I'm hoping that I'll manage to brave the showstopper challenge one week soon. But for now I'm blaming it on the weather. Making a 3 flour beast in my tiny roasting kitchen is most likely to bring on a bread related breakdown. Paul, you are one mean man.
So instead, I opted for a chocolate loaf. A babka to be precise. I think everyone baking along made one of these guys, and you know what? I bloody love a babka. Truth be told I hadn't ever made one before...see baby challenge steps.
A deliciously sweetened loaf, with the softness of brioche and all the fillings you can shake a stick at.
I added some lemon zest into my dough, which proved to give a great flavour punch from the off. Then to the chocolate filling I added some cinnamon for warmth and some hazelnuts to finish the top for a nutty texture boost.
Babs the babka, as I've named her, could have perhaps been more risen. But was most certainly packed full of flavour, soft and pretty simple to make. Simple if you don't count the time invested. Albeit cheating with using a dough hook in my Kitchen Aid.
And there we have it. Bring on the batter for week 4!
C H O C O L A T E S W I R L B A B K A
(Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen, makes one large loaf for 12, or 2 small 1lb loaves)
350g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
100g caster sugar
2tsp instant yeast
grated zest of 1 lemon or small orange
3 large eggs
1/2 cup cold waterr
150g unsalted butter, room temperature
sunflower or vegetable oil for greasing
130g dark chocolate
120g unsalted butter
50g icing sugar
30g cocoa powder
1tsp ground cinnamon
handful of chopped hazelnuts to top
1/3 cup water
75g caster sugar
- To make the dough, combine together the flour, sugar, yeast and zest in a large bowl of a stand mixer. Add the eggs, water and continue to mix on a medium speed with a dough hook until everything comes together into one ball. Turn the mixer down low, add the salt and butter one spoon at a time. You may need to scrape down the sides to ensure everything is well incorporated. Once the dough has come together, continue to beat on the same speed for 10 minutes. The dough should become smooth and will pull away from the sides of the bowl. Place into a large bowl coated with oil, cover with cling film and leave to prove in the fridge overnight (or 4-6 hours minimum). It won't quite double in size but will definitely rise.
- To make the filling, heat the chocolate and butter over a low heat to melt. Remove from the heat and add the icing sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon. Stir to form a paste and leave aside to cool.
- Grease either a large baking tray or two 1lb loaf tins. The bread can be frozen if you want to split the dough into two.
- Remove from the fridge and roll the dough out on a well floured surface to a rectangle the thickness of a pound coin.
- Spread the chocolate mix over the dough, leaving an inch gap round each edge. Brush the length of one of the longest sides with water. Starting to roll from the opposite site, tightly roll the dough into a long sausage and seal with the dampened end.
- You may wish to chill the dough for 10-20 minutes, just to make it easier to cut. To cut the dough for plaiting, slice it in half down the middle lengthwise. Turn each strand cut side up, pinch one end together and gently plait until the bottom, pinching the ends once more.
- Snake the dough into the prepared tray, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove at room temperature for 1-2 hours. It should become plump but won't increase in size too much. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts, or whatever you fancy before baking in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Once baked, the top will be golden and a skewer inserted into the babka will have no resistance. If underbaked, it will still feel stretchy inside.
- Whilst baking, make the syrup in a small pan over a low heat. Allow the sugar to fully dissolve into the water before removing from the heat to cool slightly.
- As soon as the babka is baked, remove from the oven and pour over the sugar syrup to get a good shine. Allow to cool in the pan half way before removing to cool fully.
Week 1 - Jaffa Cakes
Week 2 - Iced Doughnut Biscuits
Week 3 - Chocolate Twist Babka
Week 4 - Giant Churros
Week 5 - Cherry Bakewell Tart
Week 6 - Brownie Bottomed Coffee Mousse Cake
Week 8 - Cherry, Marzipan and Cherry Cake