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Recipe: Chocolate Babka

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Photo:Stephanie Vacher/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Babka, a cake made of twisted yeasty dough, has Eastern European origins, but this version has roots from the East Coast. This cake is on the Stir Market menu and the recipe is courtesy of Caren Libit, who was inspired by the New York Jewish bakeries of her childhood to create a rich, chocolate-y babka.

This recipe has 3 components to it and Caren recommends making the dough first. As it rises, make the filling and the topping.

Bryan's Mom's Chocolate Babka
Makes 3 babkas in a 9-inch loaf pan

Bake one or all three at once; otherwise, store the extra dough in the freezer and defrost before baking.

1 ½ cups warm whole milk, at approximately 110 degrees
2 (¼ oz. each) packages active dry yeast
¾ cups, plus a pinch, white granulated sugar
3 whole large eggs, at room temperature (reserve 1 egg for egg wash)
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 ½ tsp of vanilla extract
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon salt
2 Sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more to grease bowl and loaf pans

Chocolate filling
24 oz. semisweet or dark chocolate chips
2 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup whole walnuts
½ cup sugar
½ cup sugar in the raw or Turbinado sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)

Streusel Topping
1 ?? cups confectioners' sugar
1 ?? cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

For the dough: Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and a pinch of sugar over milk, stir lightly; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In a bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment, mix together ¾ cup sugar, 2 eggs, vanilla, and egg yolks. Add yeast mixture and lightly mix to combine.

In a bowl combine flour and salt. Add to egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated. After about 10 minutes, the dough should be soft and smooth that's slightly sticky when squeezed.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk for about 1 hour.

For the chocolate filling: Place chocolate chips, ½ cup sugar, ½ cup raw sugar, walnuts and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. Process into coarse crumbs.

Add the 1 ½ sticks butter and process until well combined; set filling aside.

For the streusel topping: In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter. Using a fork, stir until fully combined with clumps ranging in size from crumbs to 1 inch.

For the assembly and baking: Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Generously butter your 9-inch loaf pan.

In a small bowl beat the remaining egg with the tablespoon of cream, set bowl aside.

Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be about ??-inch thick.

Brush edges with egg wash. Crumble ?? of the chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a ¼-inch border. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Now, twist 5 or 6 turns.

Fold long roll in ½ and brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons more filling over the roll and twist folded roll a few more times.

Place twisted roll into prepared baking pan (it will be a little messy).

Brush the top of Babka with egg wash. Crumble ?? of streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.

Bake babkas, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 35 minutes test for doneness. The toothpick should come out clean of dough when done. Remove from oven and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve.

Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month, just defrost for a few hours before baking.

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