How you doin’? I’m great after a weekend of binge-watching Seinfield. What else are you going to do when there aren’t many places to go?
One of my favorites episodes of Seinfeld is when Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer are invited to a dinner party. As usual Elaine wants to bring a gift cake and a bottle of wine to the party. Jerry and Elaine stop at Royal Bakery to purchase a chocolate babka. Jerry and Elaine forget to take a number at the counter. As a result, others get ahead of them in line and purchase the last chocolate babka. Jerry and Elaine eventually resort to purchasing a cinnamon babka without chocolate considered, "a much lesser babka." If all that wasn’t bad enough, Jerry finds that the babka has a hair on it, and they are forced to wait in line again to purchase a new cake.
According to Jerry, a chocolate babka is the “king of babkas.” It is a combination of gooey chocolate and soft, pillow-y sweet dough. This recipe produces an especially large, no, a giant babka that makes a real table statement. Cut the babka into large wedges, serve warm and enjoy.
This recipe takes a lot of time. Make sure the people you share your babka with are well worth it.
Total time: 4 hours 20 minutes
Prep time: 45 minutes
Proof time: 2 hours + 30 minutes
Bake time: 40 to 45 minutes
Yield: 10-12 servings
For the sweet dough
1 cup whole milk
1/4-ounce active dry yeast (1 package is about 2-1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
2 tablespoon vegetable oil, for the bowls
For the chocolate filling
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (about 3 cups)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
For the egg wash
1 large whole egg
1 tablespoon water
For the white glaze
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
To make the dough
Chef’s Historical Note: New York-style babka is associated with the Eastern European Jewish traditions. This babka is usually made from a doubled and twisted length of yeast dough and can typically bake in a high loaf pan or a fluted pan. Some have fruit fillings, but nothing is better than a sweet babka dough which contains chocolate and/or cinnamon. You may have seen this style babka topped with streusel or crumb topping in your local Jewish or Russian bakery.
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