Warning, if you don’t like chocolate, then you might have a problem with this recipe. 😉
I am a firm believer that if I am having a chocolate dessert, then I better be able to taste the chocolate in it. 😉
I’ve had quite a few chocolate babka’s over the years, and I always come to the single conclusion – I love the chocolate filling as much, or if not even more than the bread itself.
That is not to say that the bread itself is bad, afterall, the ever popular Breads Bakery babka is made of croissant dough, so how could it not taste good?
And yes, the Breads Bakery babka was nice when I tried it a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t mind blowing good. It was a nice satisfying babka – buttery, and filled with Nutella.
Speaking of Nutella, whilst this might be a chocolate hazelnut babka, we are not using Nutella in this. Instead we will be making our own spread.
Now before I go into the chocolate filling and the bread itself, I’m going to dial it back and just talk about Babka as a whole.
For those who have never had one, think of a sweet bread that is filled with a spread and twisted to form layers of filling and bread. It is often baked in a loaf tin, sometimes in a bundt tin, and in countless other ways. Now, whilst I have been referring to it as a bread, it is actually a yeasted cake. What I mean by that is that the leavening in this treat comes from the yeast and not leavening agents like baking soda and baking powder.
Which brings me into the 2 camps of babka – the bready babka and the cakey babka.
I am definitely a cakey babka person, I don’t like my babkas to be 70% fluffy bread and 30% filling. It just makes me feel like I am eating bread rather than a dessert, and it is just not “desserty” enough for me.
So this babka here takes the concept of a cake babka and bread babka and melds them together.
Being the small size that it is, it ends up having a nice crusty crunch to soft inside ratio. To keep it half cakey and half bready, we are rolling/stretching this dough out thin. This means that when it proofs it won’t be overwhelmingly bready. We will also let it proof for a slightly shorter time than usual to reduce the “bready” consistency, but don’t worry, this recipe will still retain a soft elasticity that is found in bread as compared to the usual crumbly texture of cake.
As with the filling, I am all for babkas that are filled with chocolate. But still, it is all a delicate balance. Too much filling and its pretty much chocolate cake, too little and its bread. And I find that what I have is my ideal, if you prefer lesser filling in yours, you could just add lesser chocolate and nuts. Keep the spread the same but reduce the “toppings”.
But there is always the issue of things being too sweet when there is too much filling. So in this instance, you get to control the sweetness. The filling itself isn’t too sweet, with the bitterness of the cocoa to balance it all, it falls into a nice neutral equilibrium. The control over the sweetness that you have will be from the type of chocolate you use. One thing to note is that the roasted hazelnuts will balance the chocolate as well as that itself isn’t sweet. So the main key thing will be the type of chocolate that you choose to use which will determine the sweetness.
Enough chat about babkas, it is time to get making:
I am using Gianduja in this to up the chocolate hazelnut flavour profile. It is definitely on the sweeter side (not quite milk chocolate but an in-between dark and milk). You could use 70% dark chocolate for a bittersweet filling, or 54% for a sweeter filling and if you dare, half milk and half dark.
You control the sweetness through the type of chocolate used. I do not recommend reducing the quantity of chocolate used but rather choosing the right type of chocolate instead, you could even go crazy and use 90% dark chocolate for a heavier bitter profile.
The bread flour I used in this has a 11.9% protein content which is part way through my usual 12.5% bread flour. This is just a note for you, feel free to adjust accordingly if you are familiar with playing around with protein levels.
I baked these in 7cm tart tins but you can use muffin tins. All you need it a vessel to hold that cute circle shape so it spreads like a flower. But, you could even go free form and not use anything at all and just bake them in their knotted shape. It’s all up to you 🙂
With the bread itself, the longer you proof it the more “bready” it will be, so just keep that in mind, you want it to be puffy but not too much. A 45min proof at 27C whilst the oven preheats usually is what I find works well. Refer to the video for a before and after difference in the proofing.
Chopping the filling small helps with reducing the chances of the filling tearing through the dough and also helps with ensuring it holds in place when you are shaping it.
I sprinkle the final dough with demerara sugar for an additional crunch which I enjoy. You don’t need to do this.
When egg washing the dough, be gentle. You don’t have to be too precious, but you don’t want to deflate it by being too harsh.
100g Gianduja, well chopped (or any other chocolate available to you)
Egg wash: 1 Egg, beaten
The night before, make the dough
Heat milk in a microwave for 20 seconds or until warm (40-45C)
Knead all the dough ingredients with a dough hook until shiny and smooth. It should take around 7-9 mins on medium speed.
Shaped into a ball and pat/flatten the dough out onto a sheet into a rectangle and slash three times with a knife (1/4” deep).
Cover and proof overnight in the fridge fridge.
The next day
Make the filling by mixing the butter, sugar, salt and cocoa powder together to form a paste. If your butter is too cold, just soften it in the microwave for 8 seconds or place it in a warm spot for a little while.
Roll dough out to 5” by 18” in size.
With the short side of the dough facing you, spread all of the chocolate filling evenly over the entire surface of the dough.
Sprinkle the chopped chocolate and hazelnuts on top and gently press it down to lock it in place.
Fold the dough down from the top by 1/3. Fold the bottom upwards to overlap top.
Cover and freeze for 5-10mins
Meanwhile, line your tart tin with baking paper or butter your muffin tins.
Take the dough out of the freezer and roll it along the length until it is approx 6”x12”.
Cut along the width into 5 strips that are 12” long.
Shape into knots (refer to video)
Taking one strip, twist the strip up and holding one end with you thumb and index finger, twirl it loosely around 3 of your fingers making as many rounds as you can’t when you start to run out of dough, tuck the end into the middle between the hole.
When removing your fingers, pinch the tucked dough and pull it through to lock it into the hole.
Place into your prepared mould and press the dough down gently to ensure it sits snugly in the mould.
Proof for around 45mins to 1hr (at 27C) until it looks slightly puffy and should increase in size by 20%. (Look at the layers to see if they have puffed up slightly, this dough won’t increase in size by too much, you don’t want it to double).
Brush wash on your dough and sprinkled with Demerara sugar.
Ensure your oven is preheated to 200C.
Place your tin/tray into the oven, reduce the heat to 180C and bake for 20-25mins
Remove from moulds and let cool on a rack fully before enjoying.
5 Comments Add yours
Hi is it possible if I use loaf pan instead of knot? How about the pan size? Thank youuuu!
Hey!!! I accidentally bought macadamia nuts instead of hazelnuts , do you think it will still work out ?
This looks awesome, thank you very much.
Could you please tell me what percentage of protein does the flour that you use has?
Thank you so much,
Can i use milk chocolate? How much milk chocolate is needed?