Chocolate is a universal love language, enjoyed by most and can be gifted to your BAE, regardless of gender or made for your family. To make things more personal we opted for something homemade and made with love and lots of butter.
Chocolate swirl bread, also known as Babka is a tasty rich bread that almost a cross between bread and cake. Filled with a thick chocolate sauce or spread and either chocolate chips, chopped berries and chopped roasted nuts. It’s a stunner at the table and with a flavour, you won’t easily forget.
You can customize the flavour by choosing how sweet to make the chocolate sauce and what additions to add to the filling. It’s perfect dunked in a cup of frothy hot chocolate or warm milk.
Chocolate Swirl bread (Babka)Print This
TOOLS & INGREDIENTS
This makes 2 loaves so you can opt to make either 2 of the chocolate swirl bread at a go, make one just a simple loaf or freeze the dough to use up at a later date. The recipe can also be easily halved. The bread also freezes really well. If wrapped well, it can be frozen for up to 2 months.
- 4 cups (560g) of All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 a cup (100g) of fine sugar
- 1 cup (240ml) of milk
- 1/2 a cup (112g) of unsalted butter
- 2 eggs
If you find bread cooked with eggs having offensively eggy, in that the smell and /or taste of eggs quite offensive, you can opt to use either one egg and one egg yolk, or just the egg yolks. If you do, top increase the liquid in the recipe by 2 tablespoons per egg.
- 1 tablespoon instant / active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon of fine salt
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
I find the flavour of imitation vanilla (vanilla essence) quite strong, so if you have to use it use half the indicated amount.
Chocolate Sauce (optional)
You can opt to use your favourite chocolate spread instead
This chocolate sauce is enough for 2 loaves with a little extra but can go well with anything sweet from ice cream to pancake. It also keeps for 1 – 3 months in the fridge so making more than you need is definitely a plus. However, if you can half the recipe to make just what you need if you are making one loaf.
- 3/4 cup (240ml) of water/milk
What you use depends on whether you prefer dark or milk chocolate. I used water coz I sometimes like dark chocolate.
- 1/4 cup (25g) – 1/2 cup (50g) of unsweetened cocoa powder
This depends on how you like the chocolate you eat. If you like your chocolate sweet with very little bitterness. Add the least amount of cocoa. If you like bittersweet chocolate, add the most amount of cocoa. If you like it in between shoot for a middle ground between the least and most amount. If you use the least amount or middle ground ensure to thicken with cornstarch, using more cornstarch with the least amount of cocoa.I hope this makes sense.
- 1/2 cup – 1 cup (100g – 200g) of sugar
Just like with cocoa, this depending on how sweer you want it. If you like bittersweet chocolate (70%+) use the lesser amount if you like your chocolate sweet use most amount. I used 3/4 cup (150g)
- 4 tablespoons (56g) of unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract -> I using imitation vanilla (vanilla essence), use 1/2 a teaspoon
- 1/8 teaspoon of fine salt (optional)
- 2 – 3 tablespoons of cornstarch (optional) -> Use if using the lesser amount of cocoa
- 2 tablespoons of water (optional) -> To make the cornstarch slurry
Simple syrup (optional)
This syrup is enough to glaze 2 loaves with a bit of surplus. You can store the extra in the fridge to use at a later date for anything from cocktails to cakes (it can last up to a month in the fridge) or halve it for one loaf. If halving it, make sure to use a smaller pot/pan so the water gets to cover the sugar.
- 1/4 cup (60ml) of water
- 1/4 cup (50g) of sugar
- Up to 150g ( 1 – 2 handfuls per loaf) of your desired toppings.
I used around 50g of chocolate chips and chopped berries.
- Chopped berries
- Chocolate chips
- Chopped roasted nuts
Making the brioche dough
- In a mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, and salt. Whisk until everything is well mixed.
- If you are using instant dry yeast, that has not been sitting for a while in your cabinet, add it to the flour mixture and whisk it in until it is evenly dispersed. If using active dry yeast, or just to ensure your instant yeast is alive, warm the milk until slightly warmer than lukewarm (around 37c – 48c). You want it warm enough to activate the yeast but not too hot to kill the yeast. Mix the yeast into the milk and let bloom for 5 – 10 minutes until it gets frothy and smells of beer. Do this with instant yeast as well if you do not bake often so as to confirm that your yeast is alive.
- Mix in the eggs into the milk then add the mixture into the flour mixture.
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients with your hands or a wooden spoon until a sort of shaggy dough forms.
