Baking something with chocolate or cinnamon always has the alluring effect of filling the house with wonderful aromas. But baking something with chocolate AND cinnamon? Pure magic.
That’s what you get with this “twist” on bread pudding.
If you keep up with our recipes, you may remember the Baked French Toast from earlier this year. It’s sort of like bread pudding, and loosely based on my Grandma DeSiato’s original recipe – one of the first things she ever taught me to bake. With a history like that, you can imagine that bread pudding is near and dear to my heart. It’s hard to beat the simple combination of bread, milk, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, and raisins… but if you’re going to try, Chocolate Babka Bread Pudding is a worthy contender.
Of course, there are countless bread pudding recipes that incorporate chocolate, usually in the form of cocoa powder or chips, but I can’t say I’ve ever been enamored with any of those compared to the classic cinnamon-raisin version (again, it’s hard to beat). This recipe is different, because the chocolate is in the bread. Yep, IN the bread.
Chocolate babka is like cinnamon-swirl bread, but laced with chocolate. Babka's special twisted shaping technique ensures lots of layers and pockets for the chocolate to get all gooey and delicious. For a bread pudding recipe, this definitely beats trying to incorporate powder or chips into the pudding mixture.
It also means that the chocolate doesn’t overpower, allowing the creamy custard and cinnamon to still shine. Oh, but when you get a little pocket of gooey chocolate – well, you can imagine.
Of course, you can bake your own chocolate babka. But if you have a little patience, and want to put this on your holiday baking list, you’ll be able to get a freshly baked loaf at the new Finagle A Bagel bakery & café + test kitchen that’s soon to open at their headquarters in Newton. The Chocolate Babka bread is one of the new items debuting when the space opens in late November.
While the bread pudding recipe only calls for half a loaf (probably because it's impossible to resist eating multiple slices the second you cut it) it's easily doubled to use a full loaf and a 9x13 baking dish. I'd just recommend buying 2 so you have plenty to slice and eat, too. My husband was so taken with the bread that he kept stealing slices while I was baking, and even asked to stir the mixture. (See what the smell of chocolate and cinnamon can do?)
In addition to testing this recipe, I had a chance to chat with Finagle CEO, Laura Trust, about the new space, and the new goodies coming along with it. She said, “We’re striving for a place where families can gather, or friends can go for a casual brunch on the weekends. We want to build a community space, not only for Newton, but for the surrounding communities.”
With the closing of the Chestnut Hill store, Finagle’s head chef, Susan Gould, lost the opportunity to take her works-in-progress down the street to get customer feedback. “We had a very personal relationship with our customers there, and we were missing that.” Trust told me.
The opening of the new space, right at their headquarters, will revive that relationship. Bakers will be able to test out their latest creations, get feedback, and make improvements before rolling out to retail. In turn, the public will get a sneak taste, and will also get to see the bakers at work through newly-installed glass garage doors to the production facility.
Chef Gould is gearing up for the grand opening, and she’s got some pretty spectacular new items in the works. In addition to the debut of the babka, Gould is perfecting rugelach based on Trust’s mother’s recipe. “We were having trouble getting the rugelach just right, so I had my mom come in for a couple of hours to work with Susan. They probably made 7 dozen rugelach, and there’s nothing like being able to see her do it.” said Trust.
Thanks to that visit, Gould got the technique down perfectly, and now they’re just like Mom makes. In addition to these new offerings, there will also be a standard cafe menu, including bagles, of course! Look out for the grand opening the week of December 5th.
The Finagle Bakery & Café + Test Kitchen - 77 Rowe St., Newton, facebook.com/finagleabagel, (Hours to be announced, but the cafe will be open 7 days a week)
Chocolate Babka Bread Pudding (courtesy of Finagle A Bagel)
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (plus more for greasing baking dish)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 loaf Finagle’s Chocolate Babka, cut into 2-inch cubes (about 5 to 6 cups)
1. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, cream, sugar, eggs, melted butter, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt.
2. Stir Finagle's Babka cubes into milk mixture, making sure the majority are submerged, and let rest for 1 hour.
3. Meanwhile, butter an 8x8-inch baking dish, and preheat oven to 350 degrees while mixture is resting.
4. Pour Babka mixture into buttered dish (making sure to scrape in all the yummy custard). Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until custard is set but still a little wobbly, and edges of bread have browned. Let cool slightly before serving. (Leftover bread pudding can be covered and stored in refrigerator, but reheat slightly before serving.)