Ok… I bet you thought you had already seen every type of babka possible on pinterest or instagram but today I’ve got something totally different for ya. Maybe you thought the reigning chocolate babka was perfect in its current form. I won’t disagree, but today I want to open up that babka-loving space in your heart and add something a little more wonderous. Because, I’m betting if you love babka, you also love brownies. And if you have one in each hand… well, I think this bread is comparable to Joey’s xerox girl and jam: “put your hands together” moment =)
My idea was simple, instead of making a chocolate ‘sauce’, I spread brownie batter on the dough and baked them together. I just kind of figured, why not? They have around the same bake time, and wouldn’t it be awesome to bite into a slice that had a combination texture of soft challah bread and chewy chocolatey brownie? Uhhh yes!
It’s a pretty simple process: you make challah dough, and when it’s close to a full rise, you make brownie batter. Roll out the dough, spread the batter and allow it to rise again in the pan. Then, bake!
The result is phenomenal. Like why haven’t I been doing this for years? Obviously, now I will be and hope you will too!
The brownie batter portion of this recipe comes via Stella Parks. If you follow me on IG, you know that I’m obsessed with her glossy, fudgy recipe on seriouseats. The main trick to it is to get the egg/sugar mixture really fluffy. To have just enough to fill one loaf of challah, I quartered her recipe. If you have a different favorite brownie recipe, try that! If you really wanted a short-cut you could try it with a boxed brownie mix (you’ll only need some of the batter though so you don’t overfill the babka).
I realize the ‘method’ section of this seems long but I promise it’s not difficult. There are lots of mini-steps and ways to multi-task which I’ve incorporated. Essentially, you make a dough, then you make brownie batter, you roll out the dough, spread the brownie batter over it and roll it up like a regular babka. Easy!
Vanilla Challah Dough:
½ cup warm water
1 heaped teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
⅛ cup honey
¼ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
240g (2 cups) bread flour
Brownie batter filling:
3 oz unsalted butter (about 6 TB)
1 ½ oz dark chocolate, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
4 oz sugar (1/2 cup plus 1 TB)
½ oz brown sugar (1 TB)
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs (divided into 1 egg plus 1 yolk, and in a separate bowl save the white for the bread’s eggwash)
¼ cup all purpose flour
1 oz dutch process cocoa (1/4 cup plus 1 TB)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine water, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let sit to prove while you prepare the other ingredients.
Whisk together the flour and salt in a separate bowl. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, honey, oil and vanilla.
Once your yeast is bubbly, pour in your wet and dry ingredients. Mix together with a spatula a bit so most of the flour doesn’t sit on the sides. Knead with the hook until the dough comes together in a soft, sticky ball. You may have to add a bit more flour, but try to avoid adding more than ⅛ of a cup.
Place dough in an oiled bowl, turn with the spatula or your hands a few times until the dough is completely covered in oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours, until doubled in size (Depending on how warm your kitchen is this could take less or more time.)
Make your filling:
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat your eggs, sugars and vanilla together until very light and fluffy - about 8-10 minutes. You can let it whip while you do the next step.
Brown the butter: warm butter in a saucepan on low and once completely melted, turn heat to medium high. Let it spit and sputter but keep a watchful eye, once it goes silent, it’s done. Place it in a heatproof bowl and add the chocolate to it. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted.
Whisk together the cocoa, salt, and flour in a separate bowl.
When the eggs are done whipping, add the warm chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Add the flour and turn the mixer on with the whisk attachment until the dry ingredients are just combined. Use a spatula to scrape bottom and sides of bowl to incorporate.
Make the babka:
Roll out your challah dough into a rectangle on a well-floured surface. The shorter side should not be more than 1-2 inches longer than your loaf pan.
Spread your brownie batter over the dough, leaving a half inch border on all sides.
Roll the dough up into a log from the shorter side (so, your log will be about as long as your loaf pan). Slice with a knife down the middle lengthwise and twist the two logs around each other.
Prepare your loaf pan with oil and parchment paper. Place the twisted dough in the pan and set in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375.
Mix the leftover egg white with some water and gently brush it over the dough (not the brownie).
Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5-15 minutes. The bread is done when a thermometer inserted into the middle of the dough reads 190 F.