After six recipes, I’m saying goodbye to Dan Leader’s Bread Alone (review of the book here). This was one of the recipes that intrigued me most, since you don’t often see chocolate and dried fruit mixed together. Since I don’t have a fluted kugelhopf pan, I shaped the dough into a krantz cake (babka) shape. I don’t really know if there’s a discernible difference between a kugelhopf and a babka besides the shape, so I’ll be calling this a babka from now on.
For one loaf, you will need:
For the poolish:
1 cup milk at room temperature
1 teaspoon instant or active dry yeast
1 cup AP flour
For the final dough:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
3-4 cups AP flour
4 oz butter, softened
2 teaspoons salt
For the filling:
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I had chocolate chips so I used those)
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder or ground coffee
2 tablespoons butter, melted
I was happy to see the recipe only takes five hours total to make from start to finish, which is uncommon in artisan breads.
Mix all the poolish ingredients together, cover and let sit for an hour. I would also set out the butter and eggs now.
You can also take this time to make the filling. Mix the coffee, chocolate, apricots and brown sugar together in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
After an hour, the poolish is ready. Transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer and add the egg, milk and flour. You are supposed to add the softened butter later but I forgot. Instead, I added the milk, eggs and butter first, then added the flour 1/3 cup at a time until it came together in a ball.
I let the dough rise 2 hours in an oiled bowl. It didn’t rise very much.
Roll out your dough to about 1/2 inch in a floured counter. Flip the disk a few times so both sides are coated with flour since you don’t want it to stick.
Now rub 2 tablespoons of melted (but cooled – not hot!) butter onto your dough.
Spread your filling on top of the butter.
Now carefully and tightly roll up your dough.
Using a bench scraper or butter knife, cut your dough roll in half.
Pinch one of the ends together like you would a challah braid.
Then carefully bring one of the sides up and over the other one.
Do the same with the other side so you make a twisty pattern.
Prepare a buttered bread pan. In tretrospect this could’ve gone in two bread pans since it’s so big.
Smoosh it into the bread pan as best you can. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect.
Let the dough rise for 1.5-2 hours. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Before you put your dough in the oven, brush the top with an egg wash so it’s nice and shiny. Put your dough in the oven then bump the temperature down to 350 degrees F. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and solid when tapped. Remove from the oven and let cool until you are able to handle it. You can eat it warm or wait until it’s room temperature to eat, if you can!
The first thing I noticed when removing the babka from the pan is that tons of sticky, thick syrup was oozing out of the sides. This was the butter and melted brown sugar. It smelled heavenly but got everywhere.
Here’s what I found when I sliced into it:
If you’ve ever been disappointed by the paltry amount of cinnamon swirl in a coffee cake or cinnamon roll, you will be pleasantly surprised here. The filling and gooey syrup were out of this world. However, it’s definitely rich. I was only able to eat a few bites before I was done. I took it to my parents’ house to share the wealth. The coffee, brown sugar and chocolate went very well together. The apricot was a little odd though. Dates or prunes might work better next time. I was expecting some almost citrusy flavor, but it was just a hint of fruity sweetness which, while not unwelcome, was a little jarring. I look forward to making this recipe again, and it was a fitting end to my time with Dan Leader’s Bread Alone.