I don’t have a lot of things in common with Oprah. I don’t have my own TV network or magazine, and I don’t have the ability to give out cars to a full studio audience. But, just like Oprah, I. LOVE. BREAD.
Especially if that bread also contains chocolate, cinnamon, and pecans, and is personal sized (though sometimes a full loaf can also be personal sized if you try hard enough). So naturally, when a craving for something sweet hit me one Friday night, I decided to make myself some mini chocolate babka buns. The final results were perfectly sized, fluffy, swirled brioche-esque rolls with the perfect proportion of filling to bread.
Keep reading for a recipe for these mini delights or scroll to the end for steps on how to create a full-sized loaf!
For the Chocolate Babka:
- 1 and 1/2 cups warm milk
- 2 packages (1 tablespoon) active dry yeast
- 2 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 14 oz semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and a pinch of sugar over the milk, whisk gently, and let stand until foamy. (Around 5 minutes.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, and egg yolks. Slowly pour yeast mixture into egg mixture and whisk to combine.
- In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and fold until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add 2 sticks butter, and mix until a smooth, soft dough is formed, about 10 minutes. I like to do this with my hands, but you can also use a stand mixture fitted with the dough hook attachment.
- Gently turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few times until smooth. Place dough in a large buttered glass bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Combine chocolate, pecans, 1 cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined; set filling aside.
- Generously butter 3 12-cup muffin tins and line each with a strip of parchment paper long enough to reach above the edge of the tin.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees
- Punch back the dough, and cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working withthe remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-by-8 inch rectangle; it should be 1/8 inch thick.
- Crumble 1/3 of the chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Roll dough up tightly like a cinnamon roll and inch ends together to seal (If creating a loaf instead, skip down to that recipe from here).
- Fold roll in half length-wise and twist 5 or 6 times, pulling gently until the roll reaches the original length.
- Use a sharp knife to remove the ends of the roll and cut the rest into 2 1/2 inch sections, placing each cut-side-up into muffin tins.
- Repeat with other 2/3 of dough, or use the remaining rolls to create babka loaves (as shown below)
- Cover trays with plastic wrap and let rise for another hour in a warm place.
- Bake rolls for about 30 minutes or until babkas are golden brown, rotatingthe trays halfway through. Remove from oven, and use parchment paper to remove the rolls from the tins.
- Mix remaining 1/2 cup sugar and tablespoon of cinnamon in a small bowl, and roll ach babka roll in the mixture while still warm, so that the sugar adheres to the outside.
- You’re done! Try to save some for your friends, but don’t be too worried if you fail.
To Create a Babka Loaf…
Start from Step 9 of original recipe
- After creating your roll, cut in half lengthwise, being careful not to let any filling spill out.
- Pinch the ends of the halves together, and “braid” the two together, making sure the cut side remains facing upwards.
- Pinch the other ends together, and fold the braided rope into thirds, still keeping the cut side facing up.
- Gently fit the dough into your buttered loaf pan and bake for around 55 minutes, until golden brown and a dowel inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Use parchment paper strips to remove loaf from tin.
- Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top of babka and cut into thin slices to serve