If you’ve ever tried to recreate something you loved when you were growing up in your own kitchen, you know how difficult it can to match your taste memory to the reality of ingredients and step-by-step directions. Sometimes, even when you get the flavor right, it doesn’t feel right, but you hold out for those rare times that everything falls into place.
After realizing that both Alex and my families loved the same decadent grocery store chocolate babka growing up, I set out to find a recipe to recreate it at home. I waded through dozens and dozens, convinced that something was off in each of them, continually closing my eyes and trying to remember exactly what makes it what it is.
First, it’s completely over-the-top. The chocolate to bread-like dough ratio is unseemly. It often seemed impossible that they could construct something with even more filling than structure. I rejected all of the recipes that didn’t suggest a mind-boggling amount of chocolate.
Second, the quintessential taste is not just chocolate, no siree: it’s chocolate-cinnamon. Rejecting all the recipes that didn’t play on this combination, the stack of possibilities further thinned.
Finally, the chocolate babka we grew up eating had an extra little something-something–streusel topping with a few chunks that always fell into the twists and folds–something I remember clearly from all the times we’d pick the pieces out, or fight over those with the biggest pebbles. Almost all the recipes I looked at involved no streusel.
But just like that, Martha Stewart* saved the day. Unseemly amounts of chocolate? Check. Cinnamon? Check. Streusel? Check. Five sticks of butter? Oh my god I didn’t sign up for this!
For real, people, this nearly ties with those pecan bars as the most fattening thing I have ever made. Two and a quarter pounds of chocolate. One and a quarter pounds of butter. A pound and a half of sugar. The truth is, this recipe made me a nervous wreck. The cost of the ingredients and caloric heft of them aside, it was a tremendous amount of work, a true labor of love, a task not eased by a kitchen with just a single eensy counter.
But I’m not here to complain, because the effort was not for naught. We cut into a single slice hot from the oven Wednesday night, unable to hold off any longer, and were just stunned. It is exactly what we remember. Callebraut chocolate, other top-notch ingredients and no extended wait on a supermarket shelf made it, dare I say, even better.
I realize that this is not exactly a recipe that anyone will be running out to try this very evening–you’d be correct to be daunted, even if the reward is substantial. But a good lot of the reason I was driven to creating this site was to pass information along where there is a dearth of it: this recipe works. And a recipe that works, and allows you to create something your family loves at home instead of wading through the labyrinth of ingredient lists, packaging dates and other well-placed supermarket doubts, is no small thing in my book, or in my belly.
* Disclosure! Martha Stewart is an advertising partner, but no, this does not mean that I give her recipes any free passes.
One year ago: Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies
A new babka: Seven years later, I found a new chocolate babka love which uses a fraction of the chocolate and butter but manages to taste as rich and heavenly (and look as gorgeous) as this. Check it out.
When shaping the babka, twist dough evenly throughout the length of the roll a full 5 to 6 turns. The babka can be prepared up to step 8 and frozen for up to a month before baking. When ready to bake, remove from freezer; let stand at room temperature for about 5 hours, and bake.
Makes 3 loaves (but I made two full-sized and three miniature ones)
1 1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees
2 (1/4 ounce each) packages active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups plus a pinch of sugar
3 whole large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and loaf pans
2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped*
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Streusel topping (below)
1. Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.
4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
5. Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined; set filling aside.
6. Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans; line them with parchment paper. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream; set egg wash aside. Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.
7. Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling.
8. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.
9. Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve. Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month.
* After chopping the chocolate into moderately sized chunks, I used the food processor to pulse the rest of the chocolate in two batches to small bits. It saved a lot of time!
Makes 3 3/4 cups.
1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter. Using a fork, stir until fully combined with clumps ranging in size from crumbs to 1 inch.
366 comments on chocolate babka
Wow. I mean, just wow. I too have been pining for the babka of my youth, and you not only described it, but you recreated it, and gone where others have yet to tread-you put forth a recipe that makes it sound possible! I really don’t know whether to thank you or run away from the computer as fast as I can hoping I can erase this possible attainable Babka from my head. I made your Mom’s scrumptious coffee cake last week, and I tried the same amnesia trick, to no avail. I think I’m going to make this and freeze it, and have to break fast for yom kippur, because that’s the only way I can come up with possibly justifying eating it; if I haven’t eaten all day. I can’t believe how powerful the collective memory of the East Coast Jewish girl born in the 70’s is!
oh, thank you so much for this recipe. i’ve been mourning the loss of chocolate babka (and pickles) ever since 2nd ave deli closed.
i could see how this recipe made you all nervous! i’m just going to take your word for it because there is no way i could ever make anything that calls for that much butter.
Oh, Deb! My, you inspire me. I’m terrified of baking with yeast, but these look good enough to force me to Face My Fear. I adore your blog and your Fever for Food. Perhaps I’ve fallen in love with you, will you marry me? Oh, wait, you’re already married. Um, and so am I. Well, lets have a blogging affair!
Keep up the wonderful, happy, sticky-fingered work
OMG! The last time I tackled a recipe with that much butter, I was making Julia Child’s brioche. I made that for 2 months solid, and got an incredibly overweight husband, and group of coworkers. Oh and I broke my dough hook on my artisan Kitchenaid! (I got a free replacement for that hook, and 2 years ago, I upgraded to a Pro6) At least this recipe won’t heat my Kitchenaid motor this time. Hmmm, just in time. Hubby has lost the 30 lbs, time to put it back on for the winter! Ha ha!
Just for reference, I had meant to put the amount of butter, sugar, etc. in context in the post, but ran out of space/time.
Although it is–no doubt–an absolutely incredible amount of ingredients, it’s not completely out of step with other desserts. First, the recipe yields 3 loaves, meaning that each loaf has 1 2/3 sticks of butter. A typical loaf-style cake has one stick of butter in it, and another quarter to third of a stick if it has streusel on top. A single layer of a 9″ inch cake tends to have one stick of butter (or a half-cup of oil) in it as well. One loaf also has the chocolate of one batch of chocolate chip cookies, and easily serves 12 (I’d argue 24, because the slices are rich enough that a half-slice is plenty, but I apparently hit Sweets Overload faster than others). The sugar is in-step with other recipes, and is less than one would have in an iced cake.
Is babka healthy? My god, no. But, when cooking in quantities, its easy to get overwhelmed by the big numbers, forgetting that you’re just making more.
Oh, heavens, this looks good. I’m sitting here trying to find an interesting non-dairy dairy dessert to go with tonight’s (very rare) meat meal and you toss this out–not fair! I can’t wait to give it a try.
There should be some kind of surgeon general’s warning on this post. Just reading it makes me about plotz from babka lust.
Magpie — Sorry! I just dug and dug for my mother’s (absolutely perfect in every way but I haven’t had a chance to blog yet because why would I when mom always makes it) German apple cake recipe that she makes for the high holidays, but I don’t have it. (It uses oil, not butter.) Mom, if you’re reading this, AHEM. Please? Thanky.
As a naive Californian, I’ve never heard of babka. Is it cake? Bread?
Babka is closer to cake than bread, but uses a brioche-like rich yeast dough as its base, and is traditionally either rolled with cinnamon, raisins/almonds/orange zest or chocolate. (There could be other varieties, but I’m not familiar with them, though I read once about a cheese babka and was drooling at the thought of it.) It’s Eastern European in origin. Some are topped with streusel, others with one of those white pastry icings. Alex tells me that “babka” in Russian means old lady, but not in a nice way. I haven’t figured out what to make of that yet.
If craving sweet, delectable, utterly heart-clogging fat such as this is wrong, I don’t want to be right! It’s not about need, it’s about desire! OK, going to go my nutrition bar now and curse myself through breakfast.
OK, I’ve never had babka, but I’m going to start with this one! Thanks!
Hello – I used to make this recipe with a friend who had a fancy stand mixer, but she’s since moved away. Do you think it could be done without a stand mixer?
I’ve been following this blog for a short while. It is outstanding! The pictures are beautiful and the food looks delicious. Are you selling any of the goodies? You guys eat all this?!
Hi Megan — Yes, absolutely. The only part I used my stand mixer for was making the dough, which can be mixed by hand and then kneaded, with just a bit of extra effort. The most important thing is to make sure all the butter is incorporated in the dough before you start kneading, something that will be easy if the butter is fully at room temperature/soft. When its time to knead it, don’t worry about it making a mess on the counter. Just scrape everything back into the bowl and it will rise normally.
Faye — One went to our dinner last night, the next will got to my parents next week for Yom Kippur, and the tiny ones will be in the freezer until we need a dessert for a party or something. I understand that they freeze well.
Hi Deb, thanks for your response. Please add my email to your mailing list. I know I would be interested in most anything you are doing, food and photography-wise. Your blog is a pleasant surprise every day. Thanks.
Oh, wow, that looks just like the babka of my youth, which my mother would pick up from bakeries on Avenue J and Avenue M in Brooklyn. Fantastic stuff, and we were all addicted to it. The closest thing I’ve ever made was monkey bread. I can’t wait to make this myself – it’ll be a fantastic surprise for my family.
Deb, your pictures make my mouth water! Seriously, I started reading this post and thought to myself, “I want chocolate babka for lunch.” How much time do you think I should set aside for this cooking endeavor?
Being from the west coast I had never heard of Babka until the episode centered around it on Seinfeld! I had always wondered exactly what it was. Thanks. OH…don’t worry about the fat/calories in the recipe…Paula Deen would approve! : )
You can use her line: “Honey, I’m your cook not your doctor!”
this loooks amazing! i might try it this weekend. thank you for posting!
My babka dough didn’t rise! Argh! This was my first attempt at chocolate babka and I followed the directions very closely. Mine turned out like dense bricks! I had intended to give them as gifts to family members, but now I’m extremely reluctant! Bummers! A lot of time, money and ingredients wasted. I suppose I could throw them through my enemies’ windows or use them as doorstops.
I have actually been wanting to try making babka for a long time, but didn’t really know where to begin. Thanks for the recipe! Look forward to trying it out.
One question remains – do you do the bibbi babka dance as you make this?
C’mon, no Perfect Strangers fans out there? ;)
(looks fabulous! much better than Balki’s!)
Can you just mail me a loaf? I’m too lazy and cheap to do it myself.
That looks awesome.
That looks so great. The butter factor is a bit scary though. I’d never heard of babka before, where is it from?
Okay, now that I’m off of cloud nine.
Chocolate plus streusel, what’s not to love!
this is way too good to ever make. and if you have to ask you wouldn’t understand. damn girl, i am impressed. if i was still in nyc i would so make this for a family occassion but here in tn i dunno if they’ll get it all the way. this is food of my jewish childhood. i wish i could just have one little slice…
OMG, i haven’t even thought about chocolate babka since i worked in a bakery in college. i’m totally gonna find a reason to make this! thanks for the recipe.
Wow, I’m usually a lurker, but that looks and sounds amazing. And I don’t even like chocolate that much. The dough just looks fantastic. And the recipe doesn’t look too hard to divide into three, if I only want one loaf.
Oh how delightful. Thank you Deb…I think I might have to make this for Christmas breakfast. On another note, I just don’t get this odd fear of butter. Dear people, butter is not the devil…so eat and be merry. I mean, one ought not to have food this rich everyday, but once in a while, it’s positively beneficial, both to the soul and the taste buds. It’s regular consumption of processed horror food that clogs us up, not the odd delicious chunk of quality decadence.
mmm. Looks heavenly! I will make this some day.
The baked good I’m trying to recreate from my childhood is the teiglach my grandparents would buy from Lord’s Bakery in B’klyn for the High Holy Days. My favorite!
oh lala… have one question: do you think this also works without the streuseltop? with just the eggwash, or cream brushed on top? is it sweet enough to stand on it’s own? thanks from berlin, where this crazy babka will be baked tomorrow. can’t wait!
Why oh why did you have to put that image in my head? That is just one baked good it never occurred to me to tackle but now I will be dreaming of it.
Where in the WORLD do you find chocolate like that? Is it a city thing, because if so I’m going to have to add “chocolate by the pound” to the list of disadvantages to rural living.
I LOVE THAT YOU MADE THIS!
I AM SHOUTING!
CAN YOU HEAR ME, from california to ny?
I’ll make you a deal… you get one of those in the mail for me and i will send you a cumin pot de creme from my menu, ok? it comes with innovative haroset…
Hey there, look at you getting a mention in the NYT Magazine :D
I’ve been dying to make this since I first saw the recipe, years ago. But, since I have neither space for 2 frozen babkas or 3 loaf pans, I can just sigh…Anyone have luck scaling down the recipe?
Congrats on the NYT shout-out!
Lydia — I’d give it six hours. I look back it it now and I’m not entirely sure why I needed six (though I’m pretty sure my dough took a full two hours to rise, and the in-the-loaf step took more than 20 as well), but it seems the safest bet, assuming that if you made it in the evening, you’d let them cool on the counter overnight filling your pad with the most delicious smells.
Mary — I’d never seen that before! It was hilarious. If I ever get crazed enough to make this again, oh I’ll be singing, all right. And Alex will be covering his ears, as always.
Jelena — It’s one of those “Old Country,” Eastern Europe things.
nyjlm — You know, I never remember eating them growing up, but what a great idea. If I can find a good recipe, maybe I’ll tackle them soon.
Anna — I think so. It will get nice and shiny like an egg bread or challah (or, at least the part of one of mine that didn’t get covered in streusel is). Good luck!
Comn — Actually, it was kind of gross. I found it on a teensy, forgotten shelf UNDER the cheese counter at the Garden of Eden (kind of like a mini-Whole Foods with better produce) by our apartment. I seriously don’t even know they left the chocolate there. The WF by here sells big old hunks of baking chocolate, too. I figure it was still cheaper than buying bags and bags o chocolate chips. After roughly chopping it by hand, I let the food processor do the rest of the work.
Shuna — Haroset? That is BRILLIANT. Inspired. I love the way you think. If I can figure out a good way to ship one, you’re on. I’ll cash in on the pot-de-creme when I come for another visit.
