I've always had a soft spot for babka, mostly because of how beautiful it is when you slice it open. The intricate swirls always entrance me. Plus, throw a little butter on it, and you have a delectable tender, sweet bread. This recipe yields two wonderful loaves ofbuttermilk babka with chocolate hazelnut spread. It's great warm out of the oven, with a little butter. A great treat for anytime of the day.
Wait…this recipe takes over 24 hours?
Yes! But, it's mostly inactive time as you wait for the dough to rise. This dough needs to proof twice. Once on its own, and once after you've formed it into loaves. Allowing it the space to slowly rise, you will create a better crumb. I know the GBBO had their contestants make babka in only a few hours, but traditional babka takes a long time. Mostly, it is because of that second proof. By placing it in the fridge, you allow the flavors to develop overnight, and you end up with a better tasting loaf with a really wonderful, delicate texture.
If you're short on time, you can of course rush the process, but the end result will not be nearly as fantastic as if you let it "sleep" overnight in your fridge.
That swirl seems awfully hard…
That swirl is super intimidating the first time you do it. But, up until you cut the dough to twist it, just pretend like you are rolling up cinnamon rolls! Then, you just have to slice it so that the inside is expose and give it a gentle "over" and "under" until you have a twist. It will feel a bit awkward and clunky the first time you do it. Just use it as an excuse to make more buttermilk babka, so you can feel more comfortable with the twisting process!
Does it have to be chocolate hazelnut spread?
It doesn't have to be, but if you've never had it, I highly recommend trying buttermilk babka with chocolate hazelnut spread first. You can also use a cinnamon sugar mixture, peanut butter, a thick jam! Whatever you use, make sure it is a really thick consistency. You don't want the filling to ooze everywhere when you roll and cut it.
And, if you find yourself with a little babka left over, it makes great french toast or bread pudding! It's the loaf that keeps on giving.
Love and butter--Kristi
- ½ cup butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 packet active yeast
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups bread flour
- 7.7 oz Nutella
Dough and First Rise
- Heat your buttermilk to 110°F and stir in 1 tablespoon sugar. Once dissolved, add yeast. Let activate for ten minutes.
- While activating, combine flour and sugar in stand mixer. Add in yeast mixture. Begin to stir with the dough hook on Level 1. When the yeast mixture is almost fully incorporated, add an egg one at a time. Then, add in small chunks of butter. When mixture is homogenous, turn mixture to 3 and let knead for 5 minutes. Dough should be sticky, but you should be able to pull away a piece and have it pass the window pane test. If not, let it mix for another minute and test again.
- Transfer dough to a greased bowl. Cover in cling wrap and drape with a towel in a warm place until doubled in size (2 hours on a warm day, 3-4+ on a cold).
Braiding and Second Rise
- Once doubled, turn out on a floured surface. Roll into large rectangle with the dough about ⅛" thick.
- Spread chocolate hazelnut spread in a thin layer to the edge of the dough. Tightly roll the dough along the longest side (so you're left with a very long log). Divide into half. With your first half, cut the dough down the center of the spiral (you'll now see the swirl exposed). Twist the two halves, with the exposed lines of the spread to the top of the twist. Repeat with second half. Place in greased bread pans, cover, and place in fridge for 8-20 hours.
- When ready to bake, remove dough and place on top of stove to come to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Take one egg and beat into froth, brush onto dough. Bake bread for one hour, until top is a deep, golden brown. Let cool and enjoy!