this recipe is truly foolproof and the filling options are endless. pictured here is my basic babka dough, filled with dark chocolate, banana, olive oil, and sea salt.
a couple tricks for first-time bread bakers:
try working the dough without a mixer. while most dough recipes for home cooks call for a kitchenaid with a dough hook, almost all of these final doughs can be achieved without a mixer. mixing by hand also helps you get familiar with the texture, elasticity, and form the dough should take.
work on a cold surface. marble or butcher block is preferable and make sure your ac is cranking!
salt and yeast aren’t friends. salt slows down fermentation (a.k.a. what the yeast is doing!) so don’t combine them at the onset of your recipe making. instead, dissolve the yeast in a bit of water and stagger adding it with the salt. —catherine margaret o'donnell
- Makes 1 loaf
all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
active dry yeast
butter (1 stick)
extra-virgin olive oil (a quality brand)
- filling and assembly
bar dark chocolate (100g)
extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finish
sea salt flakes to finish
- heat milk to just warm and add yeast. while yeast is dissolving, combine the butter and sugar. in a separate bowl, whisk eggs and olive oil to combine. gradually, add egg mix into sugar and butter and mix until well combined.
- add flour and salt into wet ingredients, bit by bit. the dough at this point should be shaggy and does not need to be well combined. add yeast and milk to mixture and begin to knead the dough.
- knead dough until smooth, about 10 minutes. dust work surface with flour as necessary throughout kneading. once dough is regular and well-combined, transfer to a well-oiled bowl and cover with plastic. let dough rise 1 hour in a warm room, 2 hours in a cooler room, or overnight in the fridge.
- filling and assembly
- grease loaf pan. break chocolate bar into small portions and melt in a microwave or saucepan. mush banana and combine with chocolate, and olive oil.
- roll dough out to the size of a baking sheet. the dough will retract a bit while shaping so make sure it truly is as large as a baking sheet. brush dough with filling mixture and use a spoon or offset spatula to smooth out evenly. do not brush filling on outer edges of dough for a clean finish. sprinkle salt flakes on to finish.
- time to roll! turn dough so that the longest edge is facing you, crosswise. tightly roll up babka dough. once rolled, use a serrated knife or bench scraper, to cut dough down middle. criss-cross dough ends down entire strand. tuck ends underneath dough to finish. transfer braided dough to loaf pan and let rest, uncovered for the same resting times as before, 1 hour in a warm room, 2 hours in a cooler room, or overnight in the fridge.
- preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. bake babka for 35-45 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean and dough has browned on top. check on dough halfway through cooking and cover with aluminum foil if already well-browned. (this will vary oven by oven.)
- once out of oven, brush another layer of olive oil on top for added shine.