The Art of the Dessert by Ann Amernick presents elegant dessert recipes, including Chocolate Babka, Turkish Rice and Rose-Water Pudding, and Schnecken with Vanilla Ice Cream and Ginger Caramel Sauce.
Makes 2 loaves, 6 slices each
This recipe was inspired by the chocolate babka in Joan Nathan's The Jewish Holiday Baker. It contains apricot and chocolate and is absolutely wonderful for brunch or dessert. A good babka should have a soft, yeasty, tender dough redolent of the filling inside. The filling and streusel should be made first, as you don't want the yeast dough ready before the filling is prepared. I actually like to prepare the filling and streusel the day before and refrigerate them overnight. Then, while I am making the dough, the filling and streusel are brought to room temperature. The dough is twisted and placed in a loaf pan, then dusted with streusel and baked. It rises high in the pan and is simply wonderful to eat warm from the oven. It freezes so well that it is a perfect dessert to have on hand. Just thaw it wrapped in aluminum foil, then, when it comes to room temperature, heat it, still foil-wrapped, at 325 degrees F for 15 minutes.
Yield: 2-1/2 cups
Make the Filling
Puree the preserves in a food processor until smooth. Combine the cake crumbs, pureed preserves, and butter in a small bowl and mix until smooth; set aside.
Make the Topping
Place the flour and sugar in a small bowl and mix well. Add the butter using your fingers to mix it together until crumbly; set aside.
Yield: Enough For 2 Loaves
Make the Dough
Combine the all-purpose and cake flours, salt, and all but 1 tablespoon of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed. In a small bowl, stir the yeast with the warm water and reserved tablespoon of sugar just until the sugar and yeast have dissolved. Reduce the mixer to low speed, add the yeast mixture, milk, eggs, and vanilla, and beat until the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 20 minutes.
Add the butter by spoonfuls until thoroughly incorporated, then beat on low speed for about 5 minutes. When finished, the dough should be silken and rich like very thick ice cream. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside. When the dough has doubled in bulk, after 2 hours, punch it down, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pans with overlapping, perpendicular pieces of parchment paper, with one piece lining the bottom and two short sides and the second piece lining the bottom and two long sides. Don't let the paper come more than 1 inch above the top of the pan.
Assemble the Babka
Grate the chocolate by hand on the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor. If using a food processor, be careful not to overprocess or you might run the risk of the chocolate's melting. Set the grated chocolate aside. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of the dough into a 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Use an offset metal spatula to spread half the filling over the dough within 1/2 inch of the edges. Sprinkle with half the grated chocolate. Beginning with a long side, roll it up tightly. Holding one end of the babka in each hand, twist it lengthwise to create a spiral. Place the babka in a prepared pan. It is important to press the babka down firmly in the pan at this point. Brush the top with some of the melted butter and sprinkle with half the streusel topping. Make the second babka with the remaining dough, filling, chocolate, butter, and streusel. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Let the loaves rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the babka to cool for 30 minutes before cutting. Slice the babka and serve warm.
I bake the babka in a high-blower convection oven for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, then bake for about 25 minutes or more, turning the blower to low in the last 15 minutes or so. If you are lucky enough to own a convection oven or an oven with convection capabilities, definitely use it here.
I often like to cut the babka into hearty slices and serve with scoops of homemade chocolate-chip ice cream. I add 2 cups of chopped chocolate to 1 pint of freshly turned, still soft vanilla ice cream (page 259 of the book). I sometimes also throw in chopped white and milk chocolates, to make it triple chocolate-chip ice cream.
This page created September 2007
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