Bryan Ford is a baker at Ironside Bakery in Miami who incorporates his Honduran heritage and sourdough starter into everything he bakes. This recipe he developed for “sourdough-ish” babka takes a classic yeasted cake and gives it a slightly tangy punch.
- Grab two bowls. In one of the bowls, combine the milk, starter, yeast, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and honey.
- Combine the flour and salt in the other bowl, and mix with your hands.
- Slowly add the flour mixture into the bowl with the levain mixture, one cupful at a time, and mix with a fork. Continue until the flour mixture has been slowly incorporated.
- Add the 113 grams of softened butter. Squeeze into the dough with your fingers. Once it begins to get incorporated, turn out onto a floured countertop and begin kneading with your palm. It will be a bit sticky, so use your dough scraper to scrape the dough that sticks to the countertop back into the mass.
- You can use the "slap and fold" technique as well. What you need to do is grab your dough with both hands, lift it off the counter, and slap the bottom half back onto the counter. Then, throw the top half over it so that it forms a ball again. Repeat this process, with kneading, until you get a smoothish dough. It won't be perfect, but you'll know when it's done.
- Place the dough into a bowl for the initial rise period of 2 to 3 hours. My house is usually somewhere between 72-75 degrees, per the thermostat, and that does the trick. What you're looking for is an increase in volume and a slightly weblike structure at the bottom of the dough.
- Now it's time to prepare the filling. You can use a double boiler or the microwave. For the filling, add the bittersweet chocolate, the cocoa, half the butter, half the brown sugar, half the cinnamon, and a pinch of salt to a small bowl. Stir and put into the microwave for 1 minute. After 30 seconds, stir again and finish.
- Let the filling cool while you dump your dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Using your rolling pin, roll it into a rectangle about 2 feet long.
- Spread the filling all over your flattened dough, and then roll it into a tight log. Cut the log in half so that you have two shorter logs.
- Now, cut each of these logs in half vertically. You'll see the layers of the filling and the dough now. You want the layers (the cut side) to be facing up. You'll end up with 4 pieces.
- Take 3 of these pieces and connect them together at the base so that you can make a braided loaf. You can cut the other piece in half and make a smaller two-braid loaf, or make knots.
- Place your braided loaves into an oiled tin. Cover with a bag, and let them proof for 1 to 2 hours.
- Now you can make the streusel de coco. Combine the remaining half butter, half brown sugar, and half cinnamon with the honey, all-purpose flour, coconut flakes, additional cinnamon, pinch of salt, and egg in a bowl and mix. You'll end up with a slightly wet but lumpy mixture.
- When the loaves are done proofing, you'll know they are ready because they will have increased significantly in volume. Brush with milk and break apart the streusel all over the top of the loaf.
- Preheat your oven to 375. Bake the loaves for about 40 minutes, then turn down the heat to 350 and bake for another 10-15. Depending on your oven, you may not have to bake it for so long. Keep an eye on the color during the bake.
- Once the bake is done, turn out of the pans and let cool for 5-10 minutes. But, as usual, it's best warm out of the oven! Enjoy.