Anita, Corlie — Holy cow, man! What a fun thing to wake up to. I love Hesser, I love Steingarten, and the NYTimes Magazine food essay is the first thing I read every Saturday morning (after my new blog comments, obvs.) Whee! And fritters? Cinch city! Those chorizo-cornmeal ones are so on.
A shout-out from Amanda Hesser!!! SQUEAL!!!!
Becca — Thank you.
Sharon — Sorry, didn’t mean to skip you. I was actually intimidated to sub-divide (I hate splitting eggs) the recipe, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. A few exchange to keep in mind:
1 large egg = (approximately) 1 tablespoon yolk + 2 tablespoons white
1 packet yeast = 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 teaspoons
and of course: 1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
It’s a little mathy, but not impossible.
I’ve never actually tried babka, but I have gazed at Martha’s recipe several times thinking I would like to try it – but I have always been too daunted! Your description, however, is making me reevaluate…
Wow. Just wow. Now I know what I want to make for brunch next weekend. This looks gorgeous.
Just cuz I’m curious, is the title of this post supposed to be a play off “Mmm Bop”? Because if it wasn’t intended, that makes it so much funnier.
How funny. I found it necessary to make chocolate babka this week too. I used a recipe from epicurious and, although I didn’t chop the chocolate finely enough, I think it came out very good. No cinnamon, though, but slightly less butter. However, after eating half of one loaf, I think I require hospitalization.
Wow, I just said I was craving babka…TODAY!
You’re in the NYTimes today (click!). How cool do you feel, congratulations!
Wow! Look at you with your NY Times mention (“Bless This Mess” by Amanda Hesser) – how exciting!
I just shed a(nother) tear for my KitchenAid mixer which is in storage back in Canada. How do you suppose this would turn out with just a pair of eager hands at my disposal? Even half as good as that picture looks would probably be good enough!
I believe Amanda has just challenged you to some salt cod fritters…when shall we expect them?
congrats on the nytimes namedrop, i guess meghan beat me to the punch, but i just read it. awesome!
This looks incredible! Quick question: is the baking time the same when doing mini-loaves? I would assume not, but wanted to be sure. Thanks!
These pictures…I can almost taste it. And again I must ask: can we get any of these in desktop-size? I desperately want to see that brick of chocolate every day!
wow this looks so good and I want to make it so bad but 5 sticks of butter, i will have to wait for a special time…Thanksgiving is coming up soon.
Speaking of Yom Kippur, do you have a kugel recipe you’d like to share? It’s my turn to make the kugel and thought I’d change it up a little (hopefully my family won’t mind!)
Yay for the NY times mention!
OMG! Your chocolate babka looks as good as the Dean and Deluca variety that a youn family friend brings us every Christmas. If I could make babka that good I would be happy (and plump!)
I’ve been an avid reader of your blog since i discovered it … not sure where/how… anyway, i just had to try my hand at making the babkas :) i split the recipe and made 2 loaves – turned out super! i just used smaller loaf pans… my family loved it.
#38 – Sharon: i ended up with a bit too much chocolate filling for when i split the recipe in half .. so maybe go with 10 ounces of chocolate?
#50 – Sheena: i didn’t use a mixer… just a wooden spoon and some elbow grease :) check out commet #17.
I have a request! I’ve been looking for a good hamentaschen (did i butcher the spelling?) recipe… so please consider it a future request for your blog! :)
Oh boy!! that looks soooooo good. Being from N.Y. and now living in Va. I sure do miss having babka. I don’t think I could make it, it seems so difficult. I guess I could try, what do I have to lose but some ingredients. Love this blog. Joanne
Elise — Hmm… I just might!
Jamie — Wow! Fantastic! I’m glad it worked for you, and that there is someone else out there that can confirm its greatness. I’ll keep you posted on hamentaschen. I made some tasty ones a few months ago, but struggled with the dough. I need to revisit it.
Holy cow! I am making this tomorrow. Thank you, Deb! Hey, when you say to rotate it in the oven – do you mean turning the loaf pans around 180 degrees, or 90, or move them from rack to rack? Sorry to be such a ‘tard.
I spent the afternoon finely chopping chocolate by hand. The smell is killing me. Must… have… babka!
Brooke — Ha! I wasn’t sure, so I did both. Really! That said, I always turn things 180 and rotate if I’m using two racks when I bake, because I know my oven is uneven. I’m sure that was the reason it was suggested.
I used the food processor to chop the chocolate. I should update the recipe to say so, huh?
Yeah, probably so, although in my case it wouldn’t have mattered. I have yet to own a food processor where the engine doesn’t die on me almost immediately! I think I have the Cuisinart jinx.
I’ve been stalking for a while, but had to comment on this one. that looks exactly like the babka we used to get as kids at the neighborhood bakery (that has since disappeared). the topping – oh my gosh the topping. I always saved it until last. this would be great for a special occasion!!!
Thank you for posting this recipe. We went to NYC a few weeks ago, and brought home a choc. babka from one of those well-known Manhattan food places. It cost $15! I wouldn’t have paid that, but I was buying other things and didn’t think when the total was more than I was expecting. And the worst was that it was not quite fresh, and not as tasty as the one we got on a previous trip.
Anyway, we made this recipe last night. It was not hard to do, but it did take 6 hours (we don’t turn on the furnace until Nov. 1 so the kitchen was a little cool for the yeast to work its magic). It was so hard to sleep last night since the house smelled so good! I am not ashamed to admit that I had babka for breakfast and lunch today.
Thank you Debbie for such a wonderful recipe. I’m a new subscriber and was delighted to try this recipe. It was delicious and the aroma was all over the house. I brought it to work and everyone loved it.
YUHUMMMM!! I finally got around making these yummy looking babkas and let me tell you – they were de-lish!
One hint, if your house is not warm enough to rise the dough, heat you oven for about 15 mins on 350F, then stick in your dough and voila – it doesnt take as long to rise. Also, if anyone has heard of Trader Joe’s – they sell chocolate in Pound bars. For my taste this had almost a bit too much chocolate in it (and believe me I am a chocolata-holic!!) but I also love my bread – and I had a hard time finding it sometimes. I think that might be because my second rise wasnt long enough.
Deb – thank you so much for all the yummy recipes!! and GORGEOUS pictures. My favorite recipe by far is the apple-anise-yogurt cake, which I’ve made several times. =)
thank you and keep up the AWESOME work!
Will definitely try this one. My favorite babka is from Zingermans Deli in Ann Arbor, MI.They also mail order. Authentic recipes, great food source.
I’m Italian but my Polish/Jewish friends have converted me to trying many of their ethnic dishes. How about 3 milk cake?
Love the picture of your chocolate babka.
I absolutely love to cook and I can tell just by reading the receipt that this is going to be dangerous to have in the house. That’s okay, I like living dangerously when it comes to my babka! Anyone have a good recipe for 7-layer cake? My parents grew up in New York City and my father got us hooked on this cake when I was a kid. Since moving to the South it’s become impossible to find. Anytime I mention it to a baker they think I mean just any cake with 7 layers.
The one I’m looking for has 7 very thin layers of sponge cake. In between each cake layer is a wide layer of light and airy cocoa butter cream. Then the entire cake is enrobed in this rich fudgy icing that gets slightly stiff on the top layer but is soft just beanth the surface.
I finally made this today. It was actually a google search for chocolate babka that lead me to discover smittenkitchen about a year ago and I have been a faithful reader ever since. This went together easier than I feared. The whole process took 4.5 hours. I made half the recipe, using the spare egg white from the dough as the egg wash, with a splash of milk rather than cream. I used a pound of chocolate. I made one large loaf and one medium loaf. I took the smaller loaf out at the 55 min. mark and left the big one in for the additional 15 minutes. The streusel came out a bit too hard. It might soften up over night, I’m hoping. The babka itself was absolutely fantastic. Thanks so much.
It seems that Martha Stewart recipes are often hit-and-miss. I’ve browsed through her website, mostly cookie stuff, and half the time I see reviews where several folks have had their heart broken. What gives? And who puts up those recipes anyway? Does Martha even know?
I’ve never had babka, and this looks like one hell of a recipe, but I’m too curious. The sad thing is I’m mostly curious because of that Seinfeld episode my boyfriend is always on about.
Well, under the influence of too much cold medicine, I decided to make the babka today. First response: holy cow. This is really good, and my loaves turned out seriously massive.
In my druggy, sniffly haze I decided not to do the strudel topping, and also didn’t do the egg wash. I also didn’t use the entire amount of chocolate insides–I used a bit to sprinkle over the top instead of the strudel. I also decided to just make two loaves instead of three, or two and two tiny ones. This was a pretty good idea until I remembered that things with yeast rise. I have two 1.5 foot babka now, each about six inches across in the middle.
They’re also not as puffy as yours look in the pictures–like, the sliced babka that’s all tall and swirly? I think since I just did two, the dough couldn’t hold up to the weight of those pounds of chocolate. Mine spread out instead of up. The bread part though is surprisingly good and flakey despite that. I think it just sort of turns into a delicious, chocolatey mess of layers in that very fat, flat middle (no complaints here).
So, this didn’t turn out like it was supposed to, but I’m still hooked. My only complaint is that my lips are chapped and it hurts to open my mouth wide to get it around babka.
Final note (I promise–not trying to spam ya here!)–I think what hooks me so fast on this is that the bread is flaky and light and the chocolate/cinnamon combo reminds me of gingerbread, which is pretty much my favorite thing ever.
Anyway, thanks for posting this recipe! I love it!!
Hi Dwilah — Glad you liked the babka. You said your loaves “spread”–did you put them in loaf pans?
No, I forgot to mention that (realized it as soon as I hit post). I only have one of that size loaf pan. Originally, I had planned to use a couple different just small glass casserole pans, like 9×9 ones, and do small loaves. Instead, I decided–and I blame this on the medicine head–to put just the two giant loaves side by side in my biggest casserole pan. They did puff up during baking; they’re a good five inches high. While I was watching them bake I was worried they’d melt into puddles and stick together like cookies can do (I don’t bake much with yeast doughs). They didn’t though; the two loaves ended up touching but broke apart like soft rolls when I pulled them apart.
Thanks for the response–I love your blog. :)
He brought us up in southwest OH, but my Long-Island-raised-Irish-Polish-Catholic dad bought us babka & rugulah every chance he got when we were tiny, mostly during Christmas trips to visit the grandparents in Manhattan. I’m gonna practice this recipe as a Christmas present for him this year – let you know how it goes!
Wow. Amazing! About 1000 Xs better than the stuff in the supermarket. I made this last night, took one loaf to work today for an event, froze one to take to a friend’s this weekend, and kept the third to gorge myself on (I seriously had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner today- apparently I’m trying to get really fat). People at work even said it was the best babka they’ve ever had!
I was a little intimidated by the recipe since this was the first time I’ve baked with yeast. And then I said to myself “What is your problem? You made yeast do all sorts of crazy things in a lab for 4 years [I’m a scientist, who used to experiment on yeast], you can sprinkle some into warm milk easy-peasy!” And I did. And it was good. And fun! And now I am excited to try other breads.
The only difficulty I had was that the first loaf I attempted was kind of a mess, I rolled the dough too thin and the chocolate filling kept busting through when I was twisting and folding, and it didn’t look so cute, but the final rise helped it all smoosh back together and it baked just fine.
Anyway, thanks so much for the recipe- love your site!
I supervise a group of volunteers who bake bread to raise $’s for our church. We baked 50 last Saturday and they all turned out well. I used ganache. It works. We also put struesel on the top. They are very good sellers. Men buy most of them. I understand babkas are always round. We ran out of round pans so we made them in rectangular loaves. They all sell. Can’t wait to try yours. Your dough is what I call “super dough” similar to what we use for poppy seed, nut rolls and sweet cheese rolls. Kay
This recipe has made me a hero among my friends!! I have made it twice, getting three gorgeous loaves from each batch…..enough to share with two worthy friends and keep a loaf for myself.
The recipe took time, but it was easy to follow the instructions in each step. When you’re making something this special, it’s worth taking your time to enjoy the process.
The results (both times) were out of this world to taste and picture-perfect to look at!
Made it over the summer. Out of this world. Will make again.
Just made this for thanksgiving. Truly excellent. I wasn’t able to twist the dough, though, much more than a turn without it wanting to tear. I made one loaf sized one for baking, and then some medium and small ones to freeze. I ran out of filling before the dough and made two small ones with M&M bits and baked one. Even that came out pretty tasty.
Just finished making these for Thanksgiving tomorrow — unbelievable. The callebaut chocolate absolutely makes it. My kitchen currently looks like a tornado went through it, but it was worth it!
Absolutely delicious! Better than the Green’s Babka you can buy at grocery stores (they seem to be the only company making them…). I’m just making them for my second time now and it’s definitely easier this time around. A++++!
Just wondering how long you baked your two mini-loaves for — I only had two regular-sized pans and baked those off immediately, but I froze the minis and am planning to bake them tomorrow. My goal is to then overnight them to my friend who just had a baby, but I’ll need some serious willpower to get both of them into the box untouched! Thanks again for a fabulous recipe — it was a major hit at Thanksgiving!
I actually don’t remember how long the minis baked for. I would just start by checking halfway through the cooking time, and every five or ten minutes after that if they’re not done. Good luck.
Hi Deb- Thank you for this recipe. If it wasn’t already 6 pm and I had the chocolate I would be in the kitchen right now making this. I told my children I was making Polish Raisin Babka – wow – the turned up noses and squinchy eyes! They pleaded for me to make chocolate. I didn’t have any idea where I would locate a recipe. Here you are – the recipe I have been looking for. I will try this tomorrow. I know you made some in smaller loaves, have you ever tried a round loaf in a mini bundt pan? I don’t have enough loaf pans – and I would love to give some of this to friends. What do you think? If I don’t have a reply from you by tomorrow am – I will let you know how they turned out in the smaller bundt pan. Thank you for all your experimenting and posting this for all of us to share.
Wow! Even though the recipe does not say “Do not drink wine while preparing…” I think it is going to turn out… Hoping for the best… :)
Unable to find babka in Fresno, I made your recipe for my husband as last night of Chanukkah treat. The loaves are as beautiful as they are crumbly, rich, and delicious. I am considering framing a picture of one to hang in my kitchen.
