Rich buttery brioche dough with smart addition of chocolate and dried cherries turns into the best babka.
The result is worth the effort. But you have to plan baking this bread ahead of time – the dough needs to be refrigerated overnight.
The recipe is from “Chocolate Holidays”.
Serves about 12
For the dough:
- 3 cups bread flour
- 20 tbsp (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cold
- 2 ½ tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup warm water (105 to 115 F)
- 5 eggs, cold
- 1 ½ tsp salt
For the filling:
- ¾ cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 2/3 cup chopped semisweet chocolate
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp instant coffee or espresso powder
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup dried cherries
Spread the flour in a wide baking pan. Freeze at least 30 minutes or until needed.
Using the paddle attachment of a heavy-duty mixer, beat the cold butter only until creamy, smooth, and free of lumps when pinched between your fingers. Scrape the butter into a mound on parchment paper and refrigerate. Proceed with the recipe right away; a long delay will reharden the butter.
Dissolve the yeast and 1 tsp of sugar in the warm water. Pour the dissolved yeast in the mixer bowl. Attach the dough hook. Add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, salt, and the flour and mix until blended. Knead the dough on medium speed for 5 minutes. After kneading period the dough will be very soft, sticky, and elastic. It will all be wrapped around the dough hook. Add the cold creamed butter in several pieces, pushing it into the dough, and beat with the hook until thoroughly incorporated. Stop several times to scrape the dough from the bowl and hook. Scrape the dough into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Mix the filling ingredients and cover.
Up to 24 hours later, butter an 8 to 10-cup tube pan. Scrape the cold dough out onto a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle about 18x12x1/2 inches. Scatter the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch margin on 1 long edge. Moisten the margin with water. Beginning at the long edge opposite the margin, roll the dough up like a jelly roll. Press firmly to seal the roll. With the seam facing down, cut 18 slices, each about 1 inch thick. Toss the slices gently into the pan, without particularly arranging them. If you lay them flat in the pan, they will not stick together properly. Adjust the slices to reach the same level in the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake until the top is deeply browned and the bottom of the pan sounds hollow when tapped or until an instant-read thermometer registers about 190 F when inserted in the center of the bread, 45-50 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack.