Chocolate and caramel babka is a buttery sweet treat that is baked till it becomes a twisted beauty begging to be torn and eaten. Here this traditional yeasty bread is layered with chocolate and caramel, sprinkled all over with pistachio and given a warm orange syrup brushing at the end to make things simply irresistible! Don’t be afraid to try this. Check out my easy video and make this soon.
Since last Christmas, babka has been revolving in my subconscious. Everywhere I looked, December seemed to be having a long blown love affair with this swirly bread/cake. Instagram feeds of my favorite bloggers, many friends everyone was making and sharing delectable pictures of babka. However, I resisted. Purely coz I wasnt sure of my ability to handle yeast at the time. Not to mention December is the time I go away on my vacation and I just couldn’t do new things.
So, this week I decided to think it was December again. The constant rains and gloomy dark days certainly made it easier to feel I was in the throes of a cool winter rather than summer. And here I was.. attempting that elusive bread that had been taking up a precious corner in my mind. Presenting to you good folks – chocolate and caramel babka.
“Babka” you will be surprised to know actually, quite literally means grandma in Ukrania. Mostly always baked in professional bakeries and laden with dry fruits and seeds like poppy, the original babka obsession can be traced all the way back to the 12th century. That’s right. The people of Russia, Ukraine, in fact the whole Baltic range people were the ones to bake the babka first. From then on, it became a holiday essential. Often baked twisted in loaf pans, sometimes in wreaths and other times in tiny little looped bread, babka was certainly a pretty bread to serve guests.
Today, babka takes on many shapes and comes twisted in many definitely creative fillings. But, since this was my first time with the babka, I decided to play it simple. After all you cant go wrong with a classic now can you? So chocolate and caramel babka it was! I sprinkled it with lots of pistachios and finally brushed it with warm orange syrup. This final brushing it absolutely a must! It makes the chocolate and caramel babka super moist and shiny (without having to resort to egg wash). The orange flavor in the simple syrup sings beautifully with the pistachios in the babka and over all takes the dish to another level.
But before you start getting too excited, here are a few things you need to keep in mind. Most of all, babka, be it this chocolate and caramel babka or any babka of your choice is a thing of beauty, and as with most beautiful things, it needs patience. So dont think you can rush this. It is left overnight in the refrigerator for the first rise, then the following morning brought to room temperature, slowly risen again, filled with the chocolate, rolled tightly, again left to rise in a warm place, cut, looped, twisted, made into wreath and finally baked. To finish things off the simple syrup brush is a must!!
So gather what I meant when I said you need to be patience? Well now that I have warned you about patience let me warn you about another vital thing. This milky, buttery, chocolate and caramel babka is the stuff of your dreams! Billowing bits of bread that melt in your mouth. But in order to arrive at the perfect babka, you must wait. The best tactic is simply to be patient. It is worth the wait. Babka is always worth the wait.
This charming and rustic chocolate and caramel babka is made even more appealing by being served on my favorite wooden serveware from Cyahi. Cyahi is one of my favorite home and lifestyle brands in India. Their products are of excellent quality, perfect finish and they boast of some of the coolest designs in the Indian market today. Whether you go for ceramic plates, bone china dinner ware, classy and rustic wooden platters like me or even the gorgeous printed trays, there is something for everyone here. I find myself veering again and again towards wooden serveware that looks as elegant as Cyahi’s. I love the loaf platter and the gemini platter the most! They are so versatile. If you are looking for something smaller, their salad bowls are just perfect as is the Highway platter for appetizers and snacks. Take a look at Cyahi and feel wowed.
Chocolate and caramel babka
A delicious bread that is layered with chocolate ganache and dulce de leche, sprinkled with pistachios. This recipe produces two loaves. Check out the video for an easy guide on how to braid the babka.
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup hot milk
- 4 tsp fresh yeast or 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 3 whole eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4 1/2 - 4 3/3 cup all purpose flour
- 8 tbsp butter, softened to room temperature.
- 200 gms dark chocolate
- 200 mls fresh cream
- 2 tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp Dulce de leche. I used readymade ones by SprigGourmet
- finely chopped pistachios to sprinkle all over the babka
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp orange essence
To make the babka
Combine the water and the yeast in a bowl and let stand until the yeast is activated or starts foaming at the top. Add the milk, eggs, yolk, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract, and whisk until the yolks are completely combined. Add 6 1/4 cups of flour and stir with a stiff spatula until a shaggy, floury dough is formed.
Using a dough hook, knead on medium-low speed until the dough comes together and is no longer floury, about 5 minutes. Or if you are doing it by hand , knead it till it comes together.
With the mixer still running, begin adding the butter in 1-tablespoon blobs. Mix until one blob is just barely incorporated before adding the next blob.
When all the butter has been added, continue kneading for another 5 minutes until the dough is silky, elastic, and quite jiggly. This won't form a ball like regular dough — it should bunch around the dough hook and clear the sides of the dough hook, but will still be attached in a sticky dough mass to the bottom of the bowl. Add the extra 1/4 cup of flour as needed if the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl.
Keep kneading till the dough is smooth. Then plonk it all in a large oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and put it in the refrigerator overnight.
Remove from refrigerator. The dough wont have risen much. Dont worry. It will. Let it come to room temperature and rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours. I put mine inside the oven (switched off).
Once its doubled in size, remove the dough from the carefully. Gently knock it down. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Roll it till its 10/12 inch long. Now spread the chocolate ganache all over the dough leaving a 1/2 inch border clean. Add the caramel on top of the chocolate. Sprinkle chopped pistachios all over it.
Now, start rolling it tightly from the side closest to you. Once you reach the end, lightly water the edge and pinch the dough to keep it tight.
Place on a baking tray and chill for 10 mins.
Next,use a very sharp knife and gently, but swiftly, slice the log down its entire length, creating two halves with lots of layers. To form the babka loaves, turn the halves so that the layers are facing up. Press the two halves together at the top, then twist the halves around each other, creating a spiral. Press the halves together again at the bottom.
Line a 9x5 baking pan with parchment paper. If the loaf is a little too long for the pan, just smoosh it a little on either end to make it fit — any gaps will be filled in by the rising dough.
Repeat with the other loaves. You can shape them in different ways like I did too. Cover the shaped loaves and let them rise on the counter until puffy and just starting to dome over the tops of the pans, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Baking the babka
Preheat the oven to 350F or 180C. Bake 45 to 55 minutes — cover the loaves with foil in the last 10 to 15 minutes if the edges look like they might be starting to burn. The loaves are done when deep glossy brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean of any dough . If you want to check the temperature, the loaves should be around 200°F in the middle.
Remove from oven. Immediately brush the orange syrup all over the babka.
Let cool for 20 mins in the pan. Then run a sharp knife around the edges and gently remove from the pan. The slices will be quite sticky. Store unsliced loaves on the counter, covered, for up to a week. Loaves can also be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 3 months.
For the chocolate ganache
Just pour warm cream over the chocolate and butter. Whisk till smooth. Keep warm.
For the orange syrup
Boil everything till syrupy. keep warm.
Disclosure: This recipe has been loosely adapted from the chocolate babka of Broma Bakery. This post has been sponsored by Cyahi but all opinions expressed here on the products is from my long term association with the brand and completely unbiased.