Babka is a type of bread originally from Eastern Europe area, but especially from Poland and Ukraine. In Polish, the word Babka literally means “grandmother”. There are two possible reasons that explained how this type of bread – sometimes erroneously mistaken for a type of cake- got its name. The first reason is that Babka was baked in traditional Polish baking pans that gave the final product the shape of an “old woman’s skirt”. The other reason is that simply they were grandmothers and housewives the ones who made it.
Since Babka is a rich dough type of bread, the sponge method is the most suitable mixing method for it. To make Babka, lukewarm milk, dry yeast, some of the sugar and flour are combined to get the yeast starter. After allowing the sponge to ferment (5-10 minutes), simply the rest of the ingredients – flour, sugar, butter and eggs- are mixed in and combined until the dough looks shiny and elastic. Traditional Polish Bakeries serve this bread either plain or with a cheese filling. On the other hand, European Jews make their Babka extra rich and decadent by using chocolate or cinnamon raisins as their filling of choice. After allowing the dough to double its size, the bread follows the rest of the steps in baking, but instead of being shaped the traditional way, a braid is made using two strips of dough.
The final product is a dough that ”is both sweet and rich”, and “a cross between bread and cake”. The dough has a point of dryness that is perfectly balanced with the filling, which is “sandwiched” between a couple of layers of dough and makes the bread heavenly sticky and gooey after being baked. However, the gooeyness in the Babka is proportional to the amount of layers that the baker can achieve when shaping the bread. Therefore, it is important to roll the dough as tight as possible to It’s the abundant layers that I think make Babka so delicious, and in order to get this effect, make sure to roll the dough tightly, making small folds.
If you feel adventurous enough and decide to bake a couple of babka loaves for your friends and family, I recommend that you use the recipe from Epicurious. I tried it myself a couple of times and it works perfectly. here is the link to the Chocolate Babka Recipe
The process of making Chocolate Babka can be long and messy, but it is OH so worthy!