Inadvertently, this has become Festivus week on Smitten Kitchen, wherein I air my grievances at past recipes and exhibit what I hope can be passed off as “feats of strength” in reformulating them for modern times. Still, nobody could more surprised than I am that of all the recipes in the archives, it’s Martha Stewart’s decadent chocolate babkas from seven years ago that have ended up in this queue, because at the time we found them beyond reproach: rich, buttery, crumbly and intensely chocolaty. They were precisely what we’d remembered getting from the store growing up, but better, I mean, I’d hope they’d be. Clocking in at 3/4 pound of semisweet chocolate and almost a cup of butter per loaf, the recipe in fact uses triple this (2.25 pounds of chocolate! 1.25 pounds of butter!) for three loaves. And not unlike the chicken pot pies, this, along with the messy, complicated prep, became the problem. Despite repeated requests from our families every holiday, I’ve probably only made it once since, if that. It’s all too much.
This high holiday season, however, I decided to audition a different chocolate babka — the stunning, twisty, glossy chocolate krantz cakes that I imagine have tempted anyone that’s opened Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook. Although I was curious, I knew there was no way they could be as good. How could they be, what with only 2 1/4 ounces of dark chocolate and just over 1/2 cup of butter per loaf? It was going to taste abstemious, and wrong. Abstemious chocolate babka is wrong, wrong on a moral-ethical level, as far as I’m concerned.
But it didn’t. It tasted incredible. It looked amazing. It caused an Instagram ruckus. Nobody even remembered the old babka, they just wanted more of this one, as soon as possible. I almost stopped there but a couple things had nagged at me during the prep, so, for the next holiday, I made them again. They were easier, but I felt they could have been simpler still, and so, woe is me, for this thing I pass off as a job (sheesh), I was forced yesterday to make my fifth and hopefully final (um, for the hips and all that) loaf of babka in a three week’s time. And on this one, I feel the kinks were finally worked out and it’s as easy as it can be. The loaf fits in the loaf pan with minimal smooshing. The spiral doesn’t fan open when you cut it. And I even figured out how to make it in one day, if you wish, which is important for the sort of people who see the above photos and think WANT. MUST. NOW. Not that we know anyone like that (cough).
One year ago: Lazy Pizza Dough + Favorite Margarita Pizza
Two years ago: Pancetta, White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies
Three years ago: Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower with Yogurt
Four years ago: Apple and Cheddar Scones
Five years ago: Quiche Lorraine
Six years ago: Best Challah and Mom’s Apple Cake
Seven years ago: Arroz con Pollo (we still love this dish SO much; it’s a fall/winter staple.)
Eight years ago: Lemon Pound Cake
Better Chocolate Babka
Adapted from the Chocolate Krantz Cakes in Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
So, each time I’ve made this, it’s been kind of a mess; it never looks like the pictures in the books or the pretties I’ve seen online. And each time it’s come out of the oven and been brushed with that sugar syrup, it looks like I meant to do whatever I did. It’s nearly impossible to make these look bad, trust me. And it’s unequivocally impossible to make them taste bad. Whatever you do, don’t even think about making bread pudding or French toast with the leftovers. Nothing good will come from it.
Yield: 2 loaf-sized chocolate babkas
4 1/4 cups (530 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
Grated zest of 1 small lemon or half an orange (our preference)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup water (cold is fine) and up to 1 to 2 tablespoons extra, if needed
3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter (150 grams or 5.3 ounces) at room temperature
Sunflower or other neutral oil, for greasing
4 1/2 ounces (130 grams) dark chocolate (or approximately 3/4 cup chocolate chips)
1/2 cup (120 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
Scant 1/2 cup (50 grams) powdered sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon [optional]
1/3 cup water
6 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar
Make the dough: Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and zest in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer. Add eggs and 1/2 cup water, mixing with the dough hook until it comes together; this may take a couple minutes. It’s okay if it’s on the dry side, but if it doesn’t come together at all, add extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a mass. With the mixer on low, add the salt, then the butter, a spoonful at a time, mixing until it’s incorporated into the dough. Then, mix on medium speed for 10 minutes until dough is completely smooth; you’ll need to scrape the bowl down a few times. I usually found that after 10 minutes, the dough began to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it doesn’t, you can add 1 tablespoon extra flour to help this along.
Coat a large bowl with oil (or scrape the dough out onto a counter and oil this one) and place dough inside, cover with plastic and refrigerate. Leave in fridge for at least half a day, preferably overnight. [Dough will not fully double, so don’t fret if it doesn’t look like it grew by more than half.]
[To make this on the same day, see my fourth note below.]
Make filling: Melt butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar and cocoa; mixture should form a spreadable paste. Add cinnamon, if desired. [If you’re wondering what happened to the pecans and granulated sugar, see my third note below.]
Assemble loaves: Coat two 9-by-4-inch (2 1/4 or 1kg) loaf pans with oil or butter, and line the bottom of each with a rectangle of parchment paper. Take half of dough from fridge (leave the other half chilled). Roll out on a well-floured counter to about a 10-inch width (the side closest to you) and as long in length (away from you) as you can when rolling it thin, likely 10 to 12 inches.
Spread half of chocolate mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Brush the end farthest away from you with water. Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, tight cigar. Seal the dampened end onto the log. I found that transferring the log to a lightly floured baking tray in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes made it much, much easier to cut cleanly in half. Repeat with second dough.
Trim last 1/2-inch off each end of log. Gently cut the log in half lenghtwise and lay them next to each other on the counter, cut sides up. Pinch the top ends gently together. Lift one side over the next, forming a twist and trying to keep the cut sides facing out (because they’re pretty). Don’t worry if this step makes a mess, just transfer the twist as best as you can into the prepared loaf pan. In one batch, mine was long enough to “S” inside the pan and I nested the trimmed ends of the log in the openings. Even if you don’t (and choose to bake them separately in a little pan, as I did in other batches), the dough will fill in any gaps by the time it’s done rising and baking, so don’t worry.
Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise another 1 to 1 1/2 hours at room temperature. Repeat process with second loaf.
Bake and finish cakesL Heat oven to 375°F (190°C). Remove towels, place each loaf on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 30 minutes, but there’s no harm in checking for doneness at 25 minutes. A skewer inserted into an underbaked babka will feel stretchy/rubbery inside and may come back with dough on it. When fully baked, you’ll feel almost no resistance. If you babka needs more time, put it back, 5 minutes at a time then re-test. If it browns too quickly, you can cover it with foil.
While babkas are baking, make syrup: Bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool somewhat. As soon as the babkas leave the oven, brush the syrup all over each. It will seem like too much, but will taste just right — glossy and moist. Let cool about halfway in pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way before eating (an adorable suggestion from Ottolenghi — don’t worry, we know you’re going to eat it warm).
Do ahead: Babkas keep for a few days at room temperature. Longer, I’d freeze them. They freeze and defrost really well.
A whole bunch of notes:
- I made a few ingredient changes: I used granulated sugar instead of the superfine suggested, because it’s hard to get it doesn’t seem essential here. Unsure of what “fast-rising active dry yeast” was, I used active dry yeast the first time and it barely rose; I used rapid rise or instant yeast the second and third: voila. You should use this. I had large eggs instead of extra-large; this wasn’t a problem. I also increased the salt in the dough and add a little optional cinnamon to the chocolate filling. Oh, and we preferred orange zest over lemon in the dough.
- The next set of changes was structural: I found the amount of syrup to be way too much and halved it in my second and third batches; it will still seem like a lot, but it’s just right once it sinks in and glosses up. I found that rolling the log out from a 15-inch side made too long of a twisted rope to fit a loaf pan; a 10-inch width fit better. I got a cleaner cut from transferring the rolled log to the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes before splitting it.
- Pecans and sugar: In the original recipe, after you spread the chocolate paste filling over the rolled-out dough, you sprinkle it with pecans and sugar, and if you’re me, you might mix a little cinnamon into that sugar. However, I found that these dry ingredients on top of the paste made it harder to assemble the final twisted shape — after the log is split, they make the layers fan open and hard to manage. I made one loaf (not photographed) without them and it was much, much easier to manage. Between that and the fact that my family doesn’t like nuts in baked goods, I’ll skip it going forward. If you’d like to add them, however, you’ll want to toast and chop 1 cup (100 grams) pecans and have 2 teaspoons sugar ready. Sprinkle half of each over each chocolate-slicked babka dough before rolling.
- To make this a single-day recipe: One thing I tried that wasn’t terribly successful was skipping the overnighting part of the recipe. While you can let it rise at room temperature instead (you’ll need 3 full hours for it to almost double), it’s not to your advantage because the buttery dough is much much easier to roll out and form into a log when it’s cold. If you want this to be a single-day process, however, once your dough is done rising, put it in the fridge for 30 before rolling it out. Trust me, letting the fridge firm up the dough helps tremendously.
- Without a stand mixer: This dough can be made, but the part where you need to beat and mash the butter into the tough dough will be tricky, quite an arm workout. It can/will eventually come together, however.
717 comments on better chocolate babka
When you wrote your first babka recipe I thought you couldn’t top it, that was like the holy grail of all that is good, but it seemed so time consuming! This seems slightly easier – I think I have to try it, you make it look so easy, and so so delicious.
Deb, I discovered your site this summer and have been very happily baking and cooking from it ever since! And now I can’t wait to try this babka which I grew up eating in NY but have found very challenging to buy in North Carolina! One question – when you say “the better cocoa powder, the better” are you thinking of Droste or something similar rather than Hershey’s? Also, did you actually use chocolate chips or did you use a better quality dark chocolate? Thanks for your fab recipes and wonderful blog.
Michele — I’m going to update that because yes, it’s always good to use good cocoa powder but you can make this with whatever you have, promise. (I really hate when recipes preach about ingredient quality; not everyone has $15 to spend on cocoa! Good recipes transcend ingredients.) I used hand-chopped chocolate for the first two batches and these chocolate chunks for the next ones, i.e. whatever I had around.
This is the second time I’ve made this babka. The first time I knew I wasn’t quite right as I was mixing it. but this time it seemed perfect but didn’t rise at all in the fridge! Again! I took it out and it was quite hard. I don’t know what the problem is. I’m using all the same ingredients mentioned in the recipe, no subs, and I had it mixing until it came together smooth like the recipe said. I’m so bummed. I don’t get why it’s not rising in the fridge
It’s not rising much in the fridge because this isn’t a dough that rises a lot in the fridge. I warn of this in the recipe: “[Dough will not fully double, so don’t fret if it doesn’t look like it grew by more than half.]” It does most of it’s rising at room temperature, once it warms up, but it doesn’t need to fully double to taste excellent.
I have a simpler babka dough I used for a more recent one you might find less… annoying (I do!). You could use it here with the same filling.
Haley, I made it today. Yesterday and today, I should say since I put do ugh together yesterday morning and got it out to assemble today. Took me almost all day today to finish. I took it out of the oven at 4:30 edt. It’s took two hours for mine to rise. But they are beautiful. I hope you tried again!
Please tell me the next thing in your queue is a recipe for all the apples you picked; we always seem to overdue it whenever we go to the orchards. (Berries don’t count as there can never be too many berries.) I am going to make this for a Sukkot party we have on Sunday. Nut-free seems to be the way to go when at a community event.
Molly — THIRTY-FOUR POUNDS. Um, yes. I need to find… something. Taking suggestions.
Looks incredible – I just love chocolate babka ♥
for the record, there’s also the babka “cupcake” situation from a few years ago that were a big hit in my house!
Have you tried the chocolate babka from Breads Bakery on 16th? Transformative. Excited to try this at home and compare!
How did this compare to the babka from Breads Bakery?
Oh my! Just made your previous chocolate babka on Saturday, and it was amazing. Might have to make this one soon just to compare (though, just a single loaf!).
This JUST arrived in my email. We’re totally doing it with the apples and leftover challah the 2.5 of us can never seem to finish. http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Caramel-Apple-Strata?cmpid=rotdenews10092014&spPodID=020&spMailingID=7180025&spUserID=Mjg3NTY5NzAxNjAS1&spJobID=540621820&spReportId=NTQwNjIxODIwS0
I’ve been a fan of your blog for years but never commented until now. This post makes me so happy! I’ve never had a babka, but being a Seinfeld fan I can’t wait to try this!
Oh wow. I might make this JUST so I can make baked french toast out of it the next day… Thanks for finding a “healthier” version :) And 34 pounds! Yipes! Make some apple sauce (or leave it on your stove while you go out and forget to turn it off and make some apple butter instead… I speak from experience :))
Just made this a few weeks ago – so good, so beautiful, so delicious. Also not that difficult to make. A labor of love, definitely, but worth it.
I’m considering making a pumpkin/cream cheese version for a Thanksgiving post-dinner-coffee-snack.
Also, Ottolenghi’s new cookbook, “Plenty More,” comes out in the US next week! The UK peeks I’ve gotten through the blogosphere look amazing, as always. Ottolenghi doesn’t disappoint.
I’ve had your other babka bookmarked for years but I think now I’ll have to make this one… and soon! Most other babka recipes look to dry and don’t have enough of that delicious gooey filling for my liking.
The last chocolate babka I made was less than thrilling (I gave it to people who tried it and said they liked it but thought it would be better *without* the chocolate!!! really who says that?).
I am buoyed by the thought of rectifying that last debacle by making these. They’re gorgeous!
What do you think about doing this with Martha’s streusel topping instead of the syrup? Or in addition to the syrup? We love Martha’s babka recipe but I’m looking for one that’s less volume and a little more manageable in my small kitchen.
Deb, how wonderful, I was just dreaming about the great chocolate babka (I have only this year tried my first one: I schlepped one from Russ & Daughters all the way to the other side of the pond) and wanted to make one now. Saves me a lot of research, I’ll try yours. Nicole
I used my extra large muffin tin to make baby babkas. Yum.
I’ve been wanting to try Chocolate Babka ever since that episode of Seinfeld (laughing out loud just thinking about it) but I’ve never seen it in any of the bakeries where I live…I might just try to make one myself. Thank you!!
Molly & Deb– Crock pot apple butter, of course!
I have just spent the better part of the morning scouting poppy seed roll recipes for treating someone and suddenly, I must make a chocolate krantz. I had never even heard of this before, but it has me in its’ grip. Would this keep well enough to make it the day before for a breakfast? It looks like it, but sometimes pastry lies.
I can attest that you absolutely do not need to use the stand mixer for this recipe. I found it quite easy to mix by hand but I did make sure that I left the butter out a couple of hours earlier. Also, I had only one large loaf pan so I used a round pan for the second babka and the round one got many more wows at my cookbook club.
anu — Thank you, that’s very helpful to know. I felt bad I couldn’t offer more thorough hand-mixing instructions. I mean, butter-enriched yeast cakes have been around much longer than KitchenAids!
Robby — Absolutely. It’s excellent the second day. And third. I cannot speak to the fourth; it’s never happened.
I have been thinking about this babka since you posted on Instagram! So excited it’s arrived in time for the weekend :-)
It’s Seri’s Aunt Debi. In my many years of baking (and cooking) I have always been close to attempting a Chocolate Babka Recipe. It never happened BUT now that I am reading this recipe AND almost licked my ipad when it came up on my Instagram feed I NEED TO DO THIS. Thanks for posting. I love your recipes !! xoxoxoxoxo
Re. Apple Suggestions-
It could be a pain in the arse though (and not utilize too many apples). However, what about apple rugelach? Instead of jam you could do an apple sautee so they’re soft enough to cut/roll into individual cookies.
Or some kind of pulled pork sandwich, braised with some apple juice, spices, and such, apple slaw on top? Or a chutney? Perhaps on a toasted/grilled baguette or ciabatta? Could be overkill… or an underdeveloped thought.
PS this updated babka looks absolutely incredible. Will DEFINITELY be making this gem tonight/tomorrow.
I have looked at the Ottolenghi recipe for TWO years and resisted making it, fearful of eating it all and then ending up in a food coma. Meanwhile my girlfriend lunges with gusto into her kitchen and gets on with baking… we have both made your pumpkin cinnamon scrolly things, and gasped at their deliciousness!
It is now time for the chocolate babka and Earl Grey tea.
I am in love with Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. Can’t wait to make this over the weekend!
We also just picked way too many apples. But after our trip to Martha’s Vineyard a couple of weeks ago, we were delighted to experience the amazingness that is an Apple Fritter. It was the size of my head and glorious. Maybe this is something to tackle?!
Thank you for the very public-spirited notes on making the babkas in a day. To paraphrase When Harry Met Sally, when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with a cake, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible…
These look divine. Thanks for the recipe; I’ll try it this Fall.
I saw this on instagram and thought it looked amazing! Love the recipe Deb!
what size round pan is that in the picture?
Your chocolate babka haunts me, it’s the one thing I wish I would have made before celiac forced me into a diet less amazing.
I’ve made your Chocolate Swirl Buns a few times, as I’m always a sucker for single-serving baked goods. How do you think this recipe would work in bun form?
Isn’t funny how some foods you can’t help but associate with something? When I saw this I secretly hoped that you would list an optional hair in the ingredients list, for Seinfeld authenticity.
this is a must-make! looks beyond heavenly! thanks for posting, as always!
This looks delicious and like the perfect weekend project! I’m also from the “didn’t grow up eating babka, chocolate or otherwise, but did watch Seinfeld” group, so I’m excited to try it! Re: apples, the first time my husband and I went apple picking, we came home with SIXTY pounds of apples. Lots of applesauce ensued (most of it pink thanks to cinnamon red-hots, but I did a few batches with boring old regular cinnamon, too). This is another thing that freezes very well flat in ziplock bags. We are definitely apple people; I regularly cycle through crisps and crumbles at this time of year, but we have another couple family favorites too, that I will email to you. I also have to share that we had a housewarming party last weekend and of all the food, we had a lot of fruit salad left over. I actually PICKED OUT the apple chunks to bake under a crumble topping, which was delicious, but it means I’m currently eating the leftover plum/pineapple/grapefruit for lunch.
I found your website four years ago when my daughter came home from school and announced that she had signed up to make a chocolate babka for her class. She was supposed to pick a recipe representing her heritage — never mind that we had never baked a babka before! I searched online and found your version of Martha Stewart’s recipe. That was by far the most time consuming baking project we’ve ever undertaken (mishaps with the yeast, mixer, etc.) – but with the most delicious results! We’ve always talked about baking it again. We will definitely try this version instead – after I do something with all of those apples we picked!
Deb, on the cocoa note – does it matter whether or not it’s Dutch process?
