Bringing you a NEW kind of bread today. One that tastes just as good as it looks and despite its looks, is actually very simple to make.
Filled with swirls of chocolate in a buttery brioche like bread, this Vegan Chocolate Babka will have you weak at your knees, your tastebuds dancing right off your tongue and don’t even get me started on the smell it has as it bakes in the oven. You’ll be drooling all over your kitchen floor.
Over the past year I’ve dived into several yeast based recipes and will continue to build on this growing list. So far we’ve covered buns like these Hot Cross Buns and Maple Pecan Buns and also explored a little bit of scrolls. Now we move onto yeast in bread! It follows the same principal as all the other recipes (mixing, proving, rolling, more proving and baking), so if you’ve ever worked with yeast before this will be no dilemma and if you haven’t, well I’ll talk you through it step by step so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.
When working with any doughs it is important to knead it. Kneading activates the gluten, which is a crucial step because without well-developed gluten, your bread will be tough. Yuck. I kneaded my dough for 10 minutes using a stand mixer, however hand kneading works just as well. Here is a great video if you want to learn how to knead by hand.
After the dough has proved, it’s rolled, iced, rolled into a long log and then cut in half. Then with the two thinner strands you’ll twirl the dough together (as pictured above). I found it easier if you pinch and twirl one end together so it’s “glued” together and then carefully twirl one half over the other. Place it into a greased bread tin and leave to prove for another hour where it will double in size.
Pictured above is what the dough looks like before the second proving stage. I had to carefully squish it into the tin (nicely of course) as the log was so long. During the second prove and baking the dough will fill in any gaps. So don’t worry if it’s not perfectly neat, this Vegan Chocolate Babka is very forgiving.
Fats in dough
The use of fats in dough is needed to help the dough rise higher, keep the crumb moist, which in turn makes the shelf life longer for your babka and they’re also used as a flavour enhancer. I used a mix of coconut oil and vegan butter in both the dough and filling for flavour and texture.
In the dough I used the majority of the fat as coconut oil and used a little vegan butter for flavour. You can either copy the same quantities I have, use all coconut oil (might leave a slightly coconutty after taste) or use all butter.
Same goes with the filling. I used half and half for flavour reasons. If you were to use all coconut oil, you face having a coconut chocolate flavoured inside. You can however, choose to go with an all vegan butter filling and that won’t leave any aftertaste.
And to finish this Vegan Chocolate Babka off, a sugar syrup. Brush it over the top for a glossy, sweet finish and watch it as it seeps into every crack of your babka. Consider it as the final layer of this chocolate swirly bread that’s going to lock in the flavour and help to keep your bread tender.
- - ¾ cup (185mL) soy milk
- - 2 teaspoons (7g) instant dried yeast
- - ¼ cup (40g) coconut sugar
- - 2 cup (340g) all-purpose plain flour
- - ½ teaspoon (4g) salt
- - ⅓ cup (55g) coconut oil, softened
- - 2 tablespoons (30g) vegan butter, softened*
- - ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (95g) coconut sugar
- - 2½ tablespoons (20g) cacao
- - 1 teaspoon (3g) ground cinnamon
- - ¼ teaspoon salt
- - 2 tablespoons (30g) coconut oil, softened
- - 2 tablespoons (30g) vegan butter, softened
- - ⅓ cup (55g) chocolate chips
- Sugar Syrup
- - 1 tablespoon (10g) coconut sugar
- - 1½ tablespoons (20mL) water
- Make the dough. In a jug, warm the soy milk to 37°C-45°C, which is the perfect temperature to activate yeast in. Add the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the coconut sugar. Leave to activate for 10 minutes. You will know it's ready when the mix forms a layer of foam on the top. If it doesn't, check to see if your yeast is past its used by date or wait a little longer.
- In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, add the rest of the coconut sugar, flour and salt. Using your fingertips, rub in the softened coconut oil and vegan butter. On a low speed with the dough hook attached, begin mixing the dry ingredients. Slowly add the wet ingredients. Knead for 8-10 minutes, until it bounces back when lightly touched. You can knead by hand if you don't own a stand mixer.
- Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover with a tea towel and place in a warm area to prove for 40-60 minutes or until doubled in size. Here's what I do. Preheat my oven to 40°C, turn it off and place the bowl in there with the oven door closed.
- Meanwhile make the filling. In a small bowl, stir all the ingredients together except for the chocolate chips. Place to one side.
- Assemble loaf. Line and lightly grease a bread tin. After the dough has doubled in size, place on a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to knock back the air. Roll out to an even 30x40cm/ 12"x16" rectangle. I used my ruler for this. Spread the filling over the top, leaving a 1.5cm/ ½" gap all around the sides. Sprinkle over the chocolate chips.
- Tightly roll the dough to form a 40cm long log. Cut 1.5cm/ ½" off both ends. Gently cut the log in half lengthways and have the cut sides facing up. Begin to twirl together. Pinch and twirl the bottom end together to keep the dough in place (refer to pictures). Lift one side over the over, to form a twist. Always keeping the cut sides facing up. Carefully transfer the bread into the greased bread tin. Mine was long enough to form an "S" in the tin, tucking the edges into the openings (refer to pictures). During the second proving and baking, all the small gaps will be filled. Cover with with a tea towel and place in a warm area for another 60-90 minutes to double in size.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F fan forced. Bake babka for 40-45 minutes, until golden in appearance. Remove from oven, brush with sugar syrup and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing and serving warm.
- To make sugar syrup, combine the coconut sugar and water in a small saucepan . Leave to boil over a medium high heat. Once the sugar dissolves remove from heat.
Prep time also includes both proving times.
Store covered in the cupboard for up to 4 days.
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.