Rye chocolate & cinnamon babka

Rye chocolate & cinnamon babka

This blog pushes me to learn about new dishes/bakes, continuously. This babka is an example of that. I always start to panic when working with dough. It is because I am still insecure, not sure whether I am doing everything right. Of course things always (well, almost always) turn out right. I found this recipe by The Bojon Gourmet and immediately wanted to try it. I changed it a bit and just gave it a shot. I wasn't even planning on sharing it here, but what I didn't know then was that it would become a freakin' delicious babka! Later I discovered that this type of babka often involves some kind of streusel. Oops, this one has a lemon glaze. Hope you guys are fine with that, mkay? 

This week has been such a busy one. I think I worked 8 days in a row or so. Thursday was my first day off in a week and I took the train to Groningen, where I lived for five years as a student. One of my best friends graduated and she invited me to the ceremony. It's always such an honor to be part of a graduation. This special moment in your life will never be forgotten. I know how I felt on both days I got my degree (bachelor's & master's). While I took a seat in the most beautiful room of the Academy Building on Thursday, I felt so aware of how many of the people I hold dear or know well have been there too, wearing a pretty dress or a nice suit, being surrounded by classmates, family, friends. 

Before I met up with my friend and her family I spent the day in the city, having lunch with another friend who still lives in Groningen, and just soaking up everything I love about this place. 

On a very different note. Don't expect any Thanksgiving recipes here. It's such an American holiday and I wouldn't be able to tell you what Americans have for dinner on the 4th Thursday of November. I actually had a Thanksgiving dinner once, when I studied in the US, but I can hardly remember anything of the food. The only thing that stuck with me is the big play room downstairs where we could play video games or play pool. I thought it was such a cliché haha. But if you are looking for things to make on this holiday, all my American blogger colleagues are sharing Thanksgiving recipes, so just click on Inspiration (left sidebar) and find all kinds of deliciousness on their websites.

Rye chocolate & cinnamon babka

recipe inspired by The Bojon Gourmet
(makes 1 loaf)

You need:

For the dough:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond milk
2.5 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 large egg (room temperature)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 tbsp dark cane sugar
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup rye flour
1 cup spelt flour + more for kneading 


For the icing
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
lemon, juice
+ water if needed to make the icing less thick


For the chocolate cinnamon filling
200 gram 72 % chocolate. coarsely chopped
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup unrefined muscobado sugar
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed


For finishing the babka
1 egg, beaten well

How to make it:

1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it’s just warmer than body temperature (no hotter, or it could kill the yeast). Pour into a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the top, and let sit to dissolve the yeast, for about 10 minutes.

2. Stir in the apple sauce, egg, butter, sugar, salt, and rye flour. Slowly add the spelt flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and becomes difficult to stir.

3. Scrape it out onto a floured surface and, with clean, dry hands, knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smoother and springy, adding as little flour as possible as you work to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the work surface.

4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth, plastic wrap, or a large plate. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, this takes about 1 hour.

5. In a food processor, combine the chocolate, cinnamon, salt, and sugar. Pulse until the chocolate is ground to the size of peas. Add the cold butter and process until it clumps into a coarse paste.

Shape the babka

1. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a large rectangle that measures roughly 14 x 20 inches (or 30 x 50 cm) and about 1/8″ (or 0.3mm) thick, turning and flipping the dough, dusting with more flour, as needed to prevent sticking. 

2. Smear the chocolate past as best you can all over the dough, trying to get it as even as possible. Don't tear the dough. The more evenly you spread it, the more defined your babka’s layers will be.

3. Starting on a long side, roll up the dough into a fairly tight log. Pinch the bottom seam closed and roll the log along your work surface to lengthen it. Fold the dough in half, twisting the two ends over each other three times.

4. Move the babka in a loaf pan that has been lined on all sides with parchment paper. Then slide it into a clean, plastic garbage bag, inflate the bag, and close it.

5. Let the babka rise 50 minutes, until it both fills the bottom of the pan and it reaches the top, and is spongy to the touch.

6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Remove the babka from the bak and place in the oven. Brush with beaten egg. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the top is deeply bronzed, and the bread sounds hollow when you tap on it. If the babka browns too quickly decrease the oven temperature to 300F/150C. 

7. Let the babka cool completely. This can take up to two hours. It is still cooking inside from residual heat.

8. Make the icing: whisk the confectioner's sugar with the lemon juice and sprinkle on top of the babka. The bread is enjoyed best when warm, with a slice of butter. Leftover slices can be gently toasted.