Friday, April 2, 2010

Chocolate Easter Babka

Babka (Mother’s Polish Bread) is a yeasted sweet cake, popular in Eastern Europe and commonly baked at Easter. While the chocolate filling is not traditional, the result is incredibly tender, buttery, and succulent. Great for dessert, breakfast, or as a coffee cake. I adapted from Epicurious to make the recipe gluten free.

 ¾ cup warm milk (105 -115 ˚F)
½ cup plus 2 t. sugar 3 t. active dry yeast (or 2 ¼ ounce pkgs.)
3 cups GF flour blend*
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 t. GF vanilla extract
¾ t. salt
1¼ sticks unsalted butter (10 T.), softened

Egg Wash
1 large egg yolk
1 T. heavy cream or whole milk (I use fat free half ‘n half
Chocolate Filling
5 T. unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces of chocolate chips (bittersweet if possible)
¼ cup sugar

Stir together warm milk and 2 t. sugar in bowl of mixer. Sprinkle yeast over mixture and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Make sure yeast foams; if it does not, discard and start over with new yeast.

Add ½ cup flour to yeast mixture and beast until combined. Add whole eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt and remaining ½ cup sugar and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low, then mix in remaining flour ½ cup at a time. Increase speed to medium, then beat in butter, a few pieces at a time, and continue to beat until dough is shiny, about 4 minutes. (I mixed this with a hand mixer, but it was a challenge!) Dough will be very soft and sticky.
Scrape dough into lightly oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a slightly warm and draft free location (top of stove) until doubled, about 1½ - 2 hours.

Punch down dough with lightly oiled rubber spatula, then halve dough. Place 20 inch long sheet of saran wrap on work surface. Place the dough half on the saran and top with another same size piece of saran wrap. Roll dough out with a rolling pin, between the two slices of saran wrap to an 18 x 10 inch rectangle, as if making cinnamon rolls. Do not roll too thin. Arrange the long side of the rolled out dough nearest you.

Beat together yolk and cream. Spread 2½ T. softened butter on dough, leaving about ½ inch border all around. Brush some of the egg wash on the long border nearest you. Sprinkle half of chocolate evenly over buttered dough, then sprinkle with half the sugar (2 T.) Lifting the saran wrap, leverage the dough by rolling, starting with long side farthest from you, roll dough (still using the saran wrap, so there is no need to touch the dough with your fingers) into a snug log, pinching firmly along egg-washed seam to seal. Pinch ends of log to seal and tuck ends under log. Pick up log using saran wrap and gently roll the log into the oiled loaf pan. Put remaining egg wash in refrigerator. Repeat process for a second loaf.

Cover loaves with oiled saran wrap and allow loaves to rise in a warm room temperature draft-free location until dough reaches top of pans, 1-2 hours. (Or, you may let dough rise in pans in refrigerator 8-12 hours; bring to room temperature 3-4 hours before baking.)

Place oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350 ˚F. Brush tops of dough with remaining egg wash. Bake until tops are deep golden brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped (when loaves are removed from pans), about 40 minutes. Transfer loaves to a rack and cool to room temperature. Makes: 2 loaves. *My GF flour blend includes appropriate amounts of xanthan gum, though another 1/4 t. per cup of flour may be added if desired. Using a lighter GF (pastry) flour would be recommended for this recipe.

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