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Chocolate and Nutella-swirled babka makes a crave-worthy treat any time of day.
Babka is a braided yeast bread or cake that originated in the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. It is prepared with an enriched bread dough, like challah or brioche, that is rolled out and spread with a sweet or savory filling, before being rolled up, twisted, and baked. The name “babka” comes from the Polish babcia, which translates to “grandmother,” which is fitting because the bread is said to have been created by resourceful Jewish grandmothers who used leftover challah dough to make an early version of babka. Over time, the recipe for babka evolved and the bread became sweeter and richer, with chocolate being a popular filling.
Perhaps the most famous babka, after the one mentioned on an episode of Seinfeld in 1994, is sold at Breads Bakery in NYC. It is outrageously good, and since it’s filled with Nutella rather than a homemade chocolate spread, it’s easy to make at home. I used the recipe on their website as a starting point, but modified it to use my favorite brioche dough and also made it smaller in size. While this is a very simple recipe, the dough requires two separate rises as well as at least 3 hours in the fridge. If you plan to bake and serve babka on the same day, it’s best to start the process the day before.
What You’ll Need To Make Chocolate Babka
Step 1: Make the dough
In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, warm water, sugar, salt, and yeast.
Whisk to combine, then add the eggs and egg yolk.
Whisk again to combine.
Add the flour all at once.
Stir with a wooden spoon until uniform and all of the flour is absorbed. The dough will be wet, lumpy and somewhat elastic (it will firm up in the fridge and smooth out when you knead it later).
Cover loosely with plastic wrap (be sure the bowl is completely covered but don’t make it airtight) and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to three days.
Step 2: Form the Babka
On the day of baking, grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan generously with butter. Dust a clean work surface with flour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, transfer it to the work surface, and dust it lightly with flour. Knead with your hands, sprinkling more flour as necessary so the dough doesn’t stick, for 30 seconds.
Roll out the dough into a 14-inch square, dusting more flour underneath and over the dough as necessary; it should be about ⅛ inch thick.
Using an offset spatula, spread the Nutella over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border.
Sprinkle the chocolate over the Nutella.
Starting with the side closest to you, roll the dough tightly into a log; turn it vertically, so one end of the log is facing you, and place seam side down.
Using a sharp serrated bread knife, cut the log in half lengthwise.
Turn the cut sides up and twist the strands together, keeping the cut sides facing up.
Transfer the twisted dough to the prepared loaf pan. (This is a messy process; just do your best – it will look pretty no matter how messy it is).
Cover the babka loosely with plastic wrap (not airtight) and let sit at room temperature for 90 minutes. It will rise just a bit. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
Step 3: Bake and Glaze
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the babka is a rich golden brown color. A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf should come out without any wet dough sticking to it (melted chocolate is okay). If you have an instant-read thermometer, it should read between 190°F to 200°F in the center of the loaf.
Meanwhile, make the syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Place the pan with the baked babka on a rack. Immediately brush or drizzle the syrup over top. The syrup helps to add a nice sheen to the loaf while also keeping the babka moist.
Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out and cool completely before slicing.
How To Freeze Babka
Once the babka is completely cooled, wrap it in a few layers of plastic wrap, then in foil. Store it in the freezer for up to 1 month. Thaw the wrapped babka at room temperature. Before serving, warm the babka in a 325°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until warmed through.
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Chocolate and Nutella-swirled babka makes a crave-worthy treat any time of day.
For the Dough
- 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus more for greasing the pans
- ½ cup warm water
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1⅛ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon rapid-rise/instant yeast
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2¾ cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off, plus more for kneading and rolling
For the Chocolate Filling
- ½ cup Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread, at room temperature
- 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (⅔ cup), best quality
For the Syrup
- ¼ cup water
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- Generous pinch salt
- Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, warm water, sugar, salt, and yeast. Add the eggs and egg yolk and whisk until evenly combined. Add the flour all at once, and stir with a wooden spoon until uniform and all of the flour is absorbed. The dough will be wet, lumpy and somewhat elastic (it will firm up in the fridge and smooth out when you knead it later). Cover loosely with plastic wrap (be sure the bowl is completely covered but don't make it airtight) and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to three days.
- On the day of baking, grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan generously with butter.
