Chocolate-Raisin-Nut Babka

Doesn’t this Babka look as if it came from a bakery?

It didn’t, of course. You can see from the second photo that it was taken straight from the loaf pan. That paper hanging over on the sides is needed to lift the cake out of the pan, because if you invert the cake (as you do with layer cake layers), all the crumbles fall off. Which, now that I think of it is not so bad because then you can gather them up and eat them in the name of cleaning up, without having to share that delicious delicious part with anyone else.

I’ve made Babka before, but never this good and never one that looked as professional. My Mom, who was a terrific baker, never baked Babka. She always said the one from the bakery near us was so good that she needn’t bother. So of all the wonderful baked goods I learned from her, this wasn’t one.

Our nearby bakeries don’t have great-tasting Babka. But we love this coffee cake so much I have been intent on getting it right, homemade.

After a few tries I did.

It got two thumbs up from everyone, so I’d like to share the recipe:

Chocolate-Raisin-Nut Babka

1 package active dry yeast

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup warm whole milk

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3-4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

1/2 pound chopped semisweet chocolate

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

1 large egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water

Streusel

Combine the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar in a small bowl, pour in the warm milk and mix. Set aside for 5-6 minutes or until foamy. Beat the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium for 2-3 minutes or until well combined and smooth. Add 2 cups of flour and the salt and beat them in. Add the yeast mixture and beat it in until the batter is smooth. Gradually add as much of the remaining flour as is necessary to form a soft dough (about 1-3/4 cups). Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, beating each tablespoon in completely. Use a dough hook or knead by hand for a few minutes until the dough is soft and smooth and slightly sticky. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 2 hours or until doubled in bulk. 

Lightly grease 2 9”x5” loaf pans. Line the pans with parchment paper, leaving enough extra at the short side so that you can lift out the cake when it has finished baking. Cut the dough in half and roll each half out on a floured surface to rectangles 13”x9”. Brush each rectangle with equal amounts of the melted butter. Scatter the chocolate, raisins and nuts, if used, on top, leaving some room around the edges. Roll the dough, jelly roll style. Twist the filled dough 3-4 times and place in the loaf pans. Brush the tops with some of the beaten egg. Sprinkle with Streusel. Let rise for 1-1/2 hours in a warm place (or overnight in the refrigerator).

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the Babkas for about 35 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in the pan. Lift the cake out using the parchment paper ends.

 Streusel

 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

 Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Add the butter in chunks and work into the dry ingredients with fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly.

Makes two Babkas