Chocolate Babka #TwelveLoaves March

Chocolate Babka #TwelveLoaves March | Bakewell Junction
Chocolate Babka #TwelveLoaves March | Bakewell Junction

Mmmm….  Look at those chocolate swirls.

Chocolate Babka #TwelveLoaves March 2 | Bakewell Junction
Chocolate Babka #TwelveLoaves March 2 | Bakewell Junction

Chocolate Babka is one of those things that I’ve wanted to try baking for several years.  I had printed a copy of the recipe I had seen on Smitten Kitchen and had it with all my other recipes (this was long before Pinterest became popular).  Thinking this would be a great recipe for #TwelveLoaves March which is featuring Holiday Breads, I decided to make it.

Babka in Polish means Grandmother and was traditionally made for Easter.  It was also a tradition in Lithuania, Slovakia, Belarus, Ukraine and Western Russia.  Another version of Babka (Chocolate Babka) is associated with Eastern European Jews.  The history behind Babka is a little confusing.  From what I’ve read on the internet, it’s debated as to who started the Babka tradition but it’s usually made around Easter.

This recipe contains a ton of butter and a ton of chocolate.  It is decadent, delicious and smells heavenly.  I would highly recommend breaking the Lenten fast with this sweet bread.  Although it takes a while to make this recipe, I had great results – my dough rose well and it was easy to roll out.  I did have one mishap because I don’t have three of the 9 by 5 loaf pans, so my attempt to put two of the loaves side by side in a half aluminum tray didn’t work out so well.  They were very dense and gooey in the middle but that didn’t alter the taste and they were devoured quickly anyway.  The only thing I would change for next time it to double the crumb topping recipe – you can never have too many crumbs.

Have you ever had Babka?  Which type do you prefer – chocolate filling, cinnamon filling, raisins, etc?

If you’re interested in additional Easter recipes that I make, try my Easter Bread or Prosciutto Bread (Lard Bread) recipes.  They’re delicious too.


Chocolate Babka

Yield:  3 Loaves                  Cook Time:  70 minutes


  • 1 1/2 cups milk, warmed to 110 degrees
  • 2 1/4 ounce packages active dry yeast or 4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 3/4 cup sugar plus a another pinch
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks at room temperature
  • 6 cups flour plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature plus additional for bowl and loaf pans (or you can use cooking spray instead of additional butter)

Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream


  • 2 1/4 pounds very finely chopped semisweet chocolate (I substituted a combination of Hershey’s and Lindt’s milk chocolate candy)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature

Streusel Topping:

  • 1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature


Step 1:  Warm milk in the microwave to 110 degrees.  One minute and 25 seconds works in my glass 2 cup measure.  I used my candy thermometer to check the temperature.  If you are transferring to a small bowl, warm the bowl so the milk doesn’t cool.  Add the pinch of sugar and yeast to the milk and give a quick stir.  Set aside for about 5 minutes.  The mixture should become foamy.

Step 2:  Stir together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs and yolks in a medium bowl.  Combine yeast and egg mixtures and mix thoroughly.

Step 3:  Add the flour and salt to the bowl of an electric mixer and give a quick stir.  Add the wet mixture to the flour and beat on low with the paddle attachment for about 30 seconds to combine.  Swap out the paddle attachment for the dough hook.  Cut 2 sticks of butter into 1 inch pieces and add to the dough.  Beat with the dough hook until butter is combined.  This will take approximately 10 minutes.  The dough will be soft and barely sticky.

Step 4:  On a clean work surface, lightly sprinkle some flour.  Place the dough on the floured surface.  You may need to scrape the bowl and dough hook to get every last bit of the wonderful dough.  Knead a minute or two.  Prepare a large bowl by buttering it or spraying with cooking spray.  Transfer dough to prepared bowl and turn to coat butter/cooking spray.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Let dough rise in a warm spot for 1 hour to double in size.  My house is always cool so, while I prepare the dough, I boil a pot of water and place it in my oven along with the dough.  This creates a great environment for the dough to rise.

Step 5:  Filling:  Mix the chocolate, 1 cup sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Cut in 1 1/2 sticks of butter using a pastry cutter until you have a homogeneous mixture.

Step 6:  Egg wash:  In a small bowl, beat egg and heavy cream together.

Step 7:  Butter the loaf pans or spray with cooking spray then line with parchment paper. Punch down the dough and wait for 5 minutes before cutting into thirds.  Cover resting dough while working with the first piece of dough.  Flour the work area.  Roll the first piece of dough until it’s about 1/8 inch thick.  It should be about 16 by 16 inch square.

