Via Smitten Kitchen, from Martha Stewart
Difficulty Rating: 7 out of 10 (For me, personally, I'd rank this closer to 8 or 9, being a first-timer and having to make the dough twice, but I'm pretty sure my own miscounting caused a lot of my trouble, so we'll keep it at 7.)
- 1 1/2 C. warm milk, 110 degrees
- 2 (1/4 oz. each) packages active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 C. plus a pinch of sugar
- 3 whole large eggs, room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 6 C. all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 3/4 C. (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and loaf pans
- 2 1/4 lbs. semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
- Streusel topping (below)
Making the streusel topping:
- 1 2/3 C. powdered sugar
- 1 1/3 C. all-purpose flour
- 12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour and butter. Using a fork, stir until fully combined with clumps ranging in size from crumbs to 1 inch. (This made more than I ended up using. Do not feel like you have to use a third on each loaf. Just use what looks good to you.) Set aside.
Making the dough:
(I recommend heating your oven to 200 degrees and then turning it off once it reaches the preheated temperature. This should allow it to cool back down some while you prepare the dough, leaving you with a warm place to let your dough rise once you reach that step.)
Warm milk in a small saucepan, using a thermometer to achieve the desired temperature. Remove from heat, then sprinkle yeast and a pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5-10 minutes. (Mine took longer than 5, so I’m upping the range here.)
In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 C. sugar, 2 eggs and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg/yeast mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 20-30 seconds, scraping the sides with a spatula as needed..
Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter (cut into pieces), and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes. (Ours was ready in about 8, so keep an eye on it.)
Butter a large glass bowl. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Then place dough in bowl and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place (hey, that warmed oven looks like a good spot!) to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Making the filling:
While the dough rises, you’ll have plenty of time to chop your chocolate. After cutting the chocolate into manageable chunks, you can use a food processor to speed up the rest of the process.
Place chocolate, remaining 1 C. sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks of butter until well combined; set filling aside. (Avoid the temptation to shove your face into the bowl.)
Building the babka:
Generously butter three 9-by-5-inch loaf pans and line them with parchment paper.
Beat remaining egg with 1 Tbsp. cream; set egg wash aside.
Get your bowl of dough and punch back the dough, then transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick. (I have no earthly idea how to measure or eyeball this. I just rolled the approximate 16 inches and left it at that.)
Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border.
Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns.
Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal.
Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of streusel topping over each loaf (or however much looks good to you). Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes. (For me, the warm place at this point was the top of the oven as it preheated again.)
Note: Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until tops are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve.
Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month. If freezing any loaves, complete the recipe all the way until, of course, the step where you bake them. (Meaning, go ahead and throw on the topping and put in a warm place for 30 minutes.) When you're ready to bake them, remove from freezer, let stand at room temperature for 5 hours, then bake.