Babka with Chocolate and Jam (high dough hydration)
Soft and fluffy bread filled with melted chocolate and sharp blackcurrant preserves (or any favourite jam).
This time we are experimenting with higher dough hydration and kneading technique similar to Polish Drozdzowka. We wanted to achieve two goals - babka which is full of flavour but stays fresh and soft for longer. Higher dough hydration and frequent dough de-gasing gave us just that. We are using half the sugar amount and half the butter amount to the regular Babka dough - but thanks to slow butter incorporation and the other two factors babka is plump, fluffy and full of flavour.
There is always a drawback though! When plating, this dough is slightly more tricky and requires gentle handling. The swirls are not that visible. What you get though is - beautiful and airy Babka with fluffy texture, Babka which keeps fresh for about 3 days.
Babka with Chocolate and Jam (high dough hydration) Recipe
Yield: 12 servings
Active time: 30min prep + 1hr 45min (1st rest) + 15 min prep + 30min (2nd rest) + 30-40min baking.
Total time: 3hr 30min
Tin: 23 or 26cm round form (ring cake form or tube pans, this babka bakes well in angel or chiffon food cake pan) or two 10x20cm (2lb) loaf tins
For yeast proofing:
- 1/2 cup (125ml) full-fat milk
- 1/2 cup (125ml) water
- 3 Tablespoons (45g) sugar
- 1 Tablespoon (10g) all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons (6g) active dry yeast or 20g active bulk dry yeast
For the dough:
- 3 and 1/2 cup (525g) all-purpose flour + extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 egg yolk (leave egg white for the egg wash), room temperature
- 1/5 cup (50ml) full-fat milk, warm (38C)
- 1/5 cup (50ml) water, warm (38C)
- 50g butter, softened and cut into 1cm dice
- 400g Nutella or other chocolate spread, room temperature
- 200g blackcurrant or raspberry preserves
- egg white (leftover) mixed with 1 Tablespoon milk
- 50g pearl sugar
*cup = 250ml cup
1. Proof the yeast: In a small pot mix milk, water, flour and sugar. Warm up the mixture to 38C making sure sugar is fully dissolved. Add yeast to the mixture and stir briefly. Cover with cling film or dry kitchen towel and move to the warm place. After 15 minutes you should see the mixture foaming/bubbling up. If you don’t, repeat the step. In a meantime, in a separate pot warm up 2/5 cup (100ml) water mixed with milk.
2. Prepare the dough: Sift flour with cardamom (if using) into your main mixing bowl. Add salt, 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, proofed yeast and milk mixed with water (from Step 1). Start kneading. If you are kneading by hand - kneading here is simply patting the dough, remembering to rotate the bowl every so often to aerate the dough from every side. If you knead using stand mixer - use dough hook attachment and knead on low speed for 5-7 minutes (we recommend mixing by hand at first - 1 minute - to make sure there is no flour residue at the bottom). After that time all ingredients should be well mixed in. Now, start adding soft butter in small portions (1cm squares, 1 or 2 squares at a time), kneading still on low (gently patting the dough) until all butter is fully incorporated - this will take 6-8 minutes. You know the dough is ready when it’s shiny, plump and easily pulls away from your hand. It may still be slightly sticky which is OK (don’t add more flour). Once ready, transfer to bowl lightly brushed with butter or oil, cover tightly with cling film or dry kitchen towel and leave in warm place. Rest phase will take approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes and you will stretch and fold the dough 3 times in the first hour. 20 minutes after mixing - stretch and fold the dough few times (keep it brief - 30 second job), then cover and move to warm place for 20 minutes- then stretch&fold again, let rest for 20 minutes (covered) and stretch&fold last time again. After 3x stretch&fold, cover the dough, move to warm place and let rest for 45 minutes. It should at least double in size during that time.
3. Shape babka: When the dough doubles in size, knead gently for few seconds. Transfer the dough onto floured work surface and roll out into rectangle shape, 0.5-1cm thick. You may use additional 1 Tbsp of flour for dusting (surface, dough or rolling pin). Spread Nutella on top of the rectangle, fold 1/3 rd part on top (see pictures) and spread that part with jam. Close the envelop with the remaining part. Close off the edges. Cut the rectangle into 3 and plate it. The dough is fairly high in hydration so this may take a bit longer. Gently place the plated Babka into the form, cover with dry kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes. In a meantime preheat the oven to 180C. Just before baking brush with egg wash (egg white mixed with milk) and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
4. Bake at 180C for 20 minutes then lower the temperature to 165C and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Check with the skewer if fully baked through.
1. Before baking you may find this post on Baking with Yeast helpful.
2. Cardamom - If you are using cardamom pods - grind small amount of flour with cardamom seeds until fine powder is achieved (you can use grinder, blender or food processor).
3. Jam - the thicker the better.
4. Chocolate spread - leave at room temperature for at least 2 hours before using for baking.
5. Storage - cover loosely with dry kitchen towel or foil.
6. Bread and butter pudding - If, by any chance, you have some babka left over - use in bread and butter pudding. Whisk 3 large eggs with 1 cup (250ml) double cream, 2 cups milk (500ml), 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/5 teaspoon garam masala (optional), 1 Tablespoon lemon juice. Cut Babka into slices, place in deep baking dish and pour the mixture on top (the mixture will suffice for 1/3rd babka from this recipe). Cover the dish with cling foil and refrigerate for 2 hours (or leave overnight - no need to spread additional butter on babka or add additional sugar to spiced milk mixture). When ready, bake at 180C for 30 minutes. The mix of spices together with melted chocolate and preserves creates great flavour combination for bread and butter pudding.