Chocolate Babka

I have wanted to bake this special cake ever since first seeing photos of it from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem book all over the blogosphere. It always looks stunning and delicious.

This version is an adaptation of the Chocolate Krantz Cakes in Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi from Smitten Kitchen.com. I loved that she had already made this babka FIVE times, and modified the recipe to perfection. Tried and true. Thank you, Deb Perelman! 🙂

Perelman’s adaptations included omitting the nuts, using granulated instead of superfine sugar, large instead of extra-large eggs, and reducing the amount of sugar syrup topping. She also modified the technique for ease. I melted the chocolate and butter in a double boiler and let the dough rise in a proofing drawer as well.

We enjoyed it warm from the oven for Easter dessert. Rich and wonderful.

Yield: 2 loaf-sized chocolate babkas

For the Dough:

  • 4 1/4 cups (530 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast (rapid rise)
  • grated zest of half an orange
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup water (cold is fine) and up to 1 to 2 tablespoons extra, if needed
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter (150 grams or 5.3 ounces), at room temperature
  • Sunflower, Canola, other neutral oil, or cooking oil spray, for greasing

For the Filling:

  • 4 1/2 ounces (130 grams) dark chocolate (I used 72% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
  • scant 1/2 cup (50 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Sugar Syrup:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar

Make the dough:

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and zest in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Add eggs and 1/2 cup water, mixing with the paddle or dough hook until it comes together; this may take a couple of minutes. (If it doesn’t come together, add extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a mass.)
  3. With the mixer on low, add the salt, then the butter, a spoonful at a time, mixing until it’s incorporated into the dough.
  4. If using the paddle, switch to the dough hook. Mix on medium speed for 10 minutes until dough is completely smooth; you’ll need to scrape the bowl down a few times. After 10 minutes, the dough should begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If not, add 1 tablespoon extra flour to help this along.
  5. Coat a large bowl with oil (or scrape the dough out onto a counter and oil this one) and place dough inside, cover with plastic and refrigerate. Leave in fridge for at least half a day, preferably overnight. The dough will not fully double, so don’t be concerned if it doesn’t look like it grew by more than half.

Make the filling:

  1. In a double boiler, melt butter and chocolate together until smooth. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir in powdered sugar and cocoa; mixture should form a spreadable paste. Add cinnamon.

Assemble the loaves:

  1. Coat two 9-by-4-inch (2 1/4 or 1 kg) loaf pans with cooking spray, oil or butter, and line the bottom of each with a rectangle of parchment paper.
  2. Take half of dough from fridge (leave the other half chilled). Roll out on a well-floured counter to about a 10-inch width (the side closest to you) and as long in length (away from you) as you can when rolling it thin, likely 10 to 12 inches.
  3. Spread half of chocolate mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around.
  4. Brush the end farthest away from you with water. Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, tight cigar. Seal the dampened end onto the log.
  5. Transfer the log to a plastic wrap-lined, rimmed baking tray. Place in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. (This allows the log to be cut in half more easily.) Repeat with second dough.
  6. Trim last 1/2-inch off each end of log. Gently cut the log in half lengthwise and lay them next to each other on the counter, cut sides up. Pinch the top ends gently together. Lift one side over the next, forming a twist and trying to keep the cut sides facing out (because they’re pretty). Don’t worry if this step makes a mess, just transfer the twist as best as you can into the prepared loaf pan. (The dough will fill in any gaps by the time it’s done rising and baking, so don’t worry if the pan isn’t filled.) Note: Next time I would try crossing the dough more than once, if possible.
  7. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise another 1 to 1 1/2 hours in a proofing drawer or at room temperature. Repeat process with second loaf.

Bake and finish cakes:

  1. Heat oven to 375°F (190°C), preferably on convection.
  2. Remove towels, place each loaf on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. A skewer inserted into an underbaked babka will feel stretchy/rubbery inside and may come back with dough on it. When fully baked, you’ll feel almost no resistance. If your babka needs more time, put it back, 5 minutes at a time then re-test. If it browns too quickly, you can cover it with foil.

While the babkas are baking, make the sugar syrup:

  1. Bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool somewhat.
  2. As soon as the babkas leave the oven, brush the syrup all over each. It will seem like too much, but will taste just right — glossy and moist.
  3. Let babkas cool about halfway in pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way before eating. (or serve warm!)

Do ahead: Babkas keep for a few days at room temperature. Reheat prior to serving, if desired. If longer, freeze them. They freeze and defrost well.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Advertisements

Ottolenghi’s Chicken with Caramelized Onions & Cinnamon-Cardamom Rice

This dish was a HUGE hit! We were all fighting over the leftovers!! 🙂 It’s a great dish to feed a crowd. I substituted boneless, skinless chicken thighs for a whole chicken, ground cardamom for cardamom pods, and golden raisins for barberries or currants. The resulting dish was full-flavored with perfectly cooked Basmati rice and very tender chicken. I LOVE one pot meals- and anything with caramelized onions. The addition of fresh parsley, dill and cilantro added color and brightness. This recipe was adapted from “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” by by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, via the New York Times. In order for the chicken and rice to be cooked perfectly, the chicken must be seared and browned before adding to the rice and the water must be boiling before adding to the dish, covering, and completing the cooking process. No one in my crowd opted to top the dish with Greek yogurt- maybe next time. DELICIOUS!!

Time: 1 hour, plus 30 minutes cooking and 10 minutes resting

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

IMG_5122

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons barberries, currants, dried cranberries, or golden raisins (25 grams)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced (2 cups/250 grams)
  • 2 1/4 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (1 kilogram), or 1 whole chicken, quartered, or 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 cardamom pods or 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • rounded 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 long cinnamon sticks, broken in two
  • 1 2/3 cups white Basmati rice (300 grams)
  • 2 1/4 cups boiling water (550 milliliters)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dill leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt (100 grams), mixed with 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional topping)
  1. If using barberries: Put 3 T (40 grams) sugar and scant 3 tablespoons water in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, add the barberries, and set aside to soak. If using currants, cranberries, or golden raisins you do not need to soak them in this way.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2T olive oil in a large sauté pan for which you have a lid over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has turned a deep golden brown. Transfer the onion to a small bowl and wipe the pan clean.
  3. Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl and season with 1½ teaspoons each salt and black pepper. Add the remaining 2T olive oil, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and use your hands to mix everything together well. Heat the frying pan again and place the chicken and spices in it. Sear chicken for 4 to 5 minutes on each side and remove from the pan (this is important as it par-cooks the chicken). The spices can stay in the pan, but don’t worry if they stick to the chicken. Remove most of the remaining oil as well, leaving just a thin film at the bottom. Add the rice, caramelized onion, 1 teaspoon salt and plenty of black pepper. Drain the barberries, if using, and add them as well; otherwise add the dried fruit being used. Stir well and return the seared chicken to the pan, pushing it into the rice.
  4. Pour the boiling water over the rice and chicken, cover the pan, and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, remove the lid, quickly place a clean tea towel over the pan, and seal again with the lid. Leave the dish undisturbed for another 10 minutes. Finally, add the herbs and use a fork to stir them in and fluff up the rice. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot or warm with yogurt mixture if you like.
 IMG_0073
If you like this you may also like:

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,023 other followers

Recipe Categories

my foodgawker gallery
my photos on tastespotting

Top Posts & Pages

Foodista Food Blog of the Day Badge
%d bloggers like this: