Babka with chestnut cream and dark chocolate. Is it as delicious as it sounds? Yes, it is. Maybe a little bit more.
Do you like chestnuts? I love them. Especially grilled on a traditional wood stove. I don’t know if it’s just their taste that makes me love them or above all the memories coming with them.
As a child, during cold months I can remember that the chestnuts were never missing from our table. How could they? You see, I grew up in a mountainous area surrounded by an amazing forest. A morning stroll in the colorful mountain of my hometown Florina was enough in order to gather the necessary quantity. You only needed a stroll in the mountain and an old fashioned stove. These stoves where you can hear the sound of the woods burning and instantly your heart is warming up.
I can recall my grandmother holding a wooden tray full of chestnuts and a tin plate by her side. She was taking the chestnuts one by one and engraving them slightly. And then partially arranging them on the top of the stove. I was always impressed by the fact that she didn’t use anything to turn the chestnuts on the other side. With calm moves and with a lot of coolness she was carefully removing from the stove the hot chestnuts. Without burning, without making any sound of pain or inconvenience.
They say that our body has the ability to adapt to external conditions over time in order to protect itself. My grandmother wasn’t a woman living in the big city. She lived in a small mountainous village and she was a farmer. During her life her hands had done a lot of work and thus they became pain resistant. Either in the stables or in the veggie garden, for instance. Thus, getting hot chestnuts off the stove was nothing for her. I think she didn’t even could feel the temperature.
Chestnuts were the reason for making the most delicious babka with chestnut cream and dark chocolate. The recipe may sound complicated but it is not. You just have to read it carefully and properly organize the required steps.
Thus, read the recipe, understand it and then start, what do you say?
Notes of the recipe
- The syrup: After baking babka brush it with some syrup. The syrup will help babka stay fresh and juicy for more days. Maybe one cup of syrup may seen enough, but don’t be afraid, add it.
- The rising: The key to a successful babka is the rising of the dough. If it does not rise (double its size), two things may have happened, whether you have burned the yeast or the temperature of the environemnt is not very hot. If you have burned the yeast (eg very hot milk or added salt early) there is no solution, at least that I know. In the case of the temperature of the environment isn’t enough, the problem is solved patiently and with the help of the oven at a very low temperature. In my oven 30 degrees was fine. If your oven has a convection feature, be sure not to use that, as it will dry out the dough during the proofing.
Babka with chestnut cream and dark chocolate
Babka filled with chestnut cream and dark chocolate
For the dough
- 1/4 cup milk, lukewarm
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp dry yeast
- zest from 1 orange
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1 mastic, pulverized in mortar until become a powder (optional)
- 1/4 tsp mahlep (optional)
- 2 eggs, medium size
- 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 80 gr butter, room temperature
For the filling
- 400 gr chestnuts, boiled and peeled
- 200 ml water
- 300 gr granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate, chopped (extra)
For the syrup
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
For the dough
- Heat the milk slightly. Its temperature should not exceed 50 degrees of Celsius (110 F).
- In a mixer bowl, whisk the lukewarm milk with the sugar until dissolved. Then add the yeast and mix.
- Add the orange zest, cardamom, mastic,mahlep and eggs.
- Then add the flour gradually alternating with butter. Then add the salt.
- Beat until combined. In the end we should have a smooth elastic dough that is soft and has a light yellow colour.
- Coat the dough with a little butter on top, cover with a piece of greaseproof paper first and then with a towel. Put the bowl in the oven, at 30*C degrees, in the resistors. We do not put it in the air because it is possible that our dough may dry out.
- The dough in the next one hour should have doubled in size. While waiting make the filling.
For the filling
- Score the chestnuts with an “X” deep enough to cut through the outer skin. Boil them in a saucepan with plenty of water.
- Boil for about half an hour, until softened. Pour the content of the pot into a drain.
- While the chestnuts are still warm peel them. Chestnuts are very easy to clean when warm. If cool, put them back in the pot with water and warm them slightly.
- Add 200 ml of water and the sugar in another saucepan. Boil on low heat until the sugar becomes transparent.
- Remove from the heat. Then add the peeled chestnuts and the syrup in a blender. Blend them until become a cream.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 15 minutes.
- Then add 1/3 cup of chopped dark chocolate. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
Make the babka
- On a clean surface we spread some flour and place the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangular shape.
- Spread the filling mixture all over the surface, leaving clean 2-3 cm from the edge.
- Then add the chopped dark chocolate.
- We roll our dough along as tightly as possible to end up in a roll. If the dough does not stick, add a few drops of milk.
- By using a sharp knife we cut along to create three strips. Knit the braid.
- Place inside a loaf pan line with parchment paper and allow to rest under a towel in a warm spot for 60 minutes. I have used my oven at 30*C.
- Bake babka for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown in a preheated oven, at 175*C.
- While baking prepare the syrup in a small saucepan. Add water and sugar and cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
- After removing the babka from the oven, add the syrup.
This was my recipe for a babka filled with chestnut cream and dark chocolate. A babka that makes great use of my favorite chestnuts and can perfectly accompany your breakfast during cold months. Do not forget to pay attention to the dough and syrup.