Suzanne’s Babka Recipe
Jewish Baking Workshop with Suzanne Hesselson
Congregation Kol Ami, 1008 Water Street, Elmira, NY 14905
December 4, 2016
1-tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast
1/4-cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
8 tablespoons (1stick) or 1/4-pound, unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4-cup warm milk (105-115 degrees)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
About 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing dough
Chocolate filling (will follow)
Streusel topping (will follow)
- Pour the warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar over the surface of the water. Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature, until foamy, about 10 minutes.
- In a large work bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, remaining sugar, salt, vanilla, milk, eggs and 1 cup of the flour. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time until soft dough is formed.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and silky, about 5 minutes. Be certain the dough remains soft. If kneading by machine, switch from paddle to the dough hook and knead for 4-5 minutes, or until dough is smooth and springy and springs back when pressed. If desired, transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead briefly by hand.
- Place the dough in a bowl greased with oil. Turn once to grease the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm area until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours.
- Meanwhile prepare the filling.
- Gently deflate the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Generously, grease an 8×10 kugelhopf mold, tube pan or 2- 9×5 loaf pans. Roll or pat the dough into a 10×12 rectangle, and brush with melted butter. Spread with filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around the edges. Starting from short end, roll the dough up jellyroll fashion to form a loaf. Pinch the seams to completely seal. Holding one end of the roll, twist dough about 6 or 8 times to make a rope. Form it into a flat coil and place in your pan. The pan should be no more than two-third full. Pinch ends together and pat the dough to lie evenly in the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until even with the top of the pan, about 45 minutes.
- Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush with melted butter and spread cinnamon streusel on top of dough. Place the pan on a rack in center of oven and bake 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes in the pan, and remove loaves to a cooling rack. Cool completely; let stand 4 hours to overnight, wrapped in plastic, before slicing.
Hint: Use an instant read thermometer, poking the loaf in the side or bottom. 180 degrees, means it is baked through and done. This is true for any bread or baked yeast dough.
Chocolate Filling for Babka
3/4-cup brown sugar
1/2-cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened powdered cocoa
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
4-tablespoons (1/2 stick), unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
1-cup chocolate chips (mini chips work really well)
Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa and cinnamon. Cut in the butter by 2 knives, pastry blender or a mixer, until the mixture is crumbly. Then add the chocolate chips. Set aside!
Streusel Crumbs for Babka
10 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2-cup granulated sugar
1/2-cup light brown sugar
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4-cup all–purpose flour
1 1/2- teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed, beat the butter, sugars, salt and vanilla until mixture is thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Add the flour and sprinkle the cinnamon over the top until the mixture forms small crumbs. I find that after you add the flour, continue forming crumbs by hand. The crumbs need to be fine.