Steam-Baked Chocolate Babka

Emily Rhodes
Emily Rhodes
August 23, 2021
Chocolate babka is a beautiful swirled loaf made with a sweetened, yeasted, and butter-enriched dough that benefits greatly from some steam in the proofing and baking process. There are a lot of steps but it's surprisingly easy to make, especially with foolproof rising times in the Anova Precision Oven! Notes: I like to use dark chocolate with 60 to 70% cocoa solids for a not-too-sweet loaf. If you’d like, you can use a probe for the third stage baking step; set the probe to 85°C (185°F). This recipe makes two loaves; I really recommend making the full recipe as you can always freeze one. You'll thank yourself later when you get to serve up a gorgeous babka with all the work already done.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Steam-Baked Chocolate Babka
5 (3)
565 g (3 3/4 cups)
all-purpose flour
250 ml (1 cup)
lukewarm whole milk
100 g (1/2 cup)
granulated sugar, divided
eggs, at room temperature
10 g (2 tsp)
active dry yeast
1 tsp
fine salt
315 g (21 Tbsp)
unsalted butter, softened, divided
250 g (8 3/4 ounces)
dark chocolate, chopped (see note)
1 tsp
vanilla extract
50 g (1/2 cup)
Dutch-process cocoa powder
50 g (1/2 cup)
powdered sugar

1. Preheat Oven for First Proof

Sous Vide Mode: On
Steam: 60%
Temp: 82.4°F
Heat: Rear

2. Mix Dough

Combine the flour, milk, 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar, eggs, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until the mixture comes together, 2 to 3 minutes. If it looks very dry and crumbly, add a tablespoon or two of water—just enough to bring the dough into a single mass. Increase the mixer speed to medium and continue mixing until the dough is soft and smooth, about 5 minutes.
Mix Dough

3. Add the butter

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add 115g (8 tablespoons) of the butter, a couple of teaspoons at a time, mixing to incorporate it fully before adding the next piece. Once all the butter has been added, increase the mixer speed to medium again and mix until the dough is very soft and elastic, about 5 minutes.
Add the butter

4. First Proof

Form the dough into a ball and place in a clean bowl (no need to cover). Put the bowl into the oven and proof until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
First Proof
Sous Vide Mode: On
Steam: 60%
Temp: 82.4°F
Heat: Rear
00:45 Timer

5. Flatten and Chill

Remove the proofed dough from the oven and turn it onto a clean counter. Gently knock it back and shape into a rectangle about 4cm (1 1/2 inches) thick. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, place onto a baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour to make it firm for the next step.
Flatten and Chill

6. Make the Filling

While the dough chills, make the filling. Combine the chocolate, vanilla, and remaining 200g (13 tablespoons) butter in a saucepan and cook, stirring, over low heat until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar until smooth. Set aside to cool and thicken before use—it's ready to use when it's at room temperature and has the consistency of creamy peanut butter.
Make the Filling

7. Leave Oven On for Second Proof and Prep Pans

Line two 9- by 5-inch loaf pans with parchment paper.
Sous Vide Mode: On
Steam: 60%
Temp: 82.4°F
Heat: Rear

8. Roll Out and Fill

Remove the chilled dough from the freezer and unwrap. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle measuring approximately 60 by 40cm (24 by 16 inches). Spread the cooled filling all over the dough. (I prefer to use an offset spatula to spread.)
Roll Out and Fill

9. Roll Up and Cut

Starting at the wide edge, tightly roll up the filled dough. This is easiest to do by rolling away from yourself rather than towards. Cut the finished log in half with a sharp knife to yield two logs, each around 30cm (12 inches) long.
Roll Up and Cut

10. Form the babkas

Cut lengthways through the middle of each log to reveal the stripy layers of dough and filling. Take two of the four pieces and, starting at one end, put one piece of dough on top of the other at a 90 degree angle and then make a twist, trying to keep the cut sides of the dough facing upwards as you go. Repeat with the other two pieces of dough so you have two babkas. Carefully transfer to the prepared pans, tucking the ends downwards to give them a neat shape.
Form the babkas

11. Second Proof

Transfer to the oven and let proof until doubled in size, about 35 minutes.
Second Proof
Sous Vide Mode: On
Steam: 60%
Temp: 82.4°F
Heat: Rear
00:35 Timer

12. Bake

Leave the babkas in the oven after the second proof stage and bake until they are golden brown and puffed, about 26 minutes after the stage begins.
Sous Vide Mode: Off
Steam: 40%
Temp: 356°F
Heat: Rear
00:26 Timer

13. Make Syrup

While the babkas are baking, combine the remaining 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar and 60ml (1/4 cup) of water in a small pan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

14. Glaze and Cool

Remove the baked babkas from the oven and put the pans on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet. While they are still hot, brush the loaves all over with the sugar syrup, using all of the syrup between both loaves. Let cool in the pans before turning out to serve. The babka will keep, covered at room temperature, for a couple of days. After this, freeze well-wrapped leftover slices and thaw/reheat gently in the Anova Precision Oven.
Glaze and Cool
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