The Fresh Loaf

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Babka Needs Work, but taste Great

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Babka Needs Work, but taste Great

Sweet Breads are new for me, and I love chocolate. Baked my first Babka and spread Nutella and chopped dark chocolate. The flavor is decadent and super rich. Much of it was given away, calories don’t bother the neighbors. The remainder was sliced, frozen, and bagged for future and much anticipated ecstasy!

Now, the bad

  • Although shaping was not difficult, determining the size of the dough needed to fill the pan was challenging.
  • Rolling the dough thinner and spreading a lighter layer of spread might make a nicer looking slice.
  • Went over board with the glaze. As a matter of fact, it isn’t really needed. - Live and learn -
  • Here’s the Biggie - the bottom layers of the dough didn’t completely bake. I assume because it was at the bottom of the bread pan. How is this fixed?

Maggie Glezer’s Babka dough with commercial yeast was used. Even though she didn’t mention it (as I recall) Osmotolerant Yeast (SAF Gold) was used. Braiding the intricate looking dough is not difficult, but requires gentle handling.

 
Looks can be deceiving.
Small rolls were made with the squared off trimmings.

Update -
The efforts paid off, the Babka is dialed in. See THIS LINK.

 

Benito's picture
Benito

I've had something similar happen when I tried to bake babka with too much homemade cranberry orange filling in my then new to me pullman pan.  Some of the inner lower layers of the dough were wet and compressed and didn't bake out.

If I were to bake a babka again, I would use less filling and make sure it was less wet.  I'd also consider using a shallower pan to allow it to dry out better as I had no issue with using a shallow loaf pan.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Key word here is thinner.

What if the dough was rolled out thinner and the filling was thinner. Then the strand would be rolled thinner. After this the dough could be braided like Challah without the strands being cut in half. It would be baked free form on a stone.

Might need to bake on a pan rather than a stone because of the sugar in the dough.

What do you think?

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

Cut in half and braided. Make sure both halves are facing upwards so it can bloom. How about baking for longer and at a slightly lower temperature? While a babka should be a little longer than the pan and it's bunched up a bit when placing in perhaps it was overly full as squashed too much. 

This is to me a perfect babka. 

https://youtu.be/zum64_8V9qA

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Deleted

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I agree, Abe. Jenna video was studied extensively before starting the bread. The swirls are perfect and the bread is thoroughly baked. I will look at her formula next bake.

Is it possible to bake Babka free form?

Upon close examination, the bread pictured doesn’t look like it was baked in a pan. Look closely at the sides. I would expect them to be much flatter.

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

But when she puts it in the pan there was enough room for it to expand and keep those swirls. I don't think it's the kind of dough that will perform well freestanding. 

Benito's picture
Benito

I was trying to achieve a more layered babka on my 2nd and 3rd attempts and did roll the dough out thinner so I could create more layers by rolling it more.  This might have worked even with the amount of filling I used if perhaps I had baked it on a stone/steel free form.  There would have been a chance that it would have baked through better.

It is worth a try for sure.

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

I don't think too thin would be very good for the final result as the filling might be too much for a very thin dough to support. Has to be thin enough to roll but thick enough to hold the swirls. 

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

First of all, great looking babka Dan, and I love the little sweet rolls!

I was so enamored of Benny's cranberry babka that when I saw a similar recipe on the KAF website, I had to go for it. But I was aware of the difficulties he encountered, so I was wary. I ultimately made six of them and gave away five, and even now, I wince a little wondering whether any of the gifted loaves had any undercooked dough inside. Nobody reported this issue, but maybe they just didn't want to hurt my feelings.

I felt that the usual ways of determining doneness have pitfalls with this bread. The KAF recipe advises that it's done when the internal temp is above 190°F, but I was not sure if the probe landed in crumb or filling and I thought that might matter. I ended up baking most of them closer to 200°F because I was worried about doneness. The loaf I made for my own household was a little dry because of this. The tops of most of my loaves sunk a little during cooling which was concerning, but I thought (hoped!) this was due to settling.

I'm now thinking about Dan's comment that it's hard to gauge how much dough you need to fill the pan. I made the recipe exactly as published and used a smaller loaf pan than specified (I used 8½" x 4½" and the recipe called for 9"x5"). The total recipe made about 813g, of which about 303g was filling. Even considering its smaller size, I thought the pan looked less filled than usual when I placed the dough in it. Perhaps a lightly filled pan is key? Here's a pic of the dough in the "too small" pan:

 

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

I use the USA loaf pans and I have to set them on the lowest rack in the oven to get the bottoms to brown. My recent attempt at babka was a mess. I tried the NY Times version and the fudge oozed out while trying to roll it up among other issues. It was still tasty but a hassle to make and a detriment to the belt line. 

babka babka crumb 

The recipe I used called for a simple syrup to be brushed on right out of the oven after poking it with a skewer. It dried to a nice shiny crust but not a glaze like a donut.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Don, I really like the way your slices turned out. Abe’s comment about not rolling the dough out too thin makes a lot of sense. You have plenty of bread with thin lines of stuffing. 

