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 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)
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.
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.