Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Vegan Chocolate Babka

My idea of heaven: rich, buttery bread dough filled with a swirl of chocolate and cinnamon and topped with crispy, sugary streusel. This dough also makes a lovely French brioche (see variation at the end).

makes four small 3"x5" loaves or 24 muffin babkas

for the dough:
¼ cup warm water
1 ½ tsp. active dry yeast
½ cup sugar
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
¾ cup plain nondairy milk
4 TB plain mashed potatoes
8 TB nonhydrogenated margarine, at room temperature

for the chocolate filling:
one 12 oz. package vegan chocolate chips, ground in a food processor until finely chopped
¾ tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
4 TB nonhydrogenated margarine, at room temperature

for the streusel topping:
3 TB all-purpose flour
3 TB sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 TB nonhydrogenated margarine

If making small loaves, spray four 3"x5" loaf pans with nonstick spray. If making individual muffin-sized babka, line 24 muffin cups with paper liners and (important!) spray the muffin papers with nonstick spray. Set aside.

Whisk the warm water and yeast together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Measure out the sugar and sprinkle a pinch of it into the water. Allow the yeast to proof for five minutes.

Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt together, and in another bowl mix the nondairy milk and mashed potatoes together (no lumps).

Add all the sugar, flour mixture, and milk mixture to the yeast and mix on low speed for 3 minutes using the dough hook attachment. Turn the mixer speed up a notch and add the margarine a tablespoon at a time. Mix for 10 minutes. When you first add the margarine the dough will look like a mess, but hang in there and it will come back together into a smooth ball.

Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 2 1/2 hours.

While the dough is rising make the chocolate filling by combining all the chocolate filling ingredients and kneading them together with your hands until the margarine is completely incorporated. Make the struesel topping by combining all the struesel ingredients and working the margarine in with your fingers until well-combined and crumbly.

Scrape dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Press the air bubbles out and use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough out into a 16"x12" rectangle. Spread evenly with the chocolate filling.

If making four small loaves, cut the dough into four squares and roll each piece up cinnamon-roll style. Pinch the ends together to seal and place in the loaf pans.

If making muffin babka, cut the dough in half the long way and roll each rectangle up the long way. Cut each roll into twelve equal pieces and place each piece in a prepared muffin cup.

Crumble the streusel evenly on top of each muffin or loaf. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 40 to 50 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350º during this final rise.

Bake muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, loaves for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Variation: To make this dough into a lovely French brioche, add 1 tsp. vanilla to the dough. Leave off the filling and streusel, and bake in brioche molds. Baking time will depend on the size of your pans.


Zachary said...

Wow, Jennifer. That looks amazing! I absolutely love bread, but I've never tried making it.


Eat Peace Please said...

Thank you for this. I'm afraid you are killing me with the suspense of taste! I must get to an oven - stat.

Anonymous said...

they looks so good, thanks so much for the recipe!

Rachael said...

wow, those look amazing...i'm a babka addict ever since I worked in a bakery, but have never made it. I'll definately try this.

Suzanne MacNeil said...

Thanks again for posting this, Jennifer!
I'm having a hard time finding vegan chocolate chips. Would it work to use a crumbled dark chocolate bar?

Jennifershmoo said...

>>Would it work to use a crumbled dark chocolate bar?

Absolutely! If you use a good-quality gourmet chocolate it will be even *better* than chocolate chips. Chop the chocolate bar with a big chef's knife before pulsing it in the food processor.

Anonymous said...

any suggestions for doing this without a stand mixer?

Jennifershmoo said...

Hi, rebecca! You can try kneading it by hand. You'll find it's a very soft, sticky dough, especially when the margarine is first added. I would do the initial kneading and adding of margarine in a bowl, then turn it out to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and springy -- probably longer than it takes by machine. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I tried making this last night, and it turned out more like cinnamon rolls. The dough didn't seem to rise as much as it should have. When I was making it I thought the dough seemed way too sticky - even after the 10 minutes of mixing, so I added more flour to get it to the consistency of the kind of dough I'm used to making. Could that have been the issue? How sticky should it be?

I just told everyone at work they were cinnamon rolls. :-)


Ande said...

mine seemed kind of cinnamon rolly, too but the next day, they had become more bread like and they were a huge hit in my apartment building. I made 24 last night and they are gone.

Anonymous said...

I made this last week for a trip to the beach. The dough was sticky but rose quite well. However, I used 2 large loaf pans and the little guys never really got puffy. So it was more like having 2 giant croissants--which is okay by me! Everyone loved them, but the best part was telling them that their treat was vegan! Thanks! I'll be using this recipe for a long time!

Anonymous said...

Babka was probably my favorite cake that my parents got from the bakery on special occasions. Thank you for the recipe. It was wonderful, and it freezes well, just had the last of it this weekend. Great blog, sorry to see it wane. Enjoy your summer.

Anonymous said...

this might be a silly question but I'm pretty inexperienced: by mashed potatoes do you mean a mixture of potatoes with soymilk and margarine, or do you just mean mashed up plain potatoes? thanks, and I can't wait to try this recipe out!

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous! Mashed potatoes are a great idea.

Jennifershmoo said...

>>do you mean a mixture of potatoes with soymilk and margarine, or do you just mean mashed up plain potatoes?

Either one will work. :-)

Anonymous said...

I have to also gree, this sisn't rise as much as it seemed like it should have, however, making it two large loaves worked very well. This stuff is a wonderful treat for work. ;)

Ikingut said...

I just tried this recipe out yesterday and it turned out really really tasty, I can't stop eating it, neither my family and I'm the only vegan here!

Thanks Jennifer!

Anonymous said...

Here's how to make delicious chocolate covered strawberries. First of all ensure that the strawberries you are intending to use are dry, then allow them to be room temperature warm prior to making them. After the strawberries have been covered in chocolate, put them in your refrigerator to cool, but do not store them in the fridge. Consume within 1-2 days.

Anonymous said...

Great post, thank you! Also, there is another wonderful article about French chocolate. It has some history and even recommends the best wine/chocolate combinations, which I found to be absolutely delicious. It's for real gourmets!

Stephanie said...

I took this to Easter dinner at a friend's house this year, fresh from the oven and still melty inside. It was a huge hit! My friend's husband ate more than half a loaf by himself and asked when I was bringing more. This might be a new holiday tradition for us. Thanks for the fantastic recipe!

Sunshinemom said...

This looks beautiful! Thanks for the vegan version

bocamom said...

Is there any way to make the dough in a bread machine? My hubby and kids LOVE babka, but I hate kneading dough....

Jennifershmoo said...

I'm not sure -- I've never used a bread machine. If you try it and it works, let us know!

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