I made this over the holidays. It took me all day, but the results were amazing. I’m so glad you tracked down the recipe with the most chocolate. However, without a functional food processor at my parents’ house, the chopping was quite an undertaking!
so, you say they freeze well up to a month… what do you recommend for defrosting?
You can defrost it in the fridge for a day for a gradual defrosting or just leave it out at room temperature.
I made this last night– but I used the 72% chocolate from Trader Joe’s (which I’ve heard is actually Callebaut)and thought the filling turned out too hard. I think there might not have been enough fat in my chocolate. What percentage did you use for your filling?
I spent all day Sunday making this Babka, did everything exactly as in the recipe, it smelled great all over the house, BUT when I took it out of the oven after baking it for 55 min at 350 it was all dry and burnt on top. Next day (yesterday) it was even dryer-VERY DRY. I felt that it was such a wait of a day and money. What did I do wrong?
Sounds like it got overbaked. Your oven may bake things faster than it should at those temperatures. It would be worth getting a $5 over thermometer, and in the future, start checking in on your recipes when they’re 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through their baking times, knowing that your oven works quickly.
THANKS A LOT for your response, I will keep trying. I trust your judgement that this recipe is supposed to work. My ultimate goal is to make a perfect Parve Babka(any ideas for the recipe?), but at first I will work on this one
my feet are ACHING from the amount of time i had to spend in the kitchen cooking this up! it looks like they’re gonna come out great, but the instructions were unclear at times…can’t wait to try it!
deb–again, i’m a longtime reader, and i really love your recipes. i’ve made more than i can count, and they always turn out great (and your adaptation of ina garten’s yogurt cake? i made it with orange and blackberry a year ago, and I still get requests for it).
i made the babke last week, and i have a question. I don’t have a stand mixer, and I think the incorporation of the butter (even though it was at room temperature) made my dough screw up. It came out dry and with a weird texture that I didn’t love. Do you think melting the butter in this case would help? I know the dough might be a little tougher…
Also, if that doesn’t work, any other suggestions for good dough recipes to use in this case? Do you think I could adapt a challah recipe to this?
Can this cake be frozen? Will it still taste fresh and moist when defrosted?
We froze ours. The key to things tasting fresh and moist when defrosted is to: a) wrap it very well, at least three times in plastic wrap. b) not keep it in your freezer too long, if things tend to pick up smells. Two months is fine in a lot of freezers; in mine shoddy one, I don’t keep things for more than a month.
a bread machine is great for doughs like this and means the only real work to do is the filling and shaping
Is twisting the filled loaves hard to do without lengthening the loaves or are they supposed to get lengthened
i am sure i am gaining weight just from reading the recipes on your blog. your photos are so gorgeous
In Wyoming we don’t hear about babka, see any babka, let alone ever taste such a thing. Thank you for introducing this to us out here on the priarie. It is midnight and my mom and I just finished eating our second slices straight out of the oven. It only took us four hours and they (two very large and one small) all turned out bea-ooo-tee-ful! Sweet Dreams.
could i ask what’s the importance of the twisting? is it for the swirled effect?
please and thank you!
Wei — Yes. It’s not a straight “rolled” bread/cake but more twists and turns.
Deb, you genius! Each Easter I attempt chocolate Babka to welcome spring, and have had a variety of outcomes. NEVER a good enough outcome to equal yours. The outrageous chocolate-to-dough ratio’s the thing. Now I finally have permission to go nuts with the chocolate, thanks to you. Eight am tomorrow we’ll have a go. Blessings on your little head!
Just thought I’d follow up with a little note – I made this bread (so lovely) months ago and brought a loaf to work to share. Today, one of my coworker yelled to me over the cube walls, “Will you make that cinnamon chocolate bread, again?” She says she thinks about it almost everyday. ;^) I’d say that’s a successful recipe!
I was just searching for a chocolate babka recipe and, of course, you had one! Looks just like what I wanted. Would it be complete sacrilege to use mini-semisweet morsels instead of doing all that chocolate chopping? Just trying to save a little time. Lots of family coming into town and staying with us. Thought this would be good to make/freeze for Sunday brunch with lots of people.
The babka looks delicious;) I didn’t have any semi-sweet chocolate on hand, so i used a box of Mexican Chocolate Bars… i tried breaking them up in the food processor but the blade almost broke.. so, i melted the chocolate (i didn’t add cinnamon since mexican chocolate already has a bit of cinnamon) over a double boiler and added the butter once it cooled. It was definitely messier doing it this way since a lot of the chocolate slipped out when i rolled up the dough… The dough looks like it’ll be delcious :) The loaves are in the oven AT THIS MOMENT so i’ll let you know how they turn out :)
I made this recipe today. It was delicious! And relatively easy to make. I love making new types of bread and this was so good. I got two big loaves and three small ones from the dough. I probably could have stretched it to four small loaves though. Thanks for the awesome, awesome recipe!
I made the chocolate babka today! came out unbelievably! though a bit expensive to make with all the chocolate in it. Wasn’t too hard to make either. Thanks for the great recipe!
hi, i was watching seinfield now then the episode with “chocolate babka” brought me here! i was wondering what’d lokk like, so this is it. sounds delish, even though i hate using yeast, i’ll try this recipe, too sexy with the chocolate-sugar-butter action…hmmm
My daughter requested that I try making Chocolate Babka today. Unfortunately, the kosher bakery in our community closed about a year ago taking with it the best chocolate babka I can remember eating. So now I’m bleary-eyed from reading recipes online that might provide me with this incredible dessert that our family loves. You seem to have the key components covered; tons of chocolate and of course the crumb topping. I can’t wait to try it. Calories and fat be darned!!!
Four other friends and I got together this past weekend to make a group project out of this recipe. Getting it together was much faster with many hands – we started around 4, and had finished loaves by 8. The babka was pretty amazing, warm or cooled. Funny that no one else has mentioned this in the comments, but my friends and I agree that it was on the overly-sweet side. I would halve the sugar so that the flavor of the cinnamon and the buttery bread comes through more. Thanks for the recipe!
I doubled this recipe and made it with kids! It turned out perfectly. We don’t have any loaf pans, so I used two hotel pans roughly three times as wide as the recommended loaf pan and made tin-foil seperations between the loaves. It worked better than I could have hoped. Many hours of work, but worth it for the incredible babka. Thank you, Deb!
hey there. i just made it last night. i was suprisingly scary and overloaded with chocolate. I think next time, i might dial down the chocolate. i’d like to taste the bread too… i like the sides and tops of the bread but i find the middle to be too heavy with chocolate (and nearly sank). i want to spread the chocolaty goodness in the middle to another piece of brioche bread.
i think this is a good base for a eggy brioche type dough. i might also make it into a cinnamon raisin bread… kinda ruglach-ish.. no?
Rugelach is generally made with a cream cheese pastry dough, like in this recipe, and not a yeasted dough.
Oh yeah, it’s time to make this baby. I have a recipe that I always go back to (posted on my blog) but I think I’ll give yours a try ;-)
Just attempted this today, is currently in the oven. Never tried anything this difficult so am hoping it comes out ok. Had trouble twisting it but i think that’s because I did the chocolate layer too thick?
Really hoping it comes out well!!
I love smitten kitchen and came straight here to find a recipe for Rosh Hashana dessert. I made these babkas yesterday and the result was perfection. I made one x-large, one large, and three mini loaves from this recipe. They are almost exactly like the babkas my nana used to buy at Diamond Bakery on Fairfax in LA. The only slight difference is those babkas had more crumbly streusel and mine were hard (but still so tasty!). I took the large loaf for dinner at a friend’s house last night and I still don’t think they believed I made it! The recipe is very easy to follow, but it helps to have all the right kitchen utensils, especially the food processor for the chocolate. Some changes: I couldn’t afford the Callebraut so I used 5 4.25-oz bars of Hershey Special Dark and 3 1/4 4.4-oz bars of Hershey Milk. It still tastes divine. Also, after reading the comments on the Martha Stewart recipe page and here, I didn’t use all the chocolate filling or streusel topping (saving it for another use). Thanks for sharing this great recipe. It’s not for the first-time baker and took me about 4 hours from start to finish, but is well worth it.
It is indeed a daunting recipe but worth it for the super delicious end-result. I’ve baked it several times but usually for special occasions. Definitely something to do when you have plenty of time and not too many interruptions from the kids or spouse.
As for the chocolate- I’ve used everything from Hershey’s dark to Valhrona- I can tell the difference but most of my tasters don’t have a preference.
Can you clarify step 7? I get the first rolling and pinching and the first set of twists. But I don’t understand what comes next – what is the left and right side? by length or width? My guess is the long way makes more sense. And then fold and pinch which ends? Thanks.
Hi Jon — After you roll the whole thing up, you fold the roll over on itself (first sprinkling some filling over one half). It basically makes the twist pattern even more knotty and complex. Hope that helps.
I finally decided to overcome my fear and make this decadent dessert. I have the dough proofing in the oven right now. I chopped all of the chocolate by hand and I do declare I broke a sweat doing it, although, this is Texas and one could break a sweat getting out of a cold shower!
While I was waiting for the butter and eggs to get to room temp, I decided to also make the pickled grapes. They look mighty pretty in their canning jars, I can’t wait to try them tomorrow!
Thanks again, Deb for all of your wonderful recipes. I have had so much fun recreating them and sharing the results with my friends and my facebook community. I always link your site and have made a few smitten junkies out there. Keep up the great job! <– exclamation point for emphasis, not hostility.
Five hours later and the babka was a big hit. It was a little too chocolate-y in my opinion, but my friends raved about it. They are wanting to buy me a food processor as a thank you so “next time” it will be easier. Another great recipe!
Hi there!! thanks so much for this recipe! I just made it today and they are in the oven as we speak… a few notes, though:
-I cut the recipe in half… it is easy to do, the actual dough uses 2 eggs, and 2 yolks.. (the extra egg is just for egg wash)…. I just used my extra egg white for the wash… I put the dough in 2 loaf pans and they made 2 medium loaves
-The proofing: I also found that for the first rising time..it took about 2 hours to double in size..and the second rising..it took about 1 hr. instead of 30 minutes to puff up nicely… just wanted to point that out, since some might not be familiar with making bread…you have to let it puff!! I’m in Canada, and it’s November, so I wrapped a tablecloth around the bowl to help keep it warm while it rose…maybe in the summer it will take less time…
-The filling: I used good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips, and they ground up in the food processor quickly.. i then added the cinnamon & butter and mashed up the whole thing in there…
thank you so much for this I have been dying to try it… I don’t know how long they will take to bake..I can post again with my baking times in case anyone wants to half the recipe also… :)
Ok..i had the 2 medium sized loaves in for 30 minutes..they looked done, so i shut off the oven and left them in there for about 15 minutes or so.. im afraid i may have overbaked, my oven is strong… but i dont think so..even though I cut it in half, i had them in for WAY less than the recipe stated…
my mom the bread expert “tapped” the bottom and they sounded hollow so she stated they were done… they smell incredible!! :) :)
Just came back from a visit to New York, with a chocolate babka in tow (it’s either that or bialys every trip if I can manage it), and this time decided to see if I could find a recipe out there to make it myself. I’m so glad yours googled up first! Since my challah takes 6 to 8 hours with 2 risings, that part isn’t so daunting at least. Thanks for making it possible to live in Minnesota but keep those memories alive from growing up in NY!
THIS IS AMAZING. I think there must be crack in it. Like Katie (post #129) I make challah with several risings, so this recipe didn’t seem daunting. I actually found it easier than expected, and the results are incredible. I served it last night for dessert to several people–some had heard of it, some had not–and everyone raved about it. It’s addictive. I put the rest in the freezer to prevent myself from eating it all, but I keep slicing off pieces and microwaving them anyway. YUMMM. Speaking of microwaving, in order to get a faster rise, I heat glass of water till boiling, place it in the back corner of the microwave, and then put the bowl with the dough in it and shut the door (do NOT turn on the microwave). It creates a very warm, enclosed environment that makes the dough rise very fast. I do the same with the loaf pan before baking. Faster babka = yay! I am going to serve it to my family for Thanksgiving as well. Try this recipe! It is way better than all the others on the web.
this is the first time i have ever commented on your site here, but i’ve been a huge fan of yours for almost a year. smitten kitchen is always the first place i go when i want to bake/cook something divine. sooo, i just got home (arkansas) after a thanksgiving visit to charlotte, nc to see my good old dad, a jewish new yorker through and through. he took me to dean & deluca to graze their sample plates of cinnamon and chocolate babka breads. we ate way too many samples and knew we needed our own so we bought a loaf before we left. so i get home tonight with babka on my mind and think, hey, maybe i’ll find a good babka recipe online and here you are! after reading the recipe, i am a little intimidated, (i’m still a novice baker), but i heart babka so much and really want to send my dad a homemade one, that i will roll up my sleeves and rock this recipe out. thanks, deb, you are the best! p.s. my favorite recipes of yours include the jacked up banana bread, your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (best cookies i have ever had in my whole life), and that fantastic matchstick zuchinni saute : )
Well, this babka recipe is definitely close to my grandma’s recipe and I found it to be the most user friendly. It came out great! I wish there was a good version of this recipe for one babka instead of 3 as I am not fond of splitting eggs into thirds. However, I was nervous throughout the whole 5 hour process as I was simultaneously studying for grad school finals and it all turned out wonderfully! Thanks for the great recipe. I filled it a bit differently, melting the chocolate and using a brush to spread on softened butter as my grandma suggested and it came out great! I’d like to post a picture of it but I don’t know how. Good luck to those who make it, its worth the time!
Thank you so much for this recipe. I just made it for presents for everyone in my office because we always buy babkas to celebrate people’s birthdays. Mine were a real hit and I can’t thank you enough! I made 2 regular sized loaves and 3 small, like you did. How much earlier do you take the smaller ones out of the oven? I did about 10 mins, but I’d love an expert’s advice. Thanks!
I just made this and it worked great! A wonderful time baking with my mother. We halved the recipe and made one regular loaf and one small. I just started reading this blog, and it’s wonderful– beautiful photos and writing. Thanks a bunch!
