Martha generally gets it right

For our family's Easter gathering I was in charge of bringing a dessert. I had a hard time finding something to make because it needed to be able to be made ahead and travel well.
After a lot of searching I found this recipe on MarthaStewart.com for chocolate babka. I guess it's a traditional European Easter bread - and my family is German. There are different versions of babka, and this is a dessert version.

**Don't be scared by the number of steps below, it's not as bad as it looks :-)

Chocolate Babka

Makes 3 loaves of bread
1 1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees
2 packets of active, dry yeast (1/4 oz each)
1 3/4 cups of sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature + 2 large egg yokes, room temperature (5 eggs total)
6 cups all purposes flour
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1" pieces, room temperature
2 1/4 lbs semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
2 1/2 Tbs ground cinnamon
1 tbs heavy cream - I used half & half
Streusel topping (see directions below)
  • Pour warm milk into a small bowl
  • Sprinkle yeast and a pinch of sugar over the milk
  • Let stand until foamy, about 5 min
  • In a bowl, whisk 3/4 cup sugar, 2 whole eggs, and all egg yokes
  • Add egg mixture to yeast mixture. Whisk to combine
  • Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine flour and salt
  • Add egg mixture and beat on low until almost all of the flour is incorporated - about 30 seconds
  • Using a dough hook, in the same bowl, add two sticks of butter and beat until butter is completely incorporated and smooth, about 10 min - dough should be slightly sticky
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface
  • Kneed a couple times until smooth
  • Butter a large bowl and place dough in the bowl
  • Turn and coat
  • Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until it about doubles in size, about 1 hour
  • Place chocolate, remaining sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl
  • Stir to combine
  • Cut in remaining 1.5 sticks of butter until well combined - set a side
  • Generously butter three (3) 9x5x2 3/4" loaf pans
  • Line each pan with parchment
  • Beat remaining egg with 1 Tbs cream
  • Punch back the dough and transfer to a clean surface
  • Let rest for 5 min
  • Cut into 3 equal pieces, keep 2 pieces covered in plastic wrap
  • On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16" square, about 1/8" thick
  • brush edges with egg wash
  • Crumble, 1/3 of chocolate filling evenly over the dough, leave 1/4" boarder
  • Roll dough up tightly
  • Pinch ends together to seal
  • Twist 5 - 6 turns
  • Brush top with egg wash
  • Crumble 2 Tbs of filling over the left half of the roll
  • Fold the right half over the filling
  • Fold the ends under and pinch to seal

  • Twist the roll 2 more times and lift into prepared pan

  • Repeat the last 11 steps with the remaining rolls - to make 2 more identical loafs
  • **If you are making this ahead of time, stop now and cover the loaves in plastic wrap and place in the freezer. You can also make the streusel ahead of time. On the day you want to eat the bread, dethaw the loaves before continuing.
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Brush top of each loaf with egg wash
  • Crumble 1/3 of streusel over each loaf - This seemed like too much for me. I probably used about 1/3 total for all three loafs
  • Loosely cover each loaf with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 20-30 min
  • Bake until golden, about 55 min. Be sure to rotate pan halfway through
  • Lower temp to 325 and bake until a deep golden color, about 15-20 min
  • Remove from oven and transfer to wire racks to cool
Streusel topping  
1 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter.
  • Using a fork, stir until fully combined with clumps ranging in size from crumbs to 1 inch.

This bread was a huge hit. It turned out like a high-class cinnabon bread.

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