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chocolate babka with pomegranate

Ingredients

for the dough:

  • 175g whole milk (3/4 cup)
  • 6g dry active yeast (2 teaspoons)
  • 100g sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature (160g total)
  • 600g all purpose flour (4 2/3 cups), divided into 500g and 100g
  • 7g salt (1 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 115g softened butter (1 stick)

for the filling:

  • 40g butter (3 tablespoons)
  • 130g dark chocolate chips (at least 60 % cacao) / 3/4 cup
  • 75g pomegranate molasses (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 pinch salt (about ⅛ teaspoon)

for the syrup and topping:

  • 50g sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 45g water (3 tablespoons)
  • (optional) pomegranate arils for sprinkling (about 2 tablespoons)

Instructions

  1. For the dough: Preheat the oven to 180°F (80°C). Once it preheats, turn it off and open the door open a crack before you start making the dough.
  2. Microwave the milk until it’s about 115°F (45°C). Add the yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with the hook attachment), stir in the warm milk, and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sugar, eggs, 500g of the flour, and salt to the stand mixer. Let the mixer run at low speed with the hook attachment, just until everything is incorporated into a very shaggy dough. Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time with the mixer running at low speed, allowing each tablespoon to disappear completely before adding more.
  4. Once all the butter has been added, gradually add the last 100g of flour 1 tablespoon of the time with the mixer still running on low. Once the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, stop adding flour (I add exactly 100g, but you might need more or less if you don’t measure precisely with grams). It’s ok if the dough pools at the very bottom of the bowl.
  5. Increase speed to medium, and knead the dough for about 7 minutes, until it’s smooth and elastic.
  6. Lightly oil a mixing bowl and your hands. Scrape the dough into the bowl, and use your hands to shape it into a ball (tuck itself under its bottom to smooth out the surface). Leave it in the bowl with the seam-side facing down.
  7. Cover the bowl of dough with plastic wrap, place it in the oven (again, make sure the oven heat is off and that it has cooled down for at least 10 minutes), leave the door open a crack, and let it proof for about 1 hour. The dough is done rising once it’s noticeably larger, and has approximately doubled in size. While it’s rising, make the filling.
  8. For the filling: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. As soon as it almost completely melts (and no longer), remove from heat, add the dark chocolate, and start stirring it together.
  9. Once the chocolate has melted, add the pomegranate molasses and salt, and give it another stir. Let it cool to room temperature before using it (it should be spreadable like room temperature frosting).
  10. Fill and braid, using the instructions following this recipe.
  11. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let it rise for about 45 minutes at room temperature, until it’s puffed up slightly (it will take less time if your room is warmer than 70°F. It shouldn’t double in size, just about 1.25 to 1.5x its original size).
  12. Once you’re almost ready to bake preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  13. Bake for 35 minutes uncovered.
  14. Loosely tent with aluminum foil and continue to bake for another 30 to 45 minutes, until its internal temperature reads 200°F (93°C). If you want the top to brown more, remove the foil for the last 10 minutes. While it’s baking, make the syrup.
  15. For the syrup: Place the sugar in a small saucepan and cover with the water. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 1 minute until the sugar dissolves (no longer, or it’ll turn into candy). Let it cool down as the babka bakes.
  16. As soon as the babka comes out of the oven, brush with the cooled syrup, and then top immediately with pomegranate arils. Let it cool to room temperature (or at least 40 minutes) before slicing and serving.

Notes

Storage: Promise me you will not put this bread in the refrigerator. It has a lot of butter and flour, so it will start to stale almost immediately in the fridge. Without the pomegranate arils, it will last at room temperature for several days. The pomegranate arils will shorten its room temperature shelf life to just 1 or 2 days. But it keeps wonderfully in the freezer for 3 months, either frozen as an entire loaf of cut into individual pieces (wrapped tightly, in either case).