Vegan Chocolate Babka

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Babka swirls are all I can think about now days. I mean, those rich chocolate swirls of goodness are what dreams are made of.


Babka is a Jewish sweet bread typically made from a brioche or challah dough that's roots trace back to Eastern Europe. This babka recipe is my take on a pretty standard babka recipe except, I've made a couple different tweaks to make it vegan. Although this babka recipe can be made vegan, it is so fluffy, soft, and moist you would never be able to tell. I would rather think of this as Chocolate Babka, that just so happens to be vegan.


This recipe features a Japanese milk bread technique called "tangzhong." Essentially, when applying this technique, you cook about about a tenth of your total amount of flour with a 50/50 mix of water and milk until it forms a thick paste. This paste helps keep your dough hydrated and creates the fluffiest and most tender final product. Since this recipe is vegan, the tangzhong ensures that the bread stays soft and pillowy.


Babka recipes always seem intimidating at first, but I can assure you, you got this. Before starting, I recommend reading through the recipe once to fully understand what you are doing.

TOTAL TIME: 1 hour, 45 minutes (plus rising) SERVINGS: 2 loaves


INGREDIENTS:

Tangzhong:

60 grams all purpose flour

150 grams milk of choice

150 grams water

Yeast:

150 grams milk of choice

1 packet active dry yeast

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Dough:

540 grams all purpose flour (or 50/50 all purpose with bread flour)

1/3 cup yogurt or 1/3 cup milk of choice

6 tablespoons regular or vegan butter (melted and cooled)

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

5 tablespoons granulated sugar

Filling:

1/2 cup butter

5 oz. vegan/regular chocolate chips (about 1 cup)

1/3 cup cocoa (preferably dutch process)

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Splash of milk of choice/cream if necessary

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon espresso powder/instant coffee

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt Syrup:

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup granulated sugar

METHOD:

  1. Tangzhong: Start by creating your tangzhong. Whisk together your flour, milk, and water allotted for the tangzhong in a small pot. Then place the pot over a medium flame and keep whisking until it forms a paste. This should take about 2 minutes. Once it forms a paste, immediately take it off the heat and set it aside.

  2. Dough: Measure out the flour, sugar, and salt allotted for your dough and mix together in a bowl. Place your tangzhong on top of this dry mixture and let it sit while you prepare your yeast. Do not mix it together.

  3. Yeast: To activate the yeast, we will mix the yeast with some warm milk and sugar. Heat up your milk allotted for the yeast until it is 110°F. It should be lukewarm. If it is too hot, let it cool down until it is warm like bath water. Pour the yeast packed in and 1 tablespoon of sugar and gently stir. Let the sit mixture for 5-7 minutes. The yeast mixture will foam up a little which means that the yeast is activating.

  4. Dough: After your yeast has activated, pour it into your dry ingredients along with 1/3 cup yogurt/milk and 6 tablespoons of melted and cooled butter. Either using the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer, or your hands, mix together everything until fully combined. When all of the ingredients are incorporated, the dough should feel pretty sticky. This is normal, we are now going to kneed it.

  5. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in that bowl. Kneed it in that bowl for about 5 minutes. Then shape it into a ball, cover, and place it in a warm room (about 70° F) for 60-90 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.

  6. Filling: Towards the end of your first rise, prepare the filling. Whisk together your cocoa, powdered sugar, cinnamon, espresso powder, and salt. Make sure to whisk out any clumps or sift all of these ingredients together.

  7. Place your butter and chocolate chips in a small saucepan and let everything melt on a low flame. Make sure to keep mixing to ensure that the chocolate does not burn. Once melted, mix the dry ingredients into the melted chocolate mixture. If it seems too thick, add a splash of cream/milk to thin it out a little.

  8. Assembly: Once your dough has doubled in size, to check that it is ready, you should gently poke at it. If it springs back and leaves a slight indent, it is ready.

  9. Before you roll out the dough, coat 2 loaf pans with butter or cooking spray.

  10. Then, remove your dough onto a floured surface and divide it in half. Place one half back in the bowl and cover it.

  11. Roll out your dough half into a 9x15 rectangle on a lightly floured or oiled surface. Spread half of the chocolate mixture evenly, making sure to leave a 1 inch edge along one of the short sides. Gently roll the rectangle into a log, starting from the short edge with no chocolate. Once you’ve rolled it into a log, place on a tray and refrigerate it while you repeat this process to the other half of your dough. You can also freeze the log for about 5-7 minutes instead of refrigerating.

  12. Braiding: Remove your first log from the fridge/freezer. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut it in half length wise. You now should have two long hemispheres with exposed chocolate layers. Place logs parallel to each other with the the exposed chocolate layers facing upwards. Take the top ends of both logs and connect them by pressing them together. Then overlap the two ends together so forms a braid. Overlap the pieces about 3 times, alternating which piece is on top. Watch this video if you need additional help braiding.

  13. Baking: Then place your braided loaf in one of your loaf pans and refrigerate while you repeat the process with your other log. Once both loafs are braided and ready, let them sit in a warm area for about 30 minutes. Towards the end of these 30 minutes, preheat your oven to 375° F.

  14. Bake your loaves for 35-40 minutes. While they bake, make your sugar syrup by combining the sugar syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bringing it to a boil. Then remove off the heat and set aside.

  15. After 35-40 minutes, remove your babka from the oven and brush with the sugar syrup while they are still extremely hot. Let the loafs completely cool before slicing and enjoying. Make sure to store the loaves either wrapped in plastic or in an airtight container to ensure maximum freshness.

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