chocolate cherry babka
I used to frequent a bakery in Vancouver,"Ecco Il Pane", that made an incredible panini bun that had chocolate and sour cherries in it. I'm always on the hunt for a recipe that can come close to my memory of these sweet and tart morsels, but until I find it, this is a pretty great substitute.
Adapted from "Gourmet - December 2006" along with inspiration from David Lebovitz's chocolate bread recipe and Alice Medrich's "Chocolate Cranberry Babka" from her book, "Chocolate Holidays".
makes 2 loaves
for the dough
- 3/4 cup warm milk (105–115°F)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 teaspoons active dry yeast (from two 1/4-oz packages)
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
- 2 whole large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
for the egg wash
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk
for the chocolate filling
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, well softened
- 2 (3 1/2- to 4-oz) bars fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp finely ground espresso coffee
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp cocoa
- 1 cup dried cherries
Stir together warm milk (if milk feels slightly warm on the inside of your wrist, it should be about the right temperature) and 2 teaspoons sugar in bowl of mixer.
Sprinkle yeast over mixture and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If yeast doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
Add 1/2 cup flour to yeast mixture and beat at medium speed until combined.
Add whole eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until combined.
Reduce speed to low, then mix in remaining 2 3/4 cups flour, about 1/2 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 and forms strands from paddle to bowl, about 4 minutes. (Dough will be very soft and sticky.)
Scrape dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap.
Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Lightly toss together all the ingredients except the butter.
Assembling babkas with filling:
Line each loaf pan with parchment paper.
Punch down dough with a lightly oiled rubber spatula, then halve dough.
Roll out 1 piece of dough on a well-floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into an 18- by 10-inch rectangle and arrange with a long side nearest you.
Beat together yolk and cream.
Spread 2 1/2 tablespoons softened butter on dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around.
Brush some of egg wash on long border nearest you.
Sprinkle half of chocolate mixture evenly over buttered dough, then sprinkle with half of sugar (2 tablespoons).
Starting with long side farthest from you, roll dough into a snug log, pinching firmly along egg-washed seam to seal. Bring ends of log together to form a ring, pinching to seal. Twist entire ring twice to form a double figure 8 and fit into one of lined loaf pans.
Make another babka with remaining dough, some of egg wash, and remaining butter and chocolate mixture in same manner.
Chill remaining egg wash, covered, to use later.
Loosely cover pans with buttered plastic wrap (buttered side down) and let babkas rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until dough reaches top of pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Alternatively, let dough rise in pans in refrigerator 8 to 12 hours; bring to room temperature, 3 to 4 hours, before baking.)
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven 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.
Ah, warm bread and chocolate. Enough said.