I will re-visit this bake, probably today. 

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

I was hoping for more filling inside. I did a bulk retard of the dough and rolled it out chilled. It was still too firm and the fudge was too soft to be contained. I had a lot left over that I smeared on the slices like Nutella. I would make a poor chocolatier.  After all the effort required I have resigned myself to spreading Nutella on toast like always. Good luck with the next one

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

My USA pans are just a few months old and I thought I was crazy that everything I bake in them seems to have this problem. This did not happen with my (very) old Chicago Metallic pans. I wonder why. Anyone else using USA pans notice this?

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I’ve never had this problem with any other type of  bread in the USA pans. I love them. They are all I use.

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

and also thinner, they seem to heat up better than the shiny ones do. I always have to bake things longer in the USA pans than the recipe call for. I wait for the loaves to shrink back from the edges to check for doneness.

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

My old pans were darker, although if anything, they were probably thicker. I didn't even think of adjusting for the color. Duh.

Benito's picture
Benito

Interesting, although I recall baking the last babka (second baked in the pullman) much longer, I think because of the amount of filling and the fact that the dough was rolled out more to try to achieve more layers, the dough towards the bottom wasn’t cooked through.  My most successful babka was baked in a thinner smaller and darker tin.  But that babka also I didn’t use quite as much filing and the dough wasn’t rolled as thinly.

Benny

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I found these instructions while investigating Babka.

“Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 300F degrees and bake for another 45 minutes or until evenly golden brown.”

I don’t recall every baking a bread for an hour, but this may work.

 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

To achieve this, as I did...

Follow this by Melissa Clark.  https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018045-chocolate-babka

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

There's a clear swirl with the filling not making the crumb too wet and under baked. I think it looks delicious. Can't beat a chocolatey babka. 

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

That was the recipe I used but not executed as well as yours. The fudge filling was sublime. I know what I would do different next time beside lick the spoons clean. 

bottleny's picture
bottleny

How to Make Breads Bakery's Nutella Babka at Home

This recipe uses 162g flour & 162g filling per loaf, smaller than most recipes.

Baking at 350F (176C) at 25min for convection oven or 30min for regular oven.

 

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

Total dough plus filling weight is the important concept. 

Babka is one of my favorite items that comes from the oven.  Strong recommend for Moishe's Bakery on 3rd Ave on the lower east side. 

Great looking babka.  Total weight is important, given your choice of pan size.  Call around bakeries in your area to see if they sell babka.  If they do, ask them the weight of their loaves.  

Thinner laminations will not help.  It's a dough mass - oven temp - thermal conductivity - time phenomenon, for a given pan size.

I bake to color (visual appearance).  I like a well baked loaf, it avoids gummy and undercooked internals which are so common on this site.  I infrequently use the "hollow thump sound" test to decide when to stop baking. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Semolina Man, what are you using for your weight to pan ratio? I am baking Babka today.

I would like to know your dough weight (including fillings) and the dimensions of your pan.

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

DanAyo, 

 

I haven't made babka in a while.  Bruno Albouze uses 400g four + 70% hydration in a 9"x4"x4" Pullman pan in his whole wheat Pain de Mie recipe.  

 

That would be a starting point.   I would take total flour + water + filling and target something close to 700g for 9x4x4 pan.   You can make adjustments from there.  In my view it's better to have too little dough in the pan than too much.   If you bake by eyesight/appearance, you can pull the loaf from the oven when the top is the color of your liking.  

I don't think explosive, blooming loaves bursting from loaf pans, commonly seen on this site and others, are in the least bit attractive. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I always wait for the crumb shot before posting a bread, but today this is not the case. I am so pleased with this bread that I couldn’t wait. I am reasonably sure these babkas are fully baked. Partly because they were baked free formed and also because they baked for 45 minutes.

Additional images and crumb shots can be SEEN HERE.

After trimming the circumference of the dough the trimmings were twisted and baked as a small boule.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Wow wow wow!!!

How did you shape this?! It is gorgeous!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo
Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Nice, thank you! Your result looks neater than in the video :)

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

That is impressive. If I lived closer I'd be round for a slice of three! I'd even be a regular customer and buy your babkas. I also love the way you don't let the trimmings go to waste. 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

You're killing it for the rest of us.  I agree, this is a better looking Katy than Katy!

Now I'm craving a you know what!