Cheating on Martha has never looked better ;).
Very interesting, I had never heard of babka before, but looking ar your recipe got me intruiged. I’m going to do some more redding about babkas as I would like to try it!
My family sings your praises whenever I make your original holy grail chocolate babka, I don’t know if I dare to switch things up!
This is beautiful and looks absolutely delicious! Do you think it would work with regular (non-instant) yeast if I proofed it in the water before adding to the flour?
Helen — I do. I think the rising time will be different (hard to guess more or less; I find them all over the place) at room temperature but overnight in the fridge should be just fine. Note: It’s not going to fully double in the fridge or on the counter. I will update the recipe to note this there too.
alex — It won’t matter at all here. Use what you like.
N — It’s actually a 4-inch springform, something I have no idea why I felt was necessary in my life. It nicely fits four ends. Or, you can do as I did in my first batch and nestle the ends into gaps in the pan, see here.
Meg — What a great idea. I think this site needs more deep-frying! :)
Hi Deb – For the syrup part, if one has a bottle of pre-made simple syrup lying around, can one use that instead? And if so, what would the amount be? Thanks!
thank you!! I was eyeing this in Jerusalem last night and idly contemplating making it, but with your endorsement and tweaks, it’s definitely on.
you’re the best!!
Oh, this looks amazing, I can’t wait to try it. But…no streusel? Could I add some, do you think?
This looks great. I have a question: ‘powdered sugar:’ is that CONFECTIONER’S sugar or superfine granulated sugar?
Allie — Powdered is confectioner’s sugar and sometimes sold (usually in the UK) as icing sugar.
Rachel — You can definitely add. You could use 2/3 of the amount (or your own mix) from the Martha recipe.
It took a fairly large piece of fudge to get me through this recipe. Oh my. Now to find an excuse to make it.
For the apples, my daughter and I tried an apple bread recipe a month ago that was terribly disappointing. Basically a meh white cake with apple chunks in it. I’ve wanted a real apple bread since, but can’t seem to find a decent looking recipe. Want to tackle that for me! All I’ve come up with so far is taking your cinnamon bread recipe and scattering chopped apple through it.
Cara- though Rosh Hashanah has passed, I have had amazing success with adding chopped apples to Deb’s honey cake recipe, using apple juice instead of orange. It’s wonderful.
In Texas we have many wonderful things, but but babka we have not. Or apple orchards. Or autumn of any kind so far this year. But I will be making this some day!
I fear I have never had a babka before, let alone a chocolate babka! This looks delightfully twisty and delicious, though. Perhaps there will be a new recipe to try in my future!
Deb – I’m a huge fan and cannot wait to make this. As a “thank you,” let me share a trick for making superfine sugar: just buzz granulated sugar in your food processor. Simple and cheap. Keep these great recipes coming!
Would it be possible to make this without the lemon/orange? I hate fruit in my chocolate!
I must make this, it looks amazing. It’s funny, I just made the white bean and chard pot pies again this past week and will make the lazy pizza dough when I get home tonight. That dough recipe has changed our lives and is now our Friday pizza night staple. It also made an amazing eggplant calzone this week as well :)
About those apples: how about a more-savory-than-sweet quickbread (or muffins) involving cheddar?
This looks amazing, thank you. I have a food processor but no Kitchenaid mixer. Do you think that would work for the dough making? (pretty please??) I have the “dough blade” that came with it…
You 100% needed this on the blog!! Such a pretty baked treat annnnnnd the more chocolate the better!
I’ve seen a few of this version of babka online and wondered how they got that zebra-like effect in the dough. Your instructions are clear and thanks for the tip about chilling the dough before cutting it, it makes sense. Can you omit the zest?
Apple recipe request: Here’s a link to Drunken Apple Cake on Leite’s Culinaria. I’ve made this and it’s wonderful. The rum flavor is so subtle, there must be a way to condense the flavor, without using an imitation extract, that you could figure out for us. Please!
It’s a delicious and very gorgeous cake. http://leitesculinaria.com/52537/recipes-drunken-apple-cake.html
I’ve never had babka but I’m so happy to see this twist technique! I saw it on America’s Test Kitchen and used it to make a variation of your whole grain cinnamon swirl bread. Most gorgeous thing to ever come out of my oven, but a version with chocolate? Can’t even imagine.
Also if you’re looking to use up a lot of apples (and also includes a good amount of red wine), I have a recipe for what I’ve been calling “autumn in a jar.” It’s a conserve that you can keep in the fridge for spreading on toast or stirring into oatmeal (you can can it to be shelf stable if you’re feeling ambitious).
I have no words. This recipe looks INCREDIBLE!
We’re making wine with our 20 gallons of pears, having canned as many as I can stand. (I’ve decided since moving to the country that new kitchen units are required, and am gathering/refining recipes necessary. A handful of figs = a “cereal” of figs. A cup of blueberries = a “pancake’s” of berries. Obviously “pie” and “jam” are next, and “wine” is last. But working out the details for each produce item! I second apple fritters – when I was small, my dad peeled, cored, and sliced them, battered them in something akin to tempura (not sweet), and deep fried them. We had them as a side at dinner – eat carefully, as they are piping hot!
How much water should I use? it says 1/2 a cup in ingredients and 1/4 in instructions. Did I miss something?
I hate nuts in baked goods, too! Then I became allergic to them, so it isn’t an option anyway, but it’s nice to know that others dislike the interrupting texture. I always hated them in ice cream as well. They get way too hard!
Chocolate Babka is on my list of to do recipes too and I think this would be the recipe I try first!! It looks drop dead gorgeous!! I’m in the process of making your Red Velvet Cake from 2007 :) and I think this would be the next thing I try!
Thank you for testing this! I love the Jerusalem cookbook (in fact I cooked our whole break fast YK meal from it this year)…but I opted to make your Martha babka recipe for the exact same reasons. How could a melted chocolate babka without streusel crumble be better?! I’ll give it a shot now though. Thanks! ps if you haven’t tried the sweet and sour fish recipe in the Jerusalem book, I highly recommend it (but skip the fish breading, just skillet with olive oil for a minute).
Would it be possible to make the dough and freeze half of it already twisted and ready to go? I love that whenever I make your (DELICIOUS) scones I’m able to portion them and freeze a few before baking.
This looks amazing! I use your original babka recipe as gifts around the holidays but this looks just as delicious and (dare I say) less time consuming. Can’t wait to try it!
The slicing technique reminds me of Joy the Baker’s berry-cinnamon bread, where you essentially make berry cinnamon rolls, slice them as you would this babka and then arrange it in a wreath in a cast iron skillet. It’s a killer way to get that delicious chocolate inside turned out for all to admire.
I have been thinking about making your previous babka recipe for some time now, but was turned away by the amount of ingredients and my lack of skill with yeast breads. Now that I am much more proficient and you’ve made this great redux I am going to try this for sure! It will be just the thing for a bake sale next weekend.
For those of you rolling in apples, I made a spiced syrup (and accompanying cocktail) with the peels!
Looks amazing — do you think would it halve okay? There’s only two of us so two loaves might be a BIT much :)
Ok this has convinced me to go buy new yeast to replace the not-so-active one I have in my fridge. Loove babka but have not found a recipe that makes it chocolate-y enough!
The ingredients list shows 1/2 cup water and up to 1 to 2 tablespoons extra, if needed…but in the directions, it says to add 1/4 cup and then a few extra tablespoons if needed. Which is correct, 1/2 or 1/4 cup? I’m excited to bake this weekend!
OMG. Omg. I must make this. It looks soooooo good.
Deb, I’ve never commented on your site before, but I have been a huge fan of your recipes for years. Have you really discovered something even more amazing than your first babka, which is the greatest thing to have ever come out of my kitchen (on several occasions)? I just, no, I can’t do it. It’s a babka betrayal! On the other hand, this could be a life changing revelation. As my husband said a minute ago, only one way to find out…
Ooh, looks amazing! One question, though, as I am a spicy-choco-holic: If one were to add something spicy to the filling, like cayenne, what proportion do you think would be good to get a bit of heat, but not overwhelm the flavor of the chocolate?
I feel compelled to comment and let you know I made your original chocolate babka recipe a few years ago for a themed dinner and a movie night with a friend. The movie was Funny Girl and I listed this dish as “Chocolate Babka Streisand” on the menu. I found my joke HILARIOUS.
Anyway, I can’t wait to try this “better” version to see how you manage to improve upon perfection… though if anyone can do it, it’s you.
Mmmm looks amazing! Maybe a project for the weekend while the hubby is gone!
Apple suggestions: apple cider, applesauce, apple butter. We made apple butter a couple of weeks ago because hubby’s preferred pumpkin pie recipe calls for it (we also used pumpkin puree from garden-grown pumpkins – go us!). Very very good and not nearly as time-consuming as Joy of Cooking would have you think (we used another recipe).
Pie, obviously… you can freeze the peeled slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and then transfer to ziplock bags, or prep the filling, spices and all, and dump into a pie plate (either disposable or regular lined with foil) and freeze that, which you can later plop into a crust, top with crust, and bake.
Shrunken heads (Martha did it).
I sometimes use apple chunks to stuff my roasting chickens, although I’m not actually sure it imparts much more flavor.
Yum! I’ve been wanting to try making chocolate babka for a while, and this recipe looks great! Thanks for the post!
this has been my go-to babka since Jerusalem was released. Seriously the best ever!
Does it matter if you use dutch processed cocoa powder?
Oops. Sorry, just noticed that you already answered the cocoa question. Thanks.
Hi Deb, I just wanted to write a quick a note to let you know how much I appreciate what you do. Sitting down and reading your website is like having coffee with a dear friend. The kind of friend who, no matter what kind of day or week you’ve just had, always makes you feel good. So, thanks for being a part of my life (in this weird internet way) and keep it coming! Babka, here I come!!
I, too have drooled over these beautiful cakes in The Jerusalem cookbook. You’ve inspired me, surely now I can make them, and enjoy them!
We know Ottolenghi is not a woman from his suggestion to cool the babka all the way … hahahahaha what a jokester… as if. Also I find your new hidden humorous comments delightful- as delightful as your new kitchen, but not quite as delightful as the kindergartener’s footsies. I too, am impatient to give this a try.
Wondering but is better to use SAF Gold Instant Yeast or just SAF Red Instant Yeast for this one since this is more a sweet bread? I have the SAF Gold Instant Yeast on hand… but wanted to check before I made an attempt. Thanks.
Wow this looks good. My grandma makes a poppyseed babka every year for my mom’s birthday and we look forward to it all year long… this chocolate one looks even better! I love how you did the twisty thing, not only does it look awesome but I bet it adds a nice texture thing too. I think I am going to try to make this – it looks so good!
Dearest Deb –
Thank you for bringing up memories of bakeries in Philadelphia and New York. I am looking forward to cooler weather to inspire some baked goods filled weekends.
Ages ago, you posted some really wonderful notes on Tart Tatin that inspired me to try creating a savory version involving apples and shallots. They were sauteed in a very good quality aged balsamic with just a pinch of brown sugar, some fresh thyme. After I’d turned it out, you pop it back under the broiler with a little shaved cheese on top. Its kind of magical, and even better as leftovers with a fried egg on top.
Looks incredible. Yeasted things are the one category of food items I make very infrequently. Hate the wait. But these look beautiful, so I’m confused by your headnote wherein you mention that you couldn’t get them to look pretty.
Have you tried halving this recipe for those of us who would like to make just one loaf, due to serious self-control issues around chocolate-themed baked goods? Not that I know anyone who fits that description.
I have made your babka recipe twice and gotten nothing but rave reviews. I almost don’t believe that you could have improved upon it, except I always believe you.
beggin for bapka
Lulu #88 – as a former baker/pastry chef I am very familiar with the SAF Red and SAF Gold yeast. The rule of thumb is to use Gold if the sugar weighs between 10-30% of the flour weight. By doing the calculation the sugar in this recipe is about 18% and so would be a good candidate for using the Gold. Other factors sometimes affect the choice (such as how much fat is in the recipe, if there’s alcohol in it, other add-ins, etc.). This seems like it would work very well with the Gold, but it would also work fine with the Red.
Perfect timing! Went to the grocery just last week, had everything in my cart to make your chocolate babka for the first time (how could I resist after that Instagram post, you tease!) but when I got to the chocolate aisle, I just couldn’t pull the trigger on buying that. much. chocolate – that wasn’t on sale. I made your chocolate swirl buns instead, which are always loved here, and because they freeze so well!
Now here is this babka, much more manageable in every regard, and I am beyond jazzed to try it. I just gushed to the hubs and he asked, predictably, “what’s babka?”
Also, how do you feel about making one of those “what we mean when we say” videos on how to cut and fold the babka? You could do an instagram video? Please? That’s the only part that I feel intimidated by. Consider? I’d watch it A LOT. :)
Apples: an apple pie with cheddar cheese crust. I use both the apple pie filling and the cheddar crust recipe from THE PIE AND PASTRY BIBLE by Rose Levy Beranbaum. She does not combine them in her book, but she should :-). I always use seven apples, which may make a small dent in your supply.
You asked for apple recipes in the comments. Have you tried a Bavarian Apple Torte? I have a recipe handed down from my Oma and it is INCREDIBLE….I don’t like cheese cake (I know, I know, how can I read your blog and not make all those cheesecakes…but I just don’t like them!) but my husband loves them and wants nothing but…this is our happy compromise.
Ha! I just bought that cookbook yesterday!
I have lived in Israel 35 years and am always amazed that the fat laden cakes of my NY childhood , here use much half the amount of butter, no margerine and often oil instead of butter and taste absolutely delicious, as Yotam and Sami both know.
If you want a great cheese cake made with 5% cream cheese, 9% sour cream, let me know.
I have made Ottolenghi’s Krantz Cakes in Jerusalem and I thought the many steps in the process well worth the amazing results. But I like the sound of what you’ve done; so I’ll give that a try too.You can never have enough good babka recipes.Thanks!!!
This looks like another AMAZING chocolate recipe from you. I made your red wine chocolate cake a month or so ago and thought nothing could top that but Babka just might. Cooks Illustrated magazine uses that same rolled and cut in half technique with cinnamon bread, too. It incorporates the filling better and keeps gaps from forming the way they do using the traditional jelly roll method. Thanks, again for sharing your talent.
Wow!!Wow!! Looks amazing, sounds delicious and boy do I like a challenge! Never heard of Babka but have defintey seen the twisty cake bread loaf thing around… I think I just my found my Sunday baking challenge. Can’t wait!
Margy #95 – Thanks so much for the explanation and the very handy rule! I’m a relative novice when it comes to using yeast for baking so your information was incredibly helpful. I couldn’t figure out when to use Gold or Red for sweet baked goods since it seemed ppl used them interchangeably unless the recipe specifically called for one over the other. Looks like I’ll be baking more recipes with yeast now that I know your rule of thumb. Thanks!
I love everything with chocolate and this looks particularly delicious! Thanks for sharing :)
Oof these are stunning.
Apparently Taylor Swift is a fan of yours :)
Water amount — My bad. It is indeed 1/2 cup, as listed. Will edit the recipe text accordingly.
Amity — Definitely the coolest thing. I hope this means we get to hang out and she can teach us all of her perfect red lipstick secrets.
Sarah — Thank you. I’d love to add video sometime, but I haven’t figured out how to do it when it’s just me in the kitchen. (I’m not very technically advanced.) I will try though, for a recipe soon, and see how it goes/if you guys think it helps.
Halving this — Absolutely! It will completely and totally halve. By the time I was on my third testing round (5th loaf) I only made one. It’s almost gone and we regret making only one, but I guess that goes without saying. (Remember: This freezes really well!) Now, back to the actual question, since there are three eggs in here, I used 1 egg plus 1 yolk when I halved it. I found I needed a tablespoon more of extra water than I did in previous batches to bring the dough together. Hope that helps.
ATG — Ha, thanks. While I know what you mean, just to show more, this is what kept happening when I halved the log (and it wasn’t very chilled and had the nuts/extra sugar inside). The book does not show this happening, but happened consistently, on every loaf. I’d eventually get it wrapped enough to look like this, but you can see, the ingredients are falling out everywhere. But the magic of this is that when you smoosh it into the pan, further mucking the shape and losing filling, no matter how badly, it still looks amazing after it finishes rising and baking, largely due to that sugar syrup glaze. That mess? Turned into the babka on the left in the top photo. I, uh, TOTALLY meant to do that. :)
Lauren — I would be so much better at answering this if I didn’t find that cayenne can have such variance between brands and ages, etc. in heat. It’s so hard to say. I think you could start with 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon, taste the filling, see if you want more pow.
Hot sauce — Kind of. Who wants a recipe? I made something this week… and… I think I have to tell you about it.
Thank you — There have been some very kind and sweet comments on this post. It means a lot. I read everything and I’m human, I have lousy weeks sometimes and they totally cheer me up. Thank you.
Looks wonderful; reads rocking delicious!
What combo filling ingredients would you suggest for a non-chocolate babka? I have memories of a walnut/brown sugar filling that may even have included raisins, from my childhood in NYC.
This looks fabulous, and as usual your pictures never cease to amaze me….apples suggestion, one of my fav recipes to make this time of year is chunks of apple, chunks of al dente cooked butternut squash, and chunks of red onion home fries, a little evoo, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and black pepper to taste, fried till perfection, and you are good to go…also have al dente cooked the squash, frozen it and made the home fries all year round, works great….can also peel or leave the skins on the apples, just a matter of preference I have found….have a great day….another cool fall day here in Vermont on tap….
The photo of pouring the chocolate into — what, more chocolate? — looked to me so much like pouring chocolate into poppy seeds — with which my Polish grandmother always filled her babka — that I’m now bound for making chocolate poppy seed-filled babka. If I cook the poppy seeds into a paste first, I’m thinking that the whole thing will stick together just fine, though I’ll need to fiddle with the quantities. Oh. Woe is me.
Deb, I loved this post, but my favourite part was the recipe notes!! I am thinking that a stint at Cook’s Illustrated could be your next career move. Your tenacity in getting this babka just right is to be lauded. Thanks for sharing.
I’m usually a lurker (have been faithfully following your site for years now and I love it!), but my vote is for an apple turnover recipe! I so want to make them.
babka? standard in any cafe / cake shop in Israel
we call it shmarim shokolad
comes in various options (poppy seed, halva,nuts etc)
Ottolenghi and Babka are two of my favorites! I’m inspired!
Thank you for another glorious post, Deb … can’t wait to try this.
