Believe it not, therapists like me also get stressed sometimes. Thankfully, the act of kneading dough gives us the same relief as squeezing a stress ball. Plus, you get to enjoy a gorgeous treat, like this babka crunch, once it’s fully baked. Talk about a win-win. Sift the flour. Measure the sugar. Crack that egg. All these baking techniques can help reduce stress. Why? Because they’re small, easily accomplished steps that put you in control.
I love a good crumb. More than I know how to express in words. My Chocolate Chip Babka Crunch is the best of both worlds: It’s bread and dessert, all at once! The knots are super simple but lend a sophisticated air to this scrumptious dessert. It also freezes beautifully, so feel free to double the recipe and stash one in the freezer.
This recipe is excerpted with permission from Mind Over Batter: 75 Recipes for Baking As Therapy by Jack Hazan.
For the bread:
- 1/2 cup [120 ml] warm water, about 110°F [45°C]
- 3 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup [150 g] plus 2 tsp sugar, plus a pinch for the egg wash
- 4 1/2 cups [630 g] bread flour
- 1 1/2 tsp table salt, plus a pinch for the egg wash
- 1/4 cup [55 g] unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup [180 g] semisweet chocolate chips
For the crumb:
- 1/4 cup [55 g] salted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup [100 g] granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup [70 g] all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup [45 g] chocolate chips
- To make the bread: In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and 2 tsp of the sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes while the yeast activates.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup [150 g] sugar, the bread flour, and salt. Add the melted butter, egg, honey, vanilla, and 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp [150 ml] water. Use a wooden spoon to just combine the ingredients, then pour in the yeast mixture. Continue mixing until you have a mostly combined and workable dough.
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray and set the dough inside.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and a pinch each of sugar and salt to form an egg wash. Use a pastry brush to brush the entire surface of the dough. Reserve the remaining egg wash. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
- Punch down the risen dough and cut it into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 12 in [30.5 cm] long strand and use your fingers to sprinkle 2 to 3 Tbsp of chocolate chips down each strand, pinching the dough over them as you go. This will create a gooey chocolate center.
- Coat a 9 in [23 cm] round pan with nonstick cooking spray and begin forming the dough into knots. Simply grab each end of each strand, tie it into a knot, and pinch the ends together, tucking them underneath the knot.
- Place the knots in the pan in a flower shape, with one knot in the middle and five knots spread in a circle around it. The dough will touch and that’s OK!
- Brush the entire surface with the egg wash once more, reserving any remaining egg wash. Cover the babka with plastic wrap and let rise a second time for 1 hour. Brush it with the egg wash one more time.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C].
- To make the crumb: Place the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl. Use your fingers to incorporate the butter and create a nice crumbly texture with the sugar. Add the flour and continue working the mixture, using your fingers in a pinching motion. Sprinkle the crumb over the babka dough, making sure to get it into the crevices as well. Add chocolate chips on top of the crumb. Don’t be afraid of a thick crumb.
- To bake and serve: Bake the babka for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it is a lovely golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, but be sure to eat it while it’s still warm.
- Babka can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months.