GBBO Technical Bake: Paul Hollywood’s Chocolate Babka

When watching last week’s GBBO and it came to the technical I was intrigued to know what a Babka was. I’m sure that the contestants have had to make a Babka before in a previous series but I couldn’t remember what they were.

A babka, according to the description on Wikipedia is “a sweet braided bread or cake which originated in the Jewish communities of Poland and Ukraine.” It is also popular over in the USA, especially around New York. They are traditionally filled with cinnamon as well as other non traditional fillings such as cheesecake, apple and Nutella!  Paul Hollywood’s recipe is published in the new GBBO book “Love To Bake” and his recipe is very much based on a chocolate and hazelnut filling, which is basically Nutella!

I’ve been trying to join in with a few of the GBBO bakes where I can at the moment and as I have had time off work having to self isolate, I was keen to bake the Babka. I’m not that confident with anything involving yeast so I wasn’t expecting great results!

Last Saturday morning I planned to get up early to make the dough so we could have the Babka for breakfast.  This didn’t happen. I’d been up very late the night before trying to work on a crochet blanket I was making for my daughter and I ended up sleeping in! The babka dough needed two hours proving time as well. Oh never mind, it ended up being a four o clock treat instead!

To make the filling at first I had to roast the hazelnuts for 5 minutes on a baking tray and then chop them up. I left them while I made up the dough.

Paul Hollywood’s recipe says to use a free standing mixer with a dough hook.  I have a Kitchen Aid but for some reason I couldn’t find the dough hook and I gave up looking in the end. So by hand it had to be then.  I just forgot about my hands getting sticky and used my dough scraper to scrape it off the worktop. After about 10 minutes kneading it was time to roll the dough out into a large rectangle.  I spread  melted chocolate on top of the dough, followed by sprinkles of the chopped hazelnuts.

Now for the fun bit! I rolled the dough up into a long Swiss Roll like sausage and put the seam underneath me on the worktop.  I trimmed each end of the spiral then cut the dough lengthways into two long pieces. I then stuck the two pieces together at the top and then braided the loaf to make a two stranded plait. This was then secured at the end and put into a greased and lined loaf tin.

There the loaf tin was left to prove in my utility room (which was warm from having the dryer on) but was covered with a teatowel for nearly 2 hours.

The babka was baked in the oven for 45 mins. The first 15 mins was at the higher temperature of 170c then the temperature was turned down for the remaining time to 150oC.  While the babka was baking, I made a sugar syrup which was then poured over the babka when it came out of the oven.

The babka was meant to be left to cool but we were so keen to try it that we ate some straightaway! Oh my, it was good and they say they are best eaten on the day they are made.

Happy Baking
Love Sam xx

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