And ditto Whitney #85. I so enjoy reading every one of your recipes because there’s so much of you in them! And Jacob, of course. :)
The kranz cake was the first recipe from the book I made after I got in for Christmas almost two years ago because I, too, could not resisit the photos. Because I did not have a food processor at the time, I kneaded the dough by hand and did not find it that difficult. I did change the process slightly, to make the butter easier to incorporate and baked the cake in one large loaf pan (11,5 x 30 cm /4,5 x 12 inch) : http://www.growntocook.com/?p=1823
It was beautiful and delicious!
Oh, yes, I’ve made these beauties, beating in all that butter by hand, and they are totally worth it. You are right, you cannot skip the refrigeration step and I too had better luck cutting the rolled up dough cleanly after chilling for an additional period of time. May I also recommend Marcy Goldman’s chocolate bubka, to be found via Rose Levy Beranbaum’s blog. For that one, to avoid separation of the rolled layers, I recommend painting the dough with an egg wash before adding the filling.
This will definitely be making an appearance at the “Christmas Eve in the Desert” pot luck in Quartzsite this year. I have to live up to last year’s Mealoaf Wellington that I didn’t even get to taste.
Any sense of the total volume of chocolate filling? In case I wanted to use poppyseed filling instead (I know, not traditional babka filling but I’m a sucker for poppyseed rugelach).
Nicole — Maybe 1 1/2 or slightly more cups? It felt like a lot going on.
I tried making Babka for the first time a few weeks ago. While it was very tasty, it wasn’t like we used to buy in the Boston area. It hit me that all of the Jewish bakeries we went to were parve so they never used butter and I think that may make the difference in taste.
I will definitely be trying out this babke recipe this month. Our family and friends LIVE for the previous babke recipe that you posted on your site a few years ago. I’ve made that recipe at least once every three months and everyone raves about it. Once you make it several times, you can bring the process time down. I bake three loaves and leave the extras in the freezer. They even ship well!
After I spent literally hours searching the Web and books for other babke recipes, I found your Martha Stewart recipe to be the best. However, this Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook recipe looks easier and more gooey than the other one. Chocolate and orange go nicely also. Based on making bread twice a week for the last five years, I think the refrigeration part is crucial to allow for a slow fermentation period. Overnight or ten hours in the fridge would help with the rise.
I’ll comment back soon on which is preferred by friends and family.
Have you made apple butter? I like to make this with just two cups of sugar (one white, one dark):
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/all-day-apple-butter/. Your apartment will smell wonderful.
Looks delish! Any suggestions for turning this into a cinnamon-raisin babka versus chocolate? We’re are those total weirdos who prefer cinnamon sugar > chocolate…
I love babka. Made it long ago, maybe it’s time to make again..
You always have a special way of making baking or cooking seem so easy. I’ve never had a chocolate babka before. But now you just inspired me. Thanks and enjoy fall, Deb!
when I first saw the photo I thought it is a poppy seed+chocolate babka. the filling looks blueish on the photos. As much as I am happy with a chocolate babka recipe I would love a poppy seed+ chocolate babka. Could you invent one? Please?!
We often make something simmilar in Europe but we usualy do it with ground nuts, poppy seed or Nutella. Never with chocolate (looking forward to try this recipe, thank you).
But poppy seed+ chocolate is now only on my mind…
Good grief this looks extremely delicious. I am a sucker for chocolate babka. It’s so great around this time of year.
I cannot believe how enticing this looks. Really. Need to go to the kitchen, right now. xxx
This is getting closer to my grandmother’s recipe (which my mother and I adapted from watching her make it many times – she used no recipe or measures beyond a coffee cup), but still has about 30% more butter and is missing a few *key* ingredients (which, sorry, I will not share online). Her recipe will always be the epitome of babka perfection to me :).
I was searching the recipe for what kind of nuts you used (having a partial nut allergy) and was delighted that you decided them cumbersome!
They are beautiful! Too pretty to eat!
Re the yeast: instant yeast can be added directly to the dry ingredients, but you can still use “regular” yeast: simply proof it with the liquid first, in this case the 1/2 cup (warm) water.
I was eyeing this recipe JUST this morning, as I am right now suffering from “Plenty More Fever.”
Hi Deb! I made this today and while the ends were probably one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, the middle didn’t seem to be done completely. I threw it back in the oven for an additional 10, but it remained the same. Is it just feeling tha way bc of the amount of chocolate? I need to get this right!! (Although my hips would probably disagree!) suggestions please!!
You are an evil, evil, woman. And I adore you.
I’m trying to avoid carbs–how could you do this to me?????
These look amazing! I’ve always wanted to try making chocolate babka, definitely need to do it now that I have a recipe for it!
My dough has been sitting in the fridge for about 3 hours, and looks like it has hardly risen. Used Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise yeast – a new-ish packet – without proofing it first (threw it in with the dry ingredients as written.) Not sure what I should be expecting – a big poofy dough, or a more modest rise?
I must have used the wrong kind of yeast, because my dough barely rose…but luckily, the loaves still baked up nicely and tasted great.
I seem to the only one who has never heard of these. No wonder your family wants you to make them again. Sooooooo chocolately. I agree with Tamara—you are an evil woman. Laughing here.
This won’t use too many apples but Jane Brody’s Good Food cookbook (circa 1985) has a recipe for Granny Smith chicken which is delicious. I’m sure you can come up with creative variations on that theme.
What? No buttery streusel crumbles on top? That can’t be right!
I just made this recipe for Shabbat/Sukkot and it was absolutely amazing and super rich. I ended up just using regular yeast and gave the babka an extra 1 hour rising time and it worked wonderfully, so yes, if you have time, you can use regular yeast.
***Whatever you do, don’t even think about making bread pudding or French toast with the leftovers.***
What??!!?? There would be leftovers??Oh, you mean extra, like you mentioned, on the hips, oh ok now i get it…;-))
I have also never had a babka, but as many of your readers, my husband is a great Seinfeld fan, so I know for sure he would enjoy such a famous treat!
Just to let you know, I made your baked potato crisps with the works tonight (and part of the works for us were your sweet and sour red onions from emmentaler on rye with sweet and sour red onions) all from your cookbook and I am here to say, they were delish! My husband said “you can make these again anytime!”. That cookbook goes a long way to making me a happy cook! Many thanks!
Well, I suppose I’ll have to try this recipe, since you say it was incredible (and I trust you implicitly, especially when it comes to chocolate), but I just want to say that your old babka recipe led to one of the best things I’ve ever baked–totally worth the time and effort (and calories!).
I had the same problem as Hilary…toasty brown on top and ends but doughy in the middle. Thoughts?
This is an amazing recipe! I was concerned about the sugar water at the end making the bread soggy, but NO it’s perfect. I made with lemon but I can see where orange would be better. I used regular yeast, let it sit out for 4 hours, then popped in refrigerator and it turned out perfect! Thank you for sharing.
Mine is baking in the oven now! I had to make a wee bit more chocolate, perhaps I didn’t spread it thin enough. Boy, this was a lot of work, thank goodness there will be two, no lack in the fruits of my labor. Thank you for always supplying new ideas for my kitchen. I have made the lasagna bolognese many times and it is the ultimate everything, thank you!
This recipe started a babka-licious weekend across the country, with me and my U.S. scattered children all baking and sharing pics of the results. 1/2 of dough will make 11 individual buns, rolling from long side and cutting into 1 1/2″ slices. Flatten slightly on parchment lined baking sheets prior to rising. Baked up in about 15-18 minutes.
I hope I didn’t screw this one up. I used instant yeast, and it didn’t rise at all in the fridge. I just rolled it up and put it in the pansto rise. Hoping that it will!
Your attention to detail and improvement makes me weak in the knees. This recipe will be happening ASAP!
Just the other day my friend kept talking about chocolate croissants, torturing me as I can’t find one of those within a 60 mile radius. BUT THEN I saw your post for this babka and just HAD to try! While I’ve actually never had a babka before, what came out of my oven was DELICIOUS! I did get a little scared and only used 1/2 of the sugar water (I was thinking, is this going to be a soggy mess??), so I was craving just a tinge more sweetness in them….but that was quickly forgotten about as I stared at these gorgeous beauties and savored every. blissful. bite.
Mine tasted like a cross between a yeast-risen cinnamon roll or sweet bread (in texture), yet still a bit reminiscent of a chocolate croissant due to the chocolate paste. I don’t care, whatever, I’ve already polished off about a 1/3 of a loaf this afternoon and I’m sure I’ll have more….now I see why Seinfeld was chasing after the old grandma for the last chocolate babka!
Hi Deb, great post as always, babka is not a common baked good in Australia but this looks amazing and i may have to try it.
I see you are taking suggestions for apple recipes, and i know you made an apple cake recently, but this one is a little different, very easy and very good (plus, almost butter-free)
on another note, we had a party last week starring your recipe for sizzling fajitas and fixings and they got rave reviews. thank you!
whoops – you’ve already got an apple yoghurt cake in your archives! and it looks great too! should have thought to check first :) – ah well now i’ve got another one to try…
I love everything Ottolenghi and was looking forward to trying this. I’m glad you tried it first! I will make it out tomorrow, probably without the kitchen aid and will let you know how it goes.
As for apples, I have a have 16 on my dining room table awaiting a good recipe. How about a good recipe for a deep dish apple crumb cake?
Thanks for this. I’ve had Jerusalem since last year, and have made a lot from it, but is was too hard! Just made it using your instructions and notes as guidance, but tried the suggested variation (butter, nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon) for one loaf – for the non-chocolate eating people – and the full chocolate with reduced nuts, no sugar for the second loaf. Worked like a drum – especially the glaze as your amount was a lot but manageable (I would’ve been nervous about the original amount!) and the butter and nuts combination didn’t rise as much..possibly because I was more careful with the chocolate one, because, chocolate! Taste was amazing – thank you got your guidance and for the suggestions.
I am in love with Breads Bakery version of this on 16th in NYC. I am going to try this at home tomorrow! Thanks for the recipe!
This was the first recipe I made from that cookbook; it’s worth the price of the book. That’s funny that the Martha one had tons more fat in it, because this one tastes super rich as it is. Question for you Deb, speaking of chocolate: do you ever use these Ghirardelli chips? They are what I always use, and I wonder if I should be thinking of upgrading; if you’ve tried them and think the Scharffen Berger is better, I would give the SB a try.
oof that link I posted didn’t work, it’s the Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chips.
Wow wow wow. I cannot believe that you’ve made this again! It’s beautiful.
My last attempt following your original recipe to thank my neighbors took 13 hours.
Your blog inspires me and I’ve since cooked and baked for my Jewish landlord for the past 5.5. years which made him SOOO very touched.
Thank you for creating and writing about it. Reading your posts always put a smile on my face. =)
Ignore me. Put back on bottom rack, baked longer. Doughiness solved.
I made it yesterday, it is Perfect! Thank you!
Don’t know about your first babka (pre my SK obsession) but this one is incredibly easy to make because of your fab instructions. I do bake a lot – make all our bread and do cinnamon bun fundraisers marathons 2X a month – but I can also see that beginners would find it easy as well because you’ve answered every possible question! Personally, I would never try to make it in one day as I think it really needs the long rise – and also, it breaks up the overwhelming feeling that some people get when making yeast breads. The next morning it rolls beautifully and the filling is so simple!
I formed mine like an ‘8’ and put the end cuts in the spaces of the 8. This dough is VERY forgiving….looks so beautiful I even took a picture! My first time commenting but I’ve been reading your posts ( yes, and the comments!) for 3 years! Thanks for all your amazing recipes!
Question. Is it possible to cut and paste your photos from the website anymore? It used to be no problem, and then one day, it all stopped. It wasn’t a big deal for me at the time, because I’m someone who doesn’t need photo help or visual inspiration to pull off your great recipes. But now that i am trying to help some moms out at my kid’s school (baking fundraiser)with baking ideas, who definitely are intimidated by any kind of baking/cooking- the pictures really are handy. I’m thinking about Apple Cider Caramels, to be specific.
Not sure if this even an appropriate question for you, but more a computer tech? But it seemed like the kibosh on photo copying was related to a change in the way you allow photos to be copied from the website? Like a matter of copy write infringement?
These look great! Will the recipe work if I leave out the zest?
i’m making this now and the filling is very loose–not at all a ‘paste.’ i added more chocolate, but it’s still very loose. i think it will just be squished out when rolling it up. i weighed the chocolate and ended up putting practically 2 more oz in. it’s still rather like a glaze now. should it be a paste like nutella??? thanks!!
Hi gwyn — I’d say like Nutella, but maybe not as thick as true paste. I’d think extra chocolate would make it more wet? Regardless, I think you’ll be fine in the end, shouldn’t affect taste.
Mary Moss — I haven’t changed any settings, but to be honest, I haven’t ever intentionally left my photos unlocked either (i.e. I’d set them up as not save-able in 2006). Not sure what’s changed.
CJ — I’ve used them; I like the large ones. I tend to use pretty much whatever I have around. I might slightly prefer the taste of the S-B chunks, though. That said, my favorite reasonably priced for the quality baking chocolate are probably the baking discs from Guittard. They’re usually $8 to $9 a pound and can be used as large chocolate chips (or chopped) and melt well. Their chocolate comes in simple percentages for white, milk, semi- and bittersweet. I keep them around as often as I can.
Breads Bakery — A few of you have mentioned this place and I just asked my husband about it and he swears he brought home the chocolate babka once and we … didn’t think it was very special. How can that be? I’m going to have to do more “research” of course. Btw, I’ve mentioned this place before but the chocolate “roses” (like babka rolls) from my favorite darling little bakery, Zucker on East 9th Street, are fantastic. But guys, come on, look how easy this is to make! No need to buy it anymore. :)
Rising/not rising — The dough will not fully double in the fridge overnight. I’d say that my dough started around the 4-cup line on my bowl and ended up a little shy of the 7-cup line. It will puff up plenty in the oven and during its rise at room temperature. I will update the recipe to note this so nobody else has to worry.
Sasha, re: 3 hours — No, I wouldn’t expect to see much of anything at three hours in the fridge. I find that instant yeast, likely because you don’t have to warm/dissolve it to get it started, takes longer to get going, and the fridge will make this process even slower.
Baking through — If the babka needs longer, just put it back in the oven until needed; numbers are always estimates, and never more important than actual doneness. That said, I thought the 30 minute estimate was pretty solid. I baked 5 (!) of these while testing and they were all done in the 25 to 35 range, but I can totally imagine how a thicker portion in one pan could quickly add more baking time. If it’s browning too fast, just put foil over it. I’ll update the recipe with this tip too.
I posted a comment yesterday (#151) and did not have high hopes for this at all. it didn’t rise in the fridge, and it didn’t rise once rolled and in the pans either. I baked it with my fingers crossed. And it came out beautifully. It got rave reviews at the party I brought it to.
I never should have doubted you
I’ll definitely be making this one again. definitely
My boyfriend and I are now enjoying the epic results of this made without a stand mixer (or a real rolling pin, for that matter)–it can be done. The first ten minutes or so of butter adding is pretty disgusting, though. We took it out too early and had to put it back in; make sure to check low in the babka for doneness.
I just made this, using active yeast (couldn’t find instant at my little store). It worked out beautifully. I proofed the yeast in 1/2 c warm water, which I then added to the flour and sugar, once the yeast was foamy (about 10 minutes). I used slightly over 2 teaspoons yeast (probably close to a whole packet), since active can take longer to rise than instant. So amazingly delicious, and definitely one of my biggest baking accomplishments!
For Lilly and others who wondered about single-serving baked goods: the answer is YES! I prepared these exactly per the recipe, then sliced each roll into 1″ pieces and placed them in paper-lined muffin tins. After letting them rest for an hour (they didn’t rise much) I baked them at 350 degrees for 18 minutes and brushed them with syrup. Must get them into the freezer before we eat all two dozen of them! I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but these are even better than the original recipe :-).
These are beautiful! I love the shot of the rolled out dough spread with filling. The color intrigues me. Did you use black cocoa? Also, I wondered if you looked at the Caramel Apple Strata link @ 10 Molly. It looks really good and hoped you thought it could fit your make-in-advance brunch rule. Thanks.
This recipe was fantastic. That is all. Nothing else to say. Except… definitely will be putting this on my entertainment breakfast roster.
Next time anyone is doing notes on any bread, stick an instant read thermometer into a couple places near the center and note the reading. it really helps since there are so many different kinds of ovens and all don’t heat the same.
Btw I think the yeast the original recipe calls for is the same as Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise Yeast, which says it is “highly active yeast” on the packet. Anywho, I weirdly had this as one of my yeast choices in my fridge and used it with grand success! Though, I will admit, I just used the entire packet as not to waste the remaining 1/4 tsp…
I spy with my little eye: a very cute pair of feet. :)
So I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now but never made anything – don’t know why, just haven’t – but the chocolate babka caught my eye and my taste buds. As I had everything in the house, I thought why not? A few thoughts to ponder: I upped the yeast to 3t.as I’ve had my rapid rise yeast in the fridge for forever. I also put the dough in a warm oven the following day so that the dough would rise a bit more. One loaf roll I cut up into 6 pieces (after cutting in half length-wise) and put the pieces into a jumbo cupcake pan – half side by side and the other half on top of each other. Both worked out just fine, if a wee bit too carmelized I’m a trained pastry chef so I never say “burned” or “too dark”. The ones on top of each other looked the best. I did have one major problem: the chocolate paste wasn’t a paste by any stretch of the imagination – more of a chocolate syrup. What a mess! I couldn’t even use it all because there would be no way I could roll the dough up. Next time, I will either decrease the butter or increase the powdered sugar or cocoa. Your thoughts? Looking forward to trying more of your recipes instead of just looking at them.
Let the chocolate cool a bit before spreading. It will get thicker like a paste.
Have I told you that I Love You?
Love your rugalah and love your writing and love your recipes. You provide so much inspiration for the healthy-minded eater who also likes to occasionally indulge in foods that are so worth it! I am making this soon.
Re, getting the chocolate to more of a paste — As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I wouldn’t say that mine was ever more than Nutella-thick, so paste is not an ideal descriptor, but something that might help spreadability is letting it cool a little in the fridge, maybe 10 minutes. That said, even if it’s on the thin side, as mine often was, it will bake up just fine. This is definitely a messy project, but in the end, you’d never know it.
knifegirl — You are very astute. I used black cocoa powder. I ran out of basically everything else. Mm, Oreo babka… Caramel Apple Strata, I did and it looks delicious. Would it be too redundant with this bread pudding from 2009? I worry about these things too much, probably. Oh the “curse” of 900 recipes in the archives. (I’m joking, mostly.)