- Dump the dough onto your work surface and knead until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated and a uniform dough has formed.
- Add in the butter a little at a time kneading after each addition until all the butter is well incorporated.
- Once all the butter is mixed in, knead the dough until it stops sticking to your surface. This should take just a few minutes.
- If the dough is still tearing, set it aside for 5 – 10 minutes then knead it again. It will soft smooth and supple in no time. The dough should be very soft and slightly sticky but not overly wet or stiff.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel if placing in a draft-free place (like a turned-off oven or microwave) or plastic wrap if placing on the counter. Keep at room temp for 1 1/2 to 2 hours to rise until around doubled in size.
- Once doubled in size, punch the dough to degas it then dump it on your surface and cut into 2 somewhat even portions.
- Shape each portion into a square (it does not have to be precise but try to make the edges as square as possible) and wrap each with plastic wrap.
- Place the portioned doughs in the refrigerator for 1 – 4 hrs (up to overnight) until cold. This helps in the rolling and shaping of the dough.
Making the chocolate sauce
- In a heavy bottom saucepan, the water (or milk) and the sugar. Bring to a boil stirring intermittently until the sugar dissolves.
- Once the sugar dissolves, reduce the heat to low then add the cocoa powder a little bit at a time as you constantly whisk so no lumps form.
- Once the cocoa is all mixed in, keep the sauce on low heat for around a minute or two so the cocoa cooks and the mixture gets thick. If you are adding cornstarch, mix the cornstarch with water to make a slurry then add it in before letting everything cook.
- Turn off the heat and stir in your butter a little bit at a time then finish off by optionally stirring in the salt and vanilla.
- The mixture should be thick and glossy but still pourable. It may feel quite thin especially for spreading, but it thickens up a lot more as it cools.
- Pour it into a heat-safe container and place it aside to cool. Once cool you can store it in the fridge for 1 – 3 months using it whenever needed.
Making the sugar syrup
- In a heavy bottom saucepan, the water and the sugar. Bring to a boil stirring intermittently until the sugar dissolves.
- Once the sugar dissolves, turn off the heat and pour it in a heat-safe jar to cool. Once cool you can store it in the fridge for up to a month using whenever you need.
Shaping the bread
- Once the dough is cold, remove the plastic wrap and place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll it out to around a quarter-inch trying to keep it in a square/rectangle shape as much as possible.
- Spread the chocolate sauce (recipe above)/chocolate spread all over the rolled out dough trying to spread as evenly as possible. We want nice defined layers so spread the chocolate from edge to edge.
- Sprinkle a handful of chocolate chips, chopped nuts, chopped berries or a mixture of all on the dough. Do not be too heavy-handed on this, we do not want the loaf to be heavy.
I used a handful of chocolate chips and chopped strawberries with a bit of lemon zest.
- Start rolling the dough on the shorter side. Use your thumbs to sort of lift the edge of the dough and start rolling into a fat jelly roll.
- Once rolled, you can opt to put the loaf into the fridge for 15 – 30 minutes before the next step to make it easier to cut and braid the loaf.
- Cut the rolled dough lengthwise. Then cross the two halves like an x ensuring to keep the cut side up.
- Twist the dough, from edge to edge twisting the dough one on top of the other. Ensure to always keep the cut side up.
- Place the dough on a greased and lined bread tin, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let proof for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours until doubled in size.
Baking the bread
- As the dough rises (30 minutes to an hour before the dough is ready to bake) preheat the oven to 175ºC (fan) / 190ºC (conventional).
- Once preheated, bake on the bread at the bottom third of the oven for 35 – 40 mins rotating halfway if need be to get an even bake. If the bread starts getting too dark, tent a piece of aluminium on it until done.
- You will know the bread is done if the bottom sounds hollow once tapped or the centre registers around 90ºC – 95ºC on an instant-read thermometer. It should also be well browned all over.
Glazing the bread
Glazing the bread is optional but I find it gives it a subtle crisp crust with a hint of sweetness. It also makes the bread shiny and helps it keep well (for 3 – 5 days at room temp, if it will last that long).
- Once the bread is out of the oven, immediately apply a thin coating of sugar syrup on the hot loaf while still in the tin. I find a silicone brush does a great job.
- Let the loaf cool in the tin for 10 – 15 minutes then remove from the tin and let cool on a wire rack. The loaves slice best when completely cool but you can enjoy a slice while slightly warm.
- Serve it with a cup of hot cocoa or milk.