i decided to try out the chocolate babka recipe posted by wyf4lyf...i started it friday afternoon, with the intention of freezing the unbaked loaves and baking one of them later in the weekend.
it was remarkably easy, and i made a few modifications. i cut the recipe down by 1/3 and made only two loaves, since honestly, my freezer's too small for three. also, i used easy-bake yeast, which doesn't need to be proofed before you add the flour. you just mix it in with the flour and salt, then add the wet ingredients.
making the dough was very straightforward, and it rose properly in about an hour and a half. to my delight it rolled out easily, without snapping back .
it is important to get the chocolate really fine; i didn't pay enough attention to that part, and it did poke through the dough in a couple of places, though it wasn't a big problem. i may have rolled the dough a bit thinner than i needed to. rolling and twisting the dough was easy enough, then i wrapped the two loaves in plastic wrap and put them in a freezer bag in the freezer.
took one out this morning, let it sit out for 5 hours, as per the recipe (actually it was more like 6), and baked according to the recipe instructions. i didn't make the streusel topping, since i didn't really think it was necessary.
it was a bit scary that the loaf browned quickly; in the recipe it says to look for a deep golden brown after about 70-75 minutes, but mine was pretty brown after about 20. i tented it with foil for the last 20 minutes of baking, just to be on the safe side. the smell in the kitchen was amazing.
it turned out absolutely gorgeous, with lovely swirls of chocolate. the cinnamon mixed into the chocolate filling is wonderfully aromatic, and the bread is soft, buttery, and slightly chewy. this babka is very close to perfect, and may be better than the Dean & Deluca babka i've been craving. the only change i might make in the future is to reduce the amount of chocolate (never thought i'd say that), just because it is almost overwhelmingly chocolatey. i also want to try making cinnamon babka!
my husband is picking away and i'm afraid the whole loaf will be gone by dinner time. luckily, i got a photo, which i hope will successfully upload here.
thanks very much for that recipe, wyf4lyf. do give it a try yourself sometime!