I unlocked the wonderful mysteries of Babka for myself last year with these Babka Pull Apart Muffins which now makes every December around these parts BABKA SEASON.
I love a new tradition, especially one that involves chocolate and encourages coffee so in celebration of another December together, I’m back atcha with a MOUNTAIN of a Chocolate Babka Cake – a traditional Jewish recipe I’ve made more cake than bread.
We’ll start with dreams of coffee cake. Amplify those dreams by make a coffee cake that’s more closely related to a pound cake than anything. Great! Next, subtract the streusel filling and add in a chocolate-y rich spreadable chocolate filling that’s dark as midnight. Factor in an hour of cozy oven time. Consider a shower of powdered sugar while you brew up a cup of hot coffee and just like that you’re in my kitchen with me – and there’s cake thank goodness!
This recipe is brought to us in partnership with AeroPress because every good coffee cake obviously needs a perfect cup of coffee.
Here’s what’s so cool about an AeroPress – it brews a simple single cup of coffee with low acidity and really no bitterness at all. It’s like brewing up a french press of coffee except you press the coffee through a filter at the bottom, leaving behind any coffee sludge and any over-brewed bitter flavor.
It’s really so simple!
The AeroPress (and honestly, a Chocolate Babka Cake) would make such a lovely holiday gift for our coffee loving friends. It’s on my list of gifts to give! (Find it at all sorts of retailers like Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, Sur La Table, and Cost Plus World Market!
Let’s start with this cake!
Here’s what you’ll need for this mountain of a cake:
• butter, a few ways – softened to incorporate into the cake batter as well as melted to bring the chocolate cookie filling together.
• speaking of chocolate! We’ll need chocolate a few ways, too! Semi-sweet chocolate chips for the filling as well as chocolate wafer cookies (Oreos without the cream).
• eggs, at room temperature – for real.
• flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt – all the things you’d expect to put into a successful cake.
• sugar, for sure.
• sour cream to moisten and bind the batter,
• flavorings like cinnamon and honey for the filling, and vanilla for the cake batter.
Start by tossing together the dry ingredients. We’re talking: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Use either a whisk, fork, spatula, spoon – any utensil that will lightly aerate the mixture while dispersing the ingredients.
Next we’ll deal in butter.
I add two softened cubes to the bowl of a stand mixer.
The softened part in important. We want our fats to incorporate fluff easily with the sugar – ‘fluff’ being a technical term for aerate.
Once the butter has swirled around the mixer for a few moments, stream in the sugar.
Beat on medium speed until the mixture feels more smooth than griany, has lightened in color just slightly and has a fluffy quality.
After the sugar is fully incorporated we’ll add eggs. Room temperature. One at a time. Allowing the mixture to beat for 1 minute between each egg edition.
Now this might just sound like words you read in a recipe but here’s the thing: eggs add volume to the cake. It’s easier for eggs to do their volume work when they’re at room temperature. Adding the eggs slowly, allowing them to beat, gives each egg the chance to do it’s good work.
Once the eggs have smoothed out the batter, it’s time to add the dry ingredients along with the sour cream. Alternating. Cakes are always a dance.
Just as the dry ingredients starts to incorporate, spoon in half of the sour cream.
Repeat the process with both the dry ingredients and sour cream.
Because this batter has a whole lotta body, I like to incorporate it off the stand mixer using a spatula and a little elbow grease (that’s what my mom would call it). Fold the mixture over itself several times to ensure that there are not hidden patches of sour cream or flour hanging out on the bottom of the bowl.
To make the filling, heat chocolate and butter in a double boiler until it’s melted and glossy. We’ll pour the cooled and glossy chocolate mixture over chocolate cookie crumbs (Oreo cookies I totally scraped the filling from and pulverized in the food processor). The cookie crumbs will soften as they absorb the melted chocolate mixture!
Add honey and cinnamon and stir to combine.
Let the mixture settle to room temperature before incorporating layering into the cake pan. It will thicken even more as it cools which is just right!
I used a fat-bottom tube pan for this recipe. We need a lot of real-estate for the batter.
I also found that a large ice cream scoop was the perfect way to deposit batter into the pan. We’ll do this in several layers .
Spoon about 1 1/2 cups of batter into the bottom of a well greased and floured pan and spread into an even layer.
Spoon about 1/3 cup of chocolate filling on top of the first layer of cake batter and use an butterknife or offset spatula to spread the chocolate mixture as evenly as possible across the batter.
Repeat the layering process until both the cake batter and the filling have all made their way into the pan. Finishing with a layer of cake batter to seal everything inside.
Use a butterknife to gently swirl the layers together. Don’t go crazy, we don’t want to over-mix the layers and lose all of our hard work. About 8 swirls will do!
Now it’s time to bake this baby! This cake requires some real quality time in the oven. Place it in the middle rack, rotating the cake pan a few times during baking, after it’s been in the oven about 30 minutes.
Allow the cake to cool for about 30 minutes before running a knife around the edge and flipping the cake onto a wire rack to cool further.
And the best part of coffee cake – THE COFFEE!
I used my AeroPress to make a super special, smooth cup of coffee.
Add a spoonful of ground coffee, a cupful of water, stir and allow the coffee to steep.
Then press it right on through and into the cup!
The perfect compliment to this decadent Chocolate Babka Cake! This cake is as gorgeous as it is delicious! Enjoy it warm – and don’t be afraid of a big happy slice!Print
For the Chocolate Filling:
- 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 1/2 cups finely ground chocolate wafer cookies (I sure did use Oreos without the cream)
For the Cake:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- First make the chocolate filling, in a heatproof bowl over a double boiler, melt together the two chocolates and butter. Stir until smooth and glossy. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, cinnamon and honey.
- Let the chocolate cool to room temperature. This step is important. We’ll need the chocolate at room temperature before we add the cookie crumbs so the mixture finished is thick and spreadable. Give the chocolate about 20 minutes to come to cool to room temperature.
- Stir in the chocolate cookies which should make the chocolate mixture thick but still spreadable.
- To make the cake, first place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a Bundt pan or tube pan, tapping out excess flour.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 4 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
- In the bow of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment lightly beat the softened butter.
- Add the sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition, scraping down sides of bowl after each addition.
- Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients in 2 additions, alternating with sour cream.
- Scoop about 1 1/2 cups of batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Spoon in about 1/3 cup of the chocolate filling and spread as best you can to smooth the surface. Repeat the layers until all of the batter and filling are gone but be sure to end with a layer of cake batter at the top of the pan.
- Smooth the surface and use a butterknife to gently swirl the layers together – about 8 swirls will do.
- Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 70–80 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan 30 minutes before inverting onto wire rack. Let cool completely.
- Slice generously and dust with powdered sugar before serving.
- Cake will keep well wrapped at room temperature for up to 5 days.