Happy Easter and hello to you all foodie folk of the bloggersphere! I’m back from another long break.
Sorry, I have been awol for the longest time and have missed a lot of news here on the bloggersphere, I will catch up; promise!
Last two months have been tough in the lives of my family, we lost our dad; it was very sudden and unexpected. It is something I’m still struggling to fully come to terms with; we were best mates, and now it feels as if there is a big hole in my heart from the enormity of this loss. As a result of my darling papas’ passing away ( I love him dearly and miss him endlessly), and other difficulties in my personal life, I have been feeling melancholic and lost.
They say; time is the best healer – and so I wait for the melancholy to cut her visit short and for my cheery, energetic old self to be back. For now, I’m going to do my best and try to continue doing things I love the most and of course cooking is one of them.
I have chosen to return with something sweet and isn’t Easter the best time for a sweet chocolatey comeback. This chocolate babka is sensationally good. Buttery, chocolatey and deliciously nutty.
If you are on a diet, then stir clear! This babka is anything but diet food. Filled with all things good; butter (a lot of butter), chocolate and more butter, sugar, nuts and of course a very tasty yeasty dough. It is an ultimate comfort food, something that can be comfortably eaten for breakfast, with afternoon tea or a sneaky midnight treat. I love sneaky midnight treats.
My very speedy hands at work. I think photographer was struggling to keep up with the lightning speed of those tricky hands, hence the blury images, but I take full responcibility for all of the blur!
For the dough
500g plain flour (plus extra flour for dusting)
1 cup full cream milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 sachet active dry yeast
1tsp vanilla extract
For the filling
180g dark chocolate
150g hazelnut meal
For the topping
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup sugar
80g cold butter, cubed
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pour milk into a heatproof bowl and microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds on high. Add butter and stir to melt. Whisk in the egg, vanilla and yeast. Stir well to make sure yeast has fully dissolved.
- Sieve flour into a large bowl, mix in the sugar and make a well, then pour the milk mixture in and knead into a soft dough (if the dough appears to be too tacky add little bit more flour, but be careful to not make the dough too hard). Form the dough into a ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and set in a warm place to rise (1 hour).
- In the meantime, while waiting for the dough to rise, prepare the filling and topping. Break the chocolate into pieces and place into a heatproof bowl along with the butter. Melt in a microwave (microwave for 30 seconds, stir, then return to the microwave for another 20-30 seconds. Stir until the butter and chocolate have melted), or alternatively over a double boiler (place the bowl over a gently simmering pot of water making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water, stir until the butter and chocolate have melted). Set melted butter and chocolate aside to cool.
To make the topping, rub butter flour and sugar together until crumb like. Add vannilla extract and mix well. Refrigerate until needed.
- Grease and line two 1 kg loaf tins. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, keeping one half covered.
Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 40cm x 30cm rectangle. Trim the edges to help achieve an even rectangle. Use a palette knife or a back of a spoon to spread half of the chocolate mixture over the dough, leaving a 2 cm border all around. Evenly sprinkle half of the hazelnut meal over the chocolate.
- Brush the long end furthest away from you with water. Roll the rectangle into a roll and press to seal the wet end to the roll. Using your hands even the roll out and place seam side down. Using a sharp knife trim both ends, then cut the roll lengthways into two. With the cut sides facing up create a simple plait by gently placing one half over the other and so on. Pinch the ends together and carefully move the babka into a prepared tin, cover with a damp towel and leave to rise 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Repeat with the other half or if you wish to make it simpler see steps 6-7.
- On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out into a 50cm x 40cm rectangle. Use a palette knife or a back of a spoon to spread half of the chocolate mixture over the dough, leaving a 2 cm border all around. Evenly sprinkle half of the hazelnut meal over the chocolate.
- Brush the long end furthest away from you with water. Roll the rectangle into a roll and press to seal the wet end to the roll. Using your hands even the roll out and place seam side down. Twist the roll 5-6 turns, bend in half and create a simple plait by placing one half over the other and so on. Tuck the loose ends under and gently place into prepared loaf tin. Cover and leave to rise 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 180C.
Brush the babkas with the egg wash or milk, generously sprinkle the topping over the tops. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside for 5 minutes before removing from tins. Place on a cooling rack to cool. Enjoy warm or cold. We couldn’t wait too long, the aromas of chocolate and dough were too seducing.