It’s time for some chocolate babka, I think. To celebrate the time of year when you can turn the oven on to warm the house. If you’re only familiar with babka thanks to Seinfeld, it’s a sweet, rich yeasted dough that some call cake—but really it’s a loaf of sweet dough with the texture of a soft cinnamon bun, rippled through with so much chocolate (or cinnamon, which is considered a lesser babka, but it’s on my list to make next—who wouldn’t love a loaf-shaped cinnamon bun?) as to make slicing the rolled log (which you do lengthwise, before twisting it into the pan) a challenge.
I took babka for a spin a few times to get a feel for it, in the name of research of course—the soft, rich dough is lovely to handle, and it’s like assembling a cinnamon bun, up until the dough is filled and rolled into a log. Some of the chocolate fillings out there are crumbly, others smooth, which I found easier to handle when it comes to the twisting part, which I find ridiculously satisfying.
Some babkas are shaped in a figure 8, some criss-crossed and twisted, and really so long as it’s twisted and tucked into the pan, it’ll turn out beautifully—babka does not demand perfection. Brush the tops with a little beaten egg for a bit of gloss and you’re good to go.
Really, no one is going to criticize the patterned cross section of your babka.
This recipe makes two loaves—enough for a few friends to come by for brunch (or just coffee and babka) or one to bake and a second to freeze. It’s good to have frozen assets heading into the holiday season.
Also, PS: if it occurs to you that it might make sublime french toast, consider the fact that sweet stuff tends to burn, and keep the heat low.
Here’s to a long weekend full of food, family and friends. I’m already wearing my stretchy pants.