So when I was making this recipe, I wanted to do something babka-esque, and as I was measuring out the dry ingredients to make a brioche, it dawned upon me that maybe doing a milk bread babka could be a lot of fun! With brioche, it is rich, dense, and buttery. With milk bread, you have something lighter and fluffier. What mainly differentiates milk bread from other European bread recipes is the usage of a tangzhong. Tangzhong is essentially like a roux, being this mixture of flour and milk that is cooked down together into a thickened paste. That is then mixed into the bread dough to give it a spongier, softer texture, as a result of the starch from the flour being present, but the glutens being weakened from being cooked out. I personally prefer milk bread to brioche for that reason, just because I like my bread that way, having grown up on it. So I figured, why not make a babka out of the milk bread dough instead, and see how that comes out? The end result? A light, fluffy loaf stuffed with a ton of chocolate and in my case, pistachios. I really love this recipe, and I hope you do too! Even if you do not want to make babka per se from this, you can still make milk bread using the same dough and it will be great in sandwiches, as toast, or even on its own!
For the tangzhong:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
a pinch of salt
Whisk together your ingredients in a pot until combined. Switch to a heatproof rubber spatula and stir on medium-high heat until the mixture is thickened and the liquid is reduced by about half. Pour onto a nonstick surface and allow the tangzhong to cool down completely before adding it into your bread dough.
For the milk bread dough:
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast(1 packet)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm milk
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons neutral flavored oil
2 cups bread flour
In a bowl, mix together the yeast, sugar, and milk and allow that to sit for 10 minutes. Mix the tangzhong with the butter, oil, and eggs first to combine, then add in the yeast-milk mixture and finally, your flour. Mix the dough together in a stand mixer with a dough hook for at least 10 minutes, or until the dough comes together and doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl anymore. Cover the dough and allow it to rest in a warm place for at least 1 hour. Then refrigerate the dough for another 20 minutes.
For the filling:
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
Melt down 1 cup of the chocolate with the cream, butter, and salt to form a ganache. Pour into a shallow container and refrigerate until cool to the tough.
1/4 cup milk
Roll out your cooled dough on a floured surface until it is a rectangle, about 1 1/2 feet long and 8 inches wide. Spread the chocolate-cream mixture onto the surface of your dough, then sprinkle on the remaining chocolate chips and pistachios. Roll up the dough along the length into a scroll. Cut up the dough into four pieces along the length. Line these four pieces next to each other, cut sides facing up so that the filling doesn’t smear against your counter. Begin braiding the four pieces around each other, just going over and under with each piece and making sure that all of the pieces are intertwined. Line four mini loaf pans . Cut the large braided bread dough into 4 equal pieces along the width this time. Place each piece into the loaf pans. Beat an egg with some milk and brush that onto the tops of the breads. Let the breads proof for 30 minutes at room temperature before baking at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes. Allow the breads to cool down completely before removing them from the molds, just so that the molten hot filling doesn’t burn you.