Sunday, December 21, 2014

Vegan chocolate babka

vegan chocolate babka

So it snowed today. Not a lot, in keeping with this winter’s trend of negligible snowfall (global warming, anyone?) but enough to make the world look like a black and white photograph. It’s quite beautiful, really. Perfect for taking a little stroll through the neighborhood. And you know—weather like this is the perfect antidote for head colds and partying-all-night lag (no time to explain, but let’s just say we all rolled into bed about two o’clock this morning). And so I walked a little bit and brought my camera and did not take any pictures, believing that there were no spots “good enough” for a photo, but did spend the entire time thinking about life and shit, because that is what a somber and beautiful winter landscape will do to you.

I thought about how inexplicable it is that 2015 is mere weeks away. In some ways I’m a bit peeved that time passes so quickly, but in others I’m eager to leave this year, probably the worst of my life, and enter a new one. Because 2014 was awful. I consider the whole affair to have started in about August of 2013 and climaxed with The Hospital. Since then, things are a bit better, of course; I have my new school and my various treatments and my renewed love for baking and writing. Shit, I just finished a fifty-page manuscript for a writing contest. Could I have done that before? Absolutely not. So there’s been progress.

And now the year is ending. I’m getting older (January baby here). There’s still that bad taste in my mouth, the remnant of undesirable emotions and general unhappiness, but it’s fading. I wonder if this will be the year I get my shit together.  

And then I find myself walking back into the house where it is warm and there is actually a bit of color and, no longer alone with my thoughts, I can actually live in the present for a while.

You know? Funny how that works.

Inside there is the Christmas tree and happy little decorations and, most importantly, my family. There, historical analysis of the self can wait.

It’s also funny, I think, that the first time I made chocolate babka was a year ago, for a brunch we were hosting. That loaf was rich and golden-brown and absolutely laden with chocolate, to the point of bursting, and we all agreed that it was less “bread” than “pound cake by another name”. This variation, we all agree, is much better.

vegan chocolate babka
Oh shit, we're talking about food now? *wipes away tears*

The recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen, that blogger who clearly traded her soul with the devil for the ability to find perfect recipes. The filling, for one, is much more spread-like than the other recipe I tried (which seemed to call for a few pounds of dark chocolate and shit), and as such is very easy to keep inside the dough when rolling. She also mentions freezing the dough before slicing those layers of chocolaty goodness open and twisting them together. And thank god she did. It works like a charm.

Like most loaves of bread, this is a labor of love, but worth every moment spent waiting for the dough to rise and bake and cool. There’s just nothing like it.

Oh, and the soaking syrup at the end of the recipe? Totally necessary. Just trust me on that one. 

vegan chocolate babka
Just look at it. LOOK AT IT!


Vegan chocolate babka

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes one loaf



265 grams • all-purpose flour • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons

50 grams • granulated sugar • ¼ cup

4 gram • active dry yeast • 1 teaspoon

Zest of half a lemon

10 grams • ground flaxseed • 1 ½ tablespoons

90 grams • water • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons

3 grams • salt • ½ teaspoon

75 grams • solid coconut oil, softened • 1/3 cup


65 grams • dark chocolate, finely chopped • 2 ¼ ounces

60 grams • coconut oil • ¼ cup

25 grams • powdered sugar • scant ¼ cup

15 grams • cocoa powder • 2 ½ tablespoons

Dash cinnamon


37 grams • water • 2 ½ tablespoons

38 grams • granulated sugar • 3 tablespoons


To make the dough, start by combining flour, sugar, yeast, and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add flaxseed and water and mix with dough hook until it comes together; this may take a couple minutes. With mixer on low, add salt and coconut oil, a tablespoon at a time, and mix until fully incorporated.

Knead dough on medium speed for 10 minutes or until dough is completely smooth; be sure to scrape down the bowl a few times. If the dough is not pulling away from the sides of the mixer after this time, add a spoonful of extra flour and mix a bit more.

Turn dough out into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight—it should at least increase in size by half, if not double.

To make the filling, start by melting oil and chocolate together in a small saucepan only low heat. Stir until smooth. Add powdered sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon.

Grease one 9 x 4 inch loaf pan and line the bottom with a rectangle of parchment paper. Remove the dough from fridge and roll out on a well-floured surface to a rectangle about 10 x 12 inches. Spread the chocolate mixture in an even layer over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border on all sides. Brush the end farthest away from you (the slightly longer one) with water. Roll dough up carefully and tightly; seal the dampened end. Place on a baking tray and stick it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove dough from freezer. Trim the last ½ inch off each end of the log. Carefully cut the dough in half lengthwise (exposing the layers) and place on the counter. Pinch each end together gently. Lift one side over the next, making a nice sort of twist, and seal together the other ends. Transfer dough to the loaf pan and nestle the ½-inch ends on the edges.

Cover dough with a damp tea towel and let rise for another 1 to 1 ½ hours in a warm place. In the meantime, make the syrup. In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once the babka has risen, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes. It should be golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center should go through cleanly with little resistance. Brush the syrup over the loaf—yes, all of it. Let cool for about half an hour in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely I mean yes you can eat it warm. Go ahead.


vegan chocolate babka
Dem chocolate swirls.

This winter I haven’t baked nearly enough bread, but after this I think I will have to get back on that baking wagon. Especially with Christmas vacation. Homework shall obstruct my desire to bake bread no longer!

And before you leave, I have two items—firstly, I’m sorry for the overly emotional navel-gazing post, but it really helped and I hope you don’t hate me for that; and secondly, some more bread recipes! Yay!

Pulla (Finnish braided bread with cardamom). Cardamom: a most underappreciated spice that is totally necessary for this bread.

Chocolate peanut butter swirl bread.  Much easier than it looks! I swear!

Cinnamon swirl bread. Screw the store-bought kind—homemade is where it’s at.  


  1. YUM. yumyumyumyum! I'm one of those total skeptics when it comes to vegan baking. But this looks AWESOME! I raise my glass to you lady! Here's wishing you a much better year in 2015! :)

  2. Beautiful and extremely tempting!

    We are still waiting for snow here... Yes, 2014 passed really fast.

    Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2015!



  3. 2014 - A funny one, that's for sure... I have been pondering and wondering, thinking what on earth I am actually doing, but then... Then I remind myself of the good stuff, poetry collection, visiting the States, finishing my online nutritional course, recently debuting at an open mic along with my friend, performing a song we finished last year... Work has been....testing if anything, but at least at the end of this year we can wrap our mind around things and procrastibake like bosses in the meantime, right?
    I wish you a merry christmas, as I wont be online for almost a week, I will miss your fantastic posts until then, and cross my fingers and toes for you having a great start to the new year. You've achieve so much :) And I'll be hoping to read some of your stories too! All the best Missy xx

    1. PS forget to mention how fantastic that babka looks :D Dark chocolate is the best kind! I love the fact that you can slice this up and share it as you go along, I can't imagine there was a crumb left after this was put on the table :)

    2. Aw, thanks so sounds like you've been doing a lot of neat things, that's awesome! Here's to awesome 2015's for both of us! :)

  4. I love beautiful somber winter nights like that, too! You made this recipe look absolutely gorgeous... dark chocolate is my fave!

    1. Thanks so much...tried really hard not to eat it all before taking photos! :)

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