Chanukah Chocolate Babka Challah
Yield: 2 large or 3 medium loaves
2 packages or 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
7 tablespoons light oil
1/4 cup maple syrup or 2 tablespoons Stevia
2 teaspoons salt
1 cups gluten flour
3-4 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour
1 egg, beaten for wash
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar or 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar Truvia
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
Expand the Table Suggestions
Sugar Free: Substitute 2 tablespoons Stevia for sugar in dough and 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar Truvia in Chocolate Paste
Egg Free: 1/2 cup applesauce for each egg
In large bowl, soften yeast in warm water. Allow time to proof. (It should bubble if yeast is good.)
Add oil, sweetener and salt. (You may know this already, but if you use the same measuring cup that had the oil in it, the maple syrup slides out nicely with no waste.) Stir in eggs. Add chocolate chips.
Add gluten flour, mix, and then add chocolate chips. Mix gently. Add enough all purpose flour to form a stiff, sticky dough. Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes depending on how many loaves you are making and how humid the day is.
Place 2 tablespoons oil in a clean bowl, add dough with and turn to coat. Cover and allow dough to rise in draft free spot until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. If you wish to speed up the process, place a pan of steaming water underneath the rising dough in a cold oven. Don’t heat the oven--this does not work, as I can tell you from personal experience.
Chocolate paste: Melt butter. Stir in sugar, cinnamon and cocoa powder and add butter. Mix.
Punch down dough and prepare loaves. Divide dough into 2 portions for large loaves or 3-4 for smaller ones. Divide into ropes ready to braid or spiral. With a pastry brush, brush onto each piece chocolate paste to cover one side.
Braid: Divide each portion into 3 segments, rolling each segment into rope like pieces of equal length. Then braid, tucking in the ends. Or try a 4, 5, or 6 strand braid.
Spiral: Divide dough into number of loaves desired. With your hands, roll each portion into one long rope, flatten a bit and make a spiral.
Pinch ends together to seal. Add a bit of water on your fingertips if you have trouble keeping the seal. Place on parchment paper covered baking sheet. Brush with the remainder of the chocolate paste and let rise in draft free spot until doubled, about 30-45 minutes.
Place pan of water on the row under the pans during baking for a good moist texture. Bake in a 350 oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. The bottom, when tapped, should sound hollow. Cool before eating. Guaranteed to create a smell that will become a cherished memory.