Chocolate Banana Babka


For the Dough

2/3 cup whole milk

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1/3 cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

For the Filling

1/2 cup heavy cream

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup light brown sugar

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Streusel

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup coconut sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 medium ripe banana, finely chopped

For the Dough

In a small pot, heat milk over medium heat until 2 minutes, then check the temperature with a thermometer; it should be 95. If needed, let it cool before proceeding.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment,, mix all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar, yeast, salt and cinnamon.

Add warm milk, mashed bananas and eggs; mix on low speed 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes more. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. It may not double in size, but it will look noticeably puffy.

For the Filling

In a pan, combine heavy cream, butter, brown sugar, chocolate and vanilla extract. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate and butter are melted and the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool to a spreadable consistency.

For the Streusel

In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Add melted butter and stir until the mixture forms moist crumbs, then gently stir in the banana pieces.

When the dough has risen, lightly grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan with nonstick spray. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle about 14" x 18". Dollop the filling all over the dough and then use a pie spatula to spread it into an even layer across the dough, all the way to the edges, then sprinkle 3/4 of the streusel evenly over the filling.

Starting on one of the shorter sides, roll the dough into a tight spiraled log. Use a knife to cut the log in half lengthwise. Twist the two halves together and then transfer to the prepared loaf pan.

Sprinkle the remaining streusel over the loaf. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until it looks noticeably puffy, 35 to 45 minutes. Before the end of the rise time, preheat the oven to 350. Bake the loaf until it is browned on the surface and appears fully set all the way through. (The best way to tell is to take an internal temperature; it should be around 200°F.)

Let the loaf cool inside the pan for 20 minutes, then unmold onto a wire rack and cool completely before slicing and serving. Enjoy!
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