Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka is this weekend’s Pantry Staple Sweets recipe for Feast Magazine. Babka is a truly special braided bread that every baker should make at least once (trust me- you’ll keep making it after that first loaf). A twist of buttery sweet dough with a rich dark chocolate filling, this Chocolate Babka is worth the effort. If you have premium butter, now is the time to use it, but if not, still use a good quality butter. This is also the right recipe to use up any quality dark chocolate bars lingering in your cupboards. Babka is a great weekend baking project since chilling the dough overnight is a must, as it’s very sticky. In the end, you’ll reap the rewards when you cut into the golden loaf revealing a stunning and delicious swirl of silken dark chocolate.

Thank you to everyone who has been baking from the blog this week! I’ve loved seeing your tagged creations on Instagram, so keep sharing them. Tag me @now_forager and show me your beautiful work.

Helpful Tips For This Recipe

*The dough for this recipe is based off of my Spiced Apple & Hazelnut Babka. Follow the photo tutorial in this blog post to see how to shape this twisted babka dough.

*Babka dough is enriched with egg and butter, so it’s very sticky. Chilling the dough will allow you to better handle it during shaping. Please don’t skip this step.

Chocolate Babka

Makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf 

Babka Dough

1/4 cup (60ml) whole milk 
1 teaspoon  active dry yeast
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (54g)  sugar
1/2 teaspoon  kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon  vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups (315g)  all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons (57g) premium unsalted butter, room temperature (preferably Kerrygold)

In a small bowl, gently heat together whole milk and 2 Tbsp of water in the microwave until warm to the touch (not hot). Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle in the yeast. Lightly mix them together and let rest for 5 minutes. By hand, whisk in the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract until combined. Place the bowl onto the stand mixer, attached with a dough hook, and add in the flour. On low speed, mix until dough forms. Increase the speed to medium and continue to mix for 5 minutes more. 

On low speed, gradually add the soft butter in tablespoon-sized pieces; allowing it to incorporate into the dough before adding the next piece. Stop and scrap down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Once all the butter has been added, mix on medium speed for another 5 minutes. The dough will be a sticky mass and not form into a ball. 

Using a bowl scraper or spatula, transfer the dough to a medium-sized bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise, at room temperature, for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill and rest overnight.

Next day, spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking oil spray and line with a long rectangle of parchment paper. Leave a slight overhang of parchment paper, on the long sides of the pan, for easier removal after baking. These will act as handles to pull the loaf out of the hot pan. Prepare the chocolate filling (recipe below).

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and scrape it out onto a well-floured work surface. Flour the top of the dough and using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 10 x 12-inch rectangle. If the dough sticks to the work surface, scrape the bottom with a bench scraper and sprinkle more flour under the dough. Using an offset spatula, spread the chocolate filling over the dough leaving about a 1-inch clean border around the edge farthest from you. Starting on the side closest to you, gently roll the dough into a tight log. Once rolled, pinch the edges of the dough together to seal in the filling.

With a lightly oiled knife blade cut the log in half lengthwise. Place the two exposed halves of dough, facing up, side-by-side. Cross the left top of the dough over the right and tuck the end under. Next, gently cross the right dough over the left and alternately repeat the process until the dough is twisted into a tight spiral. Tuck both ends under to finish forming the loaf. With floured hands, carefully lift and place the babka into the prepared pan. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and let rise, at room temperature, for 1 1/2 hours. Babka will be puffy and domed when ready.

Preheat the oven to 350F (177C), about 30 minutes before the dough is finished rising. Prepare the egg wash and simple syrup (recipes below).

Using a pastry brush, gently brush the surface of the dough with a thin layer of egg wash. Place the pan onto a large baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until deeply golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Tent the pan with foil in the last 10 minutes of baking if the top begins to look as if it might burn.

Remove babka from the oven and set on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Gently run an offset spatula around the edges of the pan to help release the loaf. Brush on a layer of the simple syrup. Using the parchment handles, carefully lift it out of the pan and set back on the rack to cool. Slice and serve. Babka is best enjoyed the day it’s baked, but can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature for up to a week.

Chocolate Filling

6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter
3 ounces (85g) good quality dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (108g) sugar
5 tablespoons (30g) unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa powder

In a bowl, melt together the butter and chocolate in the microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring well after each interval, until smooth. Careful not to overheat. Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder until combined (the mixture will be grainy). Set aside to cool as you roll out the babka dough.

Egg Wash

1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Pinch of kosher salt

In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

Simple Syrup

1/4 cup (54g) sugar
1/4 cup (59ml) water

Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat and pour into a small heatproof bowl to cool.

7 thoughts on “Chocolate Babka

  • Hi from Malaysia your Babka looks lovely and I’d love to try making it, what brand of all purpose flour do you use? I’m curious about protein content as well so I could use an appropriate substitute here if necessary- thanks

    • Hi Elaine! King Arthur Flour is my go-to brand. The protein content is 11.7% for their unbleached all-purpose flour. All the best with your future babka-making. 🙂

  • Hi! I’m really keen to use this recipe. Just a quick q – is ‘all-purpose flour’ the same as ‘plain flour’ (UK term)? I’m seeing similar recipes which call for strong bread flour, so just curious to know the difference. Thanks!

    • Hi Naz! I believe all-purpose and plain flour are the same. All-purpose flour has a protein content between 9%-11% and is used for general baking, such as cookies, cakes, and muffins. Bread flour has a higher protein content, between 11%-13%, and is typically used for making bread since the higher protein content will produce stronger gluten development in the dough. Both flours will work with babka. It all depends on the type of results the baker is striving to achieve in the final babka texture. This recipe creates a light and tender babka, so if that sounds good to you, then enjoy!

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