Chocolate Babka

I’ve seen photos of chocolate babka all over Pinterest, but then you look at the recipe and it says 14 hours to make it and so I always backed out. This time though, I didn’t, and I am so glad. First of all, it’s a lot of fun to make, even if it takes a while. I love making brad though, so I guess I am biased. Second, it’s delicious! Plus it’s so pretty. I mean just look at that.

There’s actually not a huge amount of hands-on time with this dough, there’s just a lot of letting it rest to rise. It rises three times, if I have that correct. Please please please though, just make this overnight. It will feel like it’s gone by a lot faster and the dough will be better developed. Note that it needs to stay in the refrigerator overnight though, I forgot to do that (whoops, probably not good).

Once the dough has risen overnight, it’s really just about making the filling (which I made the day of) and the simple syrup, both of which are pretty easy. I ended up having way too much filling, just as a heads up, because if I put to much on it just squeezed out. One way to avoid this though is to refrigerate the filling just a little bit so it’s more firm. I still think my loaf was chocolatey enough though. Plus we kept the filling and slowly snacked on it, since it’s pretty much just a delicious homemade hot fudge.

Then, once every component is ready, it’s a lot of rolling, spreading, rolling again, cutting, twisting, folding, and baking! It sounds like a lot, I know, but I explained every step. Plus, come on, just look at that final result. It’s worth it. Happy baking!

Chocolate Babka

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 18 hours

Yield: two 9-inch loaves, 24 servings

Chocolate Babka

Delicious loaves of chocolate-swirl bread. Traditionally an Eastern European sweet yeast cake, these cakes are impressive and well worth the wait!


  • ½ cup whole or 2% milk
  • 1 package (2¼ tsp.) instant or active dry yeast
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 4¼ cups all-purpose flour, more as needed
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. grated lemon zest (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 10 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing bowls and pans
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 6 ounces/170 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) butter, diced, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup water


    Make the dough:
  1. Heat the milk in the microwave until lukewarm. Add the yeast and a pinch sugar. Let sit until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, vanilla, lemon zest, and nutmeg.
  3. Pour in the yeast mixture and eggs and beat until the dough comes together in a soft mass, about 2 minutes. If the dough sticks to the side of the bowl and doesn’t come together, add a tablespoon more flour at a time until it does, beating very well in between additions.
  4. Add half the butter and beat or pulse until the dough is smooth and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Beat in the rest of the butter and continue to beat or pulse until the dough is smooth and stretchy, another 5 to 7 minutes. Again, if the dough sticks to the sides of the bowl, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  5. Butter a clean bowl, form the dough into a ball, and place it in the bowl. Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and store in a warm place until puffy and risen, about 1 to 2 hours.
  6. Punch down the dough, place kitchen towel back on it, and refrigerate overnight.
    Make the filling:
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, cream and salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Scrape mixture into a bowl.
  2. Stir in chocolate, butter and vanilla until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. Filling can be made up to a week ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge. Let come to room temperature before using.
    Assemble the babkas:
  1. Butter two 9-inch loaf pans and line with parchment paper with an overhang for easy release.
  2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide in half. Roll out one half on a lightly floured surface into approximately a 9 by 17-inch rectangle. Spread with half the filling, then roll up starting with one of the long sides (yes, the long side, not the 9" side) to make a long coil and place in the freezer for 10 minutes (I put it on a baking sheet so it kept its shape).
  3. Cut the coil in half the long way so you see the inside of the coil. Take each side and twist together, then fold over the long coil in half and place in one loaf pan. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and place in a warm place to rise for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Repeat with the other piece of dough.
  4. Once the loaves are almost done rising, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the loaves for 40 to 50 minutes, starting with 40 minutes and until a tester comes out clean (although it may have chocolate). It should sound hollow when you knock it on the bottom as well.
    Make the syrup:
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the water with the sugar until the sugar dissolves. Then, let simmer for about 5 more minutes, or until thicker.
  2. Let the cakes cool for about a minute, then place on a wire rack, poke holes in them, and pour or brush (much cleaner way) syrup over the cakes. I brushed the cakes with syrup, then let them dry, then brushed them once again.
  3. Serve immediately. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
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Recipe adapted from New York Times Cooking

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