Just made this yesterday for a New Year’s Day open house. It is incredibly rich and I agree with the people who find it overly chocolated. I think it’s a matter of opinion, though. I also only had chocolate chips (no blocks) and although I whizzed small batches in the food processor they never got properly small–this may be part of the overly rich flavor in mine.
It is very much like the ones I used to buy in Canarsie Brooklyn in the late 80s. It’s a lot of work (making croissants was easier!) but worth it. I think it’ll be easier next time. Thank you!
omg this is SUCH a good babka! I didn’t find it to be too hard to follow…I did roll the dough out a bit thin, but that only made it seem too chocolatey. This is seriously the best babka I’ve ever had – I’m used to digging through babka’s from Junior’s trying to find the best part! lol
Thanks soooo much for posting.
This babka only gets better with age, btw – at least, that’s my opinion =)
I just baked this today after eyeing the recipe for months. It was perfect! I only made a 1/3 batch and baked three mini loafs. I didn’t trust myself with a full batch
Looks awesome. Going to try tomorrow.
Can you explain “butter the pan, then line with parchament paper”.
If you butter the pan, do you sort of stick the parchment paper on top of the buttered pan?
I’m trying to see from the photo if there is parchment paper hiding down but I can’t tell.
Is this an especially important step?? I don’t get it!!?
SweeTooth — That’s exactly what you do; butter the pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper. You’ll probably be okay without the parchment but it gives you extra security if the babka wants to stick.
I made this yesterday (baked one loaf and froze the other two) but I think I over-baked it. I baked it a few minutes less than specified times, and I might’ve taken it out earlier but I was afraid of a doughy center. The top was deep golden when I took it out. As it is, the interior is fantastic when I microwave it, but the edges are hard. Is there an interior temperature I can check for with a thermometer to tell when it’s done?
All in all, a beautiful recipe. Very impressive to behold and I love the cinnamon chocolate swirls!
Ok, so I am nervous to try this recipe…but it looks too good not to try. But I do have a quick question. I am still kind of new to this whole baking thing and I don’t have an electric mixer with a paddle attachment or a dough hook. Is this going to be a problem? I am really excited to try this recipe and would be completly bummed out.
I just made this over the last couple of days – my chocolate buying options were a bit limited so some dark chocolate toblerone was used, and despite my comprehension skills failing me at times (I’m blaming lack of sleep for the extra egg in the dough, thus requiring additional flour to get to a less sticky state), OMG, it looks insanely good! Have made two loaves, and have shaped and frozen 8 mini loaves.
When my dad bought this in Philly, it also had some golden raisins mixed with chocolate and cinnamon mixture. There was also chocolate drizzled on top with the streusel and few more scattered raising. Yum! Delectable!
hi Deb! I am VERY excited to try this out this weekend … and for the record, chocolate babka IS the superior babka
Quick Q – I don’t generally keep whole milk around, do you think 2% would be OK or is the full fat necessary for the proper texture? Just a guess will suffice!
One more thing – do you have the weights for the sugar and flour instead of cups? Should I assume the standard conversion?
OMG! I am not a baker (self professed and confirmed by my friends and family). I began the journey to make this babka last weekend. Years ago we spent Rosh Hashanah in Fall River, MA with a close friend and her Mother. Ruth, our friend’s Mother, pulled Mandel Bread out of her freezer and warmed up a few pieces and I feel in love with the taste and the flavor. My partner made Mandel Bread and it was not as I recalled. I began looking for recipes based on how this “Mandel Bread” looked and it looked like Babka.
This recipe turned out marvelously. I prepped ahead of time, laid out ingredients and believe it or not, as intensive this recipe is…I had a great time.
The results were worth the prep time and my partner and I enjoyed slivers of this rich decadent piece many times over the day.
Thank you for this great recipe.
Hi Debbie and thanks for all of your wonderful recipes, great writing, and amazingly cute baby!
I’m in the process of making the babka now and will probably figure this out myself but I’m just wondering about freezing. Your note says you can make it up to step 8 and freeze, so does that mean in the pan? In step 7 we’re told to put the loaves in the prepared pans. But from what I read of you and others freezing it, it almost sounds like you completely baked them and then froze.
Ok, duh, just figured it out. You wrap up the three loaves BEFORE you put them in the loaf pans. I decided to just bake all three and then freeze.
They’re in the oven now!
I just made this babka for Easter and oh my goodnessss! it was delicious :) the cinnamon addition to the chocolate MADE the cake. I didn’t have enough chocolate so I used sweet cheese for half of it (which I was going to do anyway because I’m Polish and we love cheese babki). All you have to do is buy some farmers cheese, add a couple of egg yolks and sugar (if you don’t have farmers you could try cottage cheese.. its what i used, but you have to mix it up to be very fine). I twisted the cheese in just like this recipe said and it was even better than the Polish ones I get at the Polish market. Usually the cheese is all clumped up in one place but with this recipe it was spread throughout; there was delicious sweet cheese in every bite. I took the chocolate one and the cheese one to my family’s easter gathering and it was devoured, they loved it :) thanks for this awesome recipe! ..and if a college student (me) can make this babka, anyone can :p
Deb, I made this for my birthday, and it was tasty. However, it didn’t rise as much as I thought it would so it ended up being a little doughy. I also thought (gasp) that it was a little too much chocolate. Anyway, it was an all around good effort that I might need to try again when I make my first million to afford the chocolate :)
Hi ! Finally, I found a recipe for babkas!! haha thank you Deb so much. But I have a question- is there a way i can make this without milk and heavy cream? I would be so happy if there is!! Thank you!
Hi there, love the website. I tried this over the weekend and Loved it. But quick question. I ended up with a lot of chocolate filling and struduel. On the last loaf I put more chocolate filling but in the twisting process it would get holes. Please help? I would love to make this again should I just make less filling and struduel??? Thanks.
You had too much of both? This recipe is extremely chocolate heavy (too heavy for some tastes but exactly like the stuff I grew up with) so you might dial it back by 1/4 next time, which might cure the volume issue. Or, you can use a bigger pan…
Hi deb. i would like to know if there another way i can make this without milk and heavy cream? please answer thank you!!
Sarah — I’ve only made this as-is. It’s a brioche-y dough, they’re always made with milk and butter. You might try to use a challah dough instead; it won’t be as rich but most of them are milk/cream-free.
hurry up please answer because i need to make it in 2 days! thanks a lot!
Good morning. I’m going to attempt this while my own 8 mo. old is with grandma this weekend. =) I do have a question about the instructions…
“Twist 5 or 6 turns. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan.”
So after I do 5 or 6 turns, I sprinkle filling on one left side, basically fold in half & twist again? Is this correct?
Thanks so much!
Hi Tonia — Those twists are actually like wringing out a towel; you end up spiraling the dough up a bit, but it stays in a cylinder. Then you brush it, crumble deliciousness over it and twist one or two more times, again like a towel. I hope that helps!
Thanks Deb. One last question – I’ve read & reread the recipe several times & only see one rising (about an hour). So I’m not sure how some are saying it takes 6 hours to complete this. Am I missing something?
The 5 hours in the recipe head notes? That’s if you’re defrosting it from the freezer. However, this is a lengthy recipe — a couple rises, a few rests, long baking time, loads of ingredients. A 4 to 5 hour window will make it a leisurely activity.
OK – truly my last question. Am I missing something? I only see one rise…
4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
You’re allowed to ask questions! The last (second) rise is in the baking pan, Step 8, about 30 minutes.
I adore your blog. I know so many of the recipes with which you work and the work of the people you reference. I almost fell off my chair when reading your World Peace Cookie recipe. I have the book and on that page I’ve written “My favorite of all chocolate cookies — EVER!” I’ve been baking some 50 years, ever since I could reach the counters!
My question: Have you a recipe for a cinnamon babka? Zabar sells one. I believe the company is Green’s. Have you even had it? OMG I could eat the entire loaf all by myself. But if you were with me, I’d share. Promise! :)
What do you think the best way would be to adapt your chocolate babka into a cinnamon one? Keep up the your great work. I simply love it. I’ve also past it along to many of my cooking buddies, including my 90 year old mom! Many, many thanks.
how am i just finding this delicious recipe? since moving to northern california, my deep love affair with babka has come to an abrupt halt, as no one seems to sell this yummy loaf! i’m having a “who cares if it’s organic” moment and turning a blind eye to those 5 sticks of butter you mentioned. can’t wait to try this recipe! thank you deb!
Thanks for a great recipe. My family enjoyed the recipe. I also offer a variation I tried the second time I made this. There is a Mexican chocolate specialty called Matate de chocolate that I bought in mexico city – it’s like a cylindric bar of chocolate mixed with cinamin and sugar. The local variety is hand-made by pounding cacao and mixing with cinamin. You can buy a variety of this in Mexico and in some USA supermarkets under the brand-name “Abuelita” (grand-ma). I substituted the Abuelita “tablets” for the chocolate, cinammin and sugar for the chocolate filling part of this recipe (still mixing with butter) – I used a bit less volume of the tablets to suit my taste, but the result was very delicious. I guess this is a fusion recipe now of Polish Babka – Russian/Jewish bakery chocolate filling using Mexican style cinamin-chocolate.
I’m pretty sure that ever since finding Smitten Kitchen I’ve been on a quest to make every recipe here. I literally just finished baking this and goodness gracious, it’s killer. I can’t wait to take it to my mom and grandmother for their birthdays. Thank you, Deb, for maintaining such a wealth of recipes, and for all the gorgeous and descriptive photos.
Following all of these complex cooking questions about measurements, dough raising and baking times, I thought I’d ask an embarrassing question: how is ‘babka’ pronounced? Is it babka like the name Bob, or babka like babbling? I feel it’d be the former but I just want to be sure.
Oh, and thanks for the recipe. Once I’m back from vacation it is on my unrealistically extensive list of things to do.
Like “Bob”. :)
This is absolutely my favorite babka recipe ever. I make it for holidays. It is perfect to give for gifts. The recipe never ever fails. My far my favorite dessert ever. So good when it is warm.
I’m currently staring at three beautiful babkas that i just pulled out of the oven – hmm – are those halos I see around them?!
Deb, I’d like to try a savoury variation of this babka – can you give me some ideas on fillings and ratios/measurements for the ingredients?
we tried similar recipe and I “swear to god” I did not see this post before. One of the pictures (the spreading of the filling) is almost identical to ours. Even the hands there are similar to my wife’s. It is amazing how food bloggers can think alike. the world is too small :)
Wow! What a recipe . The babbka looks delicious. I will have to make this.
Hey! Thanks for sharing your expertise! Whatcha think of putting this in the bread machine through first rise? I don’t have a stand mixer but I sure do love my ABM!!
If it has worked with other recipes, it should work with this. I have not used a bread maker before, unfortunately…
Both chocolate and cheese babkas’ were a childhood fave when visiting my cousins in Chomedy-Laval (Quebec). Everytime I went back to Montreal I looked for these but never knew the name, until extensive ingredient search on the web.. I remember the flavour, I know the ingredients :) I finally found a successful recipe for this heaven-on-earth pastry, to the delight of my friends, neighbours and family! I use the cheese filling in other recipes and Oh my Goodness.. what versatile ingredients! Thanks for the awesome post and sharing with the world :D
was wondering how to make this recipe non dairy, Any suggestions?
Hi Deb. Chatima tova. I just finished making your babke again for the third time this month. It is a great hit with my friends here in Israel. Babke is my absolute most favorite cake and I have been trying to perfect it for years. Before the fast today, we will end it with the sweet taste of your babke and break our fast on it. If only the world knew of this great cake, I bet there would be peace. Thanks.
I made a babka for Break Fast from “A Thousand Jewish Recipes”. It felt like brioche dough, but tasted only fair. It didn’t have nearly as much butter or chocolate (it used cocoa and brown sugar). I then went to Epicurious, but the recipes said they weren’t real NY babkas. So here I am! I will try this tomorrow for Sukkot breakfast. Will let you know.
I divided the recipe in 1/3 and made it in my crappy college dorm kitchen with cheap crappy ingredients -it turned out heavenly! Thank you so much for the recipe. I’ve never made something this labor intensive before, and I loved the challenge; I’ll be back!
I made this recipe and it turned out great!I have some photos of it on my flickr page, (and I’m Air_Jordan1). I’m just a college student that likes to bake on occasion, so if I can bake this, anybody can! The recipe is long, but not hard. I LOVE Martha.
I have been looking for something absolutely scrumptious to give to a few special friends this holiday season and this looks like it might just be perfect. When my husband and I first married, his eldest sister, now deceased, made a deliciously wonderful bread at Christmas that she simply called “Chocolate Bread.” Not certain, but from the photos and description, I believe Chocolate Babka may be it, so I can hardly wait to try it. And besides, since it has an abundance of the two major food groups, chocolate and butter, what could possibly go wrong? (My hips are spreading as I write this, but please don’t tell anybody.)
so, my husband is a chocolate bubka fanatic, and i am a baking fanatic. the challenge of making my own babka at home was a welcome one, and i did so, for an ENTIRE saturday, last weekend. it was so much fun, and the finished product was AMAZING!!! you would have sworn we bought it at the nearest jewish bakery.
anyway, i froze a bunch, and now i’m wondering what the best way is to defrost them. you mention in the recipe that they freeze well for up to 1 month, but any suggestions on the best defrosting ….?
This is now my favorite dessert. It also was much easier to do than I thougt it would be….. or I had beginner’s luck. My 83-year-old Dad was thrilled and surprised with his babka gift – he grew up in NYC and nothing he bought ever came close to what he remembered. I’ll be making more tomorrow, but they are all for me. Thanks for posting this. Would you happen to know the ingredients/amounts for cheese filling, too?
Deb – I don’t plan on making this right away, but I definitely plan on making it. Do you think it would be fine if I just used a kilo block of chocolate? I don’t like to buy bigger amounts that that. And, as far as I’m concerned, the chocolate to dough ratio is just perfect – I being the one who quadruples the amount of chocolate chips my standard cookie recipe calls for.
It would be just about perfect. Kilo = 1 1/5 pounds, i.e. close enough.
