End brunch on a sweet note by slicing into a loaf of this rich, babka-inspired swirl bread. Enriching the yeasted dough with eggs and milk produces a super tender crumb once baked, but not before becoming the canvas for a cinnamon-spiked chocolate filling. To make sure the filling is infused into every pillowy bite, the dough is braided together before being placed in the loaf pan to proof and then bake.  

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Ingredients

Dough
Filling

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Dough: Whisk together 1/3 cup bread flour, 1/3 cup milk, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking frequently, until thickened slightly but still pourable (it should have the consistency of loose pudding), 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; let cool until warm to the touch but no longer hot, about 10 minutes.

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  • In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 3 cups flour, granulated sugar, salt, and yeast. Make a well in center of mixture. Add cooked milk-flour mixture, remaining 1/3 cup milk, melted butter, and whole egg to well; stir until a dough forms.

  • Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and springs back when lightly pressed, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl brushed with butter, turning dough to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume, 45 minutes to 1 hour; or refrigerate up to 1 day and return to room temperature before rolling out.

  • Filling: Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter. Stir together butter, brown sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon until smooth.

  • Punch down dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Spread brown-sugar mixture evenly over top of dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border at edges. Sprinkle evenly with chocolate. Starting at one short end, roll up dough into a tight log, pinching ends and seam to seal after rolling. Starting 1 inch from one end of log, cut through dough vertically all the way through opposite end (dough should only be attached at one end).

  • Twist the two sections of dough outward 5 times, then braid together, starting at attached end, pinching ends together to seal. Compress braid slightly with your hands to approximately 9 inches; transfer to prepared pan. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume (dough should rise about 1 inch above rim of pan), about 45 minutes. Whisk egg white with 1 teaspoon water; brush over top of dough.

  • Bake until bread is puffed and brown on top (if browning too quickly, tent with foil), 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 20 minutes. Carefully remove bread from pan and let cool completely on rack, about 2 hours. Slice and serve.

Cook's Notes

This bread is best served the day you bake it, but you can let it cool completely, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and store it at room temperature for up to three days.

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