Chocolate Babka

Babka 7

It’s time for some chocolate babka, I think. To celebrate the time of year when you can turn the oven on to warm the house. If you’re only familiar with babka thanks to Seinfeld, it’s a sweet, rich yeasted dough that some call cake—but really it’s a loaf of sweet dough with the texture of a soft cinnamon bun, rippled through with so much chocolate (or cinnamon, which is considered a lesser babka, but it’s on my list to make next—who wouldn’t love a loaf-shaped cinnamon bun?) as to make slicing the rolled log (which you do lengthwise, before twisting it into the pan) a challenge.

Babka 12

I took babka for a spin a few times to get a feel for it, in the name of research of course—the soft, rich dough is lovely to handle, and it’s like assembling a cinnamon bun, up until the dough is filled and rolled into a log. Some of the chocolate fillings out there are crumbly, others smooth, which I found easier to handle when it comes to the twisting part, which I find ridiculously satisfying.

Babka 13

Some babkas are shaped in a figure 8, some criss-crossed and twisted, and really so long as it’s twisted and tucked into the pan, it’ll turn out beautifully—babka does not demand perfection. Brush the tops with a little beaten egg for a bit of gloss and you’re good to go.

Really, no one is going to criticize the patterned cross section of your babka.

Babka 10

This recipe makes two loaves—enough for a few friends to come by for brunch (or just coffee and babka) or one to bake and a second to freeze. It’s good to have frozen assets heading into the holiday season.

Also, PS: if it occurs to you that it might make sublime french toast, consider the fact that sweet stuff tends to burn, and keep the heat low.

Babka 11

Here’s to a long weekend full of food, family and friends. I’m already wearing my stretchy pants.

Chocolate Babka


October 4, 2017



3/4 cup warm milk

3 tsp. active dry yeast 

1/2 cup sugar

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces and softened


1/4 cup butter

6 oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 Tbsp. cocoa

1 egg, lightly beaten


1To make the dough: put the milk into a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and sprinkle over the yeast and a pinch of the sugar. Let stand for a few minutes, until it gets foamy. (If it does nothing, toss it and get some fresh yeast.) Add about half the flour along with the remaining sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt and stir or beat with a dough hook until well combined. Add the remaining flour and stir or beat, adding the butter a few pieces at a time, until you have a sticky, smooth dough. (It should be very soft and tacky, but as sticky as batter - it will smooth out and be easier to handle as it rises.) Shape into a ball, place in the bowl and cover with a tea towel for 2 hours.

2In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chopped chocolate over medium-high heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the brown sugar and cocoa; the mixture will have the consistency of thick paste.

3Line two 8x4-inch loaf pans with parchment. Punch the dough down and divide it in half. Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface into a 10x12-inch rectangle. Spread each piece with half the chocolate mixture. Starting at a long side, roll up jelly roll style. To shape the loaves, either turn the ends together, pinching to make a ring, stretch the ring out even wider and twist it twice, like a double figure 8, and tuck into the pan, or cut the log in half lengthwise, lay them side to side and pinch them together at the top to join, then weave the pieces back and forth over each other, like braiding but with only two pieces. Tuck into the baking pan, tucking in the edges. Don’t worry about it being perfect.

4Cover and let rise for another hour or two. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F, brush the tops of the loaves with beaten egg, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until deep golden. (Some recipes say the bottoms should sound hollow when tapped, but I find the dough is too dense and loaded with chocolate for this to be an accurate gauge.) Try to let them cool almost completely before slicing - but chocolate babka is pretty fabulous while it’s still warm.

5Makes 2 loaves.


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16 comments on “Chocolate Babka

  1. AndreaR
    October 4, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Bravo!!! That’s gorgeous and the house must have smelled divine.

  2. Molly
    October 4, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    OMG that looks amazing!!! Do you have any photos you could share of layering the chocolate in the dough? I’m so excited to try this recipe!!!!

    • Julie
      October 5, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Hmm.. I might have missed them but I’ll look! it’s really just spreading chocolate on dough.. doesn’t have to be perfect!

  3. Laura
    October 5, 2017 at 6:06 am

    I love your blog because you always bake some amazing looking bakes <3

  4. Anonymous
    October 7, 2017 at 10:17 am

    That is so beautiful! A work of art. Almost too good to eat (almost!)

    • Margaret@Kitchen Frau
      October 7, 2017 at 10:19 am

      Sorry, clicked before I could identify myself. (It’s that kind of a day, today.) It’s Margaret from Kitchen Frau.

  5. stacey snacks
    October 7, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Wow! Now that’s talent!

    And as a New Yorker, you always choose a chocolate babka! (but I am not gonna say no to cinnamon….). 🙂

  6. Michael Gallant
    October 28, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Hi Julie – for the filling, is the egg in the ingredient list added TO the filling, or is is just for the egg wash? (It’s not mentioned in the “method” for the filling…) Just wondering. I can’t wait to get this puppy in the oven!

    • Brittany
      April 7, 2020 at 12:15 pm

      I followed this exactly but my filling wouldn’t spread! I basically wound up crumbling it all over and it’s currently in its final proof. Cross your fingers for me! Any idea what I may have done wrong? Is the egg supposed to go in the filling or just as a wash – it doesn’t actually say to add the egg to the filling anywhere.

  7. Kirsten
    November 5, 2017 at 9:05 am

    Fabulous! Looked difficult (to me) but really wasn’t and absolutely worth it.

    • Julie
      November 6, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      I’m so glad you gave it a try!

  8. Rani
    November 9, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Thank you so much for this delicious recipe. I have made it twice now, both with beautiful results.

  9. Robyn
    January 5, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    If you freeze the second one do you twist, put in pan, cover and freeze? Then thaw and allow the second rise before baking?

  10. Trevor
    May 25, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    I’m totally new to this and your recipe looks amazing! I have one question, for the warm milk is that milk that is not refrigerated or do you warm it up in a certain way? Is this common practice with yeast like this?

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