Hello dear ones! I am here to wish you a happiest return of the light. I hope your days have been full of joy and sweetness. If they haven’t, that’s also par for the course this time of year, and I wish you much joy and sweetness in the coming days (weeks, year…).
This chocolate babka has become a yuletide institution in our house. Every Christmas Eve, I make the dough and proof it overnight. On Christmas morning, I rise before Joah wakes and assemble it. The final proof and bake happens during the madness of gift giving and paper tearing. After the frenzy of the morning has settled, we eat a beautiful breakfast and too much babka. Despite its involved preparation, the babka fits in beautifully with the rhythm of the morning.
I wish you all kinds of magical holiday vibes . May good cheer, good fortune and all the good food grace your journey into two thousand sixteen. I will see you in the new year (with lots of goodness to share!!).
Peace, love and light,
Recipe inspired by Kim Boyce's chocolate babka.
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 package or 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1¼ cups whole spelt flour, I used sprouted spelt
- 2½ cups white spelt flour
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 large or two small bananas, mashed, plus more if necessary
- 12 tablespoons coconut oil, solid but semi-soft
- ⅔ cup coconut palm sugar
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into ¼-1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- Gently heat the almond milk until warm to the touch. In the bowl of a standing mixer combine the warm milk and the yeast, whisking to combine. Add the maple syrup and flour and whisk until a thin batter forms.
- Add all of the white spelt and the salt to the top of the sponge mixture but DO NOT MIX. Set aside and set a timer for 30 minutes.
- When the timer is done and the sponge has started to creep up through the flour, set up your standing mixer with the dough hook. Add the mashed banana to the bowl and start the mixer on low. Slowly increase the speed to medium-high. The dough should be sticky and soft, but pulling away from the sides of the mixer. If it is not pulling away add more flour by the tablespoon until it does. If it is looking dry, add more mashed banana by the tablespoon. Let the dough mix on medium-high for 8-10 minutes, stopping the mixer to scrape down the dough hook from time to time. While the dough is mixing, rub a medium-large bowl with coconut oil and set it aside.
- Once the dough is looking shiny and supple. Scrape the dough hook down and begin to add the coconut oil by the tablespoon, allowing it to incorporate between additions. Once all of the oil is incorporated, scrape the dough into the oiled bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise until it has doubled in size, about two hours. If you wish to speed the process up a bit you can proof the dough in a unheated oven with the oven light on. Some ovens have "proof" settings, which would certainly work as well.
- After the first rise is complete fold the dough over itself to deflate it and return it to a freshly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator over night.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator to let it warm up a bit.
- In a small bowl combine the sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add two tablespoon of the coconut oil and work it in with your fingers until the mixture resembles damp sand.
- Toast the pecans in a frying pan on low heat until fragrant, 8-10 minutes.
- Place the dough on a floured piece of parchment that is about 20 inches in length. Begin to roll out the dough. It may feel a bit crumbly at first, due to the cold coconut oil, but will become supple as you work with it. As you roll it out, guide the edges so that a nice, 12" x 16" rectangle forms, with the narrow edge facing you. If any cracks form, just patch them back together with your finger tips.
- Once you have a nice rectangle, rotate it so that the long edge is facing you and rub the remaining two tablespoons of coconut oil onto the dough. Follow by sprinkling the sugar mixture on top, leaving a inch border at the top edge and a ½" boarder on each side. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate on top of the sugar and then the pecan pieces on top of that.
- Roll the dough into a tight log, tucking pieces of pecan or chocolate back in as the fall out. Seal the top boarder with your fingers.
- Place in the freezer for 10 minutes. While the log is chilling, rub a 9" x 5" loaf pan with coconut oil.
- Remove the log and trim the ends with a sharp knife and then cut the roll down the middle lengthwise. This will give you two long semi-circle pieces. Rotate them so that the cut side is facing up and pinch the ends of each half-log to seal them. Place one over the next to create a twist, doing your best to keep the cut side up. You will inevitably loose some filling - don't fret! With a swift motion, life the twist and place it into the loaf pan. You can tuck the trimmed ends into gaps, or just leave gaps, as they will fill in as the babka bakes.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and allow the babka to rise one last time, about 1½ hours. It won't quite double, but it will swell and get puffy. You can aid this process again by placing the pan in an unheated oven with the light on.
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Bake the babka for 45-50 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow it to cool to warm in the pan. Run a knife or offset spatula around the loaf and invert it to serve. Best eaten warm but don't try to eat it hot.