I hope everyone’s been having a lovely, wonderful, restful holiday season!
After exams were over, my main preoccupations were working/volunteering, catching up with old friends, baking, and of course, revamping my blog. Besides updating posts that I had drafted since summer (and I’m still not finished), I switched platforms, from blogger to wordpress. It’s been a relatively smooth switch, but I didn’t know wordpress.com didn’t let you change the coding of a theme. Which is unnerving, but at least I can manually change the font of each post by the text editor option.
And in other, more exciting news… I bought my first DSLR (Canon t5i) on Black Friday. I’m sort of technologically challenged/jinxed. Given my history of dropping/spilling things on my laptop, breaking things accidentally, and just being a klutz in general, I honestly was too afraid to even open the box until after exam season, when I would have more time to figure it out (ie. struggle with the instruction manual). Putting in the lens was an ordeal in itself, really.
I’m still quite the baby when it comes to blogging. To be honest, one of the biggest challenges I have is not the baking part… it’s finding my voice in each of my posts. Finding my voice for this blog, really. What do I write about? The food? My life, which isn’t nearly as exciting as it could be? I don’t think I’ve found my blogger’s perspective yet, especially when I’ve been following some inspiring blogs for a while now, and my favourite blogs are the ones with memorable voices– beautifully written posts, in addition to gorgeous photos.
I’m also quite the baby when it comes to food photography. But it’s an area that I am super excited to learn more about. Photography books, here I come.
This salted chocolate marzipan babka is one that I baked with a dear friend. We communicate mainly via tagged photos on instagram, and we were both smitten by these photos. The recipe yields two loaves, and we each twisted and rolled up one. She described hers as looking as a turkey, which I couldn’t quite agree with– it really was lovely, bursting with chocolate. This one is my loaf, a bit too light-handed with the chocolate, it turns out– I wish it were more swirly on the inside.
This recipe is not as unhealthy as it appears– there’s only a little over 1/4 cup of butter to 4 1/2 cups of flour in the dough, and there’s 1/2 cup butter in the marzipan filling, but that’s spread over two loaves. And sadly, in the end, you don’t really notice the marzipan filling anyway (see my notes below). And hey, it’s just chopped pure dark chocolate… I mean, where else would you get your antioxidants…
Enjoy with loved ones for a festive holiday breakfast. Merry Christmas, everyone.
Salted Chocolate Marzipan Babka
closely adapted from halfbakedharvest
For the babka
- 1/4 cup sugar, divided
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup milk, (microwaved to 110°F, no higher)
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 5 tablespoons salted butter, softened
For the filling
- 6 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup butter, softened (see notes below)
- 8 ounces marzipan, grated
- 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds, to top
- flaky sea salt, to top
For the marizpan (you can use store-bought instead)
- 1 cup honey
- 3 cups almond meal
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 2 egg whites
For the glaze– I opted to just use honey to glaze the warm bread, but as it turns out, the loaf isn’t that sweet, so this glaze would totally be appropriate
- 1/3 cup water
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp rum (optional)
For the marzipan
- Bring honey to a boil in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in almond meal. Cook until the almond meal has thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in extracts. Allow mixture to cool and stir in two egg whites.
- Place in fridge to harden for two hours, or mix the warm marzipan with 1/2 cup butter in the filling, then spread over the dough as directed.
For the babka
- Combine 1/2 cup warm milk, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl or measuring cup. Let it sit for a few minutes until it gets bubbly and you know your yeast is alive.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, the salt, and flour. Whisk together the eggs, with the mixer on low, add it to the flour mixture, immediately followed by the yeast mixture. At this point, I found the dough to be quite dry, so add up to 1/4 cup of warmed milk.
- When the mixture forms a shaggy dough, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Mix the dough with the dough hook for 7-10 minutes, until you have a smooth dough.
- Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and then let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- Line two loaf pans with parchment paper and then grease the parchment. To make the filling, beat together the butter and grated marzipan, add the cinnamon if desired.
- Working with half of the dough at a time (the other half should remain covered), roll out your dough into a large rectangle, about 9 inches by 12 inches. Spread half the marzipan mixture over the rectangle and sprinkle with half the chopped chocolate.
Roll the rectangle lengthwise into a jelly roll shape and cut it down the length of the roll so that you have two long skinny pieces. Wrap the two pieces around each other so that you have a twisted loaf, and then place the loaf in a loaf pan.
- Repeat with the other half of the dough.
- Let the loaves rise, covered, for an hour and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Sprinkle the loafs with slivered almonds and bake the loaves for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and baked through.
- While the loaves are baking, make the syrup (if desired). Bring sugar, water and vanilla beans to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool somewhat. Stir in the butter and rum. As soon as the babkas leave the oven, brush the syrup all over each (alternatively, drizzle generously with honey). Sprinkle on flaky sea salt.
- Let cool in the pan and then serve warm!
- this was my first time making and tasting babka, so I’m not sure what the target texture of the babka would be… I know it’s a brioche-like, but there’s not nearly enough butter in the dough for it to be quite as luscious as brioche… I guess that’s my long winded way of warning you that it’s not the moistest slice of yeasted cake, although that makes it perfect for french toast
- I didn’t find there was enough marzipan filling as I made it, so I doubled the proportions of marzipan– you may find that you need more butter to compensate for this, so using up to 1 cup of butter is fine