Chai-Spiced Chocolate Babka is part cake, part bread, and all wonderful.
We are returning to the Winter of Chai Spices a few months early. We’ll have the Fall of Chai Spices too. (And we’ll love every last recipe, of which I’m planning several.) So I hope you can handle it!
PS, I know I say this almost constantly but HOW are we almost at the end of September? How are we in full-on pumpkin and apple and chai spice season? Not that I’m complaining. I love this time of year.
But back to the food. When I think of babka I think of a loaf. . . But this version is, obviously, not a loaf; it’s actually baked in a tube pan (like you would use for angel food cake). And OMG is it ever a showstopper. It’s tall and golden brown and fragrant and so pretty. And so, SO delicious.
If you’re looking for a breakfast/brunch/dessert/tea party treat to wow your friends then look no further. Or if you just want to wow yourself with your culinary skills this babka fits that bill too.
And my favorite part is that it’s not too sweet (meaning I can eat it for breakfast since I hate sweets first thing in the morning). And it has this gorgeous coarse crumb that just screams out please cast health concerns to the wind and eat me slathered with butter.
And I did and so should you. Life is just better with butter.
The chai spices are subtle so the chocolate can shine but you could definitely add more spices if you wanted. Just do it slowly and taste the filling as you go because I find warming spices go from pleasant to soapy-tasting pretty quickly.
A quick note on bread: There is almost nothing I enjoy in life as much as baking yeast breads and this babka totally satisfies my need to, well, knead. I know a lot of people think bread-baking is difficult or requires a lot of knowledge but it’s really something you just need to throw yourself into and practice, so I hope I can encourage you to give it a shot. Warm bread is so worth the effort. I promise. Even if your breads don’t turn out perfectly at first they’ll still taste great.
Happy Monday to you! I hope your week is wonderful and full of autumn-y goodness.
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup powdered milk
- 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into several chunks
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 cups bread flour (you can substitute all-purpose)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped semisweet chocolate (you can use chocolate chips)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 16 cardamom pods, shelled and ground
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (you can use granulated sugar)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the water, yeast, and a pinch of the sugar. Whisk together, then let sit for 5 minutes to activate the yeast. Add the sugar, powdered milk, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt. Mix on low speed until well combined. Add the butter and flour, mixing until the dough becomes a mass. Switch to the dough hook and knead dough for 8 to 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.*
- Place the dough in a large, well-greased mixing bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until very puffy, 45 to 90 minutes.**
- Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process to make a crumbly mixture that holds together when you squeeze it.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Generously grease a 10-inch tube pan and set aside. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a 20-inch square. Spread/sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough’s surface, then roll the dough up jelly roll-style. Carefully transfer to prepared pan.
- Beat the egg and milk together in a small bowl until well combined.
- Brush the egg and milk mixture over the top of the babka. Sprinkle generously with sugar. Cover the babka loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the dough is flush with or puffs up over the top of your pan, 45 to 60 minutes. (If the babka starts to brown too much toward the end of baking you can cover loosely with aluminum foil.)
- Bake for 50 to 70 minutes, until the top is light golden brown. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve and enjoy.
- *You can do this entire process by hand if you prefer (or if you don’t’ have a stand mixer); it will just take longer.
- **Want this fresh for breakfast? Make the dough the night before you intend to serve your babka. Instead of allowing the dough to rise somewhere warm, cover and refrigerate it. Remove from the fridge in the morning and allow to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.