Chocolate Babka

yields 1 small braided loaves or an 8 inch loaf Conversion Chart Print

Ingredients

teaspoons of instant yeast
cup of sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
¾ cup of water
¼ cup of chickpea or gram flour or besan
cup of olive oil
¾ teaspoon of salt
cups of all purpose flour
Chocolate Spread
¼ cup of powdered or icing sugar
cup of cocoa powder
½ cup of ganache
Sugar Syrup
¼ cup of sugar
¼ cup of milk
¼ teaspoon of cinnamon powder, extra for sprinkling (optional)
¼ teaspoon of instant coffee powder (optional)
chocolate chips

Preparation

1. In a large bowl, stir together yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and ½ cup of water. Set aside for 10 minutes for yeast to proof. In a separate bowl, mix gram flour and remaining water using a whisk. Set aside for it to thicken slightly.
2. Slowly whisk oil into the yeast mixture, followed by chickpea (gram flour) mixture. Continue whisking while adding the ingredients. Now add remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add all purpose flour until the dough starts to come together but is still soft. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for another 10 minutes till smooth. You can use a hand or stand mixer on medium speed as well for this. The dough should feel soft and not sticky. You may need to add extra flour or water to get right texture.
3. In a well greased bowl, place the dough and allow it the first rise for 1 hour in a warm place or overnight in refrigerator. Keep the bowl covered. Punch down the dough and form smooth ball again. Allow it to rise a second time for 30 minutes.
4. White the dough is rising, you can make the chocolate spread, by mixing the ganache, powdered sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon powder in a bowl. Set aside.
5. Gently transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Use a dough scraper and do not rip the dough. Using your hands, shape it into roughly a rectangle. Then with a rolling pin, roll the dough thin, maintaining the rectangular shape. Ideally the longer sides should be facing you. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel or cling film, allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Spread prepared chocolate paste on the rolled dough, you can sprinkle powdered cinnamon & chocolate chips for extra kick, leaving a ¾ inch/2 cm border all around..
6. Now gently with the help of dough scraper, roll the dough from the longer side toward you as tight as possible for firmer shaped rolls. You may need to use both your hands and proceed slowly. Pinch the seams to seal it. Turn over the roll so that the seam is facing down. You will be left with a long roll. At this stage I refrigerated the rolled dough overnight as I wanted the sliced braid to be more shapely.
7. Use the dough scraper to gently cut the roll in half lengthwise, from one end to the other into two long even halves. You would be able to see filling along the length of both halves. With the cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of each half, then lift the right half over the left half. Repeat this process, to create a simple two-pronged plait. Gently squeeze together the other ends. Carefully lift the cake into a loaf pan. If there are gaps in the pan, no need to worry since the cake will rise and will eventually look fine. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap or a wet tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours.
8. Pre-heat the oven 180°C. Reduce the temperature to 165°C and bake the loaf for 35 minutes or till the cake is nicely brown and skewer inserted comes out clean.
9. While the cake is cbaking, make the sugar syrup by boiling sugar, milk, cinnamon powder and coffee powder together for 1-2 minutes till sugar dissolves and all ingredients form a uniform mix. Set aside to cool.
10. As soon as the cake is baked, pour and brush the syrup onto the cake. It may seem a lot but it will be absorbed fully by the cake. Let the cake cool till just slightly warm to touch. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

Recipe loosely adapted from here and some help in instructions from here.

The success of this cake lies in using dough scraper and not ripping the dough for anything.

Babka will stay fresh for 24 hours in an airtight container at room temperature. Don’t place in the fridge.

Babka freezes well for up to 2 months. To thaw, leave on counter or overnight in the fridge.

It’s ok to leave the dough for rising at room temperature, however from my experience of challah and this babka, I highly recommend letting it rise in refrigerator overnight, it becomes far easier to work with.

You can use a simple ganache or a ready-made hazelnut filling like nutella. It helps make things simpler.

The syrup gives an amazing shine to the cake, also it lends that perfect softness to it. It even helps in keeping the cake fresh longer.

I love the chocolate filling of babka, so I added more flavour in it with chocolate chips and cinnamon, you can keep it simple or play more with filling options.