Well, that health kick lasted long.
Personally, I blame it on the babka! And the fact that once I see something I think would be fun to bake, I can’t resist! I may or may not even be scoffing two chunky slices of this bad boy whilst writing this post… I’M WEAK OK!! *hangs head in shame*
Though, I’m sure I’m not the only who’s DONE with that January health kick. I mean, as long as you’re not overdoing it, a little sweet treat every now and then isn’t thaaat bad, right?
In fact! Did you know that a little bit of dark chocolate can actually suppress your appetite?! Yup, a TV show told me so the other day (so it’s obvs true). Apparently the bitter tasting flavanoids (plant-based compounds/nutrient, or ‘phytochemicals’), present in cocoa beans and dark chocolate with a high % of cocoa, can help make you feel fuller for longer and want to eat less! Of course, this is only true for dark chocolate that hasn’t been processed with alkali (‘dutched’), or loaded with milk and sugar. Whatevs, I’ll take it!
And it just so happens that I’d bought a few too many bars of 85% cacao dark chocolate over the holidays for my Christmas cakes, so why not put them to good use?! Cue the babka.
I mean, sure it probably doesn’t really count if you bake the chocolate into something sweet, but it’s a start for someone who’s not quite used to the bitterness of 85% chocolate on it’s own!
Plus, chocolate babka’s are too frickin’ tasty! And when you add coffee and cinnamon to the equation?
To start, I added the dried yeast to the warm milk to get it active and bubbling.
Then in a large bowl I creamed together the softened butter and sugar. Once combined I mixed in the oil and vanilla extract.
I then beat in the egg yolks, one by one, and continued to whisk until the mixture was light and fluffy. Make sure to hold back one egg white for the egg wash later.
I then added the flour, salt and yeasty milk and mixed until it began to form a dough. I kneaded this for 5 to 10 minutes until it became smooth and elastic. I placed this in a lightly greased bowl, covered and left to prove in a warm place for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. You could alternatively leave it in the fridge to prove overnight.
To make the filling I melted the dark chocolate and butter in a saucepan over a very low heat, taking care to watch it and keep stirring so it didn’t burn.
I then mixed in the icing sugar, cocoa powder, flour, cinnamon and instant coffee until it formed a paste. I set this aside until I was ready to use it. If this begins to firm up in the meantime, just warm it over a low heat for a few seconds to re-melt it slightly. You still want it to be room temperature when you use it.
For the streusel I mixed the sugars, flour, cinnamon and chopped pecans in a bowl. I then rubbed in the chilled butter till it formed a coarse breadcrumb consistency.
I left this in the fridge until ready to use.
Once the dough had proved, I knocked it back, tipped it out onto a lightly floured surface then cut it in half. With one half I rolled it out into a large rectangle of about 1cm thickness.
I then spread half the chocolate filling in an even layer all over the top.
I then rolled it along the long edge into a log. Try saying that with a mouth full of fruit gums!
Then twisted the log into a figure of 8 and lay it into a loaf tin lined with baking paper. I then repeated this with the remaining dough and filling.
I covered these and left to prove for a further 30 minutes to 1 hour until doubled in size once more.
Once proved again, I brushed the top with the reserved egg white and sprinkled on a generous about of streusel. I baked these at 180°C for 25-30 minutes until the streusel was golden brown.
If you like your chocolate oozy, serve warm. If like me you wanted to see the cool swirly pattern too, leave to cool completely before slicing.
- For the dough (2 loaves):
- 1 packet dried yeast
- 180ml milk, warmed
- 75g unsalted butter, softened
- 20g caster sugar
- 2tbsp oil
- 2tsp vanilla extract
- 4 medium egg yolks, reserve 1 egg white for egg wash
- 480g plain flour
- 1tsp salt
- For the filling:
- 260g dark chocolate
- 240g unsalted butter
- 100g icing sugar
- 60g cocoa powder
- 2 heaped tbsp instant coffee
- 2tsp ground cinnamon
- 4tbsp plain flour
- For the streusel:
- 20g dark brown sugar
- 30g caster sugar
- 50g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- ¼tsp cinnamon
- 40g pecans, chopped
- 50g unsalted butter, chilled
- Stir the dried yeast into the warm milk and allow to bubble and grow.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.
- Add the oil and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
- Beat in the egg yolks one by one, then whisk until pale and fluffy.
- Add the flour, salt and yeasty milk and mix till it starts to come together as a dough.
- If using a mixer, switch to a dough hook and knead for about 5-10 minutes until you get a smooth, elastic dough. Otherwise, tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 5-10 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and leave to prove in a warm place for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. Alternatively, leave to prove in a fridge overnight.
- For the filling, place the dark chocolate and butter in a saucepan and melt over a very low heat, constantly stirring to avoid burning.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the rest of the filling ingredients. Set aside at room temperature till ready to use. (If it starts to firm up beforehand you can re-melt it slightly over over a low heat on the hob.
- For the streusel, mix the sugars, flour, cinnamon, salt and chopped pecans in a bowl. Rub in the cold butter to form a coarse breadcrumb texture. Leave in the fridge until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Once the dough has proved, knock back the air then tip out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two.
- With one half, roll to a large rectangle of approximately 1cm thickness.
- Spoon half the chocolate mixture on top and spread evenly to the edges.
- Roll the dough along the long edge into a log. Twist the log into a figure of 8 and place into a loaf tin lined with baking paper.
- Repeat with the second half of dough.
- Cover and leave to prove for a further 30 minutes to 1 hour until doubled in size again.
- Brush the top of babka with the reserved egg white, then sprinkle on the streusel.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until the streusel is golden brown.
- Leave to cool completely before serving.