Tear and share this sweet loaf.
Bored of mince pies and stollen? Swap them for a big old slice of babka cake. It’s traditionally an Eastern European sweet yeast bake, but is popular in America too.
Top tip: If you’d like your babka very sweet and moist, brush the top of it with a sugar syrup once it’s out of the oven.
(Makes 1 loaf)
For the dough:
1.5tsp dried yeast
1 generous pinch of salt
70g butter, softened
For the filling:
50g hazelnuts, blanched, coarsely chopped
1tbsp brown sugar
70g chocolate (70% cocoa)
25g icing sugar
2tbsp cocoa powder
Butter for the tin
Flour for dusting the work surface
1. For the dough, combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, milk and butter and knead everything for about 10 minutes to make a smooth, pliable dough. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave the dough to rise for about one hour.
2. Meanwhile, for the filling, dry-roast the hazelnuts in a small frying pan. Add the sugar and caramelise lightly. Combine the semi-sweet chocolate and butter and melt over a double boiler. Set aside to cool, then stir in the icing sugar and cocoa powder.
3. Butter the loaf tin. Dust your work surface with flour and roll the dough out to a rectangle about 35 x 25cm. Spread the chocolate filling evenly across the dough, leaving a margin of about 1.5cm. Sprinkle with the caramelised nuts, then roll up the dough tightly and evenly, starting from the narrow side. Halve the rolled-up dough lengthwise with a sharp knife to allow the layers of dough and filling to fan out decoratively. Pinch the ends together and carefully intertwine the two strands, making sure that the cut surfaces always point upwards. Transfer the intertwined dough roll to the loaf tin, cover and set aside to rise for another hour.
4. Make sure to preheat the oven in time to 175°C (330°F/Gas mark 4-5). Bake the babka for 30–35 minutes. If the surface gets too dark, cover the loaf with tin foil after about half of the baking time. Remove the tin from the oven and set aside to cool before removing the babka from the tin. Leave to cool fully before slicing.
New York Christmas: Recipes And Stories by Lisa Nieschlag and Lars Wentrup, photography by Lisa Nieschlag and Julia Cawley, is published by Murdoch Books. Available now.