed, bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes, then 325 for 25-30 minutes. Be sure to keep a close eye on the bread to make sure it isn’t getting too brown. I had to cover my babka with foil during the baking process to prevent it from getting too dark on top. The bread will be done when a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
While the babka is baking, make the syrup. Over low heat in a small sized sauce pan, boil sugar and water for 5 minutes. Let cool and brush over the babka immediately after it comes out of the oven. Serve warm or at room temperature and enjoy!
I’d love to see your beautiful babkas! Take pictures and tag me on Instagram @beyondbakingwithamandajane and use the #beyondbakingwithamandajane!
Paul Hollywood's Chocolate Hazelnut Babka
- For the filling:
- 65g blanched hazelnuts
- 100g unsalted butter
- 150g granulated sugar
- 80g 70% dark chocolate, chopped
- 40g cocoa powder For the dough:
- 275g all-purpose flour
- 5g instant yeast
- 25g granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 50mL whole milk
- 80g unsalted butter, cubed and softened For the syrup:
- 100g granulated sugar
- 100mL water
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and roast hazelnuts for 4-5 minutes on a baking tray until golden and then coarsely chop. Let cool.
- In a double boiler, melt the butter, sugar, and chocolate until very smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the cocoa powder. Pour into a bowl and let cool and thicken.
- Make the sponge. Mix the instant yeast, sugar, and warm milk (about 110 degrees F) together and let sit until frothy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the flour and salt together. Add the eggs and sponge to the stand mixer and mix on slow speed for 2-3 minutes. *Note: the dough will be very firm at this point.
- Increase the speed to medium and slowly add the softened butter a tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Continue to knead the dough with the dough hook until smooth and the dough passes the window pane test.
- Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the dough to a 12 x 16 inch rectangle, with the long edge closest to you.
- Spread the cooled chocolate mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 cm border all around. Sprinkle all the toasted hazelnuts over the top.
- Starting from the long edge closest to you, roll up the dough into a tight spiral, with the seam underneath. Be sure to not stretch the dough too much.
- Trim an inch off each end to neaten, and turn the roll 90 degrees so the short end is closest to you. Using a large knife, slice lengthways down the middle of the dough cutting it into 2 long pieces.
- Flip each half upwards and gently seal the tops of each half. Begin crossing the right half over the left, then the left over the right, repeating until the ends touch to seal (be careful not to pull and stretch the halves while twisting, or the bread will not fit in the bread pan)
- Carefully lift the twist into a greased and parchment lined bread pan and cover with plastic wrap. Proof until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- Once proofed, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cover with foil if the bread gets too brown.
- While the bread is baking, make the syrup. In a small sized sauce pan, boil sugar and water for 5 minutes. Let cool.
- Brush over the babka immediately after it comes out of the oven.