I just made this babka and it has come out spectacular! I was intimidated by all the steps but it actually was pretty easy. Usually I am scared of rolling out dough but this dough was very easy to work with–malleable and not sticky. So thank you! Three loaves is a perfect amount this time of year: One to bring to tonight’s holiday party, one as a Chanukah gift for my parents tomorrow, and one to keep (of course). I used Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips because Costco sells them in four-pound bags.
I have made this recipe many times with great success but now my friends are requesting mini loaves to bring home for themselves! Do you have a suggested baking time and temperature for the smaller (6×3) loaves?
I have made this as a Christmas tradition every year for the past 3 years now, and have loved it and had friends and family rave about it every time–it’s fabulous! I just thought I’d offer my suggestions to anyone who’s scrolled down this far in comment wasteland:
This fabulous is fine as it is, but I was lazy this year…so I used good-quality semisweet/bittersweet (I mixed 2 kinds) ghiardelli chocolate chips instead of chopping the chocolate. That was often the most tiresome part of the recipe, and I just pulled the batch out of the oven: they turned out fine. Going the extra mile is usually worth it, but just letting you know that if you have to cut corners–it worked out well for me, anyway :)
Also, ALWAYS cover the pans up with tinfoil! Maybe it’s my oven (but I’ve made this in a couple different ovens) but when I’ve made it without foil, the babka is DARK brown (almost black) on the top and hard as a ROCK. The rest was soft enough, but the tops were ruined. You can cover it for foil for the entire cooking time, and it comes out pretty good.
I also made 9 mini-loaves instead of the 3 big ones. The toughest part is the twisting the dough-rolls without the chocolate breaking through…sometimes I just have to sacrifice and not twist them as many times but it still works out okay. :)
The use of parchment paper is wonderful; I just love pulling them out (SO easy) from the pan and they’re wrapped up like a present. I used spray instead of butter in the loaves pans this time, too and it worked fine (obviously I was pretty worn out and lazy today! ;) )
I also make it without the streusel–The first time I tried it it just didn’t work, and I gave up pretty easy and just decided never to do the steusel. It’s good enough without it and cuts out an extra step (and a few calories…as if we’re even worried about them at this point ;))
The original recipe is very good/successful, but just sharing a few ways in which I’ve cut some corners with very little diminished in the results. :)
This recipe is fine as it is* I meant to say ;)
I cooked it about 10 minutes less at the 350F for the mini loaves.
I also forgot to mention I usually use about 2/3 the amount of chocolate as well. It’s still a LOT of chocolate and it’s just so hard to twist the dough without it breaking if I use more chocolate (maybe I’m making the dough wrong?). However, with making all mini loaves, I needed to use the specified amount of chocolate.
I stumbled upon the idea of chocolate babka after googling curiously after watching the episode of Seinfeld where they buy a chocolate babka. I’d always wondered what it was, found this recipe, and decided to try it–SO worth it..it’s one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made!
Smitten Kitchen is one of my “go to” sites, however, the baking time for my first babkas was way too long 350 degrees for 55 minutes, then another 15 @ 325. The babkas came out almost hard as a rock. While I did take them out a little earlier, because I suspected they looked too done under the topping, I feel the baking time was way too long. I made the babkas the next day, after looking at other sites, and baked them @ 350 for 30 to 35 minutes and they were beautiful. My oven temperature never gives me trouble but is the suggested time an error?
This recipe has changed my life! But I had the same problem as Beverly–my babka were golden at 40 minutes and only needed maybe 10 more minutes at 325.
I bake with yeast every week making challa and am not intimidated by it. My daughter wants chocolate babka for shabbat and I will give your recipe a whirl, it looks excellent (have made many versions, this looks like the real thing!) my only request is for a cinnamon filling as well. My hubby and I are cinnamon freaks!
thanks and i’m gonna check out the rest of your site, looks fab!
I also make challah ever week, I just made the babka for shabbat and it was a big hit! I made 2 big loaves because I only had 2 pans. There is cinnamon in the filling and you can taste it. Your daughter will love it..
okay, so i made the babka for 2 shabbatot in a row!! OMG!! it is truly decadent and i felt evil and wicked using all that chocolate Y margarine (i know, i know, it’s not the same as butter but it had to be pareve (goes with both meat and dairy). anyway, as i mentioned, we are cinnamon people more than chocolate, and though everyone raved over the babka as it was, i searched high and low for a cinnamon filling and finally came up with one that looked appropriate. unfortunately, the second shabbat’s results were one perfect chocolate babka like from a bakery and one caved in cinnamon one. I guess the filling was too heavy for the cake to support (btw, the dough is truly extra special just by itself). Any suggestions for a filling that will work? thanks all
I also made mine parve, and two weeks in a row! Its even good a few days later. I made one large and a bunch of minis that I passed around to friends before shabbat. What about just adding more cinnamon to the existing recipe so its both chocolate and cinnamon?
check out this web site http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/crossculturaldesserts/r/cinnamonbabka.htm
then search for jewish cinnamon babka recipe. the picture looks like this is what your looking for! enjoy
I made this last night, and all by hand, because I don’t have a food processor. I figure I at least burned a few calories off chopping the chocolate. I got a bit excited and yanked it out of the pan too soon. It fell apart around the oozing chocolate. It’s still fantastic though. I might hold back a skosh on the cinnamon next time because I use really dark chocolate. But, I don’t know when next time will be, since I have three medium loaves and one baby loaf in the freezer.
Do you think it’s possible to halve this recipe so that I don’t have to use as much of the ingredients or make so much of it?
No reason not to scale it down. But you should do it in 1/3 increments since it makes 3 loaves.
I made a chocolate babka tonight and it was sooo good! I put a couple of tablespoons of cocoa in the dough, a little cocoa in the streusel, and kneaded chocolate chips and cranberries into the dough before rolling it out. The filling was a lot of cocoa and a lot of cinnamon in melted butter. The chocolate babka really beats the cinnamon pecan!
I’ve been a huge fan of your blog for several months now…when I found out our residency (I’m a peds resident in NYC) had an annual bake-off, I knew I needed to find something special to make…and I stumbled across this recipe! I made a Joan Nathan babka about a million years ago, but this looked super decadent, and I figured a babka was sure to tug at the New York/Jewish heartstrings of the judges, who are my attendings. In an effort to add a little “creativity” I chopped up some SKOR bars and added them to the filling–YUM. So the point of this story is that, I won! My scheming and plotting worked, and the babka were phenomenal and the recipe requested multiple times. Thinking you’ll have some new followers! Thanks for the recipe and the inspiration!! Now i just need to stop eating the leftovers and go to the gym.
I’ve made this babka several times. Fabulous! But I have to make it to bring to a kosher home. Can I substitute kosher margarine for the butter?
Valerie, yes you can use kosher margarine
I found your site a bit ago and LOVE it. I have wanted to try the Chocolate Babka for some time and was able to make it today. The step by step directions were very helpful. Thank you for posting – it was a hit at dinner for tonight’s dessert.
Made this over the weekend to give as Mother’s Day presents to my mom, my MIL, and myself. I was daunted by the recipe, which is why it took me almost 2 years to make it since I spotted this recipe! However, this recipe is not hard at all. If you read the directions.
I messed it up, twice, because I wasn’t reading them carefully enough. I ended up mixing all the eggs and sugar together (I ended up turning this into lemon curd! Bonus!), and on my re-try I forgot to leave out the egg for the egg wash. The end product had an extra egg in the dough, it still turned out great.
Don’t be intimidated by this like I was! It’s delicious and easy.
I confess to not having the time to read through 206 comments here, but I undersand the gist: that this recipe is close to Babka Heaven.
In search of the best chocolate babka recipe on the web … I find yours irresistible. With your permission, I plan to use your recipe as the basis for my own kitchen adventure this weekend — in prep for a post on my little site (where Smitten Kitchen is listed as a link) and cross-posted on Open Salon. Promisng to sing your praises and direct readers back to this link. And if you are so moved to respond with a comment, I will quote you, as well. (Looking forward to your Cookbook, 2012. ) Thanks so much.
Baked the babka. Photo’d the babka. Blogged the babka, including Seinfield remarks and a link to this, well-deservededly praised site. Got a few ooohs and ahhhas on Open Salon, and mysteriously nearly 4000 views since posting Monday. . . Thanks to you, Babka is now in my repetoire — though I might consider melding your exhuberant recipe with Joan Nathan’s more sensible proportions. The recipe – to my taste- might benefit from less sugar.
Deb – I can not wait to try this recipe. When family visits from New Yrok, the only thing I ask is that they bring chocolate babka. Love Smitten Kitchen – great site!
I never in my life thought I would say this but, this had way too much chocolate in it for my liking. The dough was wonderful and I think that if I make this again, I will cut the chocolate in half.
OMG this was amazing. The compulsive that I am made this twice on a weekend since the first time I made it I realized after that my dough hadn’t doubled in size so the loaves were a little flat, but they still tasted amazing. The second try yielded 3 beautiful babkas that were delicious and I did bake them a little less than the recipe called for. I brought one for a shiva, gave my mom one and froze the last one which is going to a bon voyage party tomorrow!!!! WOW this was fabulous.
Does anyone have a suggestion on how to substitute the chocolate/cinnamon mixture for something else fruit/raisin or lemon based? I’d love to make a variety of loaves.
Had something very like it when I was little, courtesy of a friend’s Polish granny, but with chocolate, poppy seeds and lemon, and chocolately crumble topping. Not for the fainthearted.
Decided my littlies needed a sugar shock after school today to keep them going through various activities, so I’ve just thrown together one of your chocolate only ones using our bread machine to make the dough. It took longer to do the conversions to metric weights and measures than it took to do the prep & shaping, so I can warmly recommend this recipe to all cheaty bread machine users out there! It makes a lovely dough too – warm, squeaky plasticine. I’m already regretting I scaled it down and only made one loaf, but I can cheer myself up with the thought that there’s space for two loaves-worth of dough in the machine, so next time…
Hi Deb! I’m so excited to try this recipe. I plan to make it on a Wednesday, but don’t need to serve it till Saturday. Does it keep well at room temperature for a few days? Or refrigerate it? plastic wrap…airtight..Or would it be better to freeze then thaw it on Saturday? For future batches does it affect the final outcome whether you freeze the unbaked dough then bake or baked dough then thaw? Thanks so much! And by the way I love your site! I have made many of your recipes!
It keeps at room temperature for a few days; it keeps okay in the fridge too. I like to freeze it if I’ve made it in advance; freezing is the closest you can come to erasing any aging/staling process in the dessert. I’ve never freezed it unbaked before, so I’m not positive it would work, but in theory, it could.
Do you have a loaf pan that you like? I have tried a couple different ones and the bottoms often get a little too dark and they’re getting old anyway so I’m looking to replace them. Any thoughts?
Can’t wait to try this recipe. Deb, have you ever had or made Alligator cake? It’s got similar ingredients/taste as a Babke but its flat, has more of a shortbread base and you cut them into bars. Some people make a pecan version and some make a chocolate version. I love the chocolate version with streusel topping! I haven’t found any recipes online. Would love to know if you had a good recipe? My favorite one is from Schwartz Bakery:
i just want to chime in and say i made this kosher-pareve using margarine (as already mentioned) and canned coconut milk instead of both the milk in the batter and the cream in the egg wash – it came out absolutely perfect. for the life of me i couldn’t find non-dairy milk substances in my neighborhood that were OU-pareve and not OU-dairy (soy milk was OUD! almond milk was OUD! so was the coconut milk in the cardboard containers!)
the coconut milk didn’t add a distinct coconut flavor (but then how could any other flavor stand a chance against the enormous pile of chocolate inside?!)
Success! I was intimidated by this recipe but conquered it yesterday for a belated Rosh Hashannah family dinner. I followed the recipe exactly and ended up w/ 3 beautiful loaves and lots of extra chocolate filling (which I’ll gladly find another use for!). My Bubby was ‘kvelling’ the entire evening and said her mother would be proud. Thanks and love your blog!!
THANK YOU! this blog has provided me with so many delicious recipes. I just woke up, made a cup of coffee and bit into a loaf that i made last night…DELISH. Totally worth all the butter ;)
I have them in the oven right now. We are going to Cooperstown NY tomorrow to meet our Son’s fiance’s family. I am making the Babka to bring for our breakfast on Monday. Her Mom grew up in Brooklyn, so I think this is the perfect thing to show up with. It is looking lovely- Let the dough sit in the fridge all day while I was at work and put it together this evening- just let it rise a little while longer…. Thanks for the inspiration!
We discovered Chocolate Pecan Babka at Panera Bakery recently! :d Of course, it’s not as good as the ‘real thing’, made from scratch, but for first timers, it’s REALLY DELICIOUS! :D Thank you for sharing the recipe and other tidbits of information! :]
Amy is right. The Panera babka is delicious! I was half way through my first sizable chunk when I Googled “chocolate babka” on my phone with sticky fingers looking for a more authentic experience. I know that if I can make it through the first step, I will be able to see this through. (I am not know for my success with yeast.) I am really excited to make this as it sounds divine!
oh MY gosh. it’s not right; it is absolutly not right to be able to create something so divine! it was worth it, the hours of waiting, chopping, and more waiting. I didn’t think it was going to be worth it, but it was. All the time spent felt like no time at all as soon as I sunk my teeth into the hot buttery, rich dough. I found it perfect to dip into coffee as it melts the chocolate in the breas as well as leaving behind chocolate, sugary remninants in my coffee.
I made this last weekend and OH MY GOODNESS… I thought my husband and I were going to have heart attacks – but at least we would die happy. I have the other two loaves in the freezer (unbaked) and will let you know if they turn out!
I made this for the second time yesterday -My parents were coming for a visit and I knew they would love it! I was not wrong. I did a cinnamon pecan filling in one of the loaves- ground pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon, golden raisins soaked in apricot brandy and some melted butter— it was divine. I do have a question though- Both times I have made these, the sides and bottoms of the loaves almost appear to be burned- They still tasted fine- a little tough on the crust- but they really look scorched. I use internal temp for done-ness and have removed them from the oven before the suggested time and temp because I was afraid they would dry out. I am thinking that the amount of chocolate throws off the temp??? or maybe I need a new thermometer? Any suggestions???