- Dust a clean work surface with flour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, transfer it to the work surface, and dust it lightly with flour. Knead with your hands, sprinkling more flour as necessary so the dough doesn't stick, for 30 seconds. Roll out the dough into a 14-inch square, dusting more flour underneath and over the dough as necessary; it should be about ⅛ inch thick.
- Using an offset spatula, spread the Nutella over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border. Sprinkle the chocolate over the Nutella. Starting with the side closest to you, roll the dough tightly into a log; turn it vertically, so one end of the log is facing you, and place seam side down. Using a sharp serrated bread knife, cut the log in half lengthwise. Turn the cut sides up and twist the strands together, keeping the cut sides facing up. Transfer the twisted dough to the prepared loaf pan, tucking the ends under if necessary. (This is a messy process; just do your best – it will look pretty no matter how messy it is).
- Cover the babka loosely with plastic wrap (not airtight) and let sit at room temperature for 90 minutes. It will rise just a bit.
- Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the babka is a rich golden brown color. A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf should come out without any wet dough sticking to it (melted chocolate is okay). If you have an instant-read thermometer, it should read between 190°F to 200°F in the center of the loaf.
- Meanwhile, make the syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Place the pan with the baked babka on a rack. Immediately brush or drizzle the syrup over top. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out and cool completely before slicing.
- Babka is best enjoyed fresh on the day of baking, but it will keep wrapped in plastic wrap or in an airtight container for a few days.
- Freezing Instructions: Once the babka is completely cooled, wrap it in a few layers of plastic wrap, then in foil. Store it in the freezer for up to 1 month. Thaw the wrapped babka at room temperature. Before serving, warm the babka in a 325°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until warmed through.
- Per serving (12 servings)
- Serving size: 1 slice
- Calories: 273
- Fat: 13 g
- Saturated fat: 9 g
- Carbohydrates: 34 g
- Sugar: 11 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 5 g
- Sodium: 162 mg
- Cholesterol: 67 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Just made this and it is delicious! I love the combination of bittersweet chocolate and the Nutella. I was wondering if you knew any suggestions of how to make a cinnamon sugar babka?
Hi Liza, I’ll have to come up with a cinnamon sugar version; meanwhile, I would use the filling in this recipe. Hope that helps!
Thanks Jen! I stumbled upon this recipe as well. I’ll try this filling one day and let you know!
I’m a little nervous honestly. This may be the most complicated thing I’ve ever made and I mean I’m only 17 🤷🏽♀️. Though I am worried because my dough didn’t come out sticky at all and it didn’t seem to rise either after sitting at room temp and going in the fridge. I haven’t baked it yet so I have no idea what it’ll be like when it comes out the oven
Hi Kaitlyn, How did the finished bread come out?
I am an 80 year old neophyte in the kitchen but I tried this recipe and the result has my family in awe and full of praises. Quite excellent recipe and instructions make for a success with baking–my first ever attempt at baking anything! Now I have to do it again! Your guidance will make my next try less intimidating. Thank you very much.
Don’t be afraid to try this excellent recipe. I am not an experienced bread, baker, but nevertheless, this chocolate Babka turned out delicious The first time I made it. I brought it to a family, Easter brunch, and everyone devoured it. Thank you, Jenn
I love Breads’ babka – and my dad even more so. Excited to be able to make this for him now that I’ve moved away from the city! Thank you for sharing. Can’t wait to see the reaction on his face – might trick him and see if he thinks it’s theirs ☺️
This was absolutely delicious, super easy to make, & looked pretty as a picture! Just made it for my husband’s birthday breakfast – it was a big hit with the whole family. It’s quite filling so a little goes a long way.
I have made several of Jenn’s recipes, many on regular rotation, & they have all turned out so beautifully. It’s a joy to follow your recipes Jenn, or even just take inspiration from them!
Oh my was this delicious! And easy to make as well (thanks to your detailed instructions!). I made the Babka for Christmas mid-morning and it was such a treat. Because my house was so cold (freezing in the deep south) my Nutella, though room temperature, was a little difficult to spread so next time I might warm it just a bit in the microwave. For both raises, I placed the dough in my oven with just the light on to provide a bit warmer draft free spot for it to rise. The dough was really easy to work with and after rolling a bit, letting it rest , and then rolling again I was easily able to get it rolled out to the right size. It raised beautifully while baking as well! The glaze was perfect and next time I’ll save a bit to spread down the sides when I take the loaf out of the pan. I look forward to using some of the other commenters suggestions about trying cinnamon filling and forming it into a ring. Love everything I’ve cooked from your site and cookbooks…and while it is tempting to let everyone else think that I am the fabulous cook, I ALWAYS give you all the credit and encourage everyone to go to your website! Thanks for sharing your talents and obvious love for cooking/baking with the rest of us.