Step 8:  Using the egg wash, moisten the edges of the rolled dough.  Evenly crumble 1/3 (about 2 1/2 cups) of the chocolate mixture minus 2 tablespoons on rolled dough up to about 1/4 inch from the edge of the dough.  Beginning at one side of the dough, roll the dough up until you reach the opposite side.  Pinch the dough together to seal the edges.  The dough needs to be twisted along its length 5 or 6 times.  Moisten the top of the rolled dough with the egg wash.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the chocolate mixture on half the roll and press into the dough.  Fold the side of the dough roll without the chocolate mixture onto the side with the chocolate mixture.  Seal edges by pinching.  Twist the roll twice and place in loaf pan.  Repeat rolling dough through placing in loaf pan for each of the other doughs.

Step 9: Streusel Topping:  Add powdered sugar, flour and butter in a large bowl.  Mix to combine and create small to large crumbs.

Step 10:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let doughs rise for 20 to 30 minutes in a warm spot.  Moisten the tops of the loaves with the egg wash.  Sprinkle the top of each loaf with 1/3 of the streusel.

Step 11:  Place loaves in preheated oven and bake 55 minutes until golden, rotating loaves midway during baking.  Lower temperature to 325 degrees and bake another 15 to 20 minutes until loaves are darker golden.  Cool completely on wire racks.  Depan loaves and try not to eat an entire loaf.

Storing:  Store loaves in a sealed plastic container or covered with plastic wrap.


  • To finely chop the chocolate easily, break it up into inch size pieces initially.  In small batches, use a food processor or mini chopper to chop it finely.
  • The dough can be frozen for 1 month after preparing up to the point where they are ready to be placed in the oven.  Remove the dough from the freezer and wait 5 hours before baking.
  • If your house is chilly like mine always is and your dough doesn’t rise, you can boil a pot of water while preparing the dough and place the water and dough in a cold oven.  The boiling water will create a warm moist environment in the oven for the dough to rise well.


Recipe from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Martha Stewart.

What is baking this March in the TwelveLoaves kitchens? Holiday Breads!

#TwelveLoaves March:  Holiday Bread.  Bake a bread, yeast or quick bread, loaf or individual.  This #TwelveLoaves is all about the incredible holiday breads featured in March.  Do you have a favorite Easter or St. Patrick’s Day Bread?  We would love to see it.  Let’s get baking!

Look at what our very talented #TwelveLoaves bakers have created this March!

We would love to have you join our #TwelveLoaves group; it’s easy!
1.  When you post your Twelve Loaves bread on your blog, make sure that you mention the Twelve Loaves challenge in your blog post; this helps us to get more members as well as share everyone’s posts.  Please make sure that your Bread is inspired by the theme!
2.  Please link your post to the linky tool at the bottom of Lora’s blog (Cake Duchess) or the link below.  It must be a bread baked to the Twelve Loaves theme.
3.  Have your Twelve Loaves bread that you baked this March, 2013 posted on your blog by March 31, 2013.

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Spatulas On Parade

Banana Bread

Banana Bread | Bakewell Junction

Banana Bread | Bakewell Junction

I have a delicious Banana Bread recipe to share today.  I was looking for a good recipe and a co-worker advised that his wife’s recipe was delicious.  The first time I made this bread I wasn’t happy with it but that was my fault because I mashed the bananas too much making them too watery and they fell to the bottom during baking.  This time it tasted just fabulous.  Do you have a favorite banana bread recipe?  If not (or even if you do), try this easy and tasty recipe.


Banana Bread

Yield:  1 large loaf                Cook Time:  60 minutes


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 5 very ripe medium-sized bananas or 3 large bananas


Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.  Alternatively you can use cooking spray or parchment paper.

Step 2.  Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.  Cream together butter, sugar and eggs.

Step 3:  Mash bananas with a fork.  Add mashed bananas to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until combined.  Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture.  Mix by hand until well blended.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.

Step 4:  Bake for to 60 minutes in the preheated 350 degree oven or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 30 minutes.  Remove the bread from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Tips:  Only mash the bananas once along the length of the banana.  If you mash the bananas too much, they will become watery and will sink to the bottom of the bread.

Recipe adapted from Bill’s wife’s recipe.

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Venetians / Rainbow Cookies / Tri Color Cookies

Venetians / Rainbow Cookies / Tri Color Cookies by Bakewell Junction

Venetians / Rainbow Cookies / Tri Color Cookies by Bakewell Junction

I’m sharing a delicious recipe that I made a few weeks ago.  This Christmas my friend Chris sent over her cookies and they were unbelievably delicious.  She agreed to give me her recipe and they turned out wonderfully.

My prior attempt to make Venetians with a different recipe a few years ago didn’t turn out well at all so I hadn’t tried another recipe until now.  My husband and I won’t even eat these if they’ve been purchased because they just don’t taste good.  I can hardly believe how delicious these are.

