I’d been gasping at bread like Babka for years before I finally took the plunge to make one of my own. Breads like these are more art than food in my eyes, although it is equally pleasing to eat than it is to look at.
The recipe below makes 2 loaves so I took one into work to see what everyone thought and I don’t think it lasted longer than 15 minutes. The vultures tore it apart, but I’ve had nothing but praise about how amazing it was.
You can call it beginners luck, or perhaps I’ve found my calling, but I’m extremely pleased with how my first one came out. Although somewhat time consuming, with the proving, rolling, filling and shaping, it’s actually so easy and I thoroughly enjoyed the process.
Chocolate Orange is one of the worlds greatest combinations, so it wasn’t exactly a touch decision to make. However, the other options are endless, and I have my next flavour already lined up for spring so watch this space!
Chocolate Orange Babka
Swirls of dark chocolate and lashings of orange syrup making this a babka to remember
- 500 g strong white bread flour I use Homepride
- 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
- 240 ml hot water (not scalding hot)
- 1 tbsp salt
- 50 g caster sugar
- 120 ml canola oil or other neutral oils
- 2 eggs
- zest of 1 orange
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 150 g dark chocolate
- 130 g butter softened
- 50 g icing sugar
- 30 g coco powder
- Juice of an orange
- 70 g caster sugar
Begin by whisking 130 g of the strong white bread flour with the yeast and stir in the hot water until combined. Cover with cling film or a tea towel and leave for approx 45 minutes, until puffy and bubbly.
Once it's ready, add the salt, sugar, oil, eggs, orange zest and vanilla, then stir until well mixed.
Add the remaining flour and fold through until a sticky dough forms. Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface and knead for just a few minutes, until it becomes smooth, then transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover it to prove for one to two hours (until it’s doubled in size).
While it proves, prepare the chocolate filling by melting the chocoalte and butter together slowly in a bowl set over a pan of boiling water. Leave to cool then add the icing sugar and coco powder and stir until smooth.
When the dough has fully proved tip it out of the bowl and punch it down then divide it into two equal parts. Using a rolling pin, roll one half into a rectangle about 11-inches in width by 16-inches in length.
Spread half of the chocolate filling over the top leaving ½-inch border all the way around. Starting from the short end, roll up the dough, then wrap it in parchment paper and transfer it to a baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining dough and filling then transfer loaves to freezer to chill for 15 minutes. Alternatively you could leave in the fridge overnight and return to it the next day.
While it chills, coat two 2lb loaf pans with butter and line each pan with baking paper.
Place one chilled log onto a large cutting board and remove baking paper. Trim last inch off each end then cut the log in half lengthwise and lay them next to each other cut sides up so you can see all the chocolate lines on the inside.
Lift one half over the other and twist each around the other, then transfer the twist as best as you can into the prepared loaf pan.
Repeat with the second log and cover pans with a tea towel to prove again for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 190C, then place the loaves on a baking sheet and bake on the middle rack of your oven for 25 – 30 minutes.
While the Babkas are baking, prepare the orange syrup by placing a the orange juice and sugar into a pan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Remove the Babkas from oven and brush the orange syrup generously over both the loaves whilst it's still warm. Leave for 15 minutes then turn them out onto a wire rack.
Slice and serve while it's still warm.