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Waiter, There’s Something in My… Bread! April 25, 2007

Posted by Sarah in Baking.

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Last year at Christmas, my dad gave me a copy of the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. At the time, I wasn’t that excited because I wasn’t really a Martha fan (not that I was a hater either…), but I was always happy to get another cookbook, of course. I didn’t delve into it right away, like I do with other cookbooks. However, several months ago, it called to me. And I have enjoyed several recipes out of it since. When I saw her Chocolate Babkas, I knew I had to make it for my first “Waiter, There’s Something In My…” event. It looked so delicious.

I started making the bread on Sunday. It was the perfect day for bread-making because it was pouring down rain all day (much like it is right now…) It took quite awhile to make the bread, partly because I was taking my sweet time and partly because it took me awhile to grind up all the chocolate and get some of the ingredients to room temperature.

The other great thing about this recipe is that it makes 3 big loaves of bread. So, I baked one and froze the other two. The pictures do not even begin to describe how awesome this bread tasted. It was a very excellent sweet bread! Before I made this, I didn’t even know Babkas existed. Upon further research, I found that Babkas have Jewish and Russian roots. I’m not sure which Martha’s version takes after, but I do know that it tastes excellent!

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Chocolate Babkas

Adapted from Martha Stewart Baking Handbook

Bread Ingredients

1 1/2 cups warm milk (110 degrees)

2 envelopes (.25 oz each) rapid rise dry yeast

1 3/4 cups superfine sugar, divided (you can use regular, too)

3 whole eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, room temperature

6 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 lbs. bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped (you could use semi-sweet)

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon heavy cream

Streusel Ingredients

1 2/3 cups powdered sugar

1 1/3 cups flour

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature


In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast and a pinch of sugar over the warm milk; stir until dissolved. Let stand until foamy (5 min.) In a medium bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs and the yolks. Add the yeast mixture and whisk.

In an electric mixer, combine the flour and salt. Add the egg mixture and beat on low speed with the paddle attachment until it is almost completely mixed together (30 sec.) Switch to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks of butter and beat until completely mixed in and a soft, sticky dough forms, 10 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a flour surface and knead a little bit. Place in a well greased bowl (Martha recommends using butter) and flip to coat all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk (45 min. – 1 hr.)

While the dough rises:

In a bowl, stir together finely chopped chocolate, 1 cup superfine sugar, and the cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in the remaining 1 1/2 sticks of butter until combined.

Also, make the streusel topping. Combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until there are coarse crumbs.

Generously butter/grease three 9 x 5 x 2 3/4-inch loaf pans. (Martha recommends putting parchment in the bottom so it hangs over the sides to make it easier to get out. This is a good idea. I didn’t do it because I didn’t have parchment. My bread still came out okay…)

When the dough is done with the first rise:

Punch down the dough and put on a floured surface. Let rest 5 minutes. While waiting, beat the cream and remaining egg together.

Cut the dough into three equal pieces. Roll a piece into a 16-inch square (1/8 inch thick). Brush the edges with the egg wash. Evenly distribute 1/3 of the chocolate filling over the dough, leaving a 1/2 border on all sides. Roll the dough up tightly, jelly roll style. Then, twist the dough-log five or six times. Put the log into a horseshoe shape. Brush the top with egg wash. Crumble 2 tablespoons of chocolate filling on top of the dough and gently press into the top. Cross the right half over the left to make a figure 8; press the edges to seal. Twist the figure 8 two more times and put in the pan. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Sprinkle 1/3 of the streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover with plastic and set in a warm place to rise, about 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the loaves, rotating halfway through, about 55 minutes. Reduce the over to 325 degrees. Bake 20-30 minutes longer until they are a deep golden brown. Avoid under-baking the loaves or the center will not set up correctly. If the top browns too quickly, tent the loaves with foil.

Transfer the pans to wire racks to cool completely. These can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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1. Kristen - April 25, 2007

Beautiful job. Looks so good!

2. Alanna - April 25, 2007

So THAT’s how you roll babkas! I made the recipe published on NPR before Easter, without really paying attention to technique until I got to the point where I needed to form the loaves — and for the life of me, couldn’t figure out the instructions. These are easy — and will get me to try babkas again. Thank you!!! PS Just checking. Do you really mean two POUNDS of chocolate? Wow. No wonder it’s good!!

3. Sarah - May 6, 2007

It’s really two pounds of chocolate. Next time, I was thinking I would use maybe 1 pound semisweet and 1 pound bittersweet for a nice change. Good luck with your babkas!

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