Although there’s some extra steps in assembly, these cookies aren’t really too difficult to make.  I did learn some things while making this recipe.  My Apricot preserves had some apricot chunks in it and I should probably have removed the chunks (although there were no complaints, mind you).  My almond paste wasn’t broken up evenly and it didn’t incorporate evenly into the cake (again, no complaints).  I’ve added tips at the end of the recipe so you won’t run into the same things.

I hope you try this recipe because you will get what I call the “wow factor”.  When you serve these cookies, anyone that tries them will say wow.  So do you like these cookies from the Italian bakeries?  The cookies have so many names, what name do you use?


Venetians / Rainbow Cookies / Tri Color Cookies

Yield:  48 or 64 cookies (depending on cut)                  Cook Time:  15 minutes

  • 8 ounces Almond Paste (I used the Odense 7 ounce tube)
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 4 tablespoons almond extract
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 drops red food coloring
  • 12 drops green food coloring

Icing and Filling

  • 1 12 ounce jar apricot preserves
  • 1 – 2 Special Dark Chocolate bars (I used a combination of Lindt and Ghirardelli)


Step 1:  Spray 3 13 by 9 by 2 baking pans with cooking spray, line with wax paper and then spray the wax paper with cooking spray too.  I didn’t have three pans of this size, so I prepared my cakes one at a time.

Step 2:  Break apart almond paste until it looks like grains of sand and no lumps remain.  Step 3:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine almond paste, butter, sugar, egg yolks and almond extract.  Beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add flour and salt. Mix until combined.  In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.  Carefully fold into the batter.

Step 4:  Take 1/3 of the batter (about 1 1/2 to 1 1/3 cup) and add 10 drops of green food coloring.  Using a folding motion mix the food coloring throughout the 1/3 portion of the batter.  Add additional drops as needed to reach the color you want.  Spread the green batter as evenly as possibly in the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes until the edges become light golden.

Step 5:  Take 1/3 of the batter (about 1 1/2 to 1 1/3 cup) and add 10 drops of red food coloring.  Using a folding motion mix the food coloring throughout the 1/3 portion of the batter.  Add additional drops as needed to reach the color you want.  Spread the red batter as evenly as possibly in the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes until the edges become light golden.

Step 6:  Take the remaining 1/3 of the batter (about 1 1/2 to 1 1/3 cup) and spread as evenly as possibly in the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes until the edges become light golden.  Cool all three cakes completely.

Step 7:  Warm the apricot preserves in a bowl in the microwave at 30 second intervals while stirring between intervals.  Heat for a maximum of 1 1/2 minutes.  Place wax paper on a cookie sheet and then the green layer.  Spread 1/2 the apricot preserves on the green layer.  Place the untinted layer on top of the green layer.  Spread the remaining apricot preserves on the untinted layer.  Place the red layer on top of the untinted layer and cover with wax paper.  Place another cookie sheet on top of the layers and place weight on top.  Chill everything overnight in the refrigerator.

Step 8:  Remove the cookies from the refrigerator and remove the weight.  Cut the edges of the layers so there are clean edges.  The cut pieces are great for snacking.  Carefully melt the chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave.  Spread the chocolate on the top and sides of the cookies.  Let the chocolate dry.  Turn the cookies over and spread chocolate on the bottom also.  Let the chocolate dry.  Turn the cookies over and cut into 8 by 8 pieces or 6 by 8 pieces.

Storing:  Store cookies in a sealed plastic container.


  • Breaking up the almond paste can best be accomplished by breaking it into 1 inch by 1 inch cubes and using a food processor, mini chopper or blender to break it up completely.  If you don’t have access to any of these, you can use a grater to break it up.
  • When the apricot preserves are heated, you can remove any large apricot chunks before spreading.  Heating the apricot preserves allows the preserves to soak into the layers and cling together better.
  • To cut the layers into pieces, carefully use a sharp serrated knife.  Have the layers placed with the long edge closest to you.   Run the knife under hot water and dry it.  Cut the layers in eight slices (if you want larger cookies, make 6 slices) along the long edge of the layers.  To minimize cracking in the chocolate, start cutting in a sawing motion with the warm knife until you break through the chocolate; then press down until the knife cuts through to the bottom of the layers and chocolate.  You will likely need to repeat running the knife under hot water after four slices.  Turn the pieces that look like long narrow logs sideways.  Repeat running the knife under hot water.  Using the same sawing motion to get through the top layer of chocolate and then pressing down to cut through to the bottom of the layers and chocolate, cut each log into 8 pieces.  You will likely need to repeat running the knife under hot water for each log you cut.  Plus if some of the chocolate cracks, then you have a great snack.
  • Making these a few days ahead of time allows the flavors to meld and they taste even better.


Recipe adapted from my friend Chris.

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