What is chocolate babka? Babka is a sweet yeast bread – which means that the dough typically contains yeast, sugar, butter, and eggs, along with flour. It is filled with chocolate (or sometimes other flavors like cinnamon, apple, or more) and then it’s rolled up, cut, twisted together, and put into a loaf pan. These simple steps create the amazing swirl of chocolate that you see running through the bread. It also makes it amazingly easy to pull apart and enjoy. Babka is Jewish, and it is said that it was originated from leftover scraps of challah bread – hence why it’s made with a sweet yeast bread!
My grandma is something like 1/32 Jewish, and my mom didn’t even find out until well after I was born. It wasn’t something she talked about for some reason. So, in my young teen years we celebrated some Jewish holidays as my mom was trying to learn about her heritage she felt she missed out on. But, with me being so old already, nothing really stuck with me as I was already stuck in my own traditions of how I grew up.
The funny part is my grandma had been making challah bread like it was her job my entire life. But, she didn’t make challah bread because of her Jewish heritage, she made it because she loved it more than any other bread! The recipe actually came from my mom’s abandoned bread baking business she had briefly. And when she stopped baking bread my grandma was so sad to not have that challah bread anymore to eat, that she took over as bread baker of the family. But, surprisingly, she never made babka. This is probably because she was also my healthy grandma – as opposed to my YiaYia on my dad’s side who was my sweet tooth grandma.
But, knowing my grandma I bet she would have loved this Chocolate Babka had she had the opportunity to try it. So, today I am going to show you how to make Chocolate Babka. It is much easier than you may think or even than the adorable swirls make it look! If you have made cinnamon rolls before, then you have all the skills and experience you need to make chocolate babka. I am going to show you how to make Chocolate Babka, and I bet you’ll favor this amazing pastry over those cinnamon rolls for your next brunch. Get the recipe below.
Tips for Making the Best Chocolate Babka
• Make sure your yeast is good. If your yeast doesn’t turn bubbly after a few minutes, then it has probably gone bad. Or, you used water that was way too hot and therefore killed the yeast. If your water temperature gets to 120°F, then it can start killing yeast, and water temperature of 140°F or more will kill all the yeast. To give you an idea what this temperature is – your local coffee shop will usually serve you a drink between the temperatures of 140°F and 160°F. So, use that knowledge! If your yeast is bad, then you’ll just have to replace it before you make the recipe as there is no point to go on with the recipe if your yeast is bad as the dough won’t rise. If you think you killed your yeast, just scrap it and try again with water that isn’t as hot.
• It is super important when making yeast dough that you look for visual cues and not rely on times when the dough is rising. This dough needs to double in size. Whether that takes 1 hour or 3 hours, you shouldn’t move on until your dough is doubled in size. I give a time reference so you don’t just forget about it, haha. But, be sure to look at the dough before beginning the next step.
• Use a high quality dark chocolate that is meant for melting. This is not chocolate chips that you’d use for making cookies. My favorite organic dark chocolate can be found here.
• When you twist the babka together, the tighter your twists, the more swirls of chocolate you’ll have. You can twist it less or more depending on personal preference!
• My favorite loaf pan is by USA Pan and you can find it here. These pans are amazing and allow loafs to come right out without much effort. I’d highly recommend getting one as they are a very inexpensive tool that makes a huge difference.
Makes 1 pound loaf
7 grams (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon organic cane sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup (57 grams) organic salted butter
3/4 cup organic milk
446 grams (3 1/2 cups) organic all purpose flour
57 grams (1/4 cup) organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 organic large egg
170 grams (6 ounces) organic dark chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons (57 grams) organic salted butter
71 grams (1/2 cup) organic powdered sugar, sifted
71 grams (1/2 cup) organic powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons water
To make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the yeast, 1/2 teaspoon cane sugar, and warm water. Stir to combine and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes or until bubbly.
In a medium pot over medium heat, add the butter and milk. Stir until completely melted, remove from heat.
Add the flour, sugar and salt to the mixing bowl in that order. Add the egg and milk mixture and knead on speed 2 to 4 for 5 minutes.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, add cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 to 3 hours or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
To make the filling: In a small saucepan, add the dark chocolate and butter. Put over medium heat and allow butter and chocolate to melt completely. Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar and stir to combine completely. Set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 12 x 9-inches. Using a spatula, spread the chocolate filling.
Starting at the shorter side, roll the dough so it is completely rolled into a log. Pinch the dough to seal it and put the seam side down. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough log in half lengthwise to expose the rolled inside. Twist the halves together, leaving the cut side up. Transfer to the prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 40 or until golden brown. Allow to cool in the pan completely.
To make the glaze: In a small bowl, add the powdered sugar and water and whisk together until you have a smooth glaze. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of each hand pie. Allow to set completely before serving.
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
High Altitude — Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until golden brown.