Chocolate Babka Morning Buns FROM MICHELLE LOPEZ OF HUMMINGBIRD HIGH Michelle Lopez, of desserts and baking blog Hummingbird High, baked up this recipe by combining three beloved breakfast treats: babka, morning buns, and cinnamon rolls. It involves yeasted bread, which can be intimidating, but if you remember these three guidelines, you’ll be fine. First, do not heat the buttermilk above 110°F. Second, when rolling out the dough, the longer you make your rectangle, the prettier your rolls will be. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but try to make twenty inches work. Lastly, it may seem like a lot of sugar syrup, but be patient and keep brushing the buns until they absorb all of the liquid. This little bit of extra effort gives these buns a whole lotta gooey goodness.
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  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup buttermilk, warmed to 110°F, plus more if needed

  • 1 large egg

  • 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil


  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

  • 1⁄4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1⁄4 cup packed dark brown sugar

  • 3⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • Pinch of kosher salt


  • 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar


  • Roughly chopped pecan

  • Confectioners’ sugar




  1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar, instant yeast, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and oil. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and change the whisk attachment to the dough hook. Mix on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If the dough is sticky, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is smooth. If the dough is dry, add more buttermilk, 1 table spoon at a time.

  3. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and keep in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 1⁄2 hours.

  4. As the dough is rising, prepare the chocolate filling: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the dark chocolate until it is very finely chopped with some parts almost powdery. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is evenly distributed. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt and process until evenly distributed. At this point, you should have a crumbly mixture that resembles clumps of cookie crumbs. Set aside.

  5. Once the dough has doubled in size, transfer it to a lightly floured counter and use a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle about 12 by 20 inches. Sprinkle the chocolate filling evenly over the surface of the dough, making sure to go right up to the edges of the dough.

  6. Coat a medium cast iron fry pan with butter. Working widthwise, roll the dough into a log, pinching the edges to seal. Cut the roll into 7 to 9 pieces that are 2 to 21⁄2 inches wide. Place cut side down in the prepared fry pan in a circle, with one bun in the middle. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the edges of the rolls are rounded and touching each other, 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours. During the second rise, preheat the oven to 350°F

  7. Bake the buns for 30 to 35 minutes, until the edges of the buns are golden in color. If the tops of the rolls start to brown too quickly, cover with aluminum foil and continue baking until a skewer comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack until warm.

  8. While the rolls are cooling, make the simple syrup glaze: Combine the sugar and ½ cup water in a petite French oven over high heat. Whisk to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and use a pastry brush to immediately brush each roll with a generous amount of syrup while the rolls are still warm. It may seem like there is too much syrup for the buns, but just be patient and let the syrup soak in before brushing again. Garnish with pecans and confectioners’ sugar and serve warm from the pan.

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