I am not a recipe developer, food blogger or photographer, but once in a while I stumble across something so good I must share it, in my own rudimentary fashion. If you don’t know what a chocolate babka is, check out The Dinner Party, Seinfeld episode #77 and think of a sweet, rich, buttery bread with a chocolate cinnamon swirl (see the professional version above – it’s not going to look like that coming from a bread machine, unfortunately, but it will taste similar). This is my quick, simplified version, the swirl based on the crescent rolls my grandmother from Eastern Europe made every week when I was growing up.
Use your favorite basic bread recipe and bread machine (or bread recipe using an oven). I have only tested this recipe with Pamela’s Products Gluten-Free Bread Mix and a Zojirushi bread machine. I add a couple tablespoons of sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon into the mix before starting the machine.
While the dough is going through its preheating and kneading phases, I mix these ingredients with a spoon in a small bowl to make the swirl (you can add, delete, substitute and change proportions to suit your preferences – it’s OK with me):
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup sweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup golden raisins or dried cherries
1/2 cup chocolate chips, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon cinnamon
When the machine stops kneading and is at the very beginning of the rising phase, I open it up (I don’t need to unplug it or stop it, but other machines may be different). I make a trough in the top of the dough with the back of a spoon and dump the gooey swirl in all at once. It goes all over the top of the loaf. Then I gently fold it in with a big spoon or spatula, looping the dough around the swirl in various directions, trying to mix it enough so that it is not too concentrated in any one part of the bread, but not so much that it stops being a swirl. It’s very free form and messy. I try not to get it on the very bottom of the loaf, but leave some showing on top. Then I close the lid and let the machine finish the process of rising and baking.
The bread will smell incredible while it is baking. Have a sweet year! Feel free to share your babka experience below.