I wasn’t planning this as an Easter themed post but the timing does seem appropriate.
This Chocolate Babka recipe is roughly based on a Paul Hollywood one that appeared as a Great British Bake-Off technical in 2020 (https://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/recipes/all/paul-hollywood-chocolate-babka/).
I’ve adapted the recipe to use my trusty no knead and overnight proving method (as with my cinnamon buns). Paul H uses a mixer with a dough hook and I don’t have one of those. I’ve also left out the roasted hazelnuts because my son doesn’t like nuts and I’m not bothered either way. If you want to add nuts you’ll need 65g of hazelnuts roasted in a 180oC oven for 4-5 minutes and roughly chopped – sprinkle them over the chocolate before rolling.
This is an extremely sweet and indulgent weekend treat. In my version the process starts the day before (usually a Friday in my case) and results in a fresh Babka for a late morning weekend breakfast.
- 275g strong white flour
- 5g fast action dried yeast
- 25g caster sugar
- ½ tsp of salt
- 2 eggs
- 50ml milk
- 80g melted butter
I’ve given three options for the filling quantities
First weight in brackets = Paul Hollywood’s original recipe. We found this far too sickly
Middle weight in bold = As a sweet-toothed family we find this just right
Last weight in brackets = recommended if you don’t want things too gooey and chocolatey (but then if this is the case perhaps this recipe isn’t for you!) I haven’t actually tried this last option as there is a rebellion whenever I suggest it
- Dark chocolate (80g) 60g (40g)
- Butter (100g) 75g (50g)
- Cocoa powder (40g) 30g (20g)
- Caster sugar (150g) 110g (75g)
- A good pinch of salt
The morning before you want to eat your Babka
Mix all the ingredients for the dough in a bowl. Bring together in a rough ball until everything is just incorporated. It will be very sticky. Cover bowl with cling film and leave all day to rise at room temperature.
I do it first thing in the morning while we’re all shuffling around making breakfast and packed lunches. I can then ignore it until night time.
In the evening
Melt all the ingredients for the filling in a pan or in the microwave. Leave to cool so that it is soft enough to spread but not too runny, pop in the fridge if you want to speed things up. The first time I made this I used the mixture straight away and it was a disaster – there was runny sauce seeping out everywhere.
Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and roll it out to a 40cm by 30cm rectangle. Spread the chocolate mixture thinly over the dough right to the edges (I use a large palette knife) and then roll up lengthways to make a long sausage.
Cut down the middle of the sausage with a very sharp knife. With the open, chocolate-streaked, sides upwards, twist one length over the other, lifting the left over the right then the right over the left to make a two stranded plat. Lift into a loaf tin lined with greaseproof paper up the sides (mine is 23 x 13 x 7 cm).
This is a bit of a faff but don’t worry too much, just get it as even as you can in the tin. As you can see from the photo below I don’t care too much for neatness but it doesn’t affect the taste. Paul H cuts off the ends for a tidier look but I hate waste and don’t bother.
Leave the loaf covered in the fridge overnight for a very slow prove. It needs a tight seal so it doesn’t dry out. As a proving bag I use a sealed plastic cover which came with some oven cleaner and was meant to be used for cleaning the racks. But you can also use clingfilm and a rubber band to ensure there are no gaps.
The next morning
Take out of the fridge in the morning and leave for 2-3 hours to prove. It usually takes an hour to come back up to room temperature and then 1-2 hours extra depending on the weather.
Bake at 180oC for 15 minutes, with a tray of boiling water in the bottom of the oven to add steam.
Then turn the oven down to 160oC for 20 minutes.
Rest for at least 5 minutes. At this point the chocolate will be hot and runny. Rest for longer if you want a neater experience. We can never wait that long.
Devour with strong coffee and a smug smile!
Paul Hollywood brushes his babka with a sugar syrup at the end but in my view, this added sweetness is unnecessary.