Thank you for always writing so humorously and generously. And accessably. And deliciously!
Apples: Try dicing the peels and adding them to granola – it lightens the granola and adds a nice crunch. My favorite combo: apple peels, oats, rosemary, cinnamon, cornmeal, and fresh (raw) peanuts, plus a little honey and oil to bind it.
There’s a moral here, isn’t there? Wasn’t the last babka a Martha Stewart recipe? It would have been wrong if a guy writing a book called Jerusalem couldn’t make a better babka than Martha Stewart.
Looks incredible and I can bet that is very delicious!
I have the craziest food crush on Yotam Ottolenghi. Have been staring at this recipe since I got the book almost a year ago. Thanks for doing all the tweaking and refining work for us. I’m sure it was awfully strenuous having all that chocolatey pastry to test…
This rolling/assembling technique works perfectly for cinnamon swirl bread too. Cooks’ Illustrated published a modified recipe a few years ago…use powdered sugar instead of granulated in the filling and give it a quick spray with water…no more gaping holes in the swirls!
Hello! I’ve been wanting to bake this, since I saw the recipe in Ottolenghi’s book! But of course I have a doubt: I live in Italy and instant yeast is, I believe, not exactly the yeast you have in the US. Have you by any chance tried using fresh yeast? I’ve been looking for equations between instant and fresh and I think I will give it a try, but I was wondering if you have any clues on that! I love your website! It was a discovery for me!
I tried making this over the weekend, but only made it halfway through – the dough didn’t rise at all overnight and was actually quite hard when I went to get it in the morning. I read another comment that they proofed the yeast before hand, which I didn’t see in the recipe. I used the same Rapid Rise yeast. I’m wondering if I added too much water while mixing, or if I should have added flour during that ten minutes. The dough didn’t have any problem pulling away from the sides, but wasn’t a smooth ball of dough… I’d like to try again this weekend… help!
Hi Elaine — The dough is firm when it comes from the fridge because butter, of which there is a lot of in the dough, is firm when it’s cold. It’s not a problem. That firm dough is easier to roll out without turning to mush. It’s not going to double in the fridge (I noted this in the recipe, but a day or so after publishing, sorry for the delay) but it should puff up a bit/be larger than when you put it in. Rapid rise yeast does not need to be proofed before being added to a recipe; only active dry does. So, you didn’t throw it away did you? Oh, and you’re sure your yeast wasn’t expired, yes?
This looks just divine! I would love to attempt a gluten free version. Thank you for this amazing post!
Hi! I made this for a family Sukkot dinner and it was a HUGE hit! My mom even posted a photo on Facebook, and her coworkers hounded her the next morning trying to figure out which bakery they came from. I will absolutely make this babka recipe again. Thank you so much, Deb!
I made this over the weekend in one evening and it turned out perfectly! I let the dough rise on the counter for three hours (it visibly doubled; I used Fleischmann’s quick-rise yeast), then refrigerated for 30 minutes and it was easy to roll out. After filling and rolling both logs I refrigerated again for about 15 minutes and they firmed up nicely and sliced easily. Fully baked and quite brown after 25 minutes. I left out the nuts and didn’t miss them. Will be making this recipe again and again! Thanks for another winner, Deb!
Make the apple bread recipe from the bread bible! Wonderful, also apple butter in a crock pot is awesome!
P.S. dying to make this!
This looks amaaaaaazing! I’m definitely trying this recipe over the next few weeks. It seems like a really fun recipe to experiment with, too, with all of that twisty-turny bread.
I’m looking forward to trying this recipe, and want to put in a good word for Red Star brand yeast. It is very hard to kill. I don’t bake raised things very often, but I can always count on the Red Star yeast not to fail. I have used it as instant yeast, and once added such hot water I thought it was a goner. Nope, it was fine.
You should mention rapid-rise or fast-rise yeast in the ingredient list. This is a different yeast than instant and is used for heavily modified breads such as babka or brioche.
My loaf pans are arriving today and I’m going to make this over the weekend. I can’t wait! Question: Do you think I could substitute lemon balm instead of zest? I know you can for other types of cooking, but for baking, how do you think it would turn out?
just made this recipe and it’s amazingggggggggggggggggggggggggg! thank you for sharing :)
I made this over the weekend. The first one was devoured by our brunch guests, the second I took to work (hospital+nightshift=we need babka!!) I made no mods, used orange zest and even forgot the glaze yet we all agreed it was beyond amazing!!
I wish I’d taken a pic of our brunch menu… It included babka, your pumpkin cinnamon rolls (fantastic), the bagels from your site (dbl fantastic) and the egg and spinach strata (triple fantastic). It was a Smitten Kitchen kinda morning. Thanks for the inspiration you’ve given my kitchen!!!
I made this today as written and it looked beautiful. However, when I sliced into it it didn’t seem to have nearly as much chocolate as yours. It tasted like Challah bread with some chocolate. Did I do something wrong?
I love your cookbook, website and recipes. Thanks!!
Andrea — Was your slice from the end? I found the center slices (or at least the ones more than an inch from the ends) to have the most chocolate. I tried not to share the center slices, but you’re probably a nicer person than I am.
this looks so rich and yummy! look the quality of the chocolate! ohh yes i will be baking some soon
first try. Looking great so far. about to hit the oven with high expectations!
Hi Deb! Thanks for this! I was just going to make this from the jerusalem book myself. One question that someone else already asked but am still not clear on the answer. Can you freeze the dough BEFORE baking it? Thanks so much!
Just finished making this yesterday evening and it was SO good. For some reason I liked it even better today (maybe I was just really hungry). I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it – but it actually turned out to be much easier than I thought and well worth it :) YUM!
So a question about adding streusel. How would that work with the sugar syrup? You wouldn’t want the syrup to soak into the streusel, and you wouldn’t want the rest of it to do without the syrup. What to do?
I made this today and it was wonderful! In terms of halving the loaves lengthwise, I had good luck using waxed dental floss to make the cut. Thank you for another incredible recipe :)
I have a quick question regarding altitude. I live at 5500ft above sea level and was wondering if there were any adjustment that needed to be made to get the right rise in the bread?
I live a mile high also and made this yesterday. With baked goods, I always increase the temperature of my oven by 25 degrees from what the recipes calls for. This caused my babka to brown prematurely, so I covered with foil. I followed the rest of the recipe as written and it was incredibly delicious. Next time I will cut the log into sections like cinnamon rolls as the inside of my loaf was a tad bit moist and dense. Individual portions are always a bit safer from overconsumption, too… Thinking of making this for Christmas morning!
Yum, yum,yum! I’ve been craving roll-ish like desserts for a while (might be the fall-food-season cravings setting in!)
Echoing #206. Adding streusel when? (i’ve got the dough currently rising…)
I haven’t made this with streusel, but the Martha Stewart version I made several years ago sprinkled 1/3 cup streusel over each loaf before baking. Use any butter/flour/sugar combo you like.
Love your recipe! Hope you will make more of it next time!
So if you make two logs and cut them in half, this recipe makes 4 babkas?
I’m running out of loaf pans ;-)
sorry my confusion, I had at look at the Jerusalem’s pictures and now I understand!
I made this yesterdayand i ran into issues with the filling. it was very syrupy at first so i added extra powdered sugar and cocoa until i had a nutella-like consistency. But i couldn’t spread it on the dough, not even close. It wouldn’t stick to it at all so i ended up sort of dotting the filling on the dough here and there. That said, i’ll bake this again and again even uf i never find a solution for that problem. The lived looked perfect once done and the taste is spectacular!
I made this last week. As an avid baker, much of what I make is enthusiastically enjoyed. Everyone said this was one of the very best things I have ever made!!!!
Everything went smoothly. I mixed the chopped pecans into the chocolate filling and it spread out ok. Some of the bigger nuts did catch a bit but when I cut it to twist, everything stuck nicely, no mess. I did add a splash of vanilla and bourbon to the melted chocolate… I guess that is part of my signature in chocolate stuff as I just can’t resist! It just adds a great tough of flavor that I miss if it’s not there.
I will have to make this again, and frankly this was really really easy!!
Cheers to your warm as honey on toast blog. I was just trying to make some marinated chicken mince cutlets at home in spite of a spell of cold rains and browsing through your recipes. I love your honest updates and family value’s added cooking.Hope i get to own your Cookery edition sooner , My favorite is the Lebanese cuisine but i love a bite of every kind in the world.
Thank you Debbie
made this and loved it! it was less sweet than the babka i usually make, but more restrained, so i liked that. i baked it for 35 minutes and it still wasn’t fully baked through. any suggestions, as i’d like to make it again?
I made this today- my first time having babka, I’d not ever even heard of it before, it is wonderful.
The recipe was easy.
I let it rise on my counter for a couple hours and it was warm today here so it did double pretty quick on me. They baked into big fluffy monster babkas rather than your pretty tight little twists. Pretty impossible to screw up though, and as you predicted they did look intentionally monsterous :)
Thanks for the fun recipe!
I’ve been using Peter Reinhart’s overnight method of baking bread for years and I use it for Cinnamon rolls as well as Challah. I make the dough and let it rise up to two hours then assemble the loaves and put them in the fridge overnight, all ready to go into the oven. The messy part is all done the night before so all I have to do is take the out of the oven and let them thaw/rise for an hour before baking. That way I don’t have to work to much for my treat in the morning.
I’ll try this with the babka next time I need to refresh my starter, and replace most of the yeast with 8 oz of starter. I’ve found that for dough with a lot of fat I still need to use a little bit of instant yeast (1/4 to 1/2 tsp) to get a good rise.
Made this for a dinner with friends last week – it was delicious! I’m such a disaster when it comes to baking bread and of course I don’t have a stand mixer and had to do this by hand. I panicked a bit when my dough wasn’t coming together, but took a deep breath and saw the note to add more flour if this occurred. Miracle of miracles, the dough looked identical to your picture! And to those afraid of the dough not rising – fear not! Mine increased by about 50% overnight and then… stopped. It didn’t seem to rise in the pan before going into the oven. But a mere 10 minutes after putting it in, it plumped right up! I cannot wait to bake this for family during this holiday season :)
Hi Deb! Been visiting your site for years now and have yet to comment. LOVE your blog, your writing, and of course, your recipes. I actually own Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook but only tried this babka yesterday after much googling and thoroughly reading your post. Your notes were awesome!! That’s my main reason for commenting. Huge thank you to you. My dough was not really coming together, then I read your suggestion about adding a tablespoon of flour- voila! Magic. Freezing the dough? A must in my opinion. You made this recipe even more doable than I thought, thank you!! Obviously it’s delicious.
What I really want to know is whether you filled and baked the dough trimmed off of the logs the way I did (yep, guilty. So I not only ate almost an entire loaf of babka, but also a teeny baby one. Doesn’t count).
Twice in one day- just happened to see the comment above mine, pretty similar with the flour issue! Props to you, Deb.
Fantastic recipe that turned out great the first try!
I did experience a few differences, although not sure exactly why.
1. The dough hardly increased in size at all on the first rise in the refrigerator. I’ve done lots of baking when doughs are kept cold overnight so was familiar with the process, so this was a bit unusual. At first I was afraid my yeast had died (something I find common these days, yeast within date but already past it’s prime).
2. Dough rolled out beautifully..and almost double the length mentioned in the instructions, giving me a wonderfully layered loaf. Word to others…seriously chill or freezer 15 minutes between steps…so much easier to work with and mine twisted with such ease I was certain I’d done something wrong!
3. As I find with many breads and bread recipes…this loaf took almost 3.5 hours to rise sufficiently before baking..in a very warm oven. I’ve baked enough to know when it’s ready by the touch, look and so forth..i don’t rely on time. I’ve never been able to figure out why my rising takes so long compared to instructions, but word to anyone, be patient.
I have plans to try a cinnamon only version, and one filled with a mix of minced dates, and other dried fruits. YUM~!
OOPS…also wanted to mention..
I don’t bother trying to seal the rolled up dough and filling. You’re going to slice the roll in half anyway. I placed it open flap down for the 15 minutes of cooling, then just sliced in half right where the rolled up end it. It’s a detail that isn’t necessary.
Hubby wanted a cake. So I mixed this recipe with your chocolate swirl muffins in a bundt pan. I made 1.5 dough of chocolate swirl muffins (it is faster, used 2 eggs and had to add some flour), used this filling and syrup. After rolling and slicing, placed in a bundt pan (alternating slice directions, one slice cut side up, then the next lengthwise next to it. Placed a second, alternating layer over.) Baked at 325 for 35 or so minutes, cooled a bit, removed from pan, glazed with syrup, then dusted with 1 teaspoon cocoa followed by 1 teaspoon powdered sugar. Turned out amazing!
Hi, thanks for your better chocolate babka recipe. It is easier than David Leite’s republished Martha babka. Don’t know how it will turn out, in the frig now.
But the cookbook you were looking for is available, from their website.
Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook
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Full of favorite recipes from the Le Pain Quotidien kitchens, this book is a little slice of ‘our daily bread’ that you can enjoy at home. This cookbook presents over 100 recipes for simple, elegant and healthy fare. While Le Pain Quotidien is best known for its organic bread and tartines this cookbook includes a whole range of recipes, great for sharing at any time of the day.
Well, babka has been my specialty for years, so I had serious doubts when I saw this recipe. The style I make (made) is more like Martha Stewart’s previously posted here. Today I made both recipes, took them to a party, and Deb’s new recipe was hands down the favorite of everyone. I was shocked! It did not appear as moist, did not rise as much – and what I thought was going to be the deal breaker – no crumb topping. Babka without a crumb topping – a kuna hura! But this recipe is special. It’s very moist. The chocolate is a dream to make and spread – the one I used to make was hard – my food processor would stop working before it was appropriately shmeary enough – it fell apart when sliced – and the crumb topping would fall off. But the taste was soooo good. But this new babka tastes even better and is now my go to recipe.
So, I have 2 questions/suggestions. Do you ever test the doneness of bread and desserts with a thermometer? I would guestimate the babka would be done at 180 degrees. What do you think? My second question deals with the height of the babka. Mine did not rise too high. I was thinking of increasing the ingredients by 50% to make it higher. What do you think about that?
Louise — I do sometimes, but there’s so much going on here, I think a skewer, with which you can feel if it’s stretchy/gummy (i.e. underbaked dough) inside is more effective because we don’t know what the temperature will be. But yes, I’d guess 180 to 190, tops. Re, your second question: You didn’t feel that yours filled out the pan or were you wishing it would have gone over the top edge? Did it look like mine? It’s hard to say why it didn’t happen, but if you want to try increasing the dough, it probably won’t hurt.
i love your book and site! the babka came out great, thank u :)
How do you think this filling would do with the dough recipe from the previous babka recipe? I like that dough (although it is way more butter!).
Adam — I think it would be fine but I honestly like this dough better. It’s more tender once baked; the other one can actually get slightly on the firm/dry side, but there’s so much butter and chocolate in the filling, we usually don’t notice it.
#1 I have already made this guy down here in the humid-maybe-I’ll-think-about-rising-these-egg-whites-when-pigs-fly South Texas, and it was 100% perfect and delicious! My husband calls it “tastes like the center of a cinnamon roll and make more so I don’t divorce you out of cravings” thing.
#2 Since it is just so perfect and tasty, I was thinking about making a white chocolate version of this (with some dried cranberries, maybe) instead of the dark chocolate paste inside. Any tips of alternatives for the “cocoa” dry portion of the mix to make it white chocolate? All I can think of is powdered sugar, but I don’t want it to be so sweet that you’re thinking your teeth are made from marshmallows.
Bless your heart for translating all the volume measurements into grams. We know it’s a pain!
Kat – i made a version of the other babka with white chocolate, almond paste, and dried cherries. Perhaps you could try almond flour or grind your own almonds?
Adam- Good idea, but we are a nut allergy house unfortunately!
Just made this babka today and not only have I wowed all my friends, but I feel like I’ve really outdone myself this time. I wish I could post a picture so you could see how beautiful they are. Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to craft such excellent recipes, with easy to follow directions and beautiful photographs to motivate me.
This looks absolutely delicious and I’ve been drooling at the beautiful pictures ever since you posted this. I’m finally making the babka tomorrow for my husband who’s returning from a very long work trip. I figured he deserves something special after the horrendous hotel food he’s been having.
The dough is chilling now in the fridge but id like to ask if i can use only half of the dough tomorrow to make one loaf and freeze the rest? Or is making 2 loaves and freezing one loaf itself a better option? Can’t wait to try these!
MarahaK — I vote for making two loaves now. It’s not that you can’t freeze the dough, but if you’re going to make the mess and fuss to make one, it’s easier to make two now. Plus, with all that butter and richness, this freezes well, even already baked. Enjoy.
Quick question – Do you think I could make the dough one night and then wait 24 hours before the next step?
Went to the market to purchase chocolate to find only unsweetened dark callebaut available. Could you advise me as to how much sugar will now be needed? Also, I have unsweetened cocoa powder. Should this be adjusted too? I bake frequently, but rarely with chocolate, and after spending so much money on ingredients, do not want to make any obvious missteps. Thank you.
Lovedit ! I made the dough by hand and it turned out great and rose brilliantly. I discovered halfway through that I only own one loaf pan so did the second one as a swirl in a cake tin which looked & tasted gorgeous!
Hi Deb- I love your site and you’re recipes are my “go to” for all dinners and brunches I host! I hate to admit it, but I am loyal to your first babka recipe which produced the most beautiful flakey loaves I’ve ever seen! This recipe had some challenges for me and Im still trying to figure if/where I went wrong. Maybe it’s intuitive but next time, I’ll significantly cool my chocolate spread before smearing on the dough. My dough actually started to melt (well, the butter did?) as I was spreading! I’d had my dough thoroughly chilled in the fridge overnight but I might even pop it into the freezer next time b/c I had a heck of a time working with it and rolling it out. The end product is still delicious but a denser cake-like babka than the first recipe which is closer to what I remember from my childhood. Anyway, thanks for the challenge and know Babka #1 still has a superfan!
Ack. Your*, not “you’re” in my first sentence!
Loved this recipe, thank you Deb! Our parents don’t have stand mixers and I do, and I’m making dough tonight (Tues) and wondering if I should assemble and bake tomorrow (Wed) or wait until Thanksgiving day. Would that be too long in the fridge? Will it get weird? Has anyone let it hang that long?
