The same basic challah recipe applies, except that instead of 1/2 cup of sugar or honey, increase to 3/4 – 1 cup. This recipe makes the equivalent of 3 nice chocolate babkas.
For the dough you will need:
- 7 cups flour
- 1 T salt
- 3/4 cup sugar (or honey)
- 2 pkg yeast + 1/3 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 T orange zest (optional)
For the filling, you will need per babka:
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine
- 1/3 cup sifted cocoa
- 1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Alternate flavor suggestion: Substitute ground cardamom for the cinnamon
- dash of salt
In a medium bowl, mix all these ingredients together. If too dry, add a few drops of milk or water.
To the mixed filling above I like to add 1/2 cup plumped raisins (soaked in hot water for a few minutes and then drained) and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.
2010 UPDATE: An alternative recipe for the chocolate part of the filling (enough for 3 babkas) can be made by microwaving 2 cups of chocolate morsels together with 1/4 cup of milk or cream for about 1 minute. (Substitute parve margarine for the milk if you want parve babka.)
Beat eggs in a small bowl.
In a large bowl mix oil, sugar and salt.
Add boiling water to large bowl and stir until all is dissolved.
Sprinkle yeast into a measuring cup with 1/3 cup warm water. Wait a few minutes, then stir.
Add cold water to mixture in large bowl. (The stuff in the bowl should now be the right temperature to add yeast. If too hot, wait a few minutes; if too cold, put the bowl in the microwave to heat it.)
Add yeast to large bowl.
Add eggs to large bowl, reserving about 1 tablespoon.
Add flour 1-2 cups at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. If using orange zest, add it after the first cup or so of flour.
Turn out dough onto floured board and knead for 5 minutes, adding more flour as needed (but not too much). Dough is ready if it springs back after being poked with a finger.
Put back into bowl, cover with dishtowel, and put in warm oven (heated to 170-200, and then turned off beforehand) until doubled – about 1 hour.
Turn out onto floured board and knead for 1-2 minutes.
Divide dough into thirds.
Take one of the thirds, and knead for another minute. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into a rectangle about 15″ x 8″. Spread filling evenly over the surface, and roll up one long side of the dough toward the other long end, making a long coil. Pinch the dough at the ends and along the seam to minimize any leaks.
Now you have several alternatives. I prefer to use a greased tube pan (I use Pam), wrapping the coil around the center wall. This helps ensure that the center of the babka is fully done without the outside getting overdone or burned. You could use a regular baking sheet, either greased or covered with parchment paper. Another possibility is to cut the coil in half, and bake each piece in a greased loaf pan. Finally, you could slice the coil into round pieces, and arrange them face-up on a cookie sheet, like cinnamon buns.
Repeat for 2 other thirds. Put formed babkas into oven (pre-heated and then turned off, as before) for about 45 minutes.
Remove from oven. Turn oven to 350.
Brush tops gently with reserved egg.
Bake for about 30 minutes (15-20 minutes for “buns”); times will vary. Watch for moderate browning on top, but be careful not to allow scorching on bottom.
Remove from pans, and put on dish towels to cool.