It could be the thermometer or your oven, whether its calibration is off or whether it’s just extra good at browning things. My oven, when I made this, was terrible at browning things, however, so it’s unlikely that I would have noticed it even if it is a consistent problem with the recipe.
Okay, after buying my 100th loaf of Lilly’s cinnamon babka I found your recipe on a google search. Have you ever made it with a cinnamon filling instead of chocolate? Do I use, cinnamon, br sugar and melted butter for the filling?
Deb, I’m confused. I am thinking about making this early for my annual “I’m not Jewish, but I’ll gladly celebrate Hanukkah as an excuse to make chocolate babka” event. (I started this tradition with a former neighbor who was Jewish and invited me to celebrate Hanukkah! And it’s a tradition I never want to give up!!!) So, I’ve always made and baked just before eating, which is when i think it’s most delicious, still slightly warm… But I’m curious about the freezing mentioned above. I want to give a some loaves as gifts as a ‘take and bake’ if possible, so they can have it before eating. But in one of your comments it says you’ve never frozen it and then baked it, yet at the top of this recipe it says you can freeze it and bake it later. I’m wondering if you did try freezing it after your comment and then changed the beginning of the recipe to reflect the success you had freezing it…?
I made nine of these yesterday. You heard me right. Nine. It took all day, but was totally worth it. This recipe is perfection! My tip for you? I put the chocolate, the sugar, and the cinnamon in the food processor bowl with the blade inserted and stuck the whole shebang in the freezer while the dough rose. When I finally pulsed it, I didn’t have any problems with the choco melting from the friction. This morning, I had I thick slice from our own loaf with a cup of steaming coffee. Pure bliss! Thank you for all of your hard work on this recipe. You are awesome!
Deb, just made this for the first time. I think its definitely one of the more difficult recipes in terms of preparation/chopping/kneading but it was totally worth it!! What a wonderful Hannukah hit ! =)
I certainly can’t read all the comments but I’ve skimmed a few and I have a few “suggestions” that would have helped me the first time I made this recipe, and might help others. (by the way, I have made making this chocolate babka my christmas tradition for the past 3 years now. I don’t care if I’m not Jewish—it’s AMAZING)
-Multiple times, I have frozen the uncooked babka in the loaf pan. It’s turned out fine in my opinion. Just let it thaw it for about an hour.
-I don’t make the streusel topping. The first time I did it it was an utter failure and I gave up. This is so calorie-explosive and labor-intensive as it is, and I have never had any complaints w/o the streusel.
-Maybe I’m crazy but I cannot get this recipe to work with the amt. of chocolate suggested. It calls for 2.5 lbs, 40oz (wow!). I use about 26-30 ounces; and don’t worry–it is still TONS of chocolate!
-Don’t worry about twisting it the right number of times. If I twisted it that many times, it always tears.
-I’ve done it the old fashioned way too…but using good-quality chocolate chips saves a lot of time and effort. Just sayin’ ;) I don’t notice a difference whatsoever.
-I learned the first few times making this: It ALWAYS turned out “burnt” on the tops! You MUST cover the loaf pans entirely in foil; this makes it turn out a perfect golden color. This could be my oven but it’s been that way in 2 different ovens I have used. It can’t hurt to use foil, anyway.
All in all, it’s a fantabulous recipe. It’s hard work but tastes SO amazing and it is sure to render your friends speechless.
I made this for Christmas for my family, my in-law’s and my grandparents – they came out beautifully! Everyone loved their babkas (and could not stop making Seinfeld references). Perfect with a cup of coffee, definitely going to make these again. Wonderful. Last Christmas I made your Lemon Braided Bread which was also amazing.Thank you Deb for sharing all your wonderful recipes! This is one of my very favorite blogs.
My loaves just came out of the oven and they look beautiful!!! It was a lot of work, but each step was pretty easy. I would definitely recommend this for brunch parties or with coffee on the side.
I just made this recipe and in my humble opinion the results prove that you are a culinary genius (I already suspected as much; now it’s confirmed). It is the best thing I have made in my entire life. Thank you for your work and for sharing it with us. As a side note, I ran out of chocolate part-way through, and so I filled the third babka with chopped apples and pears, mixed with the cinnamon, sugar, and butter. It was a little messier to roll and twist but it turned out well. Thanks again! I can’t wait to try more recipes on Smitten Kitchen.
My daughter just sent me your recipe, but I haven’t made it yet because the mathematician in me is confused. In step 7, if you put 1/3 of the filling in the dough, then add 2 tablespoons between folds, won’t you run short of filling by the time you get to the third loaf? Also, in Comment 186, one kilo is actually 2.2 pounds. Can’t wait to try it.
Deb, I was wondering about the chocolate: what would be your runner up? I live in Central IL so high quality blocks of chocolate are a bit hard to find. What do you recommend that I use as far as popular brands go? Also, I cannot WAIT to make this so any advice on the chocolate situation is appreciated!
Hi Katie — Anything that tastes good to you that’s within budget. If you love chocolate chips, you can use them too.
I just made this yesterday and it out of this world!! Thanks for a great recipe!!
Hi Deb! I’m such a huge fan!! My friends & I have tried so many of your wonderful recipes & have not been disappointed. I can’t wait to try this recipe but will certainly have to set aside a whole day.
Since I’m a NYer, I”m so very curious… you said that “both Alex and my families loved the same decadent grocery store chocolate babka growing up”…can you share this what & where? :) Thank you!!
Linda — Let me get back to you! I don’t remember there being a brand — I think it’s much more likely that it was made in a central bakery and sold to grocery stores and delis that could brand it as their own — but they were very much alike. Overwhelmed with chocolate and crumbs and just astoundingly good. This is even better but possibly twice as rich since it’s loaded with real butter (I think the babkas were paerve, but can’t remember for sure) and high-quality baking chocolate.
Is it possible to half this recipe? Could I make it in 2 loaf pans? I don’t have 3 pans and it just seems like a lot of babka for our little family.
Hi Becca — I would 1/3 it for 1 pan, 2/3 it for 2 pans.
Once baked, the babka freezes beautifully. There appears to be no impact on quality after defrosting, assuming no freezer burn.
Wow. Being a lover of babka and baking in general, I decided to use this snowy day in upstate NY to make this recipe. I did do a 1/2 recipe (which wasn’t too complicated) and I made one full-size babka (for shabbat) and one little one to make sure that we didn’t bust into the one for shabbat too early. I didn’t find this too challenging and boy is that a delicious babka! Super chocolatey, not too sweet, the dough is delicate. I’m totally doing this again. Thank you for this amazing blog!
Can the loaves be prepared and then stashed in the fridge overnight before baking?
Made this last night. A couple of things happened…
Yes, this recipe does have an incredible amount of chocolate. So much chocolate that when I cut open my breads, the molten chocolate ran out like lava and the bread collapsed. Hardly a cake/bread. More like a chocolate bread stew.
I had two metal small-isn’t loaf pans that you said to use, and then I had one glass loaf pan that was a tiny bit bigger, wider by a half inch… That bread turned out a disaster. The ends burned TERRIBLY and the middle was still raw dough. Had to cut it up into little slices and bake them on a sheet to cook the dough.
I would recommend not using glass loaf pans, stick to the metal ones. Also, use 1/2 to 3/4 of the chocolate she used. I love chocolate as much as the next girl, but it’s delicious when you’re able to eat it in bread, not with a spoon on your plate after you cut open the bread.
I had tried my hand at a chocolate babka a week or so ago, with equivocal results… and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to bother essaying it again until I found this post.
After reading the florid – but completely justifiable – preamble and looking at the recipe itself, I saw that this was the Chocolate Babka of My Dreams. And so, I made my three loaves. And, lo, they (or, at least the one we cut into this evening) were magnificent. Oh. My. Sweet. Gawd.
This babka, unlike the typical pareve commercial versions, has all the richness that real butter can impart. And it has the exact right flavor profile: the perfect blend of chocolate and cinnamon. (I tend to be a Chocolatarian rather than a Cinnamonian when it comes to babka politics, but this one has something for everyone.)
It is unabashedly rich – not an everyday treat, unless one wishes to end up looking like a circus poster. But it is special, and it pretty much kicks the ass of even the most wonderful childhood memory-babkas like a red-headed stepchild.
P.S. – I used 4 cups all-purpose flour and 2 cups bread flour. It worked beautifully – a nice elastic dough with just the right amount of lift.
If you have a Breadsmith near you, their chocolate Babka is amazing! :)
Okay, I’ve been following your blog for years, but I’ve never made a recipe. Last year for Easter Sunday breakfast I made strawberry cheesecake pancakes. They were a hit, but I had to figure out how to one-up last year’s success. We just watched the Seinfeld Babka episode with the whole family earlier this week and I thought, hey, I wonder what that is . . . (I’m not Jewish, I’d never heard of babka before) and I found your recipe. Your photo sealed the deal for me. All the other recipes I saw looked like a white sandwich bread with little swirls of chocolate in the middle. But yours . . . holy Toledo, Batman! . . . I have never in my life had my hands in that much chocolate. I did use chocolate chips because good chocolate is hard to find here, and prohibitively expensive. I made 4 8X4X2.5 loaves, and it worked perfectly. I should have weighed the chocolate because I had about 1/2 cup left over, but that’s okay! They are gorgeous, I can’t imagine them not working. Can’t wait to bake them and take them for Easter dinner at our friends’ house!
Hi Deb, I just got my first try of chocolate babkas out of the oven and omg I never thought I would be able to bake something that fancy! I’m good at baking but breads are a new territory for me, and I’ve been wanting to make your babka recipe for a while. It is unbelievably good! Thank you so much for the amazing recipe, I think this is going to be my favorite thing to bake for a long while! I was wondering though, I’ve cut the amount of ingredients in half because I wanted to make just one big loaf, and for some reason the dough did not double in size after I let it sit for an hour. I mean it still turned out great, but I was wondering if there’s a tip in mixing the dough ingredients to get it just right?
I just made this recipe and I agree with some of the other posters – I”m a chocolate lover but I think this would be much better with less chocolate. I thought it would be more swirls of bread and chocolate but the chocolate overwhelmed the bread. I will also reduce or omit the streusel topping next time. I found another chocolate babka recipe via Google that produces only one loaf, much less time consuming, and twists differently (much easier imo). Thanks for sharing the recipe, it was a great experience to try the infamous babka.
I am very excited about this recipe, viewers just be aware I made a mistake of adding all the eggs together!!! I tried reading over this recipe a number of times before starting like separating the sugar amounts but neglected to put aside 1 of the 3 whole eggs!
omg… looks so delish!!!!
ive been following your blog for some time now, and as a fellow Jewish chick, i LOVE how you include traditional recipes on your site. (yay!)
I made this babka a few days ago (with the help of the husband :) And i wanted to point out a HUGE mistake i made and maybe this will help other novice bakers.
I miscalculated 2 1/4 pounds of CHocolate – assuming 2 pounds of semi-sweet Chocolate CHIPS would equal a little more than 4 cups. my husband mentioned that it seemed that there wasnt enough filling… and only after skimming another cookbook later on did i realize that chocolate chips dont equal the same volume as a bar of chocolate. (Does it sound right that we need about 7 cups of chips to equal 2 pounds?)
Luckily, the babka still tastes delicious – and im definitely going to make it again – with the proper amount of filling !!!!!!!
Duby — That makes some sense. Most bags of chocolate chips are 12 ounces (some are 11 and change, I think) and contain 2 cups. So, at 3 ounces per cup, 7 cups would be 21 ounces or a little shy of 2 pounds.
Hi, I just wanted to let you know that I made this chocolate babka for shavout. It came out soooooo awesome! It was GONE!
I made this today and it looks awesome – will report back on the taste. Like several other commenters, I accidentally added the third egg in with the egg mixture. Maybe this could be clarified in the ingredients? It sounds like I’m not the only idiot who missed that part.
Also, the ingredients call for 3.5 sticks of butter cut into pieces, at room temperature. I cut all mine up on the same plate and ended up having to weigh out the butter for the two steps.
Thank you so much for the recipe and the detailed directions. I am overwintering at a remote island research station (Marion Island, RSA), and with our limited ingredients (only margerine and so-so chocolate that I made fine in a blender) I managed to make this and it was fantastic! Was gobbled up in no time by team mates and thoroughly appreciated. Was some effort, but not overwhelming and will make it again – probably back home when I can get the butter and good chocolate that will make this transcendant! Thanks again.
I made Martha’s recipe, (thru her site, before i found you) and it is a labor of love – it is truly babka as it’s meant to be (even made pareve with soy milk and marg)! In Jerusalem, the babkas abound but they do NOT taste like the American version. Since I make challa every week, yeast does not scare me but it is tricky since the chocolate is so very heavy and the dough must support it. Yes, I too prefer, like Seinfeld, cinnamon babka but have not found the proper combo to equal the heady chocolate version for the filling. I tried on my own to create it and mine “fell” too. The link to filling called for cinnamon filling in a can. Never heard of this and cannot get such a thing here. Any suggestions?
Over 14 years of longing for Babka and not recalling the name of what it was my family served at the Jewish Holidays and also sold at Caplan’s Deli in Baltimore, my prayers are answered. I no longer have family I can ask about this cake and my mother passed away in 2000, so I figured it was gone forever. Words cannot express how grateful I am to you.
Let me add that my family did not sell the Babka to Caplan’s Deli, we bought it from there. It was the only place I ever knew to get Babka and they closed down many years ago. Thanks!
Deb – I was thinking about using the chocolate filling for challah for Rosh Hashanah – sort of like the filling for the fig challah (which I am super excited to make!). I figure that my kids and their cousins may shy away from the fig challah, but the chocolate challah could be an awesome reward for sitting CALMLY AND QUIETLY through services (I am allowed to dream….). Anyway, was thinking about making a chocolate paste like this one for the challah. (Can’t find a chocolate challah recipe I like online, by the way, which is why I am turning to you!) Thoughts?