Andrea — You could do the final rise — so fully assembled, almost ready to bake — in the fridge overnight and bake it at your parents. Or, you can bake it a day or two in advance. It keeps very, very well (if I’m nowhere around, that is), even at room temperature. Enjoy!
Have now been making this for weeks!!! In case people still wondered:
1. I have been very successful freezing the dough after that first rise. Just bag it, freeze it. Pull it from the freezer and place in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Then use the dough as usual.
2. I add shaved semi sweet chocolate to the filling in the chocolate version for that little extra chocolate bite. I have also successfully made a cinnamon almond version and one using fruit marmalades and chopped up fruits and nuts. Delicious although I do add a little plain white glaze drizzle to those versions.
3. I have tried to make individual sized babkas in many different ways including muffin cups small mini loaf pans and so forth. However the most successful version was quite simple and needed no pan except a baking sheet. After cutting each rolled cylinder in half I cut each of those into three pieces lengthen slightly and then twist them a couple of times.. You might have to press the two ends into the parchment paper to get them to stick and stay a bit but I had no trouble you get light flaky individual little twisted babkas that look beautiful with a little white drizzle of glaze
I realized I’ve been watching your blog for a LONG time when I went to look at the old recipe, haha! I made that old recipe probably twice. I remember I went out and bought a new food processor in order to make it, and promptly had the thing warped and smoking after chopping chocolate. (I was still a wee bab in the kitchen though and had no clue what I was doing.) I remember the dough expanding out of the bowls I had on the rises. But boy were they tasty!
This recipe so far has been a BREEZE. Dough came together beautifully last night and rolled out like a dream after overnight fridging. I missed the part in the directions about cutting off the ends and just rolled them up burrito style! I had my mom take a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khYzfU24n0U
As a little followup, they’re out of the oven now and quite beautiful. Mine seem to have puffed up a lot more than yours did during baking, but I don’t mind. They’re gorgeous!
RE: mixing in the butter on medium – the KitchenAid instructions say not to go above speed 2 when using the dough hook – is that going to work with this recipe?
Elizabeth — Using Speed 2 will be just fine, too, especially if you’re worried.
I like this one and did the comparison test at Thanksgiving. The old recipe with more chocolate won out big time. But I like this one too.
Humm…. I hope I just did not make a big mistake. I made a triple batch of babka and added a streusel topping – so I could not add the syrup when they come out of the oven. I hope they will not be dry.
this is absolutely great- made one today and am truly happy
Question: Can I split these and make four small loaves? Would love to give as gifts.
Janine — What lucky recipients. Definitely think you could make minis.
Ever since you posted, I’ve been wanting an occasion to make this. I finally made it this weekend for breakfast after an overnight with friends. Amazing :) And I didn’t find it too cumbersome; not much more than any other sweet roll, such as cinnamon rolls. On a whim I added a bit of fresh squeezed orange juice to the sugar syrup (had to add more sugar to keep it sweet…should have initially just reduced some of the water). Not sure how much of a difference it made, since I hadn’t had it without, but it was good!
I must tell you–I made these today (one regular loaf, two mini loaves) and it was AMAZING! My kitchen smells SO GOOD! Your directions, ingredient list, etc., was spot on. The only thing I did was to add some mini chocolate chips on top of the chocolate spread. Also, I wanted to make it in one day, so I made the dough late morning, and I left it out to rise all day. About 7:00 this evening I chilled the dough as directed and continued to assemble the loaves. Your directions called for a second rising, or a rest under a damp tea towel, but because I took so long making dinner and finishing these loaves (to assemble, chill again, cut lengthwise, etc.), I couldn’t wait any longer and popped them in at 9:45 p.m. They are beautiful and DELICIOUS! Thank you SO MUCH for this recipe and all of your helpful tips!
I am loving this post and all the comments. I was in Israel last year and the couple my husband and I went with gave me Jerusalem the Cookbook as a thank you for planning our trip. I had been eyeing the krantz for awhile and when I saw this post making it easier and coinciding with an Israeli breakfast we were invited to at an Israeli-American family’s house (with in-laws in from Israel to visit grandkids) I knew I had to make babka! I made one chocolate and one cinnamon. I held my breath as they were cut to eat – they were the most perfect food I could have brought – whew! Everyone was raving, so thank you thank you for being the inspiration to try this recipe. To remain loyal to my dislike of zest in baked goods, I added @ 2 tbsp of the “meat” part of a naval orange with juice squeezed out in a fine strainer instead of zest – this is what I use in my hamantaschen dough so I know it works. I have made 2 more batches since and will be making more this weekend as gifts – I also want to try smaller ones so thx to the comments above.
I love this recipe! I was a bit skeptical at first, because I didn’t know any recipes like this (it looks like a cake, but it’s… yeast dough? What is this abomination?!), but it is absolutely delicious and not as difficult as it looks. I found I had to bake it under aluminium foil to avoid it looking (though not tasting, oddly) horribly burnt. Will definitely make this more often. Thanks for sharing!
Deb, since you live in NYC, you MUST try the chocolate banks from Breads Bakery near Union Square. It’s pricey at twelve bucks a loaf, but one of the most decadent I have ever had.
Re: freezing these… if I bake two loaves with the goal of freezing them both for Christmas morning, would I still brush on the sugar glaze before freezing? I’ve only ever frozen pre-baked goodies (like your scones!) so am wondering if I follow the recipe to the finish before freezing these beauties.
A friend has made this bobka several times and I am in love with it! I can’t wait to make it! And eat it!!!!!
My friend makes these and i Love them!!! She shared your recipe and I can’t wait to eat them and make them!!!!!
I’ve made this twice and love it! Now I’m considering a rum- or whisky-soaked version for the grownups. Have you tried that? Would you use the same amount of alcohol as you do the sugar syrup?
I wouldn’t skip the sugar syrup because it makes the whole thing very glossy, lovely and moist. However, I might replace some of the water in the sugar syrup with alcohol. You could add it last to the syrup, so it doesn’t fully cook off, if you wish.
When I read “better babka,” my eyes widened, as it was difficult for me to imagine anything better than the wonderful confection (previously totally unknown to me) that I baked from your earlier recipe for last Christmas morning. But, okay – the dough for this one is now resting in the fridge, to be baked tomorrow and then stashed in the freezer. Like Erin #264, I wondered if I should brush the sugar syrup on before freezing or wait until the warm-it-up stage on the 25th.
I think you may have answered this in Comment 202, but re: cutting off 1/2″ from each end of the dough roll. Do I just discard that dough, or do I use it elsewhere? Is that to ensure that the chocolate extends the length of the loaf?
CarolJ — I would brush it on before.
Gale — It’s to make a nice, clean end with swirls that go all the way to it. I baked off the four ends in little muffin tins, and once, wedged all four into a 4-inch cake pan. It give you an extra little taster.
Hi Deb! Love the blog. What do you think About a streusel topping? Would you still cook it at the same temperature of the same amount of time?
Yes. But it would be an issue with the syrup — I don’t think the streusel will be good with a syrupy soak.
I just made this tonight for a Christmas brunch tomorrow morning. I took one bite and my honest-to-god reaction was: I am not sure I need to bake any other item again, ever. My husband clarified “like, you don’t need another babka recipe?” and I said “no, as in, now that i know that I can bake this, I don’t ever need to bake cake, coffee cake, cookies … anything. This satisfies it all.”
Hi Deb – I am loving your recipes. This is the third one that I’ve tried. I laughed when I read about the woman who said she could stop making anything else, forever now that she could make this Chocolate Babka. I was eating it and pensively wondering how I could fit baking a couple each week into my schedule, forever. So, I just wanted to say that I’ve always loved these cakes and never expected that I could make one, but the way you’ve presented, explained and clarified all the details made me confident enough to give it a try. And mine is the best one I’ve ever tasted :) But, hey, totally unfair that just as I finish cleaning up after this one and putting the mixer away I start reading the comments and find you’ve just added a cinnamon honey baklava babka… oh my.
I made this yesterday for a Christmas-y brunch, and it was fabulous! Used coconut oil and a flax egg to make it vegan, and it worked like a charm. Thanks for the great recipe, as usual!
Did you only use 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water) to replace the 3 eggs? I would love to veganize this recipe and give it a shot!
We made this yesterday for a solstice party this morning, and it was great! The neighbors, many of whom have been eating solstice cinnamon rolls from us for years, went back for seconds and thirds. And what a straightforward recipe — Thank you!
As a note, we used whatever the regular yeast was in the fridge, added a smidge more (since I was pretty sure it wasn’t rapid-rise) and proofed it. Then left the dough in the fridge for a half day. The final product was kinda heavy — it might have needed another 5-7 minutes of baking, although no one complained. I suppose more experimentation is needed… Perhaps if we leave it in overnight and plan for babka for breakfast…
Hi Deb, I know your apple situation has long since passed but I thought I’d pass on a good trick to try next season. You can prep the apples for an apple pie, peeled, fresh lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon, more spices, and freeze in heavy zip lock bags. They keep and bake up beautifully, frozen apples poured straight to the crust. I was dubious at first but it works so well, and a pie is short work when you are only making the crust. We have apple trees and make a saucepan of applesauce (chunks, peels on, lemon juice and small amount of sugar) and 3 hungry kids snarf it down fast, rarely does any go into the fridge.
Thanks for your amazing site!
Curious one, always thought Babka’s were a pastry, but seems like it is “merely” a cinnamon roll process where one replaces the marzipan/cinnamon filling with chocolate, and stops halfway before cutting the rolls .. think I’ll start by trying it with a tsp of Cardamom instead of the zest and convert it to a sourdough base the second time around.
Regarding note #5; I had a hell of a time adding butter to doughs by hand until I stumbled upon the Slap-n-Fold technique championed by Richard Bertinet. For those so inclined it can be watched here http://youtu.be/kXV8mayG3W0 . Also messy, as is to be expected, but much better control and quite fast once one gets the hang of it.
Follow up from #269: all doubts about whether it could be better than the previous babka were put to rest! It got raves and got eaten up in a flash. Thank you for the syrup advice – worked out perfectly.
All I can say is I made a mess of these mini loaves for gifts, and they turned out fantastic! Of course, we kept one and thoroughly enjoyed it, and I put out a warmed loaf at our Christmas celebration and everyone raved. Wish I could post pics! Thank you so much for the recipe!
I made these for New Years. They were amazingly easy and turned out great. The dough behaved great – not sticking when rolled out and easy to cut and form once it was frozen for the 10-15 minutes. Thanks for the detailed instructions.
@Ulf – I tried making a quarter of a double batch as cinnamon rolls, and the dough isn’t really suited to it, IMO! Better to go with a sweeter yeasted dough intended for sliced baking. I think the babka dough works better as a loaf!
I love your blog. My niece sent me rugelach and babka from Green’s in Brooklyn. I will attempt yours. Happy memories from living in NY.
I´ve been reading your blog for a while now, but this was the first recipe I decided to try and make. Blame it on the pictures and their MUST HAVE NOW effect, plus I love Babkas. But as much as I love Babkas they seem SO complicated, SO time consuming and SO for people that know what they are doing (a.k.a not me)
But I made it. And it was… heaven. HEAVEN!
The only problem is that now I want to make more… and more… and more. And that is a problem, for the hips, waist, and all around. Plus, I´ve run out of people to give that second loaf to.
So, thank you! for making an impossible (delisiously) happen
Hi Deb – I am new to the site and pretty new to cooking but this looks so delicious I have to try it! I recently purchased a food processor and wondered if there was a difference in making the dough in there vs. a stand mixer? Thanks!
Rebecca — The FP isn’t my favorite for kneaded doughs. I know they come with a dough blade, but if you have a KA, I think it does a better job of kneading with the dough hook.
Hi, Deb! This is a wonderful recipe,I made it twice already, and got great reviews! (which I modestly directed to you :)). I made it once per letter of your recipe, but the second time I improvised – one log was with poppy seed filling and the other was filled with chocolate and marzipan. ( I LOVE marzipan!) I baked them in the 9″ round pans, and even though they rose beautifully in the oven, after I took them out and basted with syrup they fell about two inches. Is that because the pan was too big? There were about an inch left around each babka when I placed them in the pans before the second rise….
Should I use 8″ round next time?
Hi Deb! I’m planning on making this for my department’s grad student bake-off on Monday (I’m testing the recipe tomorrow to make sure all goes well on Monday). It sounds like this recipe is indeed better than the Martha recipe, but I was wondering if you’ve ever made it slightly richer with whole milk instead of water. Do you think this would work well? Would it throw things off? Thank you!
I tried this recipe
I don’t want to be a downer
This is not a recipe I will try in the future.
But I think if you stick with the recipe and stop with all the talk
I’m sure it would of turned out
Yeast should of been processed before dumped in the flour mixture
Took longer than 30 min to cook
Bottom line spent a fortune on quality ingredients and it didn’t rise and came out dry!
This is the second time I have used your recipes
Pudding was horrible until you revised it! And this one
I also bought your book waste of 30 bucks.
This is the second time I have made and it turned out beautifully. I may finally get over my phobia about baking with yeast. Thanks, Deb! I was wondering how it would be with a bit of orange zest in the filling instead of cinnamon (orange and chocolate together is to die for).
Kathryn — I haven’t, but I feel like it should work just fine. That said, it isn’t necessary to make a lovely, stretchy dough here. You’ve got butter and eggs for that. :)
Lara — I’ve never baked these in round pans before, so I’m not sure if it was just the pan size/shape or perhaps something that happens with the loaf pans, but less noticeably. It does sound a little off though. Perhaps some air was rolled/woven into the twist/spirals, creating pockets that collapsed when wet with syrup? Still, two inches is a lot!
Genie — I’m sorry that this didn’t work out for you (and that you aren’t happy with the cookbook). A couple things, though: Instant yeast does not need to be processed/proofed before being used, only Active Dry does. The baking time says 30 minutes with clear instructions that if it’s not done — if a tester is going into stretchy, underbaked dough — you should put it back for 5 minutes. This “talk” is extra details like that, that can help people who have never made this before find their way to the best chocolate babka we made.
Hi Deb-in the midst of the blizzard-that-was-not-a-blizzard I made this unbelievable babka!! I’ve never made babka, but you made it sound so completely doable, I thought I’d give it a go. Made it in one night (a half recipe). No Kitchen-aid so made the dough by hand. Not as difficult as I thought. Rose for 3 hours, then 30 min in fridge as you suggested. Rolled it out, put the log in the freezer for 10 minutes, and then sliced it to make mini babka “rolls” as a few others said they did in the comments. They seem to do best baking for 20 minutes. I have the remainder in the freezer, so we can just make a few at a time (zero willpower if they are all baked and ready to eat at the same time lol). I’m so pleased with how they turned out (my SO is beyond ecstatic. He LOVES babka) and they were totally do-able and actually fun to make. Love your instructions and how simple you make everything!! Thanks! :)
One question Deb – if you wanted to ship the babka to a friend, any tips on packaging? It would probably be traveling for two days. I was thinking to put it in one of those disposable loaf pans, wrap it in foil, and then place all that in a bubble wrap filled box. Is there a better way do you think? Do you think it will even ship well at all? I am also going to try making it gluten free for her, so this is exciting in just so many ways lol :) thank you!
I made the first chocolate babka recipe and we loved it. But then last month I made this new better babka and I much prefer it over the other one. I also played around with fillings other than chocolate and make a poppy seed filling along with a lemon zest/nutmeg kissed dough–OUTSTANDING! Then I did a toasted walnut-brown sugar-cinnamon filling. I plan to figure out a cream cheese/ricotta filling (I make my own!) with or without fruit next and have a request for a creamy German Chocolate frosting type filling. So very good.
I’ve never made babka before and we both loved this one! I did the first stage yesterday at 8 pm and second at 3:30 today. Going into the oven it hadn’t moved much in the pan but it came out gorgeous! Thanks!
Hi Deb, my son’s 12th birthday is coming up and I always like to make a special breakfast for him that day. I’ll have to make these the weekend before and freeze them. I’m glad to read that they freeze well, but I’ve read through all the comments and haven’t seen this addressed: how do you recommend defrosting and reheating? Should I take the frozen baked loaf out of the freezer the night before and let it sit out on the counter overnight? Or in the fridge? And I want it to be warm and gooey/melty when serving so should I put the whole loaf in the oven to warm? Any suggestions appreciated!
Matthew’s Mom — I think you could do either with a baked good like this, in the fridge or the counter, in which case I’d probably opt for the counter. Then, warm it gently in the oven in the morning, maybe at 300. He’s a pretty lucky kid!
First off…thank you for everything. I enjoy everything about this site… the recipes, your adaptations, the pictures, your pretesting of recipes (which saves me a lot of time and frustration), and especially your incredibly enjoyable sense of humor. I have made many of your recipes, which I can happily report, I have loved, as has my family. I agree with changes you make to recipes as I think your palate is spot on – if you think something is too sweet, I’m usually in the same camp (maybe it’s because I grew up in New Jersey loving Seven Layer Cake also) I have followed your blog for a long time but I’m not a poster – so I would have happily just followed along without ever posting but I do have a question. I made the Babka yesterday for my husband’s book group (they’ve given me an amazing opportunity for recipe testing – as they are always hungry). The Babka was amazing – everyone loved it and between us all we managed to consume the entire thing. I followed your advice and omitted the nuts, added the cinnamon and decreased the quantity of syrup – which worked out perfectly. I should also add, to make it look more like the Babkas I remember from my childhood, I put the entire recipe in one 12 cup tube pan (similar to an angel food cake pan but made out of a heavier metal). It worked perfectly and it was gorgeous. It just needed about 5 or 10 minutes longer to bake. I do own the cookbook, Jerusalem, and I was referring to the pictures in the book during the rolling process when I noticed that for the syrup, you decreased the water by one half but decreased the sugar by two thirds. I was wondering if this was by design. I ended up using 1/3 cup of water and 130 grams of sugar and it worked out great, but I’m already wondering about the next time I make this. As a mother of 4 sons, I can assure you that there will be many next times for this recipe and many of your other recipes. I’ve gone on way too long, but let me just end by thanking you for letting us take a glimpse into your life, it is so much fun to follow. And also, congratulations on your growing family.
Can I put these on a cookie sheet if I don’t have a loaf pan?
Love your book and blog!! I make everything you post!!
Thank you. I think you could but it would definitely not stay loaf-shaped. I don’t see why it wouldn’t still taste delicious, however.
