This is for Peter somewhere in Hungary
When I saw Marcy Goldman's complex babka recipe in “A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking”, I decided to look for the recipe on line, thinking someone may have cracked it by now. Well sure enough there were numerous postings of it, Gourmet magazine, Cooks.com and most of the Jewish bakers including Rose Levy Beranbaum paid homage to Goldman’s babka. Indeed it is not only a superb babka, Goldman’s babka is a work of art.
At first I wondered why there were so many versions of it; always the same babka, but with different fillings. To be honest; I was less than impressed with Goldman’s fillings. I found all were too sweet for my palate and the chocolate ganache lacked the intensity if you can believe it. I think the addition of cinnamon weakened the expected chocolate-ness of the babka. So I left out the cinnamon from the filling and added it to the crumb coating instead. It worked. There is still a cinnamon flavour and aroma but there is also an intense chocolate experience and with the two distinct flavours separated they seem to work in harmony. I figured that half of Goldman’s recipe would make a substantial sized babka, so I cut the ingredients in half. At the end of the post I am including Goldman’s original list of ingredients.
In yeast baking, letting the first rise go too long is counterproductive. So I barely let the dough double the first time around. This in turn can produce a much loftier and yet structurally sound second rising.
I buttered the bottom and the sides of a round spring form baking pan, which should have made it easy to remove the babka. But I had to cut around it with a blunt knife and muster all my skill to extract the babka from the pan. There is the possibility of chocolate oozing out or the crumb topping fusing to the side of the pan. So my advice is to fully line the pan with parchment paper and butter it as well.
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp rapid rise instant yeast
pinch of sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 drop pure almond extract
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
3/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp milk powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter - softened in small pieces
1-1/2 cups bread flour
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour butter for greasing
1/2 cup sifted cocoa
1 Tbsp instant coffee granules
3/4 cup sugar
1 pkg. vanilla sugar
1/8 cup melted butter
l egg yolk
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
• In a large mixing bowl, whisk together water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar.
• Let stand about five minutes to allow yeast to swell and dissolve.
• Stir in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, almond extract, lemon juice, sugar, salt and the milk powder. • Fold in the softened butter and flour.
• Mix the dough and then knead it as it becomes a mass [with a dough hook or by hand] for about 8 minutes. Dough will be very smooth and elastic.
• Place the dough in a well buttered bowl and place entire bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. • Allow to rise until for 45 minutes or until almost doubled in volume.
• Meanwhile line a large a 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper and generously butter the parchment.
• In a small bowl, combine the sifted cocoa, instant coffee granules, sugar and the vanilla sugar.
• Place the crumb topping ingredients in a small bowl and rub between the hands until well combined.
• On a lightly floured board, roll the dough into a rectangle.
• Spread the top with melted butter.
• Spread the cocoa mix all over the dough surface. Roll up in jelly roll style.
• Pinch the ends and place the rolled up dough in the prepared pan.
• Brush the top with egg yolk.
• Scatter the crumb coating over the top and set it to rise for 1.5 hours or until doubled in size.
• Preheat oven to 350 F.
• Bake the babka for 35-40 minutes or until medium brown in colour.
• Remove from the oven and place on the wire rack for 15 minutes.
• Remove babka from the baking pan and serve it on a platter.
• Yields 1 babka
Goldman’s original dough yields two babkas:
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons yeast
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 drops almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk powder
1 cup unsalted butter - softened in small pieces
3 cups white bread flour
3 cups all purpose flour
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