Chocolate babka

Years ago, the town I lived in at the time was briefly host to a bakery that, during the month of December only, would sell chocolate babka. They lasted less than a year and I think I only got my hands on two loaves of it at the time–but it was so good, so rich and luxurious, and so evocative of the sparkling, celebratory feeling of the holiday season–that I’ve never forgotten it. I’m sure there are many chocolate babka recipes on the internet, but here is how I make it. I make no claims to authenticity, just to deliciousness.

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Ingredients
4-5 cups flour (I use 1 cup whole wheat, the rest white all-purpose)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (that’s 1 packet)
1 cup milk
5 T butter
1/3 c sugar
1/2 t salt
2 eggs
1/4 c dark cocoa powder
1/4 c sugar
3 T butter

Method
Put 2 cups flour and the yeast in the bowl of your mixer. Put milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a heatproof container and microwave until it is between 120F and 130F. Add to flour mixture. Add eggs. Stir, adding flour until mixture comes together in a workable dough. Knead with your mixer for 12 minutes or by hand for 8 minutes, until dough is soft and elastic. Leave in an oiled bowl in a warm place to rise until doubled, about an hour.

Punch down dough and cut it in two pieces. Combine 1/4 c cocoa and 1/4 c sugar. Melt the 3 T butter. Roll each dough half into a square about 12″ x 12″. Brush dough with butter, then sprinkle half of cocoa-sugar mixture on each half. Roll up like a jelly roll, then tuck the ends under so that each roll fits in a standard loaf pan. Put rolls in greased loaf pans, and leave to rise for another hour, or until the dough has filled the pan.

Bake at 375 for 35 minutes. Enjoy!

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