Sunday, April 6, 2008

Recipe - Chocolate or Cinnamon Babka

It's Sunday morning and we like to be lazy in my house, enjoying the sunshine, the birdsong, and of course, a big slice of either chocolate or cinnamon babka.

Do you remember the "Seinfeld" episode in which Elaine wants to buy a chocolate babka, but someone beats her to the last one? Only cinnamon are left, and Elaine considers the cinnamon babka the "inferior" babka. Jerry convinces her otherwise, but she's still not completely happy with it.

As a lover of both chocolate and cinnamon babka, I think it's just personal preference. As long as you do a good job making your babka, it will never be inferior. This is a luscious cake and one that should be savored. I hope you'll try it, and I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do.

Chocolate or Cinnamon Babka



1-1 1/2 C. water
2 T. yeast
Pinch of sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
2 drops almond extract
1 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 C. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/3 C. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/3 C. milk powder
1 C. unsalted butter or margarine - softened and cut into small pieces
6 C. unbleached all-purpose flour or half bread flour/half all-purpose

Chocolate Filling:

1-1 1/2 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 C. cocoa
1/2 C. sugar
3 T. unsalted butter or margarine

Cinnamon Filling:

1/4 C. unsalted butter or margarine
1 C. dark brown sugar
2 T. corn syrup or maple syrup
2-4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 C. chopped walnuts (optional)

Egg Wash:

1 egg, beaten
Sugar for sprinkling


1. In a large bowl, mix together water, yeast, and pinch of sugar. Allow to rest for five minutes to allow the yeast to swell.

2. Add eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, almond extract, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and milk powder.

3. Add the softened butter and flour to the mixture by folding it into the batter. Knead with a dough hook or by hand for about 8-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.

4. Place dough in a well greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or cover the entire bowl with a plastic bag to ensure that it's thoroughly sealed. Allow to rise for about 45-90 minutes. (You can refrigerate this dough overnight, but you must allow it to return to room temperature before continuing.)

5. Divide dough into two equal parts. Cover with a towel and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

6. Butter two 9-inch springform cake pans or two loaf pans, or, if making only one large babka, butter a 10-inch bundt pan.

7. Roll dough into a 16x16 inch square on a lightly floured board.

8. Spread the filling of your choice over the entire surface.

9. Roll lengthwise into a large roll, then cut in half.

10. Place both halves in the prepared pan, beside each other (it doesn't matter if they are pressing against each other).

11. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

12. Place the pan(s) in a plastic bag and let rise until babke is flush or has risen over the top of the pan(s).

13. Repeat with other half of the dough.

14. Preheat over to 350 F.

15. Bake babka for 35-40 minutes (50-70 minutes for the one large babka) until medium brown.

16. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan before putting on a cooling rack.

To make the Chocolate Filling:

Place chocolate chips, cinnamon, cocoa, sugar, and butter in a food processor and grind into a loose paste.

To make the Cinnamon Filling:

Place the butter, sugar, corn syrup, cinnamon, and walnuts in a food processor and grind into a loose paste.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Even the aroma of this cake is heavenly. :)

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