Since Christmas is so soon, I thought perhaps people are looking for a special christmas breakfast. I know I like to do something special for the morning. Last year I made cinnamon rolls and cranberry orange rolls. The beauty of those rolls were that you could do all the rising and work the day before. This babka is similar. All the rising, rolling, shaping and filling can be done the day before. You simply pull it out of the refrigerator first thing in the morning. While you are cooking the rest of breakfast, this bakes in the oven and fills the house with a delicious chocolate/bread smell. Talk about making christmas extra special!
Don’t let the ingredient list or length of directions deter you from making this. It actually comes together pretty easily and is more simple than it may seem. So, Sunday morning, get into the kitchen and get making this bread! I promise you won’t regret it.
Recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day
For the bread
- 2 Tablespoons rapid rise yeast
- 3/4 cup (6 oz) warm milk
- 6 Tablespoons (3 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 6 Tablespoons (3 oz.) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3 1/3 cups (15 oz.) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the filling
- 1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) semisweet chocolate
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup (2 oz.) unsalted butter
- Whisk the yeast into the warm milk. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks and vanilla extract together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the egg yolk mixture. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture if fluffy, scraping down the sides as necessary, about 2 minutes.
- Turn the mixer off and add the flour and salt, then the milk mixture. Turn the mixer on low speed and mix until the dough is soft and supple. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead by hand for 2 minutes until the dough is soft and and golden brown. If the dough is sticky, add more flour as needed.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 2 1/2 hours. It will rise, but won't double in size.
- While the dough rises, prepare the filling. Have ready a piece of greased parchment paper that is 16-inches long placed on a cookie sheet. Place the filling in a metal bowl placed over a pot of barely simmering water. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chocolate has completely melted. Spread the melted chocolate over the parchment paper in an even layer into a 15x15-inch square. Place the melted chocolate on the parchment in the refrigerator until firm.
- When the dough has risen, roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 15x15-inch square. Scrape or peel the parchment paper from the hardened chocolate, keeping the chocolate in one big piece, and place the chocolate on the dough square. Roll the dough up with the chocolate on it, into a tight roll. Cut the roll in half, lengthwise. Criss-cross the the two pieces over each other multiple times to form a "braid", pinching the ends together. Place the "braid" on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours. Place in the refrigerator over night, or proceed to baking. If baking directly, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the risen dough in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 15-25 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and the internal temperature is 185ºF in the center. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.
- If refrigerating over night, remove the dough from the fridge at least an hour before baking. Proceed as directed above.