Do you also love comfort food? Then you’re going to love this Chocolate Babka recipe. It’s one of my favorite bread recipes and once you get the hang of the braiding process, it’s easy to make your own at home.
If you like this recipe, you may also enjoy this apple pie bread. It’s made in a similar way, but filled with fresh apples and topped with a honey caramel sauce. It’s great for Rosh Hashanah!
If you’ve ever made bread before, then you know: bread takes time. Last weekend, that opportunity arose, and I leapt at the chance to make this chocolate bread.
How to Make Chocolate Babka
This chocolate brioche bread is easy to make. It just looks tricky.
However, I highly recommend using the dough hook on a stand mixer. I used my KitchenAid stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, but if you’ve got really strong forearms and loads of time, you can knead it by hand.
Make the Brioche Dough
To make the babka dough, mix together flour, sugar, and yeast. Then, add the eggs and water until the mixture starts to come together. Turn the mixer speed to low and add the salt and room temperature butter. Scrape down the sides, and mix it on speed 4 (or medium) for about 10 minutes.
You want to mix the dough until it’s completely smooth, not raggedy.
Then, place it in a bowl coated with an unflavored oil like canola (i.e. not coconut oil), and cover the bowl with a tea towel. Let the dough rest at room temperature for eight hours or until it has about doubled.
I like to find a warm place in my house to place the bowl because it helps it rise faster.
When the dough has doubled, spray two loaf pans with nonstick spray and line the bottoms with a folded piece of parchment paper.
Assemble the Bread Loaves
Cut the dough into two halves and roll it out on a floured surface into a 10×12″ rectangle. Place dots of filling all the way down the dough rectangle and then spread the filling evenly all over the dough, leaving a 1/2″ to 1/4″ border. Then, brush the border with water and roll the rectangle from bottom to top to create a tight log.
Place the log in the freezer on a floured baking sheet. Repeat this process with the second half, then remove the first log from the freezer and cut it into half lengthwise.
Place the two halves side by side and pinch their tops together. Wrap them around each other, doing your best to keep the filling on the outside. Expect things to get a little messy.
Gently pick up each braided loaf and tuck it into a loaf pan. You might have to wiggle it around a little bit to get it to fit. Place a tea towel on top and let the loaves rise for 90 minutes.
If you’re completely confused right now on how to assemble your babka, this video may help.
Bake the Bread
Preheat your oven to 375°F and bake the loaves for 30 minutes. While the dough is baking, create the sugar syrup. The sugar syrup might seem like overkill (there is a lot of it), but the bread will soak it up, giving you a soft, moist loaf in return. Brush about half the sugar syrup on each loaf.
What is Babka?
Babka means little grandmother in Polish. It’s a filled bread made from a yeasted dough that you roll, spread with a delicious filling, cut, braid, tuck into a loaf pan, and bake. Bon Appétit describes it as “somewhere between challah and coffee cake.”
In Ari Weinzweig’s love letter to the classic loaf in The Atlantic, he writes that while some believe babka originated in the Ukraine as an ancient fertility symbol, others believe it was an Italian bread as it used to look similar to panettone.
But, it wasn’t until Eastern European Jews arrived in New York that it got its beloved chocolate swirl.
In Eastern Europe, chocolate was much more expensive and according to The Nosher, grandmothers would braid seeds and nuts into leftover challah instead. But, in New York, chocolate was cheaper! So that made it into the recipe and became the chocolate babka as we know it today.
As a side note, according to Seinfeld‘s Elaine, any babka that isn’t chocolate is a lesser babka.
Chocolate Babka RecipePrint Recipe
- 4¼ cups flour (plus more for rolling out dough)
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tsp. instant yeast (like Rapid Rise)
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup water
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- ¼ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Add flour, sugar, and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix until combined on low speed.
- Add eggs, mixing for 30 seconds after each. Add water.
- Add butter one tablespoon at a time. Add salt and scrape down sides.
- Turn speed to medium and mix for 10 minutes until dough is smooth.
- Coat large bowl with nonstick spray. Place dough inside. Place tea towel or plastic wrap on top and let rise at room temperature until doubled (up to 8 hours).
- Spray two 9" x 4" loaf pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Flour baking sheet. Set aside.
- Sprinkle counter with flour. Cut dough into two halves and roll first into 10x12" rectangle.
- Make chocolate filling (see instructions below).
- Spread filling on top of the dough, leaving a 1/4" to 1/2" border.
- Wet top of the dough with water and roll from bottom to top to form a tight log.
- Place log on floured baking sheet and place in freezer Repeat with other half of dough.
- Remove first log from freezer and slice in half lengthwise. Pinch the top of each half together and wind the two halves around each other, keeping the filling on the outside. Tuck the twist inside the loaf pan. Repeat with other log.
- Place a tea towel on top of each loaf pan and let dough rise for 90 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake loaves for 30 minutes.
- Make the simple syrup (see instructions below).
- Remove babka from oven. Brush each with one half of the sugar syrup. Let cool.
- Melt butter and chocolate in microwave or small saucepan and whisk together until smooth.
- Add sugar and cocoa powder.
- Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat on medium heat until sugar has dissolved.