Believe it or not, but chocolate babka was one of my first forays into baking. I have this tendency to take on something grand and complicated when I first start learning something. I think it makes the final accomplishment that much sweeter, the heady boost of confidence that much rewarding. More often than not, the failures are just as colossal and heartbreaking. All said and done, I get to learn a lot and it’s my way of teaching myself new things.

My first babka was a cross between challah bread and a braided babka. It was delicious, but also dry and not quite what I was aiming for. The following day I turned the entire wreath into a delicious bread pudding. It remains my favorite bread pudding recipe to date, especially because it germinated from a failed recipe. I have been iterating on that babka recipe for a long time now – ordering babka slices whenever I find it at local Israeli bakeries, trying to discern what a real babka is supposed to taste like. I finally produced a batch that I absolutely love. I single-handedly ate the entire loaf, it became my guilty pleasure and midnight snack. I hope you will try this recipe and share your thoughts with me.

Print Recipe
Chocolate Orange Babka
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine World
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
loaf
Ingredients
Babka dough
Chocolate filling
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine World
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
loaf
Ingredients
Babka dough
Chocolate filling
Instructions
Babka dough
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the yeast and milk. Let rest for 5-10 minutes until the yeast blooms
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, water, yeast-milk mixture, orange juice, orange zest, sugar, vanilla, and sea salt. Mix together with hands until it just comes together
  3. Add the butter in thirds, mixing well after each addition. I use my hands for the whole process, but you can use your dough hook at low speed
  4. Knead until the dough becomes smooth and supple, and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Take another bowl, grease with 1/4 cup olive oil and place the dough in it. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature, then, stick it in the fridge for another 30 minutes
  5. After proofing the yeast in the fridge, take it out, punch down and turn it out on a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2 minutes and divide into 3 equal parts. Shape them into a small, roughly rectangular shaped dough. Wrap them loosely in parchment paper and plastic wrap. Put them back in the fridge for 90 minutes
Chocolate filling
  1. Melt the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler until smooth, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, egg white, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside to cool.
Assembly
  1. Take one of the rectangles of dough and roll it out into a roughly 24 x 8-inch rectangle. Spread it with 1/3 of the chocolate mixture, then roll it up along the longest edge/ vertically. Roughly roll like a cinnamon roll, cover the roll in plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator. Repeat with the remaining two rectangles of dough, and allow the rolled-up dough cylinders to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes
  2. Take one of the cylinders and roll it on a flat clean working surface, lengthening it with your hands until the cylinder reaches about 34 inches in length. Cut it in half lengthwise and set the two long strips aside. Repeat with the other two cylinders
  3. To form the braid, lay the cylinders out so the chocolate stripes are facing up. Make a plus sign with two of the logs. Loosely weave the other two logs into this plus sign. Then, loosely take both ends of one side of the plus sign and cross them over each other. Do this to all sides of the plus sign, then do it again, and again, alternating going over and under, until you’re left with a round braid, then tuck in the ends underneath the loaf. (See the pictures for guidance). Keep it loose enough for the bread to have room to rise in the oven, but not so loose that when you’re done shaping the round there are visible spaces between the strands of dough
  4. Cover with a greased piece of plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 1 hour at room temperature
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly brush the braided dough with egg wash. Bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Prepare a piece of foil large enough to cover the dough, after the first 25 minutes of baking, loosely cover the bread with aluminum foil, reduce the oven temperature to 355 F and bake for another 25 minutes