Hello December, Christmas calling
Delicious pumpkin, Autumn’s favourite fruit, when one fine morning, went on to meet the chocolates in all its glory, a love story was bound to blossom, we call it pumpkin chocolate babka rolls, mildly spiced up with pumpkin pie spice.
If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens. ~ Robert Browning
Such is the magic and charm of bread, and I personally feel that this holds true for the warm and freshly baked home style breads where you are involved in the the process of baking a bread from scratch, from the very beginning. Right from kneading the dough, to shaping it, and watching with bated breadth to see it rising proudly up to the expectation, is the magic called bread.
Therapeutic. Life’s best happy moments.
Now, truth be told. I have never eaten a babka in my life. I even didn’t know such beautiful things exists in this world, until that historic day when one of my friend tagged me in a Instagram post about a beautiful babka bread that was gathering all the love and accolades of igers. It was almost love at first sight.
That’s the best part I love about these on line food communities. Inspire and be inspired.
Swirls of pumpkin and chocolates with nuts thrown in between was such a pretty sight to behold on a Winter morning, how could you not fall in love with these?
I love baking with pumpkins. I have baked previously a “not-so-good-but-okay-kind” pumpkin bread and I know pumpkins and chocolates are just made for each other. They are destined to meet in this blissful marriage, called pumpkin chocolate babka.
Babka is typically associated with Eastern European Jewish heritage. And incidentally this is my third bread recipe that I had tried from this particular regional cuisine. Braided challah and Czech mazanec being the other two, and I simply adore them. Buttery, flaky, brioche kind bread whose high butter and richness from eggs gives these breads soft and tender crumbs.
But I have done some experimentation here, I have replaced the all-purpose flour in part with whole wheat flour. The results were equally good, though I admit, I love the one more without whole wheat flour, because of the extremely soft and tender crumbs it produces. The ability of all-purpose flour to produce that elastic “window-pane” effect is seriously missing in the whole wheat version. But the whole wheat flour is definitely healthier option than the other one.
Note to self – I promise, I shall be more generous with butter next time. And also will add some dark chocolates and chips in between while braiding the bread, for more chocolaty effect. Also will remember to add nuts too for more festive look. And most important will remember to brush the bread with syrup may be honey spiked as inspired from David Lebovitz’s babka saga. Because after baking the chocolate tends to dry out and the bread losses its moisture. My babka goals will be accomplished then.
Till then, enjoy this basic pumpkin chocolate babka rolls, with cup of coffee for a festive breakfast mornings or dress it up as dessert for dinner.
Just look at those swirls. Aren’t they pretty? This pumpkin chocolate babka turned out good. Deliciously rich with butter and eggs. Subtly spiced with pumpkin pie spice that lends a beautiful deep flavour to the bread. Pumpkin and chocolates are one killer combo, and also I would like to improvise it further based on the points that have been mentioned under “notes to self”section. Of all the yeasted breads that I have tried so far, even counting the all time favorite cinnamon rolls, pumpkin chocolate babkas are simply unbeatable, unparalleled and unmatched. These are simply the best ones.
- All purpose flour : 1 cup
- Whole wheat flour : 1 cup
- Pumpkin puree : 1 cup
- Warm milk : 1/2 cup +/-
- Butter : 6 tbsp/ 90 gm
- Eggs : 2 here eggs are really small
- Yeast active dry : 11/2 tsp
- Sugar : 1 tsp
- Pumpkin pie spice : 1 tbsp
- Salt : 1 tsp
- Chocolates bitter sweet : 70-80 gm
- Cocoa powder : 5-6 tbsp
- Butter : 4 tbsp
- Honey / maple syrup : 4 tbsp
- Sugar : 1/2 cup
- Water : 1/2 cup
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk, add 1/3 cup cup flour and sugar.
- Mix it very gently. Leave aside in a close and drought free area (I keep it inside microwave oven) for 15 minutes till foamy and doubled in volume.
- In a separate bowl, add in the pumpkin puree, eggs and butter. Mix them well
- Sift both the flour with salt and pumpkin pie spice.
- Add in the yeast mixture followed by the pumpkin-egg-butter mix.
- Knead everything together with hand until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- With wheat flour, you won't get that window pane effect.
- But the dough should be very smooth. This will take around 15-20 minute to knead the dough.
- In a well greased bowl, place the dough, brush with little oil, cover and let it rest for minimum 1 hour till the dough is doubled in volume.
- You can also refrigerate the dough for 4-6 hours and let it rise in cold temperature. This helps to develop the flavour and texture. I often do this to pizza dough.
- Bloom the cocoa powder in 1/4 cup hot water.
- Melt the chocolates and butter in microwave for 30 sec.
- Mix together the melted chocolates and the bloomed cocoa.
- Add in the honey and blend very well.
- Chop the nut mix if you are using.
- After the dough is double in volume, deflate it with your fingers, knead for 5 minute and let it rest for 10 minute.
- Divide the dough in equal portions. Take a small portion about an apple size. Roll out the dough thinly on flour dusted surface. Try to get a rectangular strips.
- Spread the chocolate mixture evenly across the dough, spreading it all the way till the edges.
- Sprinkle the nut mix.
- Roll the long edge of the dough into a tight log like cinnamon rolls. With the help of pizza cutter or sharp kitchen shear, slice the rolled log in half lengthwise.
- Then with the cut sides facing up, that is the chocolate side facing up, cross one end over the other, the way you do the braiding and repeat all the way down the length of the dough, keeping the cut sides facing up while wrapping the two lengths of dough around each other to form a rope or twist.
- Now coil the dough and twist it and give shapes like knotted dinner rolls.
- Repeat the process with the remaining the dough.
- This will yield around 8 rolls.
- Place them in lined square pan. Cover and let it rise in warm place for another hour or until double in size.
- Bring the sugar and water to a rapid boiling and keep simmering it till it thickens. The syrup consistency should be light , one string and not too thick.
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Brush the babka rolls with butter before putting them in the oven.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the rolls comes out mostly clean. Few crumbs of chocolates will stick to it which is perfectly fine.
- Brush the baked babka rolls with warm syrup.
- Serve the babka rolls warm or at room temperature.
In its simplest form, babka breads are plain spiral loaf filled with almonds, poppy seeds and sesame.