Hiiiiiii! I'm coming to you from the middle of a gross snow day. Somehow NYC missed the memo that it's daylight savings this weekend so it should be sorting it's shit out weather wise by now, but as someone who loves to stay inside, I'm not too mad.
Sorry sorry - I've been meaning to share this for the longest time, and I just haven't gotten around to it. This year has been really kicking us in the butt, in a super busy and stressful but also exciting kind of a way.
This babka was the product of one of my fave ways to spend a day - a baking day with Jill. After both getting tied up in life and not seeing each other for close to a month (some sort of record which i'm more than happy not to ever break), we intended on baking a couple of times but ended up sitting on the couch lying under blankets talking (also a fave way to spend a day), so when we finally managed to bake, we wanted to make something super delicious. And oh man, we sure did.
I still had some of the chocolate hazelnut spread from these cupcakes leftover, so it only made sense to slather it all over a brioche dough. Babka is one of my favourite things to make - you can fill it with all sorts of things, and it keeps well, not to mention that it makes the best french toast ever. This recipe makes two loaves, so enough to make one, and share one, or one to pop into the freezer for later.
A few wee tips:
If you would like, you can make this the night before and do the first proof in the fridge overnight. If you do this, you can skip the freezing step as the dough will already be firm enough.
If you don't want to make your own chocolate hazelnut spread, nutella will work just fine!
We used pre chopped hazelnuts, but coarsely grinding some in the food processor or chopping them will work just as well.
The recipe for the chocolate hazelnut spread does make a little extra - but I promise you it's worth having around for very little extra effort
Chocolate Hazelnut Babka
- Makes two loaves -
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread from Dandelion Chocolate
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk, lukewarm
4 Tbsp sugar
3 3/4 cups (565g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
115g (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
280g (2 cups) raw hazelnuts
424g (1 1/2 cups) melted dark chocolate (at least 70%)
200g (1 cup) sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 cups chocolate hazelnut spread or nutella
1 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts (we used pre-chopped)
Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
- PROCESS -
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, milk and 2 Tbsp of the sugar. Mix well, and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, salt, and remaining 2 Tbsp sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the eggs, vanilla, and foamy yeast mixture to the bowl. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is starting to come together. It may look slightly dry but do not worry - it will mix together nicely in the next steps. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for another 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth.
Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next piece. This process should take 3-4 minutes. Once the butter is fully incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes, until the dough is very soft and smooth.
Transfer to an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot until doubled in size, approximately 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
Once the dough has risen, punch down slightly and shape into a rectangle. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and place on a baking sheet. Place in the freezer for one hour to firm up before rolling.
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT SPREAD
Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven, shaking occasionally, for 8-10 mins, checking often, until the are golden brown. Allow to cool completely, then rub between your hands to remove the skins. Do not worry about any stubborn skins. Transfer to the work bowl of a food processor, and pulse briefly to chop.
Add the melted dark chocolate, sugar, and salt. Pulse to combine, then mix on high speed for at least five minutes. Check, and give more time mixing if needed. Transfer to a container and store at room temperature until you are ready to use.
Lightly grease two loaf pans, and line with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 16" x 25" rectangle (40x64cm). Spread the hazelnut spread over the surface of the dough, and sprinkle with the hazelnuts. Starting with the long side, roll up into a tight spiral. Cut in half, and set one half aside. Using a sharp knife, cut the first piece in half, lengthwise, and then cross the pieces over each other, and then cross over two more times to form a twist, as shown in the photos. (this video also explains well) Place into the loaf pan, tucking the ends under slightly if needed. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
Lightly cover the loaf pans in plastic wrap, and place in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the dough springs back lightly when pressed. While the loaves are proofing, preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c.
Brush the loaves lightly with egg wash. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely before slicing. Store leftovers in an airtight container, or wrap tightly before freezing.