Recipe for Chocolate Miso Babka
This brioche bread originally from Poland is made more indulgent thanks to the addition of miso, which gives it a caramelised flavour.
© Dina Avila
This fluffy brioche, which originates from Eastern Europe, particularly Poland, has been revisited by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey. In their book Miso, Tempeh, Natto & Other Tasty Ferments, the couple outline their recipe for babka with the addition of chocolate and miso, which adds a touch of caramel to this dessert, the name of which literally translates as ‘grandmother.’
Traditionally, babka is a brioche garnished with candied fruits or almonds and topped with chocolate, made from leftover challah dough used to make the Shabbat bread. Served during Jewish festivals, particularly Easter celebrations, babka soon travelled beyond Polish borders to become a speciality in New York and Israel, although its popularity has grown significantly in recent years in many European countries.
The miso used in this recipe is white miso, known as shiromiso, a young form of the seasoning that is fermented for a shorter time and is therefore sweeter than the miso used in savoury dishes, for example.
Makes 12 to 15 slices
315 ml warm water (at body temperature)
2 tsp active dry yeast
65 ml honey
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp salt
1.25 kg unbleached all-purpose white flour
180 g bittersweet chocolate
80 g granulated sugar
3 tbsp sweet white miso
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Coarse granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Pour the warm water into a large bowl. Whisk in the yeast and honey. Let stand until the yeast begins to foam, about five to ten minutes.
Add the 2 tablespoons of melted butter, one egg, and salt to the yeast mixture and whisk together.
Gradually add the flour, stirring after each addition. You will probably want to start stirring with your whisk but then swap it out for a sturdy wooden spoon, which you will abandon for your hands in the end. Knead the dough until all the flour is incorporated and the dough feels elastic, about four to five minutes. If it is still sticky, add a bit more flour and work it in.
Cover the bowl with a clean towel and set in a warm spot to rise until the dough has doubled in size, for about 90 to 120 minutes, depending upon the activity of the yeast, your kneading, and the temperature of the room.
Butter a 10-inch bread pan and line it with parchment paper.
Punch down the risen dough, dump it onto a floured work surface, and knead for five minutes, sprinkling on some additional flour if your dough begins to stick to the surface or to you. Divide the dough into three equal balls. Roll each ball into a ropelike shape about 4 cm in diameter. Make sure all three are of equal length and relatively the same thickness. With a rolling pin, flatten each rope to about 1.5 cm to form rectangles.
Combine the chocolate, granulated sugar, miso, and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. Process until they are a consistent crumble.
Brush each dough rectangle with the unsalted melted butter and sprinkle one-third of the chocolate-miso mixture onto each. Press the mixture into the dough with your fingers. Roll each dough rectangle up into a rope again and pinch the seam and ends to keep the chocolate-miso mixture safely inside.
Braid the three ropes together, but don’t worry if they aren’t perfect because you are going to twist them and cram them into the bread pan.
Place your braided dough in the pan, twisting it a bit if you like. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour at room temperature or until the dough has risen enough to fill the pan.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Brush the top of the risen dough with the egg wash, then sprinkle the coarse granulated sugar on top.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the top is brown. Remove the bread from the pan by lifting out the parchment paper. Cool on a wire rack. Really wait until it’s cooled before you slice into this beauty so that it keeps its shape. Enjoy!
Miso, Tempeh, Natto & Other Tasty Ferments (2019), a recipe book by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey, is published by Storey.
Kirsten and Christopher Shockey run a farm in the heart of the Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon in the United States, where they grow over forty varieties of vegetables and herbs.
The couple also specialise in fermentation, and run classes and workshops on their farm to teach others about this technique. They have written other books about fermentation, like Fermented Vegetables.
© Dina Avila
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