Hello all! Greetings from the world of a new mom! Things are crazy and wonderful. Our little honey is about 6 weeks old and we are absolutely in love with her. We are also completely sleep deprived and occasionally forget to eat, but hey. Such is life. It’s totally worth it in every possible way. All the insanity of a new baby has left me little time for baking new things, so this entry is actually about a bake I did weeeeeeks ago when I was still pregnant and still sleeping at least 6 uninterrupted hours a night. It’s a recipe that has been on my list for almost a year, so when I finally stopped working in preparation for the nugget’s arrival, I spent two days plowing through it and finally got it done.
Also, and this is wicked important, this is the first shoot we have done in the house with proper equipment. I have a camera that works pretty well, but I’m a hobby baker and a shutterbug. I’m not a professional blogger or photographer by any means. I’ve been #blahblahblessed with homes that boast relatively lovely lighting. This house though. Not so much. Eric noticed my struggle and purchased a diffuser and bounce card set. Thing. And this is the first time we got to use them.
Boom. Best husband ever.
It was glorious. So. I’m sure you are wondering: What multi day bake did you use for the maiden voyage of your fancy photo stuff?
It is a swirly, doughy, delicious bread with a chocolate filling and it made. my. life.
This one is going to take some time kids. So pull up a bean bag chair and settle in. Let’s go.
Note: If you don’t own a bean bag chair, that’s fine. You can absolutely just. Sit in a regular chair. Or on the floor. You can lie down if you want…whatever makes you comfortable. Ok. Back to it.
The first step in this journey is to form the dough. Gather your carb arsenal. Your CARBSENAL!
And no. I will not apologize for any horrible jokes in this post. A newborn at home means lack of sleep and all of a sudden the most random things are funny. Hence. Carbsenal. #blahblahbaby 🙂
Note. This is different than how I would normally start a yeast dough. However, the proving time on this is way longer than normal and I have never attempted this kind of recipe before, so I just made it without twisting anything up.
H’ok. Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and orange zest in a standing mixer. You can literally just stir them with a wooden spoon, but the standing mixer will come in super handy in a minute, so why dirty an extra bowl? Can you do this without a standing mixer? Of course. Life went on before Kitchenaid. Is it easier? Hell to the yes.
To this mixture, add eggs and warm water (I heated mine to about 100°). Mix with the dough hook until the dough just comes together. It won’t form a full ball, but it should start pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Lower the speed to the lowest setting and your salt. Start adding the butter. You want to add it a little at a time until it is all incorporated into the dough.
Turn it out onto a VERY well floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is no longer sticky and will hold it’s own shape.
You can also use the window pane test. Take a little bit of the dough and stretch it a little. If you can see light through it when you hold it up, the gluten has developed properly. If not, knead a minute more and check again. Repeat until it passes. When you have your dough all kneaded and properly smooth and what not, place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in fridge to rise overnight.
Ok. Here is where I need to make a small confession. The recipe says, “overnight”. They probably meant 8 or 9 hours. I might have let it go for closer to…14. Maybe. Don’t do that. Stick to 8 or 9. Trust me.
Oh take a picture of your cat while you wait. Don’t have a cat? Get a cat, take a picture.
Anyway. When that part is done and it is the next day, or later that same day if you started it wicked early, it is time to prepare and use the delicious chocolate filling! 🙂
Melt the chocolate and butter together and stir until smooth like butter. And chocolate. Melted together.
Stir in powdered sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon until completely, and I mean completely, incorporated. It should form a thick paste. Remember that episode of Friends where Ross wore the leather pants and his legs were all sweaty and he tried to use baby powder to absorb the sweat but it formed a paste? Like that. But spreadable. Also, don’t wear leather pants.
Now we USE the filling. So. We prep our bread loaves in the typical fashion. Brush them with oil or melted butter and line them with parchment paper or dust with flour. I went with parchment paper for this one. Your preference.
This recipe makes 2 loaves. Divide your dough in half and whatever dough you aren’t working with, keep it in the fridge. This way, the butter in the dough stays cold. Roll the dough out on a well floured surface to about a 10×12 inch rectangle and yes I did actually use a ruler. I was being all weird and precise with this.
I mean. Not straight edges precise (obvi) but more precise than normal for a hobby baker like me. 🙂
Ok. Spread half the filling evenly over the dough leaving about a 1/4 inch border all around.
Now, roll it into a cigar shape. Start with the end closest to you and use a little dab of water to seal it up when you are done. Then transfer to a floured baking sheet.