Made this today working with your notes along with the book. Thanks so much for the tip to chill the rolled logs before slicing! I didn’t have room in my freezer for them so I just put them in the fridge for a few minutes and that was enough to make the slicing much easier. Assembling the babkas was much easier than I thought it would be, and definitely worth it! I did use the full amount of syrup suggested in the book, and it seemed like a fine amount to me. One last note– I didn’t have 9×4 loaf pans, so I used 8x4s, and they baked up just fine. Thanks again! Your site is the best.
Perhaps this is a dumb question, but…sweetened or unsweetened cocoa powder? THANKS!!
Unsweetened — totally reasonable question!
I made these tonight and they came out absolutely amazing and delicious! I could hardly wait for it to cool before I dug in! Thank you oh so much for such a wonderful recipe!
Made these babkas to take to a sabich party and had a hard time getting the loaves to bake all the way through – they were still doughy at the 1 hour mark. I know my oven temp is fine – could the dough have been too wet? Did I need more flour at the end in the mixer? I did add 2 tablespoons of flour to make it come together, but wonder if I needed more. I was surprised, because I’ve never had trouble with any of your recipes, I followed the recipe exactly, and I’m a pretty decent bread baker. Where did I go wrong?
Hi:) I make ALOT of your recipes. Made this first off a Saveur recipe. I loved the filling but not the bread. Looked to see if u had a recipe and of course u did! So my question is I double the filling which is 1/4 cup raspberry jam mixed with 2 tbsp Cocoa and 5 tbsp butter. I double that and use 8oz chips chopped with 1/4 cup sugar. It’s AMAZING. But your dough is exponentially better. Only problem is I can’t get the middle to bake through. 375 seems too high..with that much filling. Any ideas what I should do? Lower temp/extend time? Thanks for all the recipes and hard work!!!
Kim — Can you point me to the recipe you’re speaking of? It might help me figure out how to make it work. In general, though, yes, jam is wetter than chocolate and can increase baking time. And, if something is overcooked on the outside before it’s baked in the center, the best thing is to bake it at 25 degrees less next time and see if that helps even things out.
Made this for the first day of spring! Wonderful recipe, Deb. I used candied orange peel (minced) instead of zest and Nutella (i cup for each loaf) instead of the “homemade” filling. It was fabulous.
I just made these, and they’re so beautiful! But they were too dry and dense. :( I followed your instructions and hand-kneaded until well-combined (took less than 10 minutes) and let them rise in the fridge all night and then some. The dough was very cold and stiff but after working it for a while it became malleable. After the second rise the babkas looked nicely puffed, but after baking they were too heavy, especially around the edges. There weren’t air pockets either. How do get softer, ligter bread?
You might just give it even longer to rise next time. I find instant yeast particularly sluggish to get started growing so it’s okay to give it longer at room temperature before baking next time. It’s not supposed to be a soft, tender cake though. I mean, it’s moist, but full of heavy chocolate and damp with syrup, etc.
@deb Saveur magazine has a recipe. They emailed it to me. I made it and didn’t like their dough. Yours is way better! Making it again tomorrow bright and early. Will reduce temp by 25 and see how we go. Thanks for the help and reply! xo
Oh Deb, you always get me. I made these over the weekend and they were WONDERFUL! So tasty. So perfectly just moist. So chocolatey. Even better the second day. And so BEAUTIFUL that my mom and my sister both noticed them on my counter and begged for a taste. Thank you (and Yotam and Sami!) for another show-stopping and delicious treat!
What luck to find such an awesome website while looking for a chocolate babka recipe and no question: this was the one that was the most appealing and it honestly knocks the socks off any other I’ve ever had. My only mistake was in making only one. This will never happen again! As flours vary from batch to batch, country to country, I had to add about 4-5 tbs more for the right consistency and I threw in the whole orange’s zest, which wasn’t too much at all, even for the halved recipe. Chocolate heaven.
I followed your recipe and both loaves came out perfect! I have a marble rolling pin & refrigerated it 10-15 minutes before rolling out the dough, just to be sure the dough would stay firm(& not melt the buttery dough mixture) I was able to roll it quite thin(dough measured about 18″x10″) so that the bread would not be so thick in between the chocolate(so it would be more like Zabars chocolate babka!) & it worked quite well. Thanks for your hard work in perfeting this recipe!
I just made this and we all gave it 5 stars. The texture, chocolate and hint of lemon were a lovely combination. This was very time consuming but I don’t mind, I love to bake and this was very rewarding at the end. It came out looking stunning and the slicing wasn’t messy at all (I left out the nuts). Thanks for sharing, and nest time I will not halve the recipe.
I absolutely love your blog and recipes! I love that you provide extra ‘talk’ and truly appreciate that you include so many helpful details and photographs.
This babka recipe looks delicious and I’m going to attempt it today. Thank you so much for re-working it and sharing your results!
This was completely wondeful. My sister and I made it for a picnic breakfast this morning, halving the sugar and butter in the dough and leaving out the syrup in favour of a brushing of milk before baking. It was still completely decadent and beautiful, and the orange zest made it so fragrant. Definitely my go-to from now on for impressive things to bring to potlucks!
Warning for those using convection ovens: 25 minutes was a bit too long.
I was in the middle of making this from Jerusalem when I came looking for a cinnamon version. Your instructions to chill before cutting the “log” were an invaluable guide for me. I only make yeast things in my bread machine on dough setting. I didn’t have ex lg eggs, but 3 lg plus 1 yolk provided the correct volume. I weighed the dough in the morning to assure it is exactly half. I made the filling early so it is still a “sauce” of sorts, but easy to spread with an off set spatula. Since there is so much butter in the dough I felt OK about rolling it out on my silpat without any dusting of flour, using the mat as a guide for dimentions. Then I slipped a cookie sheet under the mat and chilled it in the fridge while I rested. I can’t stand for long at a time. I used pecans but not the sugar and rolled, with the aid of my bench knife. Then using the silpat as a sling, cooled it while I rested again. My pan is 4×11. It was forgotten for about 4 hours. Baked for 30 min. I enjoyed some as breakfast, and gave the balance to a neighbor. I bought cinnamon chips to try next time.
I’d love to include the photo since it is so lovely.
I only baked one, my oven is too small for 2 pans side by side, they get lopsided.
I expect to come back and explore.
I’m a big fan of babka! I think America’s Test Kitchen cinnamon babka is the best, but it looks like you’re giving them a run for their money. I can’t wait to try this!
If I use semi sweet chocolate, should I skip the powdered sugar?
Masa — Not necessary, because bittersweet chocolate and semisweet are often labeled interchangeably.
As I was spreading the chocolate on the rolled-out dough, I thought of Nutella. A way to get the nuttiness into your babka without the chunks of actual nuts?
Is there a downside to making this with bread flour?
Anna — No downside likely, but no need to. Bread flour has extra gluten for sturdier/stretchier breads. Not really what we’d be going for here, but there’s enough else going on (butter, sugar, eggs, chocolate, hooray) that it wouldn’t be a big issue.
Well I made it with active dry yeast because that was what I had and I was in such a mood that I just needed to bake and said to hell with the consequences! I proofed it first so we’ll see. I’m sure it will end up being very dense but I’m hoping it’ll taste good anyway. When it comes to chocolate, I’m not picky! The loaves are rising now, along with a little mini nutella loaf that I made with the leftover dough from the ends! They’re not as beautiful as yours but I’m still excited- next time I’ll take your advice on the yeast, when I’m not in such a grumpy mood :P
Update: I tweeted you a picture, they turned out wonderfully! Next time I definitely will use instant yeast, but I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out anyway, even though it definitely wasn’t as great looking as yours.
Note: I rolled out the extra dough from the ends and filled with nutella, used about 6.5 oz of chocolate (was just easier the way my block of chocolate was to chop that way and have a little extra rather than too much- OCD like that) and was about 2 tablespoons short of butter for the filling and it still turned out SO GOOD! I just had a piece and was amazed at how tender it was! I’m going to have to try loaf brioche now, I was too scared to try it but now that I’ve mastered this recipe, I feel much more confident.
Thanks for yet another fabulous recipe!
I immediately got mesmerized by this chocolate babka of yours the moment I saw it (as is often the case around here) and I knew I had to try and make it some day. And finally the great day arrived!
Still, I was interested in just 1 loaf (actually, it ended up being a babka wreath) so I reduced quantities. We at home are very fond of dark chocolate, so I left out sugar in the filling and citrus zest in the dough to savour chocolate to the full.
It was an unparalleled success! (actually, it’s been three this month!!!). Thanks for sharing such a beauty and yet another amazing recipe (and I’m positive there’ll be a fourth and a fifth…).
Hello! I made this babka and OMG it was so good, my friends absolutely loved it! Since I like sharing what I bake but also like to keep some to myself and my boyfriend, I made 2 smaller babkas that I put in the freezer. Could you please give me directions on how to defrost these? I wouldn’t want to risk ruining them… Thank you so much <3 love your blog (and thank you for liking my instagram picture, you made my day @maudsgerard)
Super super super good. I only used half a lemon zested and it added the perfect “je ne sais quoi” undertone. Will make this again and again.
For other readers: baked mine for a solid 45 minutes, covered them with foil at about the 25 mark but they needed the extra time to avoid being doughy in the center. Trust your baking instincts!
It was fantastic! You were so right about it looking rough and irregular after twisting the two sections, and placing them into the loaf pans. But, they rose and then had an oven spring and then I glazed them and they were picture perfect. Great recipe.
I doubled the filling to get a babka that was more chocolate than bread. Worked great!
Deb – I tried this last year for our Christmas morning fare, and I’m hoping to try it again this year, but with better results. Last year the ends of each loaf were perfect. But as I sliced my way into the center the dough layers hadn’t risen as well, nor had they cooked through. Any ideas?
Oh wait, I just noticed your exchange with Kim (#304, 307, 309). Did she ever say if her approach of a lower temp and longer bake helped?
Hi Deb. I’d like to make this a cinnamon babka with no nuts. (Actually I’d love to make it chocolate but my crazy family prefers cinnamon and if I’m the only one eating the chocolate one I probably won’t be able to control myself). Would the filling from your “cinnamon swirl buns and so much news” post work in this babka recipe? And if so, would I need to adjust the quantity of filling from the cinnamon buns recipe?
Amy — Sadly, I have never made a cinnamon babka. In fact, I’ve never even eaten a good one. I have this very chocolate-or-bust mentality about babka which means I haven’t done enough research to point you in the direction of the right kind of filling. If you need me to, I mean, if I MUST ;) I will definitely seek out cinnamon babka (a good recommendation?) and report back with my findings. Sheesh, this job is hard sometimes.
Finally made this yesterday, and it is PERFECT. Tastes very much like a good brioche, but with so much less fat it’s hard to believe. When I saw how beautifully soft, supple and easy to handle the dough was, I decided to form it into the flower shape that had its big Internet moment a year or two ago [http://www.breadventuresnj.com/blog/nutella-flower-brioche-star], which is so much easier to do than it looks. It was such a major hit that now I’m pondering fillings to turn it into a more breakfasty item… I’m thinking raspberry, or chai spiced apple, or….something. Thanks Deb, this was such a winner!
Forgot to mention: for anyone else considering it, I used milk for the liquid in this because I wanted a softer crust, and it worked out just fine. I also doubled the orange zest and it was wonderful against all that deep chocolate flavor.
Hi. Sorry if I missed this–I looked through the comments. Cocoa–Dutch process or no? Thanks. Itching to try this.
How long could you freeze the already baked babka? One month?
Leah — As long as your freezer keeps thing fresh and doesn’t absorb smells. It could be six months safely.
This was amazing! I used my bread machine to make the dough (just dumped all the ingredients in according to manufacturer’s instructions and took the dough out before the rise cycle) and my babka’s turned out perfectly! So beautiful I can’t stand it and totally delicious! I was wondering if you have any thoughts on a savory version. I would love to adapt this for a great Thanksgiving dinner bread.
In your Martha Stewart Recipe you are able to freeze a already prepared unbaked babka. Can you assemble this babka, put it in a loaf pan unbaked and freeze? I would like to bake it when my family arrives next week but want to have it ready to go. I would rather not just freeze an already baked one. Thanks!
Becca — I think it shouldn’t be a problem.
Wanted to follow up on my comment #333 regarding using the filling from the “cinnamon swirl buns and so much news” post in the babka recipe. Short answer: I tried it and it didn’t work for me. More details: I made one batch of the babka dough. Next day divided in two, filled half with the chocolate filling from this post and half with the filling from the cinnamon buns post. The chocolate one looked just like the photos but the cinnamon one was difficult to shape because the cinnamon filling is crumbly, rather than a spreadable paste. (Deb, it was just like your recipe note #3 above– the after the log was split, the cinnamon-filled layers fanned out). I did the second rise overnight in the fridge (due to time issues). Next day, let sit at room temp for about 3 hours. The cinnamon one sort of “leaked” so there was liquid in the bottom of the pan. Then baked both, brushed with sugar syrup, wrapped them well and froze for about a week. Defrosted both at room temp. The chocolate one– pure perfection!! Gorgeous and beyond delicious!! The cinnamon one– not good. Overly sweet and strange greasy taste.
Made this tonight for a few doctors I work with to celebrate Hanukkah. I used premium yeast and it rose well overnight in the refrigerator. Truthfully the loves look exactly like your pictures. They are beautiful and can only hope they taste as good.
Deb, I just made this babka and it was wonderful. All of your notes were *very* helpful. I would just add–once you’ve cut those babies in half lengthwise, twist them up immediately WITH CONFIDENCE! Bend them to your will!! Otherwise they (and you) will flail about helplessly, as the cut rolls warm in a matter of a minute or so. I bent them into tight twists and tucked the ends, and they turned out to be very pretty.
I do have a question, if you have any time to spare. The texture of the bread for me turned out to me more like an average white hamburger roll (lots of tiny bubbles) and I wonder if babka is meant to have that texture? Having never eaten one before today, I don’t know. I’d like to go for more of a pull-apart, more dense, almost ropy effect (eh, that does not sound as appetizing as I envision it) and I wonder what the key is — the flour, the type of yeast, the amount of kneading, the thickness of the rolling…? I’m a bread newbie. Any suggestions or insights most welcome! Thanks!
Chocolate Babka has not made its way to Arkansas bakeries as far as I know, so it was fun to find this recipe and give it a try. Delicious!! Have made two batches Divine!! . And the dough is delightful, and I’m wondering if you have used this dough recipe for any other treats? Thank you!
i was able to make this a single-day recipe with regular active dry yeast — i just replaced the AP with self-rising flour!
Hi Deb. Your chocolate babka has been an integral part of our annual Hanukkah/Christmas mashup tradition since 2009. It all started because we were living in Calgary, Canada and this former New Yorker was dismayed to find that no one in the city would ship me a chocolate babka for the holidays. Little did I know the revelation that homemade babka would be (especially made with Callebaut chocloate). My family–and several friends who usually get mini ones as gifts–now demand it. I’m a little nervous about springing this new recipe on them, but I trust you! Thank you for sweetening our holidays all these years.
Right now i have the dough for this babka in the fridge. I’ve made it once already and it was one of the most amazing things i’ve ever baked!
As we are great fans of chocolate and orange, i was wondering about making the syrup with orange juice instead of water… do you think it would work OK Deb?
Thank you for sharing such great recipes! This one definitely will be on our Christmas table! :) Happy Holidays from Portugal!
I’ve done this recipe before and absolutely loved it, but I was wondering if this would freeze well and best way to do so!? Thanks!!
Greetings, Deb, once again you’ve inspired me to attempt babka. Several years ago, I made babka from your original posting. (Turned out great with the only hiccough being leftover chocolate filling.) Inspired again because a local bakery sold their babka, the size of a large cinnamon bun, for a whopping $8, I checked back with your website to find the new recipe. (We live in the south, where it can be difficult to impossible to find wonderful baked goods so readily available in places like NYC or Boston.) Short story, the babka turned out great, not as pretty as yours, but oh so tasty. Long story, just as with the first babka, assembling the final loaves is always interesting. Thanks for haring your research, learnings and great recipes. E
I have never heard of a 9×4 inch loaf pan. None of the conversion charts in any of my baking books list that size. I have both 8.5 x 4.5 and 9 x 5. I am always perplexed when I see a bread recipe that calls for 9 x 4. The volume is midway
between the two standard pans. Can you help? I know I will have to take it for my Christmas Eve babka this year, but I would like to know for the future. Love your cookbook and you are now my go-to website if I want to do something with an ingredient that makes its way into my kitchen. Karen
Karen — You can use either. Hope you love the babka as much as we do.
Ana — I might instead add orange zest to the syrup. You’ll get a clearer orange flavor.
Over Christmas weekend I finally had time to try these babkas! I am so thankful for your tips on the recipe. I encountered three issues with the final product. I let the loaves rise for an hour on my stove with the oven turned on. They barely rose at all. Next time I suppose I need to allot more time. Or do they never rise substantially? Also, I found that the 375 degrees was a bit much for the them. The outside parts that were touching the pan got over done while the inside didn’t seem baked enough. Next time I might try reducing the temp to 350 and increasing the baking time.
Also, I really yearned for the pecans in the filling. I chopped the pecans quite finely and had no problem of fanning when rolling and slicing the “cigars”.
I have a life or death question: can these be made using fresh yeast instead of instant? I’m a New Yorker but im spending the year in south america and miss the crap out of deli food – I would literally kill for an everything bagel! The thing is, in the country I’m in there’s no instant dry yeast. I could try to make some based on an instructables page I found, but if the babka wont be ruined by using fresh yeast then I can finally get that taste of home I’ve been dying for.
Also, how would I adjust for altitude since I’m at roughly 9,000 ft?
For those wanting to make this with active dry yeast instead of instant: I was able to get the recipe to work with by using about 1.25 the amount of yeast and proofing it first. So instead of mixing the yeast in with the dry ingredients, I proofed the yeast in the amount of water prescribed, but warmed up. Once it was bubbling away, I added the other dry ingredients and the eggs and proceeded with the rest of the recipe. Worked perfectly!
Made this last week, but I don’t think it had risen enough – so when I baked it, the babka was dense and really heavy. It’s in my fridge now, and I’m about to roll it out – hoping it’s not that the yeast is dead. My question is – how much is it supposed to actually rise in the fridge? It didn’t rise either time.
It looks scary and delicious at the same time.
David Lebovitz posted his version this week as well. Must be something in the air.
