Yesterday’s babka is today’s french toast. Plus, not only is there espresso powder baked into those chocolatey layers, I also added some to the french toast egg bath, just to put a little extra pep in your step. This is exactly what your Monday needs!
So let’s get back to where it started – making the babka. French toast is always better with day old bread, which is especially true when using this type of bread that would easily fall apart if used fresh – so plan to make the babka a day ahead.
If you don’t know what babka is, it’s basically brioche with swirls of, in this case, dark chocolate. It may look tricky to make, but I assure you, the trickiest part is having the willpower to not eat it all before next mornings’ breakfast. However, this recipe makes two loaves, and you’ll get about 3 to 4 servings of french toast out of each. So, if you’re making this for a smaller group, lucky you, go ahead and slice into one loaf while it’s still fresh and warm. If you’ve got more mouths to feed, stay strong, I assure you it’s worth the wait.
If you must, slice of a tiny sliver on one end. Just be careful, when it comes to babka, there is no such thing as one slice. Kind of like wine – “I’ll have one glass”, said no one ever (and meant it).
But if we didn’t cut them, we wouldn’t be able to get… *drum roll*….
Now, as you start to cut into the babka, you’ll already notice it’s tricky to keep the slices in tact, so do this carefully. Same goes for soaking in the egg bath, and flipping on the griddle, etc. Use a spatula that is large enough to hold an entire slice to help avoid breakage.
If you’re not having any luck and your slices fall apart on you, just embrace it; pile up the pieces, layer on the toppings and serve as a ‘deconstructed’ (literally) french toast. Look at you, so artsy 😉
- For the Babka Dough
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- ½ cup milk, warm
- 4½ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- For the Babka Filling
- 5 ounces dark chocolate
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- For the Babka Glaze
- ⅓ cup water
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- For the French Toast
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- For the Caramelized Bananas
- 3 unripe bananas, sliced crosswise
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- maple syrup
- Make the babka dough: In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together milk, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Let sit for a few minutes until foamy. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the remaining sugar, salt and flour. To the flour mixture, add the eggs and the yeast mixture. Turn the mixer to medium speed and when the dough begins to form, start adding 1 tablespoons butter at a time until all the butter has been incorporated. Continue to run the mixer on medium speed, allowing the dough hook to kneed the dough for another 5 - 7 minutes, or until smooth. Remove the dough from the bowl and grease it with cooking spray, add the dough back to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled inside, about 2 hours.
- Make the babka filling: In a double boiler, melt butter and chocolate together, stirring until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar, cocoa and espresso powder; mixture should be smooth and spreadable, but not runny.
- Spray two 9" x 4" loaf pans with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper.
- Assemble the babka: Divide the dough in half, leaving one half of the dough covered. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 9" x 12". Spread half the chocolate mixture over the top of the dough, leaving about an inch of dough on the long edge furthest from you, brushing that edge of dough with water. Roll the dough into a log, starting at the long end closest to you, sealing the end. Trim about an inch or two off each end. Cut the log in half down the length of the roll. You should now have 2 long pieces of dough. Lay both pieces next to one another with the short ends towards you. With the cut side up, pinch together the ends furthest from you, then twist the two pieces around each other so that it forms one twisted loaf. Place the loaf in your prepared loaf pan, you may need to tuck the ends under. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Cover the bread and let rise for an hour.
- Bake the babka: About 20 minutes prior to baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake each loaf for 25 - 30 minutes, or until golden brown. While the bread is baking, make the syrup. Bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. As soon as the bread leaves the oven, brush the syrup all over each.
- Make the french toast: Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Heat a griddle or large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Slice day-old babka into 1" slices. In a shallow baking dish, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and espresso powder. In batches, soak babka slices in egg wash, 1 - 2 minutes per side. Brush heated griddle with butter. Remove slices from egg bath and place on griddle, cooking 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Place cooked slices on a baking sheet and put in oven to keep warm until other batches are finished.
- Meanwhile, caramelize the bananas: Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, add brown sugar. Once bubbling, add bananas to skillet, try not to move slices around once they hit the pan. Flip bananas once, cook 3 - 5 minutes on other side. Set aside.
- Plate the french toast: Divide french toast between the plates (about 2 to 3 slices each), top each with a dollop of marscapone. Divide the bananas evenly, spooning over french toast. Serve with maple syrup.