Chocolate babka reminds me of the time I lived in New York. Heading to a dinner party, I insisted that we needed to bring a chocolate babka to the party. There was no way I was showing up empty-handed. By the time we realized we needed to get a number at the counter, we watched the last chocolate babka walk away with the patrons in front of us. We had no choice but to choose the inferior version of the babka, the cinnamon babka.
Our friends, buying the wine, were stuck in their parking spot and we debated the race relations of the black and white cookie while we waited for our ride. And of course in typical Kramer fashion, wait, what? I definitely don’t know a “Kramer”. I think that must have been a Seinfeld episode?!
But truthfully, you can’t blame Jerry and Elaine for wanting the chocolate babka so desperately. The layers of dough, oozing chocolate ganache, twisted over each other beautifully. As you bite into the babka, the soft bread is perfectly light and airy and the chocolate remains nestled between the folds of the dough, still warm from the oven. The sugary glaze, that seems almost too sweet, gives a perfect contrast to the bitterness of the chocolate.
The babka is a traditional Jewish bread or coffee cake of sorts, dating back much further than a Seinfeld episode. This sweet loaf is rolled out and brushed with chocolate, nuts and dried fruits before being rolled up, twisted and baked. After it comes out of the oven, a sugary syrup is brushed on top of the cooling babka, soaking into every crevice and crease.
Slice by slice, this babka will be devoured as if your life (or dinner party) depends on it.
So don’t worry, Jerry and Elaine, I got your back. I understand why the chocolate babka has become the best babka, why enemies such as David and Barbara Benedict are necessary and why “ring-dings” and Pepsi are not appropriate dinner party gifts.
“You can’t beat a babka!”
I know Elaine…I know.
I loved baking babka. The smell of bread and orange filled the kitchen even before I starting baking it. The oven warmed up the kitchen as we got cozy under the blankets, waiting for the timer to beep. I proofed my yeast before adding the other ingredients. Once I made the dough, I left it to rise overnight. I came down the next morning to a beautifully risen babka, ready for the oven.
- 1 packet of yeast
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- zest of 1 orange
- 3 eggs
- ⅔ cup butter
- 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- chopped pecans
- Proof the yeast by dissolving it in the water. Once it starts to foam, your yeast is activated.
- Add in the sugar, flour, zest, eggs and butter and knead for 8-10 minutes, until a sticky dough forms.
- Cover the dough with cling foil or a kitchen towel and let it rest in a warm area of the kitchen until it doubles in size. I let mine rest overnight.
- Once you're ready to bake the babka, put it in the fridge for 30 mins to allow the dough to stiffen.
- As it cools in the fridge, make the ganache by melting the semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Mix in the cream and then place in the fridge for 10 mins to harden slightly.
- Roll out the dough. Spread the ganache mixture over the dough.
- Roll the dough into a log and cut in half, lengthwise
- Twist the two lengths of dough over each other to form a braid.
- Place in a greased loaf pan and let it rest for another hour.
- Preheat your oven to 350F and bake for approx 25-30 mins or until bread is fully baked through.
- Serve warm!
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