Wow. and wow again! When I was in high school I used to work at a bakery that made these and wow were they amazing... chocolate or apple... fresh from the oven. After a while I knew it was time to quit... until I stumbled upon a bakery in Israel that has a similar yet even more heavenly than I remembered, version. So naturally I had to eat everything! And then decided to take a go myself, and here is what happened... I know they look pretty intimidating but they were surprisingly easy and oh so worth it! See below for the recipe and slideshow below for step by step on how to roll up your babka!
Chocolate & Halvah Babka (Breaded Twist) Makes 2 free-form cakes, or 2 loaves using long loaf pans ((12 by 4.5 inch, measured at the top)
Ingredients/ 6 cups all-purpose flour 2 packets (0.5 oz. /14 grams) active dry yeast 1 cup sugar 3 eggs, room temperature 1- 1/3 cup lukewarm milk (about 100 F) 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 lemon, zested 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, diced 1 egg, lightly beaten, for glaze
Filling/ 1-2 cups chocolate spread, use as much as you like ½ lb. halva, crumbled A handful chocolate chips/chunks
Directions/ In a mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook, put all the dough ingredients besides the butter, and mix for 5 minutes. Add the butter gradually until it is fully incorporated. Kneed about 3-5 minutes longer until dough is smooth and soft.
Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, divide the dough into two equal parts. Roll each part into a rectangle, about ¼-inch thick. Spread generously with chocolate spread and the rest of the ingredients you are using as filling. Be generous as you like. (See photos).
Roll dough up (see slideshow below). Cut lengthwise into two long strips and then turn them one over the other/twist, like a braid. Repeat with second portion of dough. Place each cake in a well greased loaf pan (line the pans with parchment paper), or free-form on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper with enough space between them.
Cover loosely with clean towel and place in a warm spot. Let cakes rise about 45-60 minutes until they double in volume.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Brush cakes with the beaten egg. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until cakes are nicely browned. Remove from oven and let cool. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.