Babka is a sweet enriched loaf that is somewhere between a bread and a cake. This satisfying coffee time treat originates from Eastern Europe but is now found in trendy bakeries and cafés all over the UK. We’ve used a chocolate and pecan filling to make our babka really luxurious, but you can experiement with other fillings to adapt this irresistible load to your own. Making a sweet and sticky babka takes a little time, but trust us, it’s so worth the effort.
- 120ml milk
- 1 x 7g sachet fast-acting yeast
- 300g strong bread flour
- 1tsp salt
- 40g caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1tsp vanilla paste
- 70g butter, cut into 3cm cubes
- 500g loaf tin
- For the filling
- 120g butter
- 80g dark muscovado sugar
- 100g dark chocolate, melted
- 100g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
- For the glaze
- 50g sugar
- 50ml water
Gently heat the milk in a saucepan until warm – do not boil or simmer. Remove from the heat, pour into a jug and allow to cool slightly. Sprinkle over the yeast and leave for 5-10 mins until foamy.
In a mixer bowl, mix the flour, salt and sugar. In a small bowl, beat the egg and vanilla together. Add the milk mixture and egg mixture to the dry ingredients, mixing using a dough hook, and knead on a low speed until a smooth, elastic dough has formed. Beat in the cubes of butter, a couple at a time, until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky. Cover the bowl with a wet cloth and leave at room temperature to prove for 5 hrs, or overnight, until doubled in size.
To make the filling, beat together all the ingredients except the pecans. Roll out the proved dough to form a 45 x 25cm rectangle. Spread over the filling, leaving a few cm around the border. Sprinkle over the nuts. From the long side of the rectangle, roll up the dough. Pinch together the edges to seal.
Cut down the length of the middle of the cylinder of dough, leaving about 5cm intact at one end. From this end, plait the two strands around each other, keeping the exposed filling facing up. Ease into the loaf tin (it may be a snug fit), cover lightly with clingfilm and leave to rise for another 1½-2 hrs.
Preheat oven to 170°C , then bake for 45-50 mins until cooked through – the dough should sound hollow when tapped. (Check the babka after 25 mins and cover with foil if the chocolate is getting too dark.).
To make the glaze, heat the sugar and water in a pan until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 5 mins and remove from the heat. As soon as the babka is out of the oven, brush over the glaze. When cool, slice to serve.