Babka with a chocolate mousse filling

Babka with a chocolate mousse filling

After seeing so many beautiful creative babkas for the community bake, I decided to give it a try. I read through Melissa Clark’s recipe (at the end of this post) and decided maybe I can try 1 loaf with a chocolate mousse filling – this mousse is good on its own too, I smother each slice of the babka with more of this!

Dough
30g milk
30g orange juice
2 large eggs
150g all purpose flour
100g Kamut flour
30g sugar
4g salt
3g instant yeast
1/2 tsp orange zest
60g unsalted butter

Egg wash
1 large egg
1 tbsp milk
A pinch of salt

Chocolate and yogurt mousse
(adapted)

100g chopped dark chocolate
5g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp espresso powder
25g milk
25g unsalted butter
25g sugar
A pinch of salt
50g Greek yogurt
40g walnuts, chopped fine

Orange syrup
40g caster sugar
50g orange juice

Preparing the dough:
Day 1: Mix milk, juice, eggs, sugar, orange zest and instant yeast. Then, add in flours and salt and mix until the dough begins to form and no dry bits can be seen. Gather the dough into a ball, cover the bowl and let it rest for 20 minutes.

Add in blobs of butter one by one, to the dough. Pinch and fold until each blob (ha!) of butter is absorbed before adding the next one. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (this took me about 12 minutes, to get a lovely windowpane)

Stretch and fold the dough into a ball, place in a greased bowl, cover and let it rest at room temperature (about 25-26°C) for 1 hour. Then, gently deflate the dough, stretch and fold it once again into a ball. Flatten and shape it into a disc or square. Wrap in 2-3 layers of clingfilm and place it in an airtight container or resealable bag. Freeze the dough for 1 hour before transferring to the refrigerator for at least 4 hours to overnight (from past experience of chilling wrapped doughs in resealable bags, directly in the fridge they grew so fat they got stuck between racks! These days I freeze, then chill)

Filling (prepare the same day as dough or 1 hour before assembly):
Chop chocolate into smaller pieces. In a saucepan, whisk together cocoa powder, espresso powder, milk, butter, sugar and salt over medium low heat. Continue whisking until all the butter is melted and the mixture is close to boiling (steam appears). Reduce heat to a simmer and sprinkle in chopped chocolate. Leave the chocolate pieces untouched in the hot milk mixture for 1 minute. Then, slowly stir with a spatula until the chocolate melts into the milk.

Remove from heat and continue stirring until the chocolate mixture is smooth and not grainy. Fold in chopped walnuts.

In a medium bowl, stir the yogurt until smooth. Fold in chocolate mixture until fully incorporated and creamy.

Assembling the babka:
Day 2 (or 4 hours of chilling later): Line a loaf pan on all sides with parchment paper with an overhang on each longer side. I fold the ends together so the dough only comes in contact with parchment paper on all sides.
 
Place the chilled dough onto a lightly floured counter. Press the dough out into a rough rectangle. Then, with a rolling pin, begin to roll the dough into a rectangle about 40cm x 30cm (16 x 12″), turning it 90° to roll each side.

Spread a thin layer of chocolate filling all over the dough leaving one longer edge about 2″ space free of filling (as this mousse is a thinner than usual babka filling). Begin to roll the dough from the opposite side to the free edge. Roll the dough snug (not too tight that the dough tears) into a log. Then, let the log rest seam-side down for about 5 to 10 minutes for the edge to seal.

Then, slice the rolled log/dough in two lengthwise with a knife or bench scraper. With the exposed dough-filling facing up, twist the dough halves together, by crossing each other, with the exposed filling facing up at each cross. Gently tuck the ends under slightly while pushing both ends towards the middle, compacting the twists and the dough to fit the prepared loaf pan. Transfer the shaped babka into the loaf pan, cover and let it rise at room temperature until puffy (not quite doubled) and about 2cm (nearly 1″) from the rim of the pan, about 1 to 2 hours.

Toward the last 30 minutes of the proof, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

Bake:
Once the babka is ready for the oven, brush the tops lightly with egg wash (lightly beat 1 egg with milk and salt). Bake at 180°C (350°F) for 40 to 50 minutes until the tops are golden brown, carefully tenting halfway should it brown too quickly. The internal temperature of the babka should reach at least 90°C (190°F).

While the babka is baking, prepare the syrup by heating orange juice with sugar over medium heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, let the mixture begin to boil. Reduce the temperature to a simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let the syrup cool slightly before use.