Second rise is happening now! I may try the overnight refrigeration with a couple other sweet dough recipes I have that are difficult to roll out. The cold and the long rest definitely makes it super easy to roll out. Can’t wait to enjoy it for brunch this morning!
Yay! I have this rising in my kitchen right now and I’m beyond excited!
I had a few questions and was so happy to find them all answered searching through the comments! It’s a really good atmosphere here by the way =)
So I have very little time tomorrow and won’t be able to bake them both.. so I’ll just freeze half of the dough I guess, as gary (248) suggested. I wonder if it would turn out ok if I assembled it before freezing, but as a not-so-experienced baker I won’t risk it and will just face the mess twice.
Also, I’m doing this from Brazil and it’s been quite hot out and humid, so I wonder how that’s gonna change the outcome.
I first ever heard of babka in a Seinfeld episode, so I considered this being a festivus week item a huge sign that I should just make some!
Thanks for the awesome blog!! I didn’t know it before but I already love it from a quick browse <3
Although I just realized my pan is way larger, so maybe I’ll just make a single babka, or a big one and a smaller one. I hope that doesn’t mess everything up!
For those interested in freezing and defrosting, I’m reporting back on my very successful experience with it! I kept one loaf in the freezer for about 2 months (wrapped in many layers of plastic wrap). I took it out about 24 hours before I wanted to eat it, left it on the counter to defrost overnight, then reheated in the oven at about 300 F (as Deb suggests) for 15 minutes. The outcome was amazing, total success. I thought that the taste would be ok, but that the texture of the dough would suffer – to my surprise it was incredibly soft and airy, just like when first baked! So glad to have this in my repertoire for keeping in the freezer and taking out when the mood (or unexpected guests) strikes!
Thank you! great recipe.
It came out perfect!
I like some texture so instead of adding nuts, I added Cocoa Nibs. They add some crunch and more chocolate flavor. You can not have too much chocolate flavor.. :)
here are some pictures on mine.
Arie — Gorgeous!
I came across this mouthwatering recipe months ago and thought it looked absolutely wonderful, but haven’t had an opportunity to try it out yet. Searching for the perfect baked good for Purim this year, I came across your chocolate swirl buns, and having compared both recipes and all the comments here (thank you to those commenters who have shared their experience!), I’m *still* not sure which one to make. If you knew at the outset that you were definitely going to make individual buns in a muffin tin, which recipe would you use?
Hi Deb! This babka looks absolutely delicious and I’m planning to make it for Easter. One question – I read in the comments thread that you used black cocoa for the filling. This happens to be all I have on hand as well, however I read on the packet that it needs to be used in a 50-50 ratio with natural cocoa powder. Do you think it’s okay if I use only black cocoa though? Thanks so much!!
I used active dry yeast and just proofed it in the water (which I used warm, not cold) and half the sugar. Let the dough sit over night in the fridge, but added maybe 45 minutes to the second rise with that last bit in a slightly warmed oven. That did the trick to get it risen the correct amount. Also had to bake it a bit longer, with some foil at the end, but it turned out awesome. Texture good. Tastes amazing. :)
Gauri — Black cocoa is usually recommended as a 50/50 swap because it’s so intense. You’d never need a full cup of it in a cake. I find even a quarter swap often provides a great black color and the telltale Oreo-ish flavor. But only 1/3 cup is used here; it’s just fine to do a full swap. It’s more like if you didn’t wish to use so much — it’s more expensive than regular cocoa — you don’t need to.
I’d love to see your adaptation of Ottolenghi’s Chocolate Krantz cale further adapted to create a celebration Chocolate Babka (aka Krantz Cake) Ring for a special festivity. A ring seems somehow so much more “Oooh! la! la!” than a loaf…I’ve spent many hours googling such recipes, but have not found any with such clear directions as those you provide. I do hope this will be possible. Thank you very much for all you do and for considering this.
Hi Deb, I just love your recipes and blog. They have been so helpful. I even referred to your one blog about making a wedding cake, which helped me make my daughter’s this past September. Could not have done it without your advice. Anyhow, I love how you simplified the babka recipe. I too agree that it is not necessary to pay all that money for fancy schmancy ingredients. The babkas came out great! I am making them again, and I really want to add crumbs to them instead of the sugar wash. Any suggestions for a good crumb on top of babka recipe?
Can I just say how much I love Smitten Kitchen!!! This looks fabulous, but I also love the recap you provide at the end of each recipe! A perfect reminder of all the other great recipes that have gone before!!
Quick question: can this be made dairy free by substituting the butter with something? Any ideas?
Love your recipes-keep ’em comin’!!
Absolutely. I know many people have.
Hey Deb! What butter sub would work best? Shortening? My husband is dying for babka but can’t have dairy (sad face)
Shortening is probably fine; I know a lot of people who don’t eat dairy bake with Earth’s Best but I haven’t used it.
Great! Thanks so much and shanah tovah!
Considering a mashup – this babka but add the streusel from your original recipe. What do you think?
Go for it!
Did you try the streusel on top if so how was it?
Hi Deb – I am so excited to make this recipe! I’m planning to freeze it and serve on Rosh Hashanah. 1 question: I have these mini foil loaf pans (6in x 3.5in x 2in). If I wanted to use them instead of regular loaf pans how many loaves would it make (4?) and how would I adjust the cook time & temp? Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
I made this with my 9 and 11 year old nieces and we had a blast. This is delicious even when not warm.
I appreciated the warning in the comments and recipe about this not rising much. I couldn’t see any difference in size, but I was able to see some bubbles at the bottom (I was using a glass bowl).
Can the dough proof in the fridge for 24 hours?
I’ve proofed my up to two days, no problem.
Can I use this dough to make cinnamon rolls?
It is so delicious and easy!
I will try this to compare to what I’ve been making and see what I think. But my recipe is so easy and I make 16+ each week for my farmers market. So this will be interesting to try! Thanks
Could I substitute margarine for the unsalted butter in the babka recipe?
I made this today – first try at babka and it was outstanding.
You’re right – the orange zest was a big hit. I baked the first one this morning and we “Tested” it at lunch with a friend. She declared it possibly the best thing she’s ever eaten! Since we all agreed that it needed just a touch more orange, for the second loaf I zested a second orange into the sugar syrup and let it steep while the loaf baked. SO good! Also, for those of you who want to make this but are a little intimidated by it – don’t be! This recipe works! (The freezer trick is especially useful.) Just be sure that you get a really good rise before you put these in the oven. The first loaf I baked was a bit raw on the inside. My fault – I didn’t let it rise enough and apparently my oven is a little cooler than I thought.
Also, because I really REAlly wanted pecans, I toasted about a cup of pecan pieces and added them directly to the chocolate mixture before it cooled completely. While it was still slightly warm, I used a slotted spoon to scoop them out . After I spread the chocolate mixture the pecans got ‘sprinkled’ on top of the chocolate. Worked out well – I got my pecan fix and they stuck to the chocolate so they didn’t go all over the place when I split the roll.
Thanks for this wonderful recipe!
PS – Congratulations on such a successful recipe. It must feel good to know that years after the recipe was originally posted, it’s still being found and enjoyed!
One of the doctor’s in my office who loved this babka (nice compliment in that I am not Jewish) but says he has always had cinnamon babka. How would you change the filling to make it from chocolate to cinnamon??
We don’t usually like fruit and chocolate what would happen if we omit zest
You can skip the zest if you’re not into it.
I have made this Babka recipe more than a dozen times and it is my go to! Its super easy and hard to mess up. I LOVE it! Deb, Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe.
Hi! Starting a long weekend and this recipe is definitely on my list, could I use margarine for this dough instead of the unsalted butter?
I don’t think it’s been a problem for others.
Hey Deb! This is my second time making this babka, and it is absolutely wonderful. However, both times I have made this, it has taken over an hour to bake the loaves. By 30 minutes there is still a ton of raw dough in the middle, and it takes about 5 more 10 minute increments to cook fully. By this time, it has become more bread-y than cakey and a bit drier than I would like. Any advice for how to avoid this?
I just made this and totally agree, 30 min baking and raw inside, had to toss the loaves :(
For the benefit of future readers I can’t help noting: don’t throw it away! If you take it out of the oven and think it’s done, and then you cut into it and it’s not—put it back in the oven!! You can do this even if it’s cooled. If you’re fed up with it and don’t want to deal with it right away, wrap it and freeze it—it’s basically a par-baked loaf. And I 100% agree with Deb’s excellent and repeated advice—don’t go by time, go by doneness, and test it when it comes out.
This sounds like the dough may be over-proofed. At least I suspect that’s what happened to one of my loafs. How long did you proof the dough the second time?
Finally got around to making this after oggling the recipe for what feels like years.
It was not especially difficult even making it by hand, and it turned out delicious. I am not someone who is usually drawn to sweets, and this was the perfect level of sweetness. Not cloying by any means, but nice and yeasty and chocolatey and delicious. I cannot wait to make this again!
And I just confirmed that it tastes even better the next day! Not sure why or how (maybe something about the moisture related to the ziplock bag in which I stored them)? But yummmmm
When mixing the dough, should you use the mixer or the dough hook?
Hi. Your water amount is twice what the book recipe is.
I made a lot of changes to get the recipe airtight enough for my needs; I promise it works as written.
Just wanted to say that, as a young single gal who doesnt own a mixer, I can confirm it *is* possible to make this by hand! I actually find the kneading in of butter sort of relaxing. I have made this recipe every christmas since college, and it is delicious (esp when made into French toast – if you’re feeling extra luxurious).
I have made this several years in a row for Yom Kippur break-the-fast. It has been a hit every time. Whenever I make it I double it and just divide everything roughly into fourths when it comes time to make the loaves. It works beautifully and is really fairly easy to put together.
This recipe seems wonderful, I will definitely try it.
Just a quick question, may I use fresh yeast instead of dry ones and how much should it be?
Yes, yes, YES, this babka is my go-to happy place from where dreams come true! Chocolate doughy dreams, ribbons of goo strewn through a yeasty sweet dough. This recipe is the bomb. And pretty too. Win win! I increased the choc filling ingredients by 1.5 and, truth be told, it was not too much. And the full amount of syrup makes everything shine and crackle when cooled. So great! Thanks for reminding me that this babka needs revisiting, soon!
I made this and they came out great! To be expected from everything else I’ve made from this site. It was a big hit with everyone. We made the dough the night before, and baked them the next day after an overnight rise.
It didn’t rise much overnight, nor during the room temperature rise (we have a cold house), so we were a little worried but they still rose & baked beautifully in the oven, so no problems there.
One thing I would do is to roll the dough out a little thinner, so the log has more stripes of chocolate. 10-12 inches around was still a bit thick, and therefore the chocolate parts were pretty stout as well. Maybe 15×15 would work a little better. Not a huge deal but a note for myself, next time.
I also second the dough still being raw in the middle after 30 minutes of cook time. We had to give it a few more in the oven for the loaves to fully cook.
We liked the orange zest in the dough. After all, the orange x chocolate combo is just hard to top!
My spouse has made this twice in 7 days. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I made this over the weekend. It was my first time even eating a babka, and it was worth every second. The recipe and instructions are super easy to follow. It’s a fun project and both loaves turned out so gorgeous. I feel bad cutting into them! I will definitely be making this many more times. Thank you Deb! You are incredible😍
question? is it okay to make the dough 2 days before (i.e. dough on friday and rest on sunday)? thanks so much!
As long as it’s in the fridge, shouldn’t be an issue at all.
I’ve made this 3 years in a row for my teacher luncheon at Thanksgiving and for our meal at home, and it always turns out beautifully. I’m not the most adventurous baker, but I love this recipe and I really appreciate the time you put into making clear, useful sets of directions. I’ve come to trust that if you tell me to do something in any of recipe, and I do it, it will turn out excellently. But nothing is like this babka, which is the first recipe I ever used from your site. This is my favorite.
This is my first year using the stand mixer for it, and I have to say I kind of miss making it by hand. Something about the sheer effort involved in kneading it myself makes it really satisfying.
Thank you for this recipe! I had never made chocolate babka before, and it was much easier than I expected, and so delicious!! A couple notes from my experience:
1. You can totally use active dry yeast – just make sure to dissolve it in warm (close to hot) water! I mixed the yeast and water first, then added the rest of the initial ingredients, and it worked really well.
2. Mine was definitely not done baking after a half hour. I ended up glazing it and then realizing, waaaait, this isn’t right. So I baked it for 15 more minutes (covered in foil) and it came out really nicely. I do wonder if this could be because I rolled out the dough a bit thinner than yours, so the layers were finer. This was my mistake because I didn’t have anything to measure the size of the rolled out dough. But again, it was still so tasty and beautiful!
Can I omit the zest? We are those people who don’t like fruit and chocolate..
Made it. Ate it. Loved it.
p.s. crumbs got all over my notes by it was worth it.
I just made this recipe today. It was my first time making Babka. Before that, I’ve only eaten NYC’s babka. I followed the direction to the letter. It was easier than I thought and the results were delicious. I will be making this again and again. Yum!
Is it possible to make the dough in advance and freeze it?
It should freeze well.
Help! I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. Made this yesterday and was confused by a few things:
1) The chocolate filling I made following the recipe exactly was very liquidy! More of a runny ganache texture than a paste. I added in an extra 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, but it was still nowhere near paste like and I didn’t want to derivate too much from the recipe.
2) After baking for 35 min in an oven that notoriously runs hot, the babka was very undercooked all the way through once it cooled. I can’t decide if I just underbaked it or if it was partially because my chocolate filling was so liquidy.
I’d love to try this recipe again, but I’m not sure where I went wrong. I used a kitchen scale to measure my chocolate, so i don’t think that is it. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know because I really want to make babka!
Hi Kim- I have mine in the oven right now, so I can’t attest to the time it takes to bake (plus I have a wonky oven), but as for the filling, mine also seemed runny, but it thickened substantially when I let it cool, and turned into a perfect, spreadable consistency when almost fully cooled, so perhaps that would help?
Hmm, good call! I’ll let the filling cool completely the next time I give this a shot, because I still really want to try and make this babka again, haha. Maybe that along with baking it longer will solve the problems I had with the first go-round. Thanks for the suggestion!
I second letting the ganache mixture cool completely! I was also worried, and added a good bit more powdered sugar and cocoa. But unfortunately, by the time this cooled completely, it was a bit too thick, and cracked while I was trying to twist them. Still beautiful and delicious, once baked!
This babka! This babka! It is superb! The dough may be the most gratifying part – it is a smooth, stretchy, gorgeous dough that bakes up like a dream. The filling is satin-smooth-melty perfection (I used a bar and a bit of Lindt sea salt dark chocolate for the chocolate component). I am not a zest-in-sweets fan, but I trust Deb, and boy was that the right call. I only had lemon, and it imparts a flavour that really rounds it all out. It is such a great recipe and I can’t wait to make these for gifts over December. As noted above, to make sure it is spreadable-consistency, I had to let my filling cool almost completely. Thank you, Deb – as always, a super recipe.
I want to make this for Christmas day, but have many events on Christmas Eve. Do you think it’d be okay for me to make the dough more in advance and leave it to rise in the fridge for 24 hours? I don’t have enough bread-baking experience to know if this would be okay. Your input would be much appreciated!
Yes, should be just fine. Give it time to warm up on the counter after (and finish rising) because a buttery dough will be very firm from the fridge.
Thank you for the great recipe and photos! My first time making babka was a success!
Why do you integrate the butter after everything else in the dough has already come together? Why not do it at the start? Signed, a panicked baker at the start of this recipe whose got butter smeared all over the sides of the mixing bowl and is 100% NOT integrating with the dough
I made this for a “Break the Fast” party. I live in Northern California and several guests were from New York. The New York guest said that my Bobka was better than any they had ever had in New York. Quite a compliment for this Californian! Thanks so much for your yummy recipes!
I made this this past weekend, and it is AMAZING. I wanted to send you a photo, but I’m not on social media, so this will have to suffice. Best to you and yours this season! Thank you for such a delightful splurge.
I made this for a holiday gift and it was incredible! The orange flavor from the zest really shone and the overall texture was really nice – somewhere between a bread and a cake. I checked mine at 30 minutes and a fair amount of dough came out with my knife – but it was ready when I checked again at 35 minutes. The only technical suggestion I would make is to re-chill the dough after rolling it out. The dough was quite soft after rolling it out, so when I attempted to roll it up into a ‘cigar’ it was kinda flat and not a nice cylinder shape. In the end it didn’t matter, and the finished product was still beautiful and yummy. I highly recommend this and will certainly make it again.
I’m in the midst of making this and have a question. I made the dough last night and it looked perfect. Left in fridge overnight and it didn’t rise at all. It’s hard. I’m leaving on the counter now to see if it will rise a bit. I did everything as directed and the yeast was new. Should I panic or just let it rest to room temp. Did it just get too cold? Did the butter make it harden?
Hi Carla…hope it’s ok if I jump in. I also refrigerated my babka overnight. I let it sit out for about 45 min before baking it. Most recipes for things like cinnamon rolls say to let them sit out for 30 min if they have been refrigerated. Your babka should turn out just fine! 😊
I just re-read your question and realized I may have thought you were at a different point in the recipe. Are you taking your dough out of the refrigerator before you roll it out and spread on the chocolate filling? If so, mine was also firm. You actually want it to be cold when you roll it out.
It doesn’t rise tremendously in the fridge but as long as it grew a little, you’re going in the right direction. Should rise a bit more as it warms up and … how did it bake up?
Can I make this up to the point where the two loaves are fully prepped and in their pans and then stick them in the fridge overnight (instead of that last 1-1.5 hr rise). Seems like that would allow all prep work to happen in advance, and then you could just stick them in the oven first thing in the morning and wake up to warm babka without much effort…
Should be just fine.
Made this on the weekend and my husband took a couple pieces to work in a baggie. He shared and was only left with a small taste. He asked what I had planned for the second loaf and I said he could take it to work. He said the staff were lined up down the hall waiting for their piece of the babka and I bet most of them have no idea what it is, besides delicious. Good recipe, easy to follow and the loaves turned out perfectly. You posted yours on Instagram minutes before I posted mine and they were nearly identical. the sugar syrup feels like too much but it is just the right amount. Will make again.
I seem to fall into the category of bakers whose dough didn’t rise much (during either rise), and who needed to bake the loaves longer than expected. I did the first rise over ~13 hours in the fridge and noticed very little change. The second rise didn’t do much, either (my yeast was fine, I had bought it the day I made the dough), but they did plump up a bit during baking (though not as much as pictured).
