Somebody asked me the other day what my favourite thing to bake was and the first thing that came into my head was Babka bread.
If I’m really honest with myself, as much as I love baking cakes and sweet patisseries, there is something about bread that really makes me happy.
I think it’s the therapeutic process of turning flour and water into something wonderful that makes it my favourite.. It’s also the very rare occassion that I get to bake using just my hands. My Kitchen Aid can do no wrong, but when it comes to bread there is no better method than the classic.
Babka Bread is particularly special because of it’s dreamy signature twist, and although this Rainbow Babka doesn’t show the pattern so well due to the pale colour, if it’s a chocolate like my Chocolate Orange Babka then the pattern is pretty special too.
There may be no pattern, but what it does make up for is in the taste. The cheesecake filling and the sweet enriched vanilla dough are the perfect combination, and one that you need to make immediately.
Trust me you’ll thank me later.
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.