Let the loaf pan cool for about 5 minutes before removing the babka from the pan with the parchment paper overhang. Brush the babka all over once removed from the pan and parchment paper. Let it cool completely before slicing.

Note: I baked my babka till 48 minutes before checking the internal temperature – entirely my fault for forgetting. The internal temperature was already 97°C. While I find this recipe a lil dry compared to others I’ve made before, the mousse made it all worthwhile. 🙂

Melissa Clark’s recipe from https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018045-chocolate-babka or https://www.seattletimes.com/life/food-drink/a-better-chocolate-babka/

DOUGH
1/2 cup/118ml whole milk
7g (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
67g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar, plus a pinch
531g (4 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour, more as needed
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated lemon zest (optional)
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
140g (10 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing bowls and pans

FUDGE FILLING:
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
174g (3/4cup/177ml) heavy cream or half-and-half
Pinch of  salt
170g (6 ounces) extra bittersweet chocolate, preferably between 66 and 74 percent cocoa, coarsely chopped
112g (8 tbsp/1 stick) unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
2 teaspoons/10ml vanilla extract

CHOCOLATE STREUSEL:
60g (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
45g (3 tbsp) granulated sugar
11g (1 1/2 tbsp) cocoa powder
½ tsp salt
64g (4 1/2 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
60g (1/3 cup) mini semisweet chocolate chips

SYRUP:
135 grams granulated sugar
158g water

1. Prepare the dough: In a small saucepan or a bowl in the microwave, warm the milk until it’s lukewarm but not hot (about 43°C/110°F). Add yeast and a pinch of sugar and let sit for five to 10 minutes, until slightly foamy.

2. In an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, or in a food processor, mix together flour, 1/3 cup sugar, the salt, the vanilla, the lemon zest (if using) and the nutmeg. (If you don’t have a mixer or processor, use a large bowl and a wooden spoon.) Beat or process in the yeast mixture and eggs until the dough comes together in a soft mass, about two minutes. If the dough sticks to the side of the bowl and doesn’t come together, add a tablespoon more flour at a time until it does, beating very well in between additions.

3. Add half the butter and beat or pulse until the dough is smooth and elastic, three to five minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Beat in the rest of the butter and continue to beat or pulse until the dough is smooth and stretchy, another five to seven minutes. Again, if the dough sticks to the sides of the bowl, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

4. Butter a clean bowl, form the dough into a ball and roll it around in the bowl so all sides are buttered. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place (inside of a turned-off oven with the oven light on is good) until it puffs and rises, about one to two hours. It may not double in bulk but it should rise.

5. Press the dough down with your hands, re-cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight (or, in a pinch, for at least four hours, but the flavor won’t be as developed).

6. Prepare the filling: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, cream and salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar completely dissolves, about five minutes. Scrape mixture into a bowl. Stir in chocolate, butter and vanilla until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. Filling can be made up to a week ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge. Let come to room temperature before using.

7. Prepare the streusel: In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Stir in melted butter until it is evenly distributed and forms large, moist crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips. Streusel can be prepared up to three days ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge.

8. Prepare the syrup: In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 2/3 cup water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then simmer for two minutes, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.

9. Butter two 9-inch loaf pans, then line with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches of paper hanging over on the sides to use as handles later.

10. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide in half. On a floured surface, roll one piece into a 9-by-17-inch rectangle. Spread with half the filling (there’s no need to leave a border). Starting with a long side, roll into a tight coil. Transfer the coil onto a dish towel or piece of plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes. Repeat with the other piece of dough.

11. Slice one of the dough coils in half lengthwise to expose the filling. Twist the halves together as if you were braiding them, then fold the braid in half so it’s about 9 inches long. Place into a prepared pan, letting it curl around itself if it’s a little too long for the pan. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours, until puffy (it won’t quite double). Alternatively, you can cover the pans with plastic wrap and let them rise in the refrigerator overnight; bring them back to room temperature for an hour before baking.

12. When you’re ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Use your fingers to clump streusel together and scatter all over the tops of the cakes. Transfer to oven and bake until a tester goes into the cakes without any rubbery resistance and comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. The cakes will also sound hollow if you unmold them and tap on the bottom. An instant-read thermometer will read between 85 and 99°C (185 and 210°F).

13. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, use a skewer or paring knife to pierce them all over going all the way to the bottom of the cakes, and then pour the syrup on top of the cakes, making sure to use half the syrup for each cake.

14. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.