Repeat all these steps with the other half of the dough then place both rolls into the fridge for 15-20 minutes or the freezer for 5-10. I did the fridge because my freezer was completely stuffed with freezer meals. Because pregnant and nesting. This step is super helpful. It helps the dough and filling to set up a bit and makes everything easier to work with later on.
It’s later on!
We are ready to take on assembling this thing.
Apparently that’s an Avengers thing. I’m not going to lie. I knew it was a comic book/cartoon thing, but ha No. Clue. Which one. Moving on.
Take one of your cigar log things and slice it in half lengthwise. Pinch together the ends at the top to form a ‘V’.
Now, twist the two halves together to form a rope like shape. Try to keep the filling showing as much as you can. It might get messy. But honestly, with all the flour that is everywhere, it’s like…not even a big deal.
Transfer the twist into one of the prepared loaf pans. You kind of have to snake it around and when you are finished, it should be about the same depth all around the loaf pan. Repeat with the other half of dough. When you are done, you will have two pans and two loaves. Cover them both with a clean tea towel and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
Bake at 375° for at least 30 minutes. It may take a little longer. Mine took longer. Test them after 30 minutes. A knife inserted should yield no resistance when going in and pulling out of the loaf.
As the loaves are baking, make a simple syrup. Bring sugar and water to a simmer on the stovetop and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat immediately. Since I’m super good at this whole blogging thing, I absolutely didn’t forget to take pictures of that.
I actually totally forgot. #blahblahbluffing But honestly, stuff on the stovetop is super tough to shoot. If you let it go too long or you are distracted, your syrup could scorch. Gross. Scorched stuff is gross. (That’s for you Phil)
Once the loaves are out of the oven, brush them all over with the syrup.
Let them cool in the loaf pans about 10-15 minutes, then remove from the pans and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
Look good huh?
Confession. They didn’t…exactly…bake…all the way through. I baked mine for about 45 minutes and did the knife test. I thought they were good, but when I cut into them, they were a bit raw right in the center. Either a bit higher temperature or baking for closer to an hour probably would have done the trick. Or, you know, maybe not letting the dough prove for like…14 hours. There were factors.
Good news, most of the bread was fine. I ripped it apart and had babka bites for several days! So, even though there weren’t beautifully swirled slices, the bread tasted delicious and I was able to achieve the swirls I wanted in the bits I salvaged.
I was all set to toss both loaves in the trash, but Eric encouraged me to try and find something in them that would work. So I did. Sometimes, life doesn’t exactly work out. The baby cries all day, your hair won’t hold it’s curl, your bread won’t quite bake through. But you have to figure out how to keep going and find something shiny to hold on to. This plate of swirly babka bits? My something shiny. 🙂
Nosh on, friends!
Yield: 2 loaves Prep: Just clear a couple days yo. Bake: 45-55 minutes. ish. maybe. You might have to play with this one
4 1/2 cups flour (sifted)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp instant yeast (different than the usual active dry yeast you might use for bread- be careful with this-make sure you get the right one!)
zest of a small orange
3 large eggs
1/2 cup water
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter (melted)
4 1/2 oz dark chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder (sifted)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup water
6 Tbsp sugar
- Combine flour, sugar, yeast and orange zest in the bowl of a standing mixer.
- Add eggs, and warm water. Mix with dough hook until it comes together and the ball starts pulling away from the bowl.
- Lower speed and add salt. Pour in the melted butter a little at a time until it is all incorporated.
- Turn out the dough onto a clean and well floured surface. Knead 10 minutes, until bread is smooth and will hold it’s own shape. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in the fridge for about 8 hours.
- After 8 hours, prepare the filling. Melt butter and chocolate together. Stir until smooth and shiny. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and stir until completely smooth. It should be thick but spreadable.
- Prepare your loaf pans. Remove dough from fridge and divide in half. Put half the dough back in the fridge. Roll the half you are working with into a 10×12 rectangle. Spread half the chocolate filling onto the dough leaving about 1/4 inch border all around. Roll the rectangle up to make a log and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat this entire step with the other half of dough and the other half of the filling. You will have two logs on the one baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove baking sheet from fridge. Take one roll and cut in half lengthwise, keeping the filling facing up as much as possible. Twist the two halves together. Lay the twist in one of the prepared loaf pans. Repeat this step with the other roll and place it in the other loaf pan.
- Bake at 375° for 35-45 minutes, checking the doneness starting at 35 minutes.
- While bread is baking, make the syrup. Combine sugar and water on the stovetop and bring to a simmer. Stir continuously until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture is smooth.
- Remove bread from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool in the pans. While bread is still warm, brush with the syrup. Let cool for 10-15 minutes in pans then remove and transfer to wire rack. Let cool completely before slicing.