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

If I were you, I'd find some way to preserve it and hang it up.

Truly magnificent. I can't wait to see your encore (or do you just retire on your laurels after you bake something like that? I know I would!) Kudos to you.

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Fabulous! A work of art. I love these.

pmccool's picture
pmccool

I'd love a taste but it's almost too pretty to cut.  Well done!

Paul

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Now, the critique -

The few tweaks that are necessary to improve this breads deals only with flavor. The sugar was reduced by 20% and the chopped un-sweetened dark chocolate chips were omitted. Always looking to drop any unnecessary calories. No Way! This bread is decadent and should remain so. The extra sugar provided a nicer flavor. BUT, the chocolate chips are a must! This bread is too special to scrimp...

Also, it seems the un-baked layer problem has been solved and no longer a problem. Next time the chocolate spread will be applied thicker.

What an outstanding dessert when served with a scoop of ice cream. 

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Yes, I agree. This would be a special occasion bread if I made it, therefore, I'd go the "whole hog" and make it memorable. Well done, exceptional!

Benito's picture
Benito

Every time I see your photos of this bread I start to salivate.  I can only imagine how much better it can be with more chocolate.  Now it makes he think that my babka issue could have been solved by baking as a wreath free standing so that the layers could have baked out....

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

The crumb looks perfectly soft and tender. Was this the Glezer babka dough? 

You really knocked everyone's socks off with this one!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

AG, this bread used Jemma’s formula, which is very close the Maggie Glezer’s. The sugar was reduced to 80g and the chocolate chips were left out. Next, I’d stick with her original formula.

Before these last 2 bakes, I had never seen or eaten Babka, so had no idea what to expect. I learned this is a decadent dessert and is perfectly suited for special occasions.

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

It's the prettiest star I've seen. You definitely have a talent for plaiting and twisting!

BXMurphy's picture
BXMurphy

Are you KIDDING me??? That's incredible!

That's a work of art! Was that leavened with wild yeast sourdough??? I mean, seriously!

Good job, Dan! I'm eating my phone screen right now! Fahgetaboutit.

Murph

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Murph, this bake used CY only. As a matter of fact, I chose SAF Gold (Osmotolerant Yeast) because of the sugar. The dough is a highly enriched Brioche type.

peacecow's picture
peacecow

Wow, that's a beautiful babka and crumb! I hadn't thought to do a free form loaf for it before.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Wow, that is beautiful.

syros's picture
syros

Dan, I just saw this and it's amazing! I want that recipe and any and all tips on how you did this! It's amazing! 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Sharon, great to see you posting again!

See THIS LINK for the full writeup.

I could stand to loose a few pounds, but I have Babka and Tiramisu on my mind :-)

Benito's picture
Benito

Superb Dan, wow those are awesome.  I particularly love the star shaped babka you made, stunning.

Benny

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Here is a DEDICATED POST for my successful Babka.

Many bakers have expressed awe for this bread, me included! I was at least as shocked as others in the way it turned out. Because of the success of this bake I plan to writeup a dedicated post (new topic) including the formula and method in case others want to give it a try.

But before doing so, it needs to be tweaked one more time. Once the flavor profile is correct, the details along with a spreadsheet will be published. The bread is not as difficult as it appears.

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

DanAyo, nice babka.  What is your view of streusel topping?  It's common/default on babka sold in lower east side Jewish bakeries. 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

“ What is your view of streusel topping?” I don’t know much about that. I have had it on apple pie. IMO, even the sugar glaze is not necessary. For the last bake an egg wash was used.

Streusel would taste great, but boy - the calories... For those that don’t mind, it would be GREAT!

After only 3 Babka bakes in my entire life, and never tasting or seeing them before this, my experience is limited. I count my blessings that the last 2 bakes turned out so well.

 

semolina_man's picture
semolina_man

Babka and calorie counting aren't in the same sentence for me.  ;) 

 

Streusel is traditional/authentic.   Have a read about it. 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

is how I described it to Benny on his first bake.  Although chocolate Baka (all other styles are imposters!) was a visitor to our table in the Bronx, the chocolate swirl chiffon loaf held center stage much more frequently.  

Breads Bakery in the W Village area has quite the reputation, but I like an even more decadent version, as my Melissa Clark version provides.  

Always good the keep a belt with a larger waistband length handy when gorging.

mdw's picture
mdw

I'm a little late to the game here but as a 3rd generation New York Jew, if you're looking for decadence Oneg Bakery in Williamsburg has by far the best babka available for commercial purchase. Ask for the double chocolate, of course, and bring cash. All other babka pales in comparison (even homemade). 

syros's picture
syros

Cheskie’s has an amazing chocolate Babka. Not sure if it's SD - somehow I think it's a yeasted one.