Monday, October 25, 2010

Triumphant Victory: Chocolate Babke

Things don't always go my way - and certainly not always in the kitchen. People ask me often what the biggest disaster I've had in the kitchen is. And while there is that time where I boiled eggs and forgot about them for an hour, leaving pieces of egg and shell in all corners of the kitchen, and the multiple times I've dropped cakes and cookies, I'd still probably say chocolate babke. After being asked by my mother to make chocolate babke for her birthday, I spent hours whipping up a recipe I'd found only to find it...inedible. Hard a rock, dry, tasteless, completely awful. I'm not sure if it was the yeast or the recipe that was at fault, but I'm inclined to believe both.

And then - I returned triumphant, with my crowning glory, a dessert that could only be termed complete bliss - a successful chocolate babke.

My mouth is watering just looking at this photo. Chocolate. Dough. Mmm.
Where was I? Well this unbelievably successful recipe comes from a new book I have, Paula Shoyer's "The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy Free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy." And somehow, when I spied this recipe, I had the courage to try it out - and oh thank goodness I did.
The recipes makes two of these gorgeous loaves, and I almost always keep one out and freeze the other. The thing about yeast breads, is that even when they do come out this gloriously delicious, they still don't keep for more than a day or two before getting stale.
Also - I just couldn't manage to follow the recipe as it was written. You see, the original calls for SIX STICKS of margarine. Six! Two of them go into the dough, which makes two loaves, and the remaining four are supposed to go into the filling with sugar and cocoa. But I just couldn't fathom putting that much margarine into the filling. So I cut it in half, and used just 2 for the filling. And it was so stupendously delicious that I can't imagine needing all 4.
Now that I've spent approximately 4 hours waxing poetic about this chocolate babke, I know you're all clamoring to go and try it out this instant. And you should - assuming you've at least worked with yeast before. In it's individual parts, this recipe is not particularly difficult (though it is on the time consuming side of things), but all together it may be a little daunting for a novice baker. But really, if I can do it, I'm sure you can too.

Tip of the Day: Fresh (meaning new, unexpired, not stale), active dry yeast is key here. Store your yeast in the freezer for optimal use, and don't even let it get close to that expiration date. You don't want to end up at the end, with an inedible babke now do you?!

Recipe: (adapted from Paula Shoyer's "The Kosher Baker".)

½ cup warm water
½ ounce/two envelopes active dry yeast
½ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
5 cups flour
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs plus one egg white (save the yolk for brushing on top)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened [Original recipe calls for 4 sticks - your call]
2 cups sugar
½ cup cocoa
½ cup mini chocolate chips or coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate

optional - turbinado sugar

Place the water, yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in a large bowl and leave for 10 minutes until bubbles form.
Add ½ cup sugar, all the flour, the margarine and butter and 2 eggs and egg white.
Mix well with wooden spoon or dough hook until combined. Let rise 2 to 4 hours in bowl.
Beat the butter, sugar and cocoa for the filling together until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll one into a 10x7" rectangle. Spread with 1/4 of the filling, and sprinkle with 1/4 of the chocolate chips. Roll up into a long tube and press down the seal.
Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, filling and chocolate chips.
Twist two of the pieces around each other, and place into a greased 10 or 11" loaf pan.
Repeat with the remaining two pieces.
Brush with the egg yolk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar if desired.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown.


  1. drooling. *dead* *thud* @ 6 sticks of margarine. LOL I don't blame you @ all for tweaking the recipe! Thanks for sharing. Beautiful photos & spectacular results. I'd like a slice plz. LOL

  2. HOLY CRAP! 6 STICKS OF MARGARINE?! No way! I've never done any bread baking, but "hearing" you rave about this one makes me wanna try. YUM!

  3. I made this this weekend and it turned out great. Instead of baking it as a loaf, I sliced the dough after I twisted it and hen arranged it in a bunt pan. It tasted great and looked gorgeous

  4. Mmm, sounds like chocolate babke buns! Glad you liked it!