Dana — I think it should work great and you should invite me over too. :) Don’t use nearly as much chocolate as I do here; it’s an insane amount that only stays inside the loaf with the help of the loaf pan it bakes in. I’d use, like, two cups tops for a challah. Good luck!
Thanks so much! Can’t wait to meet you when you come to LA – see you in Beverly Hills! Dana
Deb – it was AMAZING! My husband is calling it “babka-lah” – the flavor and excitement of babka without the debilitating richness/guilt. Didn’t use butter, just semi-sweet chocolate and cinnamon. And used Maldon salt for the top. So good. And the fig challah was pretty damn fine, too. Shana Tova to you! I am sure this year will be an amazing one for you. Dana
I served this last night for Rosh Ha Shanah. It was lovilicious! Thank you!
I’ve been in live w/ your blog for years now but hadn’t really made anything yet. Today I made this babka & it turned out great. It took awhile to make it but it was totally worth it. Thanks!!!
Will use this receipe for my client’s family get together.She needs something for breakfast for the day of Thanksgiving morning.So she knew I have a cupcake business so her husband requested me to make a assortment of goodies for their guests.And I was tghe choosen one so hope this works out to be a bug breakfast to fill their needs!We as a child of 5 kids grew up with this chocoke bubka every Sunday morning so it brings back memories for me and my family.
Hi Deb! I just made this today and it is soooo good! I can see this becoming one of many of your recipes that I use again and again :) I also cut the recipe in half (like a previous reader) and I found it much easier than I expected. I just had one question-the middle was full of swirls, but the ends-not so much. Is there a trick to getting the ends swirled too?
Hi Victoria — Glad you liked it. It might just have been how it was twisted. You can skip the 1/4-inch border next time, but you will also then have even more filling fall out. Or, you can give the first and last piece to those people who cluck their tongues about the amount of chocolate inside. ;)
Love this! I have made it 3 times now in the last month! Do you have any suggestions on how to approach a cinnamon babka? I assume the same bread recipe would work fine but I would love ideas on the filling.
This looks right up my street. I’m a gentile, but grew up in Westchester, so am familiar with an awful lot of Jewish delicacies :) Somehow, this one has eluded me. Until now that is; it’s going on my ‘cook me, cook me now’ list. I have to say though, I think you’ve missed a trick: if you let the loaves rise in the pans *before* washing and streuselling, you can probably cram/fit more streusel on top!
OMG. I cannot wait to make this as a Christmakkuh gift for my coworkers! They’re both Jewish and gave me my first introduction to chocolate babka. I cannot wait to return the favor.
I’ve never made a babka before and am excited to try, but am a little intimidated by the complicated instructions, particularly the twisting. I’ve made your challah before with great success–is the babka much more complicated? Will bad things happen if I’m not able to carry out the recipe to the letter?
I made half of your recipe today for Christmas gifts and made 4 mini loaves. They turned out great. Baked in 35 min at 350 F. It was an easy recipe to follow and I am thrilled with the results. I used about 10 oz. of chocolate and 1/3 cup of finely chopped walnuts in my filling. My kitchen still smells heavenly. My friends and I are going to have some tonight as we sit and fellowship. Thanks for a great recipe.
I accidentally added 3 and a 1/2 sticks of butter to the dough instead of the 2 sticks. What should I do? I think I may cut back on the butter with the chocolate.
I made this for Christmas dessert (no, the irony wasn’t lost on me) and everyone thought it was good…but not good enough to justify the hassle. It’s not actually that difficult. I would put it in the cinnamon rolls category of hassle. But it still takes some time and some expensive ingredients and it just wasn’t good enough. Contrasted with the creme brulee I served the night before, which took me 15 minutes of active time and which was a HUGE hit, I don’t think I’ll make it again. But it was a fun challenge and if you have chocolate babka memories from childhood (I don’t) then it just might hit the spot.
This babka is PERFECT! Worth every bit of butter and chocolate, every penny spent on ingredients, and every minute of work. Seriously, this is just was amazing as I suspected it would be. I’m pretty proud of myself for pulling it off and so grateful to you for this blog!
And if you’re ever in Montreal and looking for something similar in decadence with less effort – you have to try out Cheskie’s kosher bakery.
I do want to try this recipe for real one day but I wanted to let you know it inspired me to try my own babka inspired challah which I just wrote about on my blog. http://thelettuceedge.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/babka-inspired-challah/.
I love your blog and I just bought your cookbook as a gift for my sister. Please keep sharing and inspiring!
Just moved cities and my new local grocery store sells huge chunks of callebaut chocolate. Now I have an excuse to buy some, huzzah!!
I’ve been making a chocolate babka bread pudding for several years now, but with store bought babka. This will alllow me more control over the chocolate and streusel ratios. THANKS!
Over the top decadent. Have made these close to a dozen times and love to give them as care packages (if they only knew). Todays banter with my friend Susan hiking through snowdrifts went something like “So Sue, did you try the babka?”. Susan stopped dead in tracks and gushed “I think that was the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten. OMG!”. It has an almost visceral effect on people. Deep bow to Deb for stirring up this ancient black art.
I have been lurking on your blog since 2010 and finally got brave enough to say thank you for your amazing recipes!!! Thank You ,Thank You, Thank You!!
I make this Babka every year for Christmas breakfast (My husband and I snack on it all Christmas week) and we absolutely love it! This recipe is bookmarked in my browser and due to pregnancy cravings, (an excuse to use so much butter) I am going to make it this week just because I want it.
I confess that I have always used chocolate chips instead of high quality baking chocolate and have still found it to be incredible, but this time I’m splurging on some spendy chocolate and maybe even real cinnamon instead of the cassia that America pretends is cinnamon. Thanks so much!
Made this recipe over the weekend and it is absolutely delicious! I made the dough with my 9-month old daughter on my hip, so needless to say, I totally messed up the quantities of each ingredient. I had to add some extra flour to get the consistency correct, but they still came out fantastic. I guess what I’m trying to say is this recipe is surprisingly forgiving – thank goodness! Thank you for sharing another great recipe!
I know you posted this recipe ages ago but the first ingredient list says 3 1/2 sticks butter… Does that include the 1 1/2 sticks for the struesel topping or is that for the dough alone. Cuz inthe directions i only see 2 sticks for the dough.
Meghan. The streusel topping recipe is it’s own separate mini-recipe. Deb mentioned this entire recipe totals 5 sticks of butter. 3 1/2 (loaves) + 1 1/2 (streusel) = 5 sticks of butter.
Oooooooooh yeah! xD
i am lurker and i love your blog. you inspired me to make this recipe twice already in a month [sans the streusel for dietary reasons]… thanks! http://instagram.com/p/WjyJneo26S/
I made this – and it turned out beautifully!! I have to say twisting the dough with the chocolate filling was a little scary because I was terrified I’d rip it! It was fabulous and my family and dearest friends LOVED it!! I will make it again come Christmas :o)
I have a small kitchen with almost no counter space and when I realized (after checking in the spare room and the plastic storage containers in the garage) I could not find my third bread pan, I had a meltdown – and said I was NEVER baking again because I could never find what I need when I need it!! My husband immediately said “what can we do to fix this??” (He loves my baking and was alarmed at the thought of thought of it going away) I now have two new cupboards and an island that hold everything I own and a little more space to roll out dough. Bless you – for the recipe AND my kitchen improvement)!!!
I’ve been searching all day for a recipe that approximates Melbourne’s Monarch Cake Shop’s chocolate kooglhoupf (also spelled “kugelhopf,” “gugelhupf,” and a wide variety of other ways, including, according to Wikipedia, “babka”) and it looks like this one is pretty damn close. This is the best photo I’ve found of what I remember the cake looking like: http://atrampabroad.com/australian-food-revelations-kugelhopf-and-monarch-cakes/, though I think they may have melted the filling together into more of a sauce than you describe here. Anyway, I’m really excited to try this and see if it’s (roughly) the same! Thanks so much for posting.
P.S. Not sure I’ve ever commented on a blog before, but it seems like lately every time I want to bake something, your recipes end up being the ones I choose … and I like to thoroughly read through a bunch of recipes before choosing!
Oh my goodness! Wonderful! I halved the recipe and made in a bread machine (dough cycle) and the dough was luxurious, supple, and easy to work…. Finished product was out standing!
I made this delicious and easy treat a month or so ago. I read all the posts and found a few particularly helpful. If you’re trying it for the first time, you can do it! Allow yourself the luxury of an afternoon of discovery. Here’re my tips:
– Chopping the chocolate – Using a food processor was GREAT. Be sure to break up the chocolate into chunks before processing. Chopping it all a day or two ahead helps to break up the work. I tried grating/chopping by hand but it was too much work. It’s a breeze in the food processor. If you don’t have one, ask a friend and then share the Babka.
– Amount of chocolate – I, too, found the amount about 1/3 too much. Butter was perfect.
– Rising the dough – post #131 from Julia helped tremendously…”in order to get a faster rise, I heat glass of water till boiling, place it in the back corner of the microwave, and then put the bowl with the dough in it and shut the door (do NOT turn on the microwave).” I also did this again with the loaf pans. Worked great.
– Parchment paper – is worth the trouble
– Streusel – didn’t add that much for me. Will try without or make less crunchy and sweeter. Would be interesting with cinnamon mixed in.
– Pans, covering, and dryness – I have two heavy duty commercial grade quality loaf pans (4.5”Wx2.75”Hx8.5”L) and one a little larger (5.25”Wx2.75”Hx8.5”L) of average quality. I found the smaller pans a little small to hold these large loaves creating the overcooking that lead to them being slightly dry, but I did not need to cover these loaves. The larger pan cooked beautifully but overbrowned. I suggest using the three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans recommended. If you have smaller pans be sure to make smaller babkas. I’m even thinking that less babka in the loaf pan might let it rise more and cook better without drying or overbrowning. I will try this.
This recipe is so fantastic and easy-to-do that I’ll get the right pans. I also plan to try making mini-loaves. Thanks to everyone!!!
I love this.
Everytime I crave chocolate I think of this, and if I am by a computer I return to stare at the oh so inviting buttery chocolate delight.
I’ll admit I’m equally as terrified as I am delighted. I would love, love, love to see a video tutorial for this one.
Ps are the chocolate swirl buns you make as soft as this guy?
Saloni — The buns are slightly firmer, because they have more outer edges to them.
Deb -I’m a nut for baking the babka the day that it is being served, but that can be hard when you want it served for lunch/brunch. Freezing offers some flexibility, but do you find the babka as wonderful when you follow the instructions for freezing? Since the babka is frozen before the second rise, is 5 hours typically enough to defrost and have the second rise? I like to bake the babka first thing in the morning. What do you think of defrosting the babka in the refrigerator the day (and overnight) before baking and letting it have the second rise in the refrigerator – then just taking it out of the refrigerator 1 – 2 hours before baking to let it come to room temperature? Thanks for all of the advice. Louise
Louise — This recipe is so buttery and rich, it is excellent from the freezer. But I don’t know how long it takes to defrost. I’d probably leave it out on the counter overnight, and rewarm it in the oven before serving if desired.
Hi Deb — I love that you’re still allowing/answering questions about a recipe from 2008. Thanks for doing that. I was wondering if there’s a reasonable break point to make this recipe over two (or more days). Can I refrigerate the dough after the first rise and do the rolling/twisting/baking on day 2?
Abigail — Yes, I think that should work fine.
Well. I finally tackled this recipe, after about 2 years of seeing it taunting me from my “recipes to try” list. I’d never tasted babka before, but buttery bread/pastry swirled with chocolate and cinnamon seemed like a genius idea (especially after I saw your amazing photos). But even as a fairly experienced baker, who enjoys new kitchen challenges, I was nervous about the complexity and sheer size of this recipe. I took my time with it, though, and everything went very smoothly. I even had fun chopping the chocolate and rolling and twisting the dough. And then the loaves cooled, and I cut a slice and took a bite, and…there are no words. It is quite possibly the most delicious thing I have ever eaten. I’m sad that I waited so long to bake it, but I will make it again for any and all special occasions, and maybe sometimes in between. I made zero changes, so my comment isn’t useful in any way except maybe to encourage someone who, like me, was intimidated before trying it.
I’ve recently decided to start trying to keep fresh breakfast breads on hand and after poking through my cookbooks, decided on Martha’s chocolate babka. Then I remembered that you had also posted one, and so I chose to defer to your recipe (I always check my chosen recipes against yours) and was thrilled to see that it was what I had originally chosen. Now I’m more excited about it!
Against all the odds (weird German yeast, my inability to shape this bread as instructed, burning the loaf because I didn’t account for having to use a tiny European loaf pan, and omitting the struesel) this is seriously the best thing I’ve ever baked. Better than New York Style Cheesecake, better than Martha’s Citrus Poppyseed Cake… This babka is truly incredible!
Hello i’m from france and i just wanted to say that this recepi is gorgeous, i’ve heard of the chocolate babka for the first time in jerry seinfeld show and wanted to bake it since and i’ve done it thanx to thiqs great recepi it was a complete success.Love it.
Thank you Deb
After making the standard version, I tried one loaf with valrhona white chocolate ground up and butter and almond paste cut in. I added some chopped dried cherries (Montmorency). It was Amazing!
Ok-I’ve read through all 303 comments before me, and still have a few questions. If I were to make this in one bundt pan with all three (or how ever many would fit) in order to make one round babka, do all of the directions above still apply? And to double check, you bake and then freeze (after it has cooled), and not the other way around? In the 6 years since you posted this, have you ever tried freezing (or refrigerating) in the pan, then baking? If so, how did it turn out? If freezing the finished babka, you triple wrapped with plastic wrap (in the pan/out of the pan?).
Btw-my husband calls this chocolate porn! Thank you for helping with all of my Rosh Hashanah dessert needs!
Hi Alisa — I’ve only made this in the loaf shape, so I can’t be sure how it would work as a round one, but see no reason it wouldn’t. Most bundts have the volume of two loaves, however, and this makes three. It might be too much for a single bundt pan. When I make this, I usually bake then freeze because the babka is so rich and buttery, it keeps well. I have not done it the other way around. It can be done, but I’d want it to defrost before baking and honestly, in the time that takes, you might as well be defrosting an already-baked one since it keeps so well. I can’t remember whether I wrapped it inside or outside the pan; either will work, outside is better if you can get it out neatly (which shouldn’t be a problem; see above: so much butter!).
