City Palate

The Entertaining Issue - November December 2017

Babka
Babka

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Krantz Cakes
(with a slight modification – a more generous ratio of filling to bread!)

Nov/Dec 2017

From Laura Di Lembo

Babka dough:

4-1/2 c. all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting the
dough as it forms

١/٢ c. granulated sugar

2 t. fast-rising active dry yeast

grated zest of 1 scrubbed lemon

3 extra-large eggs

1/2 c. water

generous 1/4 t. kosher salt

2/3 c. unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into
3/4“ cubes

canola oil for greasing the pans

Chocolate nut filling:

3/4 c. confectioners sugar

1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 t. ground cinnamon

6 oz. dark chocolate, melted
(I’m a fan of the Presidents’ Choice bars from France, available at Real Canadian Superstores, with 70% cocoa solids)

3/4 c. unsalted butter, melted

1-1/2 c. walnuts, lightly toasted, cooled and coarsely chopped

3 T. granulated sugar

Sugar syrup:

2/3 c. water

1-1/4 c. granulated sugar

For the dough, place the flour, sugar, yeast, and lemon zest in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add the eggs and water and mix on low speed for a few seconds. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes, until the dough comes together. Add the salt and then start adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, mixing until it is evenly incorporated into the dough. Continue mixing for about 10 more minutes until the dough is completely smooth, elastic and shiny. During the mixing, you will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times as well as add small amounts of flour to keep the dough from sticking to the bowl.

Gather the dough into a ball and place it in a large bowl. Rub it all over with canola oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it to rise for a few hours until doubled in bulk. Alternately, the dough can be left to rise overnight in the fridge. Refrigerated dough should be taken out of the fridge for a couple of hours to bring it to room temperature before baking.

Grease two 9”x 4” loaf pans with canola oil. Line the bottom of each pan with a rectangle of parchment paper that goes up the sides.

Make the filling by mixing together all the ingredients into a spreadable paste.

Deflate the risen dough with a good punch or two. Flatten the ball with your hands and place it on a floured rolling surface. Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the second piece covered with plastic wrap while you work on the first piece. Roll out the dough into a rectangle measuring 15”x 11”. The longest edge should be closest to you. Spread half of the filling over the surface of dough, spreading it as evenly as you can. Brush a little bit of water over the long end farthest from you. Use both hands to roll up the rectangle into a tight cylinder. Start from the long side that is closest to you. Press the dampened end to seal the log and use both hands to even out the roll. Rest it on its seam.

With a sharp knife, cut the roll in half lengthwise. You will see all the layers of filling visible along the length of both halves. With the cut sides facing up, press together the top ends of the two strands. Lift the right strand over the left so that you are weaving the two strands together, allowing the cut sides to face up. Continue a few times until you reach the bottom of the strands and pinch these ends together. You can squeeze and tuck the twisted bread as you lift it to fit into the prepared loaf pan. Repeat this process with the second ball of dough.

Cover the loaf pans with a dampened tea towel and leave the breads to rise for 1-1/2 - 2 hours, until almost doubled in bulk. The risen breads should fill the loaf pans generously.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the tea towels from the loaves and place the breads on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean (there may be some molten chocolate on your skewer but there should be no wet dough).

While the breads are baking, make the sugar syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Allow the syrup to boil for 2 minutes, until it is just starting to thicken. Remove it from the heat and allow the syrup to cool down slightly. As soon as the breads come out of the oven, brush all of the syrup over them. It is important to use all of the syrup, even if it looks like a lot. Let the breads cool to room temperature and remove them from the pans. Dive in! They freeze very well if you can resist eating them all at once.

Makes 2 loaves.


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