Chocolate Babka Cake With Chopped Hazelnuts
Chocolate babka or cinnamon babka, that is the question. Seinfeld dedicated an entire episode to debating this incredibly crucial issue, and our world is all the better for it. We also firmly believe that chocolate babka is the best kind of babka. But we're not giving you a straightforward, traditional babka recipe. No, we had to put our own twist on this classic dessert, so we decided that instead of baking the dough in a loaf pan, we're using a pot, tying the lid on it, and turning it into a circular cake. And instead of braiding the dough, this recipe calls for strips of dough that are placed into the pot, with an extra chocolatey center. Oh, and the swirly delight inside is even more delicious thanks to crunchy chopped hazelnuts. Serenity now!
For the yeast dough:
- 8 cups pastry flour
- 1 tbsp salt
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1½ cubes fresh yeast or 2 tsp dry yeast
- ¾ stick softened butter
- 1¼ cups milk, room temperature
- 3 eggs
For the butter pat:
- 5 sticks butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ⅓ cup chopped nuts
- 1 chocolate bar
- 3 qt pot
- 2 gallon freezer bag
For the chocolate ganache:
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 5 oz dark chocolate
1. First prepare the yeast dough. Pile the flour onto your work surface and create a well in the middle. Into the well, add the salt, sugar, softened butter, and eggs. Then dissolve the yeast in the milk and add the mixture to the rest of the ingredients. Knead everything together with your hands. It's important to knead the dough for a relatively long time to make it elastic and stretchable. Cover the dough and let it rise for 60-90 minutes, during which it should double in size.
2. Transfer the dough back onto your work surface and knead it thoroughly. Form the dough into a square (about 12 in x 12 in) and refrigerate for 2 hours.
3. Now it's time to make the butter pat. Add the flour to the softened butter and spoon the mixture into a 2 gallon freezer bag. Spread the mixture so that about 2 inches of the freezer bag is still see-through. Then refrigerate the bag and its contents.
4. Take the yeast dough out of the fridge and roll it out into a rectangle (24 in x 12 in) with a little bit of flour.
5. Once the temperature of the butter pat has dropped down to about 60 degrees, take it out of the fridge and place it on one half of the dough rectangle. Fold in the dough and then roll it out carefully and evenly with a rolling pin.
6. Fold both sides of the dough toward the middle and press it down firmly. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for another 45 minutes.
7. If you want to make the chocolate ganache from scratch, heat the heavy cream and pour it over the dark chocolate. Stir everything until it turns into a homogeneous mass. Pour the chocolate ganache into a pot lined with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator for later. Back to the dough: roll it out lengthwise against the folded edge and spread about a handful of chopped hazelnuts and cocoa powder on top.
8. Fold the two sides back towards the middle. Press the dough together firmly, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 45 minutes. Repeat this process 5 times.
9. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll out the dough until it's about 1 inch thick and then cut it into 1-inch wide strips.
10. Place 4-5 strips into the pot. This doesn't have to be accurate or neat at all – just make sure that the dough strips that go up the edge of the pot are in an upright position.
11. Now you can either use your homemade ganache or a chocolate bar from the store. Divide the chocolate into 3 even blocks, stack the 3 blocks on top of each other, and wrap a strip of dough around them.
12. Put the piece of dough with the chocolate into the center of the pot. Then fill the dough with another strip of dough and fold in any excess dough towards the middle. The pot should be half full now. Tie a lid to the pot with cooking twine, put the pot in the oven, and bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. For even better results, open the oven door briefly after 25 minutes to let the heat escape, lower the heat to 350°F, and then bake for another 25 minutes. Depending on the size of your pot, this recipe should be enough to make 2-3 cakes.
So there you have it – the perfect dessert, made even better. If that's not enough incentive to give this recipe a try, we don't know what is. This yeast-leavened dough with chocolate and chopped hazelnuts is one for the ages and the gooey chocolate center is the pièce de résistance. You can bet your bottom dollar that if Elaine and Jerry knew about this, they'd be jealous!
Get the recipe for the Cherry Cream Tart featured in the bonus video.