Babka with Chocolate or Orange Jam Filling
Chocolate Babka is a Polish origin sweet bread, I was a bit sceptical about the syrup part, but actually it's this which makes the difference, I would even say this is the secret. The sweet bread is soft but, thanks to the syrup, it gets even more so and also tastier. And it's also because the specific way of braiding it allows the syrup to get right in the centre.
Of course, I didn't stop here, I've always wanted to try sweet bread with orange jam and almonds filling. So I made a classic one with chocolate filling and another one with orange jam. Kids adored the chocolate one and mom and dad discovered they were fans of orange jam. Next time I will definitely try the appricot or peach preserves for the filling.
The bits of orange scattered through the dough are like some bombs full of flavour, that's what I really like about it.
Active dry yeast
or 20g fresh yeast
100g for the dough and 100g for the syrup
150g for the dough and 60g for the chocolate filling
orange or appricot/peach and, optionally, almond flakes or other nuts
Step by step
In a small bowl, combine the milk with the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes.
In a larger bowl, place the flour, 100g sugar, 0.5 tsp salt, vanilla, 3 eggs and the yeast and milk mixture.
Stir, using a spoon, until all the ingredients are blended together.
After that, knead by hand adding little by little 150g softened butter.
You can knead dough in the bowl or on the table (no flour!), it's a classic sweet bread dough, a bit stickier and softer. Be patient and don't be scared if it sticks to your hands or to the table. If you add extra flour, the sweet bread won't be that fluffly and tender.
If you have a food processor, attach the dough hook and use it, I actually recommend it, it's a lot easier and quicker.
When smooth and doesn't stick that much any more, use a spatula to transfer dough to a bowl greased with oil.
Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise for 2 hours at room temperature.
After this time, gently press and massage with your hands, cover again with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10-12 hours or overnight.
I usually prepare dough in the evening, I refrigerate overnight and in the morning I shape the sweet bread.
The next day we make the sweet bread, but first we prepare the chocolate filling.
Place 90g chocolate and 60g butter in a skillet over heat to melt.
Notice that this chocolate filling is only for 1 loaf of sweet bread, if you want them both with chocolate filling, double the amounts.
After chocolate and butter have melted, add in 50g powdered sugar, 20g cocoa, 0.5 tsp salt and, optionally, a little cinnamon.
Stir well and let cool for 10-15 minutes, it will be quicker if the chocolate mixture is transfered to a plate.
Then remove the cool dough from the fridge and cut in 2 equal parts.
Roll out each part into a rectangle, a bit longer than the cake pan you are going to use (mine is 24x10cm).
Spread the chocolate mixture on one of the rectangles.
Cut it in half, lenghtwise.
Twist and braid the sweet bread.
And place into a cake pan/loaf tin lined with parchment paper, this is 24x10cm.
As I said, I spread orange jam on the second dough rectangle and I also added almond flakes.
I think appricot/peach jam would be wonderful as well.
I did the same procedure, rolled, cut and twisted, just like the chocolate one.
I let them both rise for 60-90 minutes at room temperature.
After this this time, bake in the preheated oven to 160 degrees C for 50-60 minutes.
5 minutes before the loaves of sweet bread are ready, quicly prepare the syrup:
-mix in a pot 100ml water and 100g sugar, which means about half a glass each, bring to a boil.
Now remove the loaves of sweet bread from the oven and, hot as they are, sprinkle with the syrup.
Don't be afraid, use as much as possible, it inflitrates through the top and goes straight to the centre.
After you sprinkle the syrup, let cool in the tin for 20-30 minutes.
Then carefully pull the parchment paper and lift them out onto a cutting board or a plate.
Let cool completely.
You will notice that the syrup gets thicker on top, it's not as sticky as before and turns into a tasty skin.
Now cut and enjoy the most delicious sweet bread - buttery, fluffy and savory...
The one with the orange jam filling doesn't have the same interesting pattern as the chocolate one, yet it's still very tasty and special. I really recommend trying it.
(2 medium babka)