Babka. Hands down my favorite cake in NYC.
Our relationship has always been a close one. We go way back. Growing up in a Jewish family and visiting Israel every summer throughout childhood, I’ve tried quite a few versions.
Babka is a base of yeast dough rolled and braided with chocolate. And in the case of Breads Bakery, Nutella and bittersweet chocolate. Why don’t we see this more often, I ask?! Simply BAFFLED because this is the Best. Idea. EVER.
Since discovering this babka a year ago, I’ve made a trip to the bakery almost every week. They have this deal: two babka for $20. Oh, the friends I’ve made sharing my weekly second! To me, this deal should be called the “make a pal” deal. Because even if they don’t know it yet, everyone loves babka. Babka unites. Particularly this babka. Babka. Okay, I’m done.
So, wouldn’t you know it, Breads invited me into their kitchen to learn the secrets behind their famous babka. I hope you enjoy the video (cuz it was lots of fun to make!) and don’t forget to check out the full recipe at the bottom of this post – bookmark that shit.
Also, you should definitely head to Breads. There are several dishes beyond the babka that I highly recommend: the cheese sticks, salad with tahini, challah (INCREDIBLE), shakshuka focaccia, rugelach, bourekas, basically EVERYTHING. Don’t miss out on what is easily my favorite bakery in NYC! Cheers!Breads Bakery Chocolate Babka
Makes 4 babkas
For the dough:
170 g (3/4 cup) whole milk
30 g fresh yeast
325 g (2 1/4 cups) bread flour, sifted
325 g (2 1/4 cups) pastry flour, sifted
2 large eggs, room temperature
110g (1/2 cup) granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
120 g (8 1/2 tblsp) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
For the chocolate filling:
450 g Nutella
200 g (1 1/3 cups) bittersweet chocolate chips
For the sugar syrup:
160 g (3/4 cup) granulated white sugar
120 g (1/2 cup) water
- Pour the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Break up the yeast into the milk and dissolve it with a whisk or using your fingertips. Dump the flour over the milk, then the eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt and half the butter. Begin mixing at the lowest speed. After 2 minutes, increase the speed to medium and continue mixing for another 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl so everything combines. Note: the dough won’t be smooth.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the rest of the butter to the mix, cube by cube. Only add another cube once the previous one melts into the dough. This should take 2 to 3 minutes. Once all of the butter is mixed in, turn off the mixer – the dough should be smooth and flexible.
- Lightly flour a work surface with bread flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Knead the dough into a smooth ball.
- Form the dough into a rectangle (measuring about 10″ x 6″) and place on a tray. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to 12 hours).
- Lightly grease four 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pans with nonstick baking spray. Sprinkle some bread flour over your work surface and transfer the dough to the floured surface. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll the dough into a rectangle measuring no smaller than 36″ x 9″ (up to 40″ x 12″). If the dough shrinks back as you roll it out, cover it with a towel or plastic wrap for 5 minutes to let it rest and then continue rolling again.
- Using an offset spatula, spread the Nutella evenly out to all edges of the dough. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the Nutella evenly.
- Place the dough with the long 36″ side closest to you. Starting from the lower left corner of the dough, use your fingertips to roll it to the right side into as tight a roulade as possible. The tighter the roulade is rolled, the more layers of chocolate the babka will have. Once you’re done, gently pull the ends of the roulade so that it reaches about 48″–50″ in length. Using a serrated knife, cut the roulade in half along its long side. Then cut the dough crosswise into 4 even pieces. You should now have 8 roulade halves in 4 pairs of 2. Place a piece cut-side up. Place a second piece cut-side up overtop and perpendicular to the first, so as to make an X with the two pieces. Twist the two halves, gently pulling the dough to wrap the two pieces around each other. This is what gives the babka its signature braids. Transfer the babka to one of the loaf pans and repeat this process with the remaining 6 roulade halves to make 4 babkas total.
- Cover the babkas with a towel or place in a clean plastic bag to cover completely. Set in a warm place until they double in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. In the meantime, make the sugar syrup.
- Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. The sugar should completely dissolve. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350o. Bake the babkas for 25 minutes in a convection oven or 30 minutes in a regular oven. Once they’re done baking, the babkas will be golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and immediately brush generously with the sugar syrup. You should still have about a quarter of the syrup leftover after brushing the babkas. You can refrigerate the syrup for up to a week and reserve it for later use.
- Let the babkas cool completely at room temperature before turning them out from their loaf pans.
By: Renny Grinshpan & Eden Grinshpan