The Babka was easy to make, my only issue was since you are rolling it into a 14 inch square and putting it into a 9 x 5 bread pan, you do have to fold the ends around to sides of twist to make it fit. That wasn’t mentioned in directions, the surprise comes when trying to get it into pan fairly neatly. Now know for next time, but it did taste great, took loaf to family Christmas dinner. Will be making again in the future.
Hi Jenn! I’m a huge fan of your recipes! But, this one..OMG!!!! The only “bad” part about it, was that we ate almost the whole loaf before the evening was out! (And, before I even photographed it!) Brought me right back to my childhood, when my grandmother would bring one from a Brooklyn bakery! Thank you so very much for all of your amazing recipes!
I’m going to attempt to make this tomorrow. You say to use bittersweet chocolate, can unsweetened baking chocolate be substituted or does it have to be bittersweet?thank you
Hi Jeannette, It’s fine to use unsweetened chocolate — the babka just won’t taste as sweet. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it!
Your brownie recipe is the best ever brownie. I have tried many recipes. Will try the babka now💕
I follow your recipes from France and am having great fun with it. Thank you.
As per the Babka I just wondered why you don’t join the ban on the brand Nutella seeing they still use palm oil and fat… despite all the protests against deforesting and planting palm groves.
I personally use as little as possible and buy my “Nutella” from the organic shop since it contains no palm products.
My husband’s mouth is watering at the picture of the Babka so am afraid that I’ll have to do something g about that.
Thank you once more for all your lovely recipes
Maaike Niemeijer from SW France.
Can you make this into a babka wreath for Christmas dessert? If so, any tips or recommended changes?
Yes, I think you could use this to make a wreath. I’d look online for a recipe that will give you guidance on shaping it. The bake time is likely to be different, so keep a close eye on it. If you have an instant-read thermometer, you’re aiming for the bread to be between 190°F & 200°F. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it!
While I may summon the courage to attempt this recipe in the future, today I went straight to Green’s Bakery online and ordered 2 loaves instead. (((Love your site and have saved many of your recipes.)))
First time making babka. Turned out really well
I made this to bring as a hostess gift to someone. I followed the directions exactly. So worth it! It is delicious. The dough looked very wet and messy but after it rises on the counter and then in the fridge it is easy to handle. The directions on how to roll and cut the babka were very clear. I will definitely make again and keep it for my family!
I’ve been cooking your recipes for the last couple of weeks and can’t wait to try more and more of them. They all turn out great. The Babka burned a little, or maybe it just got dark golden brown, which is because of my oven and the fact that I only checked it at the 40th minute. Anyways, it didn’t ruin it. It was crispy on the outside and just awesome. Thank you once again!
I have been making babka for years, it is a tradition in our culture! Love it and so does everyone else…it is my go-to birthday gift for everyone. I do make a richer dough and add orange zest and rum, as well as a sweet vanilla crumble on top. Usually walnuts in the middle along with the chocolate. So many versions. Yes, it takes time, but it is worth it!
This sounds delicious you should share your recipe❤️
I have loved every recipe of yours that I’ve tried, so when I needed to take dessert to Easter dinner, I started the search on your website. I was intimidated by the look of the Babka, but your clear instructions and photos made it so easy! Everyone thought it was beautiful and LOVED the taste. A big hit! My daughter now wants me to try making it with fruit. I see many more babkas in our future. Thanks Jenn!
Fun to make for Easter. Are you supposed to drizzle all of the glaze or jus enough to brush the whole top?
All of it 🙂
Also, can you substitute oil for the butter? If so, how much oil?
Sure, Mary, that should be fine, and you’ll need the same amount (1/2 cup). Please LMK how it turns out!
Can I make this babka recipe with a cream cheese filling? Do you have a babka cheese filling recipe?
