Saturday, June 25, 2011

Easter Babka

Babka is an item I used to love having from the bakery by my Grandma’s house as a kid.  I remembered the cherry flavor and every once and awhile a chocolate chip, but cherry was always my favorite.  So the Babka went on the “to make list!”  Little did I know that when I started the search for “THE” Babka I’d like to make, they would be nothing like I remembered as a kid!  I consulted my mom to confirm these recipes and was informed there is also a Jewish style Babka that is often chocolate and that she remembered a yeast Babka that my Grandma would make with raisins. 

When I realized we would be making the trip home to Michigan for Easter I knew I needed to make a Babka, because in my babka research I found out it was typical a Polish Easter bread!  After much deliberation on the all the recipes to try I decided on this chocolate and cheese babka, even if it is much different than my childhood memory!

I made a few mistakes in making this Babka, I started too late in the evening!  After making the dough and letting it rise the bread didn’t go into the oven until way too late! Make sure you plan enough time, because this is a time consuming process, but well worth it!  Also, if I were to make it again I’d use much more of the cheese filling, the filling got lost (you can barely see it in the picture!).

1/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 package yeast (2 tsp)
3 whole eggs
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup warm milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
4-5 cups flour
For chocolate filling:
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 Tbs cream
1/2 brick cream cheese (reduced fat is fine)
For cheese filling:
1/2 brick cream cheese (reduced fat is fine)
1 egg
zest from 1 lemon

1. Dissolve 1 tsp sugar in warm water. Add yeast and let stand for 10 minutes. The mixture should bubble up and look doughy.
2. Beat the eggs and yolks until light and fluffy. Add remaining sugar, and beat for another minute. Stir in the butter, milk, salt, vanilla, and yeast mixture.
3. Mix in 4 cups of the flour, and then add additional flour 1/4 up at a time, until smooth dough is formed.
4. Knead for 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.  I used the dough hook on my mixer for most of this and then only did it by hand for just a few minutes.
5.  Place in a bowl, cover, and let rest in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size. Punch the dough down, and let rise a second time.
6. Melt the chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in the cream and keep warm.
7. In a separate bowl, combine the cream cheese, egg, and lemon zest.
8. Divide the dough in half. Roll one half into a large rectangle, about 1/2-inch thick.
9. Spread the rectangle with the chocolate mixture, then roll jelly roll style, starting with the long edge.
10. Repeat with the remaining dough, filling with the cheese mixture.
11. Twist the two rolls around each other like a braid, and arrange in a bundt or tube pan. The dough should fill the pan about 3/4 of the way.
12. Cover and let rise for one hour.
13. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when you tap on it.
Serves 20.

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