A babka is a braided loaf recipe that was recently on the Great British Bake Off… and as i’ve been attempting a few recipes recently Mrs Barry put this right to the top of the list – and it’s quite a fun challenge! Braiding the dough was tricky, but the taste, particularly with the homemade roasted hazelnuts and chocolate spread, was out of this World! It did not last long! I’m not sure how accurate this is to an authentic Babka, but I enjoyed taking on the challenge…Good luck if you try it 🙂
First up pre-heat an oven to 200c/180fan/gas6 pour the hazelnuts into a roasting tin and bake for 5-10 mins, keeping an eye on them, giving them a shake halfway through until golden brown, don’t take your eyes off them or they will burn! Allow to cool slightly, then chop half of them roughly in half / into small chunks, and whizz up the other half in a food processor to make them finely chopped.
In a saucepan add the butter, sugar and chocolate. Heat gently over a low flame continually stirring, until smooth and melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until fully dissolved. Pour into a small bowl and allow to cool fully.
Make the dough by adding the flour into a bowl, put the yeast to one side and the sugar and salt to the other. Make a well and add the milk and beaten eggs. Mix with a spoon then knead together. Ideally for this step use a stand mixer or like me (for the first time ever!) use an electric whisk with dough hooks! Add the butter cubes in small batches and blend in fully until all the butter is in there and fully blended. Continue kneading for a good 5 minutes at least, if it is too sticky add a little extra flour, but it needs to be quite tacky.
Flour a board and roll the dough out (or use a non-slip baking mat) into a 40x30cm rectangle. Spread the chocolate mix onto the dough leaving a 1 cm border, then sprinkle all of the nuts onto the chocolate mix again keeping that border all the way around. Turn the board so the longest edge is facing you and tightly roll the dough up like a swiss roll, pressing the dough down on the seams. This will be very long! Use a knife to trim off the ends. Now take a knife and slice all the way down the dough. Turn the dough up so the cut side is facing up, then join at one end at the top, pressing the two strips together (the video shows this well). Weave the dough together, tightly to make it nice and fat, lifting one side of the other until you reach the end.
Line your baking dish with baking parchment and if it looks like it won’t fit in, start the weave again, to make it as snug as you can, cutting off any excess (bake this separately!)… lift into the prepared tin. Cover with cling film and leave to prove for 2 hours to double in size.
Bake in a pre-heated oven 190c/170fan/gas5 for 15 minutes, then lower the temp by 20 degrees 170c/150fan/gas3 and bake until golden brown on top and a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin.
Just before taking the babka out the oven, add the sugar and water to a saucepan, heat on a medium flame on the hob, stirring until dissolved, once it hits a simmer, lower the heat, stop stirring and let bubble for 5 minutes to reduce down. Then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Use a silicone brush and coat the babka with the sugar syrup generously all over the top, allow to cool before lifting out and serving in slices! Absolutely gorgeous!
As I say I have no idea how authentic this is, but it according to Mrs Barry she loved it and it was a really fun challenge! Enjoy 🙂