new york style babka

new york style babka

This New York style babka combines a slightly sweet brioche dough with bountiful swirls of cinnamon spiked chocolate. This recipe is the result of my decade’s long obsession with chocolate babka that began after my first trip to New York City.

One of my best friends, Debbie, and I celebrated our college graduation with a trip to New York. I love everything about that city; the history, the no-nonsense people, and the breathtaking architecture. All those assets aside, the New York food culture is my favorite thing about the Big Apple. Chocolate babka tops my list of favorite New York classics and I can’t tell you how many of my fellow Californians have never heard of it!

new york style babka

For those who don’t know, babka is a delicious yeasted cake filled with swirls of chocolate or cinnamon sugar. The dough is slightly sweet and enriched with butter, like a classic brioche. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? It is!

When Nielsen Massey asked me to create a recipe using their high-quality vanilla extract, I jumped at the opportunity to introduce my readers to the New York classic: chocolate babka.

I’ve eaten lots of different babka throughout the years and I’ve noticed some unique differences between New York style babka and everything else. The babka I’ve enjoyed at Zabar’s, Russ and Daughters, and Breads (quintessential New York food destinations) had the following characteristics in common:

  • the dough is rolled thin to achieve a perfect chocolate to dough ratio
  • the chocolate filling is more crumbly than gooey
  • there is a deep chocolate flavor achieved by adding cinnamon and vanilla to the filling
  • the babka is topped with crunchy streusel

To achieve that New York chocolate babka perfection, I spiked the dough and the chocolate filling with Nielsen Massey vanilla. The vanilla brought sweetness to the dough and filling without adding too much sugar. I also added almond grounds to the chocolate filling achieving the exact texture of big city babka. Rolling the dough thinner than most babka recipes gave me the perfect ratio of bread to chocolate. A sprinkle of simple streusel over the top and my New York style chocolate babka was complete!

Be sure to follow along on instagram for a special vanilla extract giveaway and a step by step video to help you bake the perfect babka!

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new york style babka

new york style babka


  • Author: Sepideh Campos

Ingredients

Scale

Dough

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup room warm tap water (or warm whole milk)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, slightly beaten 
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 4 ½ cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 

Filling

  • 7.5 ounces 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4.5 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4.5 tablespoons almond meal 
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1 egg yolk

Streusel 

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour 

Glaze 

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water 

Instructions

Make the dough

  1. In a large measuring cup, combine the yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, and warm water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and mix the yeast. Leave at room temperature until frothy, about 5 minutes. 
  2. While the yeast is activating, combine the ¾ cup granulated sugar, eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, and melted butter in the bowl of a standing mixer. 
  3. Whisk the wet ingredients together with a fork until the eggs and sugar are combined. 
  4. Place the bowl in a standing mixer with the hook attachment connected. 
  5. Add the yeast mixture to the bowl and mix the ingredients on medium speed until fully combined, a few seconds. 
  6. Add the flour to the bowl, mix on medium speed until the dough comes together, 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the salt. 
  7. Continue to knead the dough in the machine on medium high speed for 5 minutes or knead the dough by hand using the stretch and fold method (video tutorial)
  8. The dough is ready when it is tacky to the touch but doesn’t stick to your finger. Add more flour if necessary, 1 Tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too wet. 
  9. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Cover the mixing bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours, until increased in volume. 
  10. Punch the dough down, recover the bowl with the towel and refrigerate the dough for 4 hours or preferably overnight. 

Make the filling

  1. Make the filling before removing the dough from the refrigerator. 
  2. Place the dark chocolate and butter in a medium bowl, place the bowl over a small pan of simmering water and stir until the butter and chocolate have melted together. 
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the brown sugar, almond meal, cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and egg yolk to the melted chocolate. 
  4. Whisk to fully combine, set aside. 

Assemble the babka 

  1. Grease two 9X5 inch loaf dishes with canola oil and line with parchment paper, leaving some paper hanging over two of the sides for easier removal of the loaf. Set aside. 
  2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut it into two even pieces. 
  3. Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough thin into a rectangle 10.5X20 inches long.
  4. Spread ½ of the chocolate filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1 inch border on the side farthest away from you. 
  5. Roll the dough away from you into a tight cylinder starting from the short edge of the rectangle. 
  6. Cut the cylinder in half, lengthwise, and place the two pieces in front of you with the cut sides facing up. 
  7. Twist the two halves of the cylinder together, pinch the ends, and transfer the babka to the prepared baking dish. 
  8. Repeat this process with the second half of the dough. 
  9. Let the babka rise, at room temperature, in the pan for 1 hour. The dough will not rise much during this time. 

Make the streusel

  1. While the babka are rising, make the streusel.
  2. Combine the sugar, flour, vanilla, and butter together in a medium bowl. Use your finger tips to mash the ingredients together, leaving you with pieces of streusel ranging in size. 
  3. Top the babka with ½ of the streusel over each loaf. 

Bake the babka 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Bake the loaves in the oven for 45-50 minutes until the babka is golden brown on top, a toothpick inserted in the dough comes out clean and the internal temperature registers 190 degrees. Tent the loaves with foil at any point during the baking process if the babka becomes too brown before they’re done baking. 
  3. Make the glaze by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the water begins to simmer. Remove from the heat. 
  4. When you remove the babka from the oven, glaze each loaf with ½ of the sugar mixture. 
  5. Let cool completely at room temperature for at least 2 hours before slicing. 
  6. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. 
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