My house smells amazing, Deb! Just took them out of the oven. Made them pareve for Rosh Hashonah. Used nondairy soy milk, Mother’s unsalted margarine, and coffee lightener for the cream in the egg wash. Oh, also sprinkled some vanilla extract in the streusel while blending the ingredients. Will let cool overnight, then freeze til Wednesday night’s dinner. Thank you!
Deb, you absolutely rock! I picked up a cinnamon babka loaf from Wegman’s a week or so ago to make some “dinner appropriate” french toast and was amazed at how intricate the loaf is and how moist it was. I’ve been a baker for a few years now and figured that I could make one. Your recipe was the first one that I trusted in my web search — I’ve always had good luck with your stuff. I have two full loafs and two small loafs in the oven now and they smell wonderful. My Kitchen-aid tried to commit suicide by jumping off of the counter while kneading the dough. Luckily it didn’t succeed. Keep on cooking and publishing cookbooks. If you are ever planning on a book signing in Philadelphia, make sure to mention it on your blog.
Have you ever heard of the Chocolate Meltaway Cake? When I was a kid growing up in NY all Jewish bakeries on Long Island sold them. It was delicous. Sort of like a babka but a one layer cake/pastry/danish with thick ribbons of chocolate running through it and if I remember correctly a strussel topping. Have you seen a recipe for this or ever head of it?
Liz — I thought I hadn’t heard of it but Googled images look a little familiar, so maybe! I don’t think I ever had a good version. I suspect you could use this recipe to get to that. I’d 1/3 the recipe (it makes 3 loaves, and the volume of one should probably be sufficient for a 9-inch round) or you could halve it (for a thicker 9-inch round cake).
Thanks for vetting this Martha recipe for us. Sometimes she has a dud, not often, but still, I like to see what others think first usually.
I’m planning to make this the day before Thanksgivingukkah, so I can make french toast out of it for Thanksgivingukkah breakfast! It doesn’t happen very often….
JennyBakes — Absolutely. Can I crash breakfast? ;)
Just looking at the amount of chocolate involved how could this go wrong
So I took 1/3 of this and sprinkled the rolled out dough with a very light dusting of cayanene pepper. this turned out absolutely awesome. just be slow with the Cayenne
great recipe! thank you!! how do you bake the babka without the struddel topping getting to gold almost too cooked? I would like to make a babka with a white struddel topping…mine look great but too golden though…thanks for advice !
Deb, I made a loaf of this wonderful confection for our Christmas breakfast, and it’s one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. Everyone agreed it must become a tradition. Before reading this post, I was unacquainted with babka, and I’m not very experienced with yeast doughs, but your description and the rapturous comments convinced me to give it a try. I found the dough lovely to work with and your instructions easy to follow. Thanks for this terrific recipe and thanks also to the commenters for their tips (especially about tenting the loaf and about the recipe also working well without the streusel and with a bit less chocolate – for one loaf I used two 3 1/2 oz. bars of Ghiradelli 60% cacao and all eaters judged it perfect.)
I’m not at all new to your site, my sister and I have been following you for quite some time now(2 years or so).
I would like to make this recipe to give out for mishloach manot this year, for Purim( this year march 16). My question is: if I were to triple it even quadruple thus recipe what would you suggest on how to go about doing that?
Also, what size is the mini loaf?
Thanks so much for a wonderful and inspiring blog!!
And a freilichen Purim :)
Michal — What a project! You have lucky people in your life. When doubling or tripling, double or triple every ingredient. It’s very straightforward. My mini-loaf pans hold .5 quarts each, so 4 of them would hold what a 9×5 loaf pan does. Hope that helps.
Made it, loved it, and wrote about it. http://bit.ly/1iOmNqd (The crumb topping is great.) Thanks!
If I want to half the recipe, how much do I put in the 9×5 pan and how much in a smaller pan? Is it about 1.5 lb for the bigger loaf?
Lindsay — I don’t know the weights off-hand, but you’d want to put 2/3 of the halved amount in 1 loaf (because it would otherwise make 3 loaves total) and you could probably put the remaining part in either several muffin cups or two mini-loaf pans.
Sorry, one more question. Can I use 2% milk?
Lindsay — It should be fine here, because there are so many other rich ingredients.
Made this last night with great liberties taken on all fronts – too numerous to list – cause that’s the kind of organic cook I am. It came out delicious – so don’t be afraid The only thing I would have done differently… I used chips and it would have been better if the chips were uniformly chopped finely as instructed. My food processor for whatever reason made some dust and some shavings and left alot of nearly whole chips so that effect when baked was uneven but still WOW…
My chocolate ‘babka’ is baking at the moment and I just wanted to let you know that in Poland it’s usually called ‘strucla’ or ‘strudel’. It comes with different types of stuffing, but most popular are: marmalade, sweet cheese, apples with cinnamon and poppy seeds. But the stuffing can be savoury as well, usually made with mince meat, mushrooms, onion, etc. The top is very often carved and decorative, like in the one linked below.
‘Babka’ on the other hand is usually shaped in a different way. To bake one you need a special kind of tall baking tin.
Thanks for the recipe! :)
Made this for Easter – one loaf for three different events and it is incredible! Heavenly really. And it was devoured. Thank you for a fabulous recipe!
I finally made this! I have been drooling over it for months and months, finally was inspired to make it and it was amazing! My son said he licked his plate, yum! Not really hard to make at all. I think next time I will make smaller loaves and freeze them. Thanks Deb!
Yowza! This is the babka to END ALL BABKA’s! And with Rosh Hashana coming next week, and visitors are coming from Israel, I HAVE to make this, and flex a little baking muscle! Thanks for this recipe, Deb! So excited!! Would love to see you next month at your Food Network event!
OMG! Im coming back as a Babka in my next life!
Hey Deb- can this be made in round pans? I just checked and realized I only have one loaf pan but wanted to max the recipe…
Thanks! Love SK!
I made this for Rosh Hashanah this year! It was amazing. I did cut back a bit on the amount of chocolate, but I do not believe that detracted at all from the amazingness of this bread! Thank you so much, and credit was given to you with a pingback!
I really loved the idea of this recipe.It sounded just like the Babka of my youth on 13th Avenue in Brooklyn. I made it, but the dough was burnt and the inside a little dry. Do you think I could cut back in the baking time? Will the inside be cooked? Also, I wanted the chocolate to be more oozy and gooey. It wasn’t. What can I do to achieve that?
LeLe — It does sounds like it overbaked a little. (Might you have used a glass baking dish? They often benefit from being used at 25 degrees less in the oven.) I recently added a new babka recipe which has a softer filling and actually much fewer ingredients, but it’s become our favorite. You can see the recipe here.
I made this babka last year and absolutely loved it! Revisiting the recipe for this year’s holiday. Even though there’s a newer recipe, I’m going to have to stick to the original because it was such a success. This time I plan to bake mini loaves to give as gifts. What size were the mini loaf pans you used and to what dimensions should the dough be rolled out? I’m hoping to get about 4-6 loaves out of the batch.
I just made this yesterday to gift to some friends. They turned out beautiful, and oh, so yummy and decadent. I wish I could post a photo to share their beauty with you.
Thank you and hope to make more soon!
ps I was making the large chocolate babka that was posted in bon appetite’s December issue, but love yours and the idea of the ‘mini’ much better.
I adore this recipe. Have not made it for a while but wanted to go back and enjoy reading through it. Oops, there’s no ‘r’ in Callebaut, my favorite for this delicious treat.
hi deb! do you need an electric mixer for this recipe or do you think it is possible to mix by hand?
aviva — From my response in Comment #17: Yes, absolutely. The only part I used my stand mixer for was making the dough, which can be mixed by hand and then kneaded, with just a bit of extra effort. The most important thing is to make sure all the butter is incorporated in the dough before you start kneading, something that will be easy if the butter is fully at room temperature/soft. When its time to knead it, don’t worry about it making a mess on the counter. Just scrape everything back into the bowl and it will rise normally.
Thanks deb! I ended up making the “better babka” a and it was really a hit! I made it for two poles who thought it tasted just as they remembered from childhood… I also made it a second time using almond flour for my gluten free friend… This was a totally different experience – not bad but hardly babka. Actually it reminded me of a Passover cake…
This recipe looks delicious!! I think I am going to make it, but I wanted to know if I can place chocolate chips in a food processor to break down instead of using chopped chocolate?
Dalya — I haven’t done it, in theory, it could work.
Hi, Can i leave out the heavy cream for the egg wash? If i do do you suggest just using 1 whole egg? thanks
WOW! You’ve gotten a novel about this babka and I can see why. I’m definitely making this soon.
I look forward to making this chocolate babka, but wonder if you have a recipe for one loaf. Thanks!
Atiya — You can definitely 1/3 everything in the recipe, however I particularly love the newer chocolate babka on the site, which makes 2. You can halve the recipe, but will probably wish you hadn’t. They freeze very, very well.
Well done on your site, dude! Thankyou!
First, thank you for years of wonderful reading and recipes (and pictures of adorable children). Second, my husband and I both remember chocolate babkas from our childhoods that had a certain texture, almost crunchiness to the chocolate filling–not from nuts, but from the chocolate filling itself. I was going to make the Ottolenghi krantz cake from Jerusalem (rather appropriate, as I live here!), but it looks like the filling in that recipe is completely smooth. I see the filling in this recipe has unmelted chocolate–did it result in a textured filling, or did it melt with the butter to form a smooth one? Thanks for helping us all in our quests to recreate childhood food memories!
This one stays a little crunchier. It’s definitely more like the kind of babka my husband and I grew up with… from the grocery store. (But so much better.)
Thanks! I’m planning on trying it out this weekend. I’ll report back if fate and small children allow me to get around to it…
I wanted to report back, belatedly, that I made it! I used the dough from the Ottolenghi recipe and the filling from this recipe. It was exactly what I was aiming for. In terms of texture, I will say that Israeli granulated sugar tends to be coarser than North American brands I’ve encountered, so that may have helped nudge it into the crunchier zone. I kneaded in the butter by hand, and it really wasn’t difficult, so anyone without a stand mixer should not be scared off. Thanks for a fantastic recipe that was also a fun project!
I love the babka from breads bakery so which of your two recipes (MS or Ottolenghi) do you think is similar to that one?
The Ottolenghi-ish one is closer.
I made your babka and it was amazing!
Can I use this same dough recipe for cinnamon buns?
Typo on Caillebaut chocolate
Typo on mine too!
Despite the dire warnings, I found this recipe to be easy, straightforward and delicious! Make it on an afternoon when you have 3 hours to devote to a baking project, but nearly all the time is hands off and the rest can be done by a mixer and food processor. Low effort with a big, gift-worthy reward! Do watch the browning though—I used light nonstick pans and had to cover the loaves pretty early on, and reduce the temperature 25 degrees.
This sounds amazing but what I am looking for is a cinnamon babka. Do you know of one you can recommend?
Made these several days ago. Beautiful loaves. Way too much chocolate for me. Could not even taste the wonderful bread part. If I make them again I would cut way down on the amount of chocolate. But that’s me. Everything else I have made over the years here has been wonderful.
This was THE BEST babka I’ve ever had! I made it 6 years ago and am contemplating making it again this week, but now I see that you have adapted Ottolenghi’s recipe and I’m at a loss. Do I just make both??
Hi Deb. I’ve made this recipe for years — it’s my thing (thanks for that!). So much so that now I’ve been tapped by my friend the Rabbi to run a babka baking session for a group of 9 girls. I plan to make the dough ahead of time because of time constraints. Have you ever made it the night before and let it rise in the fridge? I’ve done that with challah dough, but I’m nervous about monkeying with the famous babka! Thanks for any advice.
Hi!! I’m new to your blog and I am so pumped to make these. I’m going to follow suit and make 2 large loaves and 3 minis. I have one question- what loaf tin dimension and bake time were for the minis? Those are going to be Christmas gifts, so I want them to be perfect.
This is the most amazing dough – absolutely delicious, and very simple. I don’t care for the chocolate filling – I use melted chocolate with tahini- easier to spread. I don’t add the Streusel- no need for that
I have made it almost 4 times including – prep till step 4 and freezing
Came out perfectly
I had all of the ingredients but used chocolate chips (they wouldn’t chop in my food processor so they were whole for the most part.) I read through a lot of the “I made it” comments for advice. I did leave out the cinnamon to make it just chocolate (excellent). The topping is really great (gives a nice crunchy texture). but the amounts to make it were at least quadruple what you need. So don’t skip it just cut it to 25% of what SK has written.
I made both this chocolate babka (today) and the better chocolate babka several weeks ago. I tried this one because my teens/young adult really liked the other one, but it wasn’t just right. I wasn’t thrilled with the orange rind or the texture of the dough. All of us are huge chocolate lovers and THIS ONE filled that need. I agree with another commenter that the chocolate overwhelms the dough, but in our house, that’s not a bad thing. The 2 in college get their loaves next week, but the high schooler and hubby gave this one high praise.
As a regular challah baker, I have active dry yeast in my frig, so the “2 packets” measure was problematic. Between a scale that isn’t precise and measurements converting weight to approximate teaspoons, I went with 5 teaspoons and that seemed to work fine. I’d love an internal temperature to know when it’s done, rather than sight and approximate timing. I think mine are slightly overcooked – the edges are hard, but it’s not dry and it is delicious. Totally worth the time (and the mess), completely agree about using a Cuisinart to chop the chocolate (I used the 1 lb+ chocolate bars from Trader Joes), and I did not use all of the streusel. I’ll definitely be making it again!
I just made the Babka recipe from Smitten Kitchen and it was a delicious and beautiful treat. The dough was easy to work with and the result was a moist, fluffy, and flavorful pastry. The recipe also has a nice balance of sweet and savory. I love that the recipe has a step by step instructions and pictures, so helpful for someone like me who is not an experienced baker. If you’re looking for more delicious recipe inspiration, check out my food blog Step-by-step recipe instructions