Hi Mary, If you’re looking to make one with cream cheese filling, I’d look for a recipe specifically for that — I think you’ll have the most success that way. 🙂
Beautiful, delicious, and easy to make; rave reviews from kids and spouse. Thank you for another great recipe, Jenn!
I am a huge fan and make tons of your recipes. I am going to try this latest one for babka this weekend. For salt in this recipe and others, do you use table salt, or, I thought I read recently in a recipe comment, that you use fine sea salt?
I’ve been using table salt in your recipes unless otherwise noted, but maybe should be doing something else?
Thanks so much!
Hi Trisha, I use Baleine fine sea salt, but regular table salt is fine too. If I use kosher or another type of salt, I will call for that specifically. Hope that clarifies and you enjoy the babka! 🙂
Could you use a poppyseed filling for this? Or just sprinkle poppyseeds into the dough? Would love to try the old European flavours. Thanks for all your great recipes Jenn!
Sure, Eva – you could do either.
Eva, you can make a traditional European cooked poppy seed filling, similar to making kolaches. Poppy seeds are simmered in milk, then a bit of rum and sweetener added.
I made a loaf of this a few days ago and shocked even myself. It was so easy to do following Jen’s foolproof instructions. I thought I would never be a bread baker, but this recipe has me ready to venture out and try other types of yeast loaves!
You were right, no mixer required. Delicious. This one belongs in your cookbook. Thank you Jenn!!
Jenn! I have wanted to make a babka for a long time but was scared to try it since we live at 6700 elevation in CO. Had tried a number of your recipes in the past, all with great results, so figured I would give this one a go. It was a great success!! The only change I made was to use 3 whole eggs rather than 2 and 1 yolk as written to adjust for high altitude. Received rave reviews! Thanks for another stellar recipe!!
So delicious, and so easy, just time consuming. Thanks Jenn for always breaking it down in easy to follow steps!
If I wanted to make two, should I make each separately or is it okay to mix a doubled portion of the dough? Thanks.
Hi Stella, It’s perfectly fine to make a double portion of dough; instead of two egg yolks, you can just 1 whole egg. Hope you enjoy!
Looks great! Any chance I can use bread flour for the recipe? I have a lot of it…
Hi Sara, It should work. Please LMK how it turns out. 🙂
What an amazing recipe! The bread flour worked fine. I did add a little bit more water to make sure the dough was “wet” as you described it. It turned out fabulous! Thank you for the recipe!
Will Active Dry yeast do? Or should I go buy Instant/rapid rise.
Hi Lisa, Yes active dry yeast will work. I would just add it the warm water first and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, or until foamy.
Can you use cinnamon sugar to make a cinnamon Babka with the same recipe? And what would you do
Hi Angela, I would use the cinnamon filling in this recipe. Hope that helps, and please LMK how it turns out if you try it.
I baked it today with the cinnamon filling that you suggested. The cake was wonderful. I would not use that cinnamon filling again a lot of it seeped out and it didn’t have enough cinnamon for me. I’m definitely going to try it with Nutella I’m sure I’ll like it better although it really was good…. So much better than anything I have reached recently found in the stores. it’s a great recipe I’ll definitely make it again
Just made a couple loaves of this today. Thanks for the great recipe! So easy to do (just time consuming waiting on dough to rise). It looks so fancy and I feel like a pro!
Yum, this looks amazing. Can’t wait to make it.
Jen, is there any way I can mix up the dough in my Kitchenaid using the dough hook? I don’t want to ruin the dough but am all about making life easier too.
Hi Ashley, You could use your mixer but I would use the paddle attachment; it’s a very wet dough. That said, the mixer really isn’t necessary – this dough is super easy to mix by hand. 🙂
Because of nut allergies, I was wondering what I could substitute for the Nutella?
Hi Amy, You could use a nut-free chocolate spread (unfortunately, I don’t know of a good one to recommend) or you could make your own chocolate filling in place of the Nutella and chopped chocolate, like the chocolate paste in this recipe (keep in mind you’d need less, as the linked recipe makes 2 loaves).
My son is allergic to peanuts and most tree nuts except for almonds. Trader Joe’s has a nice almond-based Nutella-like spread, and I’ve seen similar with sunflower seeds at Berkeley Bowl (similar to Whole Foods).