One of my favorite things about Vienna is the abundance of Jewish pastries everywhere (or pastries in general for that matter). I grew up sampling and comparing everything sweet in sight, purely for research purposes, of course. Ever since I was very little I've had an obsession with history and the origins of traditional foods. If we ever meet in person, never strike up a conversation on bagels, because you'll probably have to listen to a monologue for the next hour or so. We've made it no secret that we love Israeli food and Ottolenghi has written several of our favorite cookbooks, but we've never done a traditional sweet pastry (don't worry I've got you covered with a bagel recipe here). So here it is: chocolate babka with hazelnuts (we didn't have any hazelnuts left, so we used walnuts as a prop, and let's be honest they're a lot prettier anyways...). What's your favorite traditional pastry?
Chocolate Babka (recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi)
530g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
100g caster sugar
2 tsp fast-action dried yeast
grated zest of 1 small lemon
3 large free-range eggs
⅓ tsp salt
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2cm cubes
sunflower oil, for greasing
50g icing sugar
30g best-quality cocoa powder
130g good-quality dark chocolate, melted
120g unsalted butter, melted
100g pecans, roughly chopped
2 tbsp caster sugar
Combine flour, yeast, sugar and lemon zest in a big bowl. Add the eggs one by one until well mixed (if you have a kitchen aid, that works perfectly well). Add the water, salt and butter and form to a ball once combined. Put the dough in a warm place and cover it with a damp cloth and let it rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in mass.
In the meantime you can melt the butter with the chocolate and add the icing sugar and cocoa powder to make the filling. Once the dough has risen, roll it out to a rectangle and spread the filling over it (optionally you can sprinkle it with nuts now). Then roll the dough over the longer sides of the rectangle and cut the roll in half. Try to braid the two halves the best you can (it's going to get very messy) and place the braid in a rectangular form. Bake for 30 mins at 190C.