Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Braided Easter Chocolate Babka

I wanted to embrace my boyfriend's Russian and Ukrainian roots for Easter this year, while being able to use some new recipes from my Ladies Auxiliary Legion Cookbook. Unfortunately by the time I planned a traditional dinner it was already Saturday and I was unaware that traditionally, you're supposed to serve hot cross buns on Good Friday. Oops, I'll get it next year. In browsing my favorite Cookbook, I noticed Babka. Up until now, I had only heard of Babka on that Seinfeld episode, you know, the one with the Babka fiasco with the hair on it. Hoping my Babka wouldn't meet the same fate, I thought I'd give it a try.

I know Chocolate Babka is not traditional but I also wanted to make my Cinnamon Buns and the traditional Cinnamon Raisin Babka was too close in flavor. It's also not traditionally braided but I felt adventurous that day. I decided against using the Babka recipe from the book because the recipe called for fifteen eggs and there are just two of us. I'm not great at math but I doubt my oven is even big enough to bake a bread that requires fifteen eggs. I also wanted to let my trusty bread machine do the work of the dough for me. I found this recipe at Recipe Link and made a few adjustments. The Babka turned out fantastic. I'm so happy to have found such an amazing bread that can be made so many different ways. I'm really excited to try the cheese and lemon variety. I just have to figure out what Farmer's Cheese is first.


2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons milk, warmed slightly
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in the bread machine according to manufacturer's instructions. Set the dough cycle. Once the cycle is complete, remove the dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough in 3 equal sections. Take one piece of dough and flatten out slightly. Sprinkle half of the cocoa mixture (SEE BELOW) in the middle of the dough. Knead the cocoa into the dough until the whole piece is dark brown. Do the same with a
second piece of dough. Roll all of the pieces of dough into about a 1" circumference rope. Place all three pieces vertically and braid the ropes together making sure to pinch the end pieces together at both ends. Place the bread on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover and let rise for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While the dough is rising, prepare the streusel topping by blending ingredients together with a fork until crumbly. When the bread is done rising, brush the entire top surface with the egg wash and then sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the bread. Place the bread in the oven for 30-35 minutes. If the babka begins to brown to quickly, cover the top with foil. Remove the Babka from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Streusel Topping:
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Mix all ingredients together.

Egg Wash:
1 large egg white, beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Chocolate Babka Filling:
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup sugar

Blend unsweetened cocoa and sugar together.

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