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Babka, Chocolate or Cinnamon (D, TNT)
Source: "A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking," by Marcy Goldman
Yield: 1 very large or 2 regular babkas

1-1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons yeast
Pinch sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 drops almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened in small pieces
6 cups (approximately) unbleached all-purpose flour or combination

Chocolate Filling (baker's call this a "smear"):
1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine

Cinnamon smear:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 to 4 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped walnuts - optional

Egg wash:
1 beaten egg
Sugar for sprinkling

Make Dough:
Processor method (8-10 cup capacity):
In a measuring cup, stir together water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar. Allow to stand a few minutes. In another medium bowl, whisk together the eggs (or yolks), milk or sour cream, vanilla or other extracts. Bread dough made in a processor can be dense, but babkas do quite well using this method.

Place flour, salt, and sugar (and milk powder, if using) in food processor work bowl. Process, to cut butter into flour, pulsing until mixture is grainy. Add dissolved yeast and egg mixture into processor work bowl on top of butter/flour mixture. Pulse, to incorporate liquid and dry ingredients and form a soft mass of dough - this should take under a minute. Remove from work bowl and turn out onto a lightly floured board. Knead five minutes by hand to make dough smooth.

Bread machine (For 1-1/2 pound machines or larger. If you have a smaller machine, you will have to divide the dough in two and knead in two shifts.):
Set your machine on dough cycle. Place water, yeast and pinch of sugar in bread machine pan. Wait for a few moments (or let pre-heat begin if your machine is so equipped).

Add eggs, vanilla, sugar, salt, milk powder (if called for) and any other additions, and a cup of the flour. On top of flour, place the cut up chunks of softened butter. Add remaining flour.

Often, doughs which exceed four cups of flour (in volume) need assistance and the initial part of the cycle. Using a rubber spatula, poke flour from sides or corners into center and make sure dough is being incorporated. Once a mass is formed, the dough will begin to clump. Dust in additional flour as required to make a soft, bouncy ball. Let dough rise in machine, remove and gently deflate. Then proceed with assembly of recipe.

Manual method:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together water, yeast and pinch of sugar. Let stand about five minutes to allow yeast to swell and dissolve. Stir in eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, almond extract, lemon juice, sugar, salt and milk powder. Fold in softened butter and flour. Mix dough, then knead as it becomes a mass by hand for about 8 to 10 minutes - until smooth and elastic.

Place dough in a well greased bowl and place entire bowl in a plastic bag and seal. Allow to rise until puffy, about 45-90 minutes. (Can also be refrigerated overnight to resume next day, allowing dough to warm up a bit before proceeding).

Shaping and baking:
Divide dough in two equal parts. Cover with a tea towel and let rest ten minutes. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or generously grease two 9" springform or layer cake pans. If making one large babka, generously butter a 10" tube pan.

On a lightly floured board, roll dough into a 16"x16" square. Arrange or spread on filling of choice (below) all over dough surface. Roll up dough into a large jellyroll. Cut in half. Place both halves in prepared pan, beside each other - it doesn't matter if they are a little squished. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with some sugar. Place loaf pan in a plastic bag and let rise until babka is flush or over top of pan.

Repeat with other half of dough, using a different filling, if desired.

To use all of dough in one large babka, procedure is the same but you will be using all of dough at once. Roll dough out into a 20" square (instead of 16"x16") and proceed as above. A large babka is especially dramatic but two smaller ones give you two flavor and assembly options.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake 35-45 minutes (50-70 minutes for one large babka) until babka is medium brown. Cool pan fifteen minutes before removing to a rack or serving plate.

Make Chocolate Filling:
Grind chocolate chips, cinnamon, cocoa, sugar, and butter in a food processor to make a loose paste. You can also use a chopped up, imported Swiss chocolate bar, semi-sweet or milk chocolate.

Cinnamon filling:
In a food processor, process the butter, sugar, corn syrup, cinnamon and walnuts to make a loose paste. You can substitute maple syrup for corn syrup.

Posted by Raquel Schnitzer

Nutritional Info Per Serving: N/A