Bread has always been an intimidating baking experience for me and one that I happily avoided. If I’m being honest here, anything that involved yeast and rising time terrified me. One bad experience and I was scarred for life- almost. Lately, I’ve been more curious about yeasted dough and am ready to start practicing again. It’s high time I got over this irrational fear. Afterall, it’s just bread. This chocolate swirl babka recipe caught my eye and seemed doable, even for me. Luckily, I had K’s help and guidance along the way and we prepared this one together. I have to say, it was a great success and I’m looking forward to more bread baking in my future.
Chocolate Swirl Babka
from Sift by King Arthur
Yield: 1 loaf
1 cup (8 oz) water
¼ cup (2 oz) milk
2 tablespoons (1 oz) butter + additional 2 tablespoons, melted for brushing on top)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 ½ cups (14 ¾ oz) unbleached all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1/3 cup (1 oz) unsweetened cocoa
¼ cup (3/4 oz) finely chopped almonds
2/3 cup (5 oz) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (1 oz) butter, melted
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup (1 ½ oz) powdered sugar
¼ cup (1 oz) unbleached all- purpose flour
For the Dough:
Place all of the dough ingredients (except the additional 2 tablespoons melted butter) into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix for approximately 5-7 minutes until a soft, smooth ball forms. Add additional flour or water as needed. Cover and allow dough to rise for 1 hour.
For the Filling and Topping:
Combine the cocoa, nuts, and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, use a fork to combine the crumb topping ingredients; it should be moist. Set aside.
After the dough has risen, transfer to a lightly greased work surface and roll it into an 8” x 16” rectangle. Sprinkle the chocolate mixture over the dough leaving a ½” border on all sides. Starting with the shorter side, roll the dough into a log, jelly roll style. Pinch the seam and ends together.
Transfer the log to a greased 9” x 5” loaf pan, laying it seam side down. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until it’s 1” above the rim of the pan, 40- 60 minutes. Half an hour into the rise time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lightly brush the loaf with the reserved melted butter and sprinkle the crumb topping evenly on top. Bake for 40- 60 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove the babka from the pan and let finish cooling on the rack before serving.