Home on the Range

One big, happy family

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For the filling:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pecans, toasted

For the egg wash:
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Pour warm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in yeast and a pinch of the sugar. Let sit until creamy-looking, about 5 minutes.

Attach dough hook. Mix in (in order) sugar, eggs, butter, salt, nutmeg. Sprinkle in flour 1/2 cup at a time. Let mixer run on medium speed, kneading a smooth, soft dough, about 5 minutes.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest 1 hour (dough may not double). Punch down dough, let it rise again, 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Break up chocolate and tumble into the food processor. Add cinnamon and sugar. Buzz to small bits. Add pecans and pulse a few times. Set aside.

Divide dough in half. Set one piece on a floured work surface. Roll out to a ¼-inch-thick rectangle, about 20 x 10 inches. Brush one of the long edges with a 1-inch wide stripe of egg wash. Leave this stripe bare of filling. Cover the rest of the dough with half the filling. Roll lightly with the rolling pin to press in filling.

Roll up dough into a 20-inch-long log, starting at the long chocolate-covered edge and working your way toward the egg-wash-covered edge. Pinch to seal. Set this log aside. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Lay the two logs side by side. Twist the logs around each other (it's easiest to start in the center and work toward one end, then the other). Curl into a large (6 cup or more) Bundt pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise, 1 hour. Or, refrigerate until babka time.

Slide pan into a 350-degree oven and bake until loaf looks deep brown and sounds hollow when thumped, about 40-45 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack. Cool completely. Slice with a serrated knife. Enjoy.

Leah Eskin is a Tribune special contributor e-mail her at leahreskin@aol.com
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