Chocolate Babka Bread (Sourdough version)

Chocolate Babka Bread (Sourdough version)

This recipe is something that I just HAD to share, because I absolutely love Chocolate Babka bread, and find myself making this every year around Christmas time. Give it another year or two and it will officially be a “Christmas tradition” for our family. Believe me – I won’t be complaining! 

Babka is a Jewish bread, and is believed to have originated in Jewish communities in Poland & Ukraine. It’s similar to a brioche style monkey bread, with lightly sweetened and perfectly fluffy dough. Layered in it’s beautiful folds is a dark chocolate filling (or sometimes cinnamon-sugar) which gives it a true dessert-for-breakfast character! It’s perfect for Christmas morning or special occasion breakfast, and just as perfect for an after-dinner dessert. 

The other thing I love about Babka bread is how impressive it looks – even though it’s not hard at all to make or assemble! It’s definitely a show-stopper in terms of appearance. 

HOW TO ASSEMBLE BABKA BREAD 

After the first rise, take the dough out of the bowl and roll it out into a rectangular shape onto a lightly floured surface, somewhere between ¼ inch and ½ inch thickness.

Add the filling, spreading it evenly around the entire surface except for about ½ inch around the edges. Roll into a log, using the longer side as the starting point (see image below). 

Once rolled, cut the dough in half lengthwise (see the image below as an example). Lay the two halves next to one another with the chocolate layers facing upwards, and twist together. Keep the chocolate layers facing upwards until both halves are completely twisted together, then wrap the layers into a wreath shape. 

***If you do not wish to make a wreath shape, simply fold each end under and place the bread into a well-oiled 9” x 11” bread loaf pan. 

IS BABKA NORMALLY MADE WITH SOURDOUGH? 

The short answer is no, not traditionally. But why not?! 

This recipe uses an active sourdough starter and has a brief fermentation period in the refrigerator, which gives the dough itself the slightest hint of tanginess which I think complements the sweetness of the bread marvelously! But this is not a purist sourdough babka, if you will. In order to keep the out-of-refrigerator rise time faster than traditional sourdough bread, I add one teaspoon of yeast to help with the rising process. 

The result is a beautiful, sweet and ever-so-slightly tangy wreath of Babka goodness. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe! 

Prep Time: 45 MIN
Fermentation Time: 6-8 HR
Cook Time: 45 MIN
Total Time: 9 HR 30 MIN

INGREDIENTS: 

For the dough: 

  • 1/4 cup warm milk 
  • 1/2 cup active sourdough starter, 100% hydration 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1 Tsp active yeast (to help rise quicker)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter 
  • 3 3/4 cups flour 
  • 1 Tsp salt 
  • 3 eggs 

For the Filling: 

  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips 
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar 
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder

Egg Wash: 

  • 1 egg, whisked

For the Top:

  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar

INSTRUCTIONS: 

Mix together the sourdough starter, warm milk, and yeast. Mix together, and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Then add the egg, butter and sugar and mix well. Add the remaining dry ingredients until just mixed together. The dough should be slightly sticky but still pulling away from the edges of the bowl. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. After resting, knead by hand or in an electric mixer for 5-7 minutes. Cover and let rise for 1 1/2 hours. 

Allow the bread to continue fermentation in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours. The dough should be 1.5x the size of starting or double by the end.

Mix together the ingredients for the filling and set aside.  

Let the dough come to room temp (or speed up the process by placing the dough in the oven for 3-4 minutes at 200 degrees Fahrenheit).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Flour your working surface and roll out the dough to a rectangle, between ¼ inch and ½ inch thick. 

Spread the filling onto the rolled out dough, covering all but a half inch on all sides. Roll the dough with the filling into a log. Take a knife and cut down the middle of the log. With the layered sides facing up, twist the two dough pieces together to form a braid, and shape into a wreath, tucking the end pieces under. 

Brush with an egg wash and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes, or until golden brown. 

Let cool, and dust with powdered sugar for final topping. Serve & enjoy!

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