I don’t have a kitchenaid, so I mixed the dough by hand – without a picture of the dough before rising and a description of how much gluten development to expect, I’m not sure if my dough needed kneading or not. It was a single mass that felt relatively smooth, but I don’t know if it should have been stretchier before putting it in the fridge.
For the bake, I had to bake my loaves for a full 1 hr and 15 minutes, and even then they felt a bit soft. They browned up nicely after about 45 minutes, so I tented them with foil at that point before putting them back in. They smell and look great, so I’m looking forward to cutting into them, but I do wonder what I’m doing wrong with regard to the rises and baking that it took so much longer than 30 minutes.
Have you tried letting the babkas rise in their pans and then freezing them before baking? Wondering if this will work…
This looks amazing! I am so close to the baking step but my babka won’t rise in the loaf pans. I have had it sitting in there for over two hours and my house is pretty cold (62 degrees) but it’s been in an oven (probably closer to 68 degrees). Is there a point I should just bake it or should I keep waiting for it to rise?
Hi! I have loved every recipe I’ve made from your site (including the original babka, always a big hit). I tried this one this weekend and it didn’t really rise…it ended up being relatively flat actually. I have another round of dough in the fridge…would a longer rise in the fridge help? I did it overnight last time and will have it in there for at least 24 hours this time. Should I have it rise out of the fridge for a bit too? It didn’t really rise during the second rise either.
Also, the instructions for twisting were a little confusing to me. Maybe because the dough was still a bit stiff, so it was tough to twist. Do you pinch the ends of each log to themselves, or the two pieces to each other? I had the logs laying cut sides up like in your picture, but should they be more on their sides (cut sides facing to the left and right) instead? Any help would be appreciated! Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes!
After much recipe searching and debating, I followed your instructions, Deb, and *swoon*, I am in love! I was a little nervous with the cutting and braiding, but like you said, it all came together in the end. So beautiful – and delicious, too. Now to freeze the ‘extra’ for a gift. Thanks so much!!
Deb – After having made chocolate babka four or five times over the years during the holidays, I finally managed to make a couple of chocolate babka loafs that look as pretty as yours. First time I made them, I used the Saveur recipe; after that I used your recipes, both the original one and the better babka one. The better babka recipe is the easiest, most reliable and produces a delicious babka. The two-day method works better than trying to rush this dough. The recipe takes some work, but the results are worth it.
I’m SO bummed! I made the dough for this last night and had everything prepped to finish it this morning and my dough didn’t rise! Wahhhh!! Checked the expiration date on my yeast – it expired in June!! Lol! I’m going to try it again tonight. In the meantime, I’ll fill the void with Christmas cookies. :)
Don’t despair. This isn’t a challah that doubles in size after the first rising. It will rise slightly in the fridge, a bit more after the loaves are formed, and then some more in the oven—enough to fill the loaf pan, which is all you are after.
Did you end up baking it anyway? It doesn’t rise a lot in the fridge but it doesn’t mean it is ruined.
Made a second batch last night (with non-expired yeast!) and baked it this morning – wow!! It was worth the wait! I was completely confused about how to make it pretty and twisty as I am a complete noob when it comes to babka – as in you are the only person I’ve ever heard about it from, yes I live under a rock – but it still turned out beautifully, so much so that I put it on Instagram. I kept thinking about how good it will be as French toast as you mentioned in your post. I divided the loaf into thirds and baked the pieces in smaller disposable foil pans and it worked perfectly. I froze two for when our New Year’a resolutions become boring and we need a treat. I used to make your little babka buns for Christmas and we loved them, but these loaves are ridiculous and have no doubt taken their place. Thanks Deb!
It is hard to improve on a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, but the addition of cinnamon is inspired. On the other hand, in my opinion, it would be a mistake to omit the dry fillings (pecans and sugar) or reduced the amount of syrup. The nuts add complexity and texture. There is a reason Ottolenghi recommends significantly more syrup and writes “It is important to use up all of the syrup”: the chocolate filling is actually quite dry (definitely paste, not goo) and the syrup keeps the babkas moist for days. Finally, no one should be daunted by this recipe. If you start the dough the night before and use a stand mixer, it is less complicated than many other baked goods on this site, and the result is definitely worth the effort!
Just made this recipe after gawking at it for months. It came out absolutely delicious, but the texture is a bit off. It is a bit dense (almost challah-like) and not as flaky as I like my babka to be. Not sure where I went wrong…any thoughts Deb?
i don’t know what you mean by “pinch the tops together”, i looked at the photo of the “cut in half roll” and re-read the instructions again, but just don’t get it, sorry, could you explain please?
@Debbie Cunningham After cutting the log in half, pinch the top two ends together so the loaf will stay together while you’re twisting it into shape.
Your suggestion to freeze the rolled up cylinders is unnecessary. It makes the chocolate hard and impossible to twist on each other.
It totally ruined my babka. The chocolate filling was hard and when I tried to twist
the loaves they just broke and got ruined.
I’m sorry it gave you trouble. The freezing is to firm them up so you can make a nice clean cut. It is very, very hard to get a smooth cut through a mushy log otherwise and when you twist it, the weight of it will stretch the dough out messily.
I put them in the freezer for 30 – 45 minutes so they were firm but not frozen – this worked beautifully as the dough was firm enough to cut cleanly through and they softened up quickly so braiding was easy. Sounds like you may have left them in the freezer too long. This is an excellent babka – worth another try.
I also struggled with twisting the chilled logs (15 min in fridge-freezer, not deep-freezer). I couldn’t pinch the dough together or get them to twist well. I let the second one warm up for about 20 minutes and it helped a bit. They were certainly easy to slice lengthwise neatly though! Just expect to let the dough warm before manipulating it. I also found it easier to start twisting the ropes at their middles on the counter, then finish twisting the ends in the pan – for some reason, it made all the difference.
i did it. 3 years of neglect and fret and i finally, finally did it. thank you underwhelming snow storm of 2017. instead of studying for the 4 exams i have coming up i decided it was time to put this fear to rest.
in truth, i’ve never tried babka before. each and every time i pass by breads bakery i convince myself not to get it, that, today is not quite the day to indulge. so really i don’t have any basis of an idea as to what the hey good babka is but boy howdy if this aint The Stuff.
followed the recipe to the t (with the exception of the overnight fridge rest… i know. i’m sorry). i itched to reduce fat and sugar and everything but i’ve learned not to handle yeasted breads with such slipshod-hoity toity ‘tude. i even committed to making the syrup. ugh. this is so freakin good. just the perfect way to conclude my lovely now day. next time i’ll stick to the overnight rest. i think it definitely could have done with that slow cold support. duly noted.
thanks so much deb.
I am wanting to make this for a “girls weekend” breakfast. I am hoping to prep it all Friday at home to the point where it is in the pans to bake… question would I be able to bring the loaves at room tip and let them sit overnight until Saturday morning to bake?
Help!! I’m in the middle of the recipe and just realized I only have one loaf pan — so I’m nestling the two loaves side by side in a single rectangular baking dish. Has anyone tried this? Deb, any wisdom??
How did this turn out? I’m about to be in the same situation.
Has anyone used sourdough starter for a little extra tangy-ness in their babka?
I made this yesterday (and sent a frantic question midway through when I realized I only had one loaf pan). Here’s what I discovered. 1) The overnight rise was great — it actually did rise quite a bit in the fridge. 2) I wasn’t able to roll the dough very tightly, so I ended up having chocolate ooze out — not a big deal. 3) Absolutely essential to do the 15-minute freezer stint before cutting — that helped tremendously. 4) I ended up using a single rectangular baking dish, lined with parchment, and thought all was fine when I took the babka out of the oven after about 24 minutes — tested in several places and seemed one. But then when I added the sugar syrup, the insides of both rolls collapsed into a soupy mess. I covered the dish with foil and baked for a few more minutes but couldn’t fix it. Ultimately, I just cut away the underdone stuff and ended up with two pretty good-looking strands. I don’t know whether it was the fault of the pan or something weird with the sugar syrup, but I just ordered another loaf pan and will try this again to see what happens. Any advice would be welcome!
Hi! If I have unsweetened baking chocolate (like the kind used in your brownie recipe, which I loved) can I use that for the filling or will it be too bitter?
Thanks so much! Excited to make this.
Smitten, I love you!! ;)
Deb, I’d love to make these Easter weekend but would also love to be able have them just out of the oven when the crew of 30-something “kids” roll out of bed in the morning. That said, I love them but not enough to get up by 5 am to make this happen. Would it be possible to store the unrisen logs in the fridge overnight prior to letting them rise for a couple of hours OUT of the fridge? What do you think??
My dough is in the fridge. I just wanted to tell you that it has been years since I have made anything bread-like and it is such a pleasure to work with dough again. You recipe is so appealing and your directions so straightforward and reassuring that I am already thinking about what I can make next. THANK YOU!!
I made it, and it was fun to make and is just delicious! Will definitely make it again! Thank you so much for the recipe!
I had the problem with the chocolate being to runny as someone else also mentioned in the comments, so I added a little more powdered sugar and let it cool down a little before using. Worked out very well.
Hi there. Could you clarify which type of chocolate to use? You specify “dark” chocolate which might mean bittersweet or perhaps any non-milk chocolate. The additional comment that “chocolate chips” could be used confused me—I only know chocolate chips as semi-sweet. The photographs look like bittersweet was used, but I’d like to confirm that before I launch into this. Thanks!
Semisweet or bittersweet are usually the levels that are considered “dark” chocolate. While technically speaking semisweet is often in the 60s percentile and bittersweet might be more like 72%, the terms are often used interchangeably by manufacturers so it’s not an absolute distinction. For your purposes, use the higher % if you’d like it more bitter, but either will work.
I made this again yesterday. Awesome recipe!!! Instead of the chocolate filling, I made a cinnamon filling with brown sugar and butter. It really isn’t hard and the result is so good.
I made this! It is delcious. The instructions were great – the pictures are so very helpful. I had zero expectations as I haven’t eaten this before. My babka is quite dense so perhaps it should have risen higher?
I just ate the middle piece with a hot cup of tea. Oh my – so good!
I have been eyeing this recipe off for a while and finally decided to give it a go. We made two batches expecting to have to learn a few things but everything came out wonderfully for all four loaves! The batch that we used fresh yeast for were rising in the fridge and under damp towel a lot more visibly than the batch we used dry yeast for (couldn’t find an “instant” variety) but they all came out of the oven looking and tasting heavenly.
These got rave reviews from everyone, and more than a few queries as to when we’d be making another batch!
Do you think you could add instant coffee powder or espresso powder to the chocolate?
Absolutely, would be delicious.
A few years ago, I came across a chocolate bread loaf that looked like it was a chocolate, yeasted dough rolled out and filled with chocolate, then baked in a loaf. So I was thinking: 1) swap out 1/3 c flour with cocoa powder, and 2) subbing the nuts with cocoa nibs. What do you think?
Can’t go wrong at all. Yum.
Just made this yesterday/today. Unbelievably good, and the look of the loaves is impressive!
I also baked the cut ends in cupcake liners (two per liner), so nothing got wasted. So so so good!
Hi Deb, if I put the fully prepared loaves in the fridge overnight instead of doing the last rise, how long would they need to sit at room temp before putting them in the oven?
Also, I don’t think this updated version is in your recipe index. I had to type it in the search bar to find it, FYI.
Weird, but thanks for letting me know — I’ll try to figure it out.
I might leave them out an hour, should be sufficient.
AMAZING! I even substituted oil for butter and its just amazing. and not such a patchka! I made it with the lemon zest and the first warm taste was a little startling but as the babka rested it got better and better. Next time I’ll try less zest or the orange…. thanks!
Does it matter if the cocoa powder here is dutched vs. natural?
Nope, not for this one bit.
Dough is excellent but I’d like more clarification on the chocolate and the cocoa – unsweetened or semi sweet? What percent cacao? “Dark chocolate” can be really different from chocolate chips. I used 99% cacao for the chocolate and unsweetened cocoa (it’s what I had on hand) but I felt I had to almost double the sugar because it was just too bitter. What are your recommendations?
YUMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Can I just say, I made two of these yesterday (kinda wish I made a double batch!) and my 2 year old very discerning daughter is literally shoving pieces down her hatch!! I hope there’s some left over for mommy and daddy! I am a pretty good baker but babka always intimidated me for some reason, and this recipe gave me some renewed confidence. Thanks again!
I’ve made this recipe a few times (it’s a fave!) and thought it worth sharing a few tips I found helpful:
1) I add another rise to the dough, as I always use active dry yeast instead of instant. If you have a bread maker, this is astonishingly easy: put all ingredients into the bread machine on the dough cycle, and let it do its thing for an hour and a half. Then fridge the dough overnight and follow the recipe as written. My babkas have always risen beautifully this way.
2) When I’m feeling fancy, I like to shape the dough twist in a 9″ cake pan so it’s a round, without cutting off the ends.
3) I, like others here, found 30 minutes not quite enough time (the middle of the babka was raw while the edges were JUST done). So I tent the babkas in foil at 20 minutes and bake for a total of ~45, testing as I go. It’s very hard to tell if this is done without using a thermometer (a skewer still comes out clean even if the middle is raw) so I usually end up cutting a loaf in half to officially test it. Not ideal, but the only way to guarantee a non-doughy babka.
Just made this! Smells amazing.
I just want to add my 2 cents about the cooking time, which I also found to be too short — mine took about an hour in my glass pan and slightly less in my metal pan. And, I have a convection oven so usually things cook fast.
Not a huge deal, since it didn’t get too brown, but just a warning to others!
I made these babka today (dough last night_ assembled and baked today. I am so happy they actually look like your photos I used semisweet chocolate chips and black cocoa powder. It was definitely a messy job rolling up the cigar. A lot of chocolate melted out while it was baking – I think maybe my chocolate filling was too soft.
Deb! How can I make a gluten free version of this? Can I sub in 1-for-1 GF flour?
Isn’t there suppose to be milk in this recipe ? How can 530grams of flour form a dough with only 1/2 of water?
Your suggestion to freeze the rolled up cylinders is unnecessary. It makes the chocolate hard and impossible to twist on each other…
It’s not to fully freeze; it’s to make it so they aren’t mush when you twist them.
Hi! Longtime follower, first time commenter. I just got into bread baking and a local bakery makes an amazing babka that I’d like to try to make myself. All of your recipes are a HIT so I want to make this but instead of chocolate, I’d like to substitute cheese, not as heavy as cream cheese nor a savory mozzarella, but more on the lighter, sweet side… any recommendations and is that an easy substitute for the chocolate? Thanks!
You could try the caramelised onion and cheddar bread from Port and Fin. (Just google it) Made in a similar way and is so amazing. People request it every time I’m heading to a pot luck – there are two in my oven right now!
Have to try this, since we loved Martha’s recipe. Her recipe also gives instructions for how to freeze the babka before baking, which worked like a charm. This would apply to your recipe as well..? Thanks for all the great recipes and inspiration through the years!
Curious how long you leave the dough in the frig. Would almost 2 days ( like 42 hours) be too long? Deb – I saw in one response to a post you said to fill and roll the dough and then sit in the frig overnight. Does that mean – make dough on day 1 – fill and roll on day 2 – and bake on day 3? The yeast will still be effective to let the dough rise? I need to make one babka tomorrow for kol nidre dinner and one Saturday for breakfast. Thank you!
Reading the comments was helpful; I rolled out the dough a little larger than suggested in the recipe for thinner layers, I let the chocolate cool a fair bit before attempting to spread it and roll up the dough (worked great; no leaking at all), and I was prepared to let it bake longer than 30 minutes. In fact, mine baked for about 45 minutes, and I had a thermometer in the oven to confirm my oven was at 375* AND a thermometer in the bread to watch for doneness. I removed the bread when internal temp had reached 180*F (rich doughs usually are done at 170*F), but now that it’s cool I’m realizing it’s still gummy in the middle. So for anyone using a thermometer – try 190*F! :) The amount of chocolate in the dough is probably throwing off the reading.
My dough barely rose during the fridge rise and the room temp rise – I used instant yeast – but rose okay in the oven. Could’ve risen more (that might’ve helped prevent the gumminess as well?), but it’s cool and rainy here so next time I’ll leave it near the fireplace’s pilot light.
I would recommend not chilling the dough logs in the freezer for too long before cutting; I did 15 minutes and while they sliced beautifully, I had to let them warm up considerably before being able to twist them. I used Lindt 70% chocolate and forgot the cinnamon; I think next time I might try the Lindt chili dark chocolate for fun ;)
Oh – and the loaves are stunning! And delicious :) Thanks for the rainy day project, Deb! After three years I finally tackled it and it was worth it.
Hi Deb – i just made the ottolenghi recipe and was looking for comments online found your blog. Out of curiosity compared ingredient lists from your adaptation eith ottolenghis and all the weighs and measures that are critical for dough consistency and filling to dough ratio, ie the important bits, are identical to ottolenghis original, changes I can see are using half the syrup and leaving out the nuts and adding more salt and switching orange zest for lemon, all minimal changes really as the fundamental dough and filling is the ottolenghi recipe. I agree original has too much syrup it’s too sweet. As you state in your faqs that you adapt the recipes to the extent that that they are truly new creations and only cite the original out of politeness I would have expected more extensive changes to the core of the recipe? Love to hear your thoughts Poli
Thanks for the recipe! So I had A LOT of questions about this recipe when I tried it today and wanted to offer some suggestions that may aid amateurs like me.
1. A video of the twisting would helps I had to google other videos and make it up.
2. How thinly to roll dough?
3. Any tips for how to make it an even-ish rectangle?
4. Would help to emphasize the importance of the rectangle and even rolling in the eventual roll up/even distribution of bread to filling and baking evenly.
5. Do you cut ends off and discard? Or? Why?
6. Any tips for melting the filling together, and for if it doesn’t have the “spreadable paste” texture?
Thanks!!! It’s rising now and I can’t wait to try it!
Made it this past weekend. Unlike other commenters, I didn’t have any problem with the baking time – both loaves were perfect at the 30 min mark. I did roll my dough further than suggested, approx 12×18, but I don’t know if that was a factor in the baking time. I also didn’t have powdered sugar for the filling, so substituted granulated sugar [instead of melting butter and chocolate, I first melted butter and sugar, then added the chocolate chips and cocoa. It worked fairly well].
Not going to lie, I’d never heard of babka until I hit the “Surprise Me!” button and stumbled on the recipe – and then proceeded to make it then and there. I will say, for the uninitiated, figuring out how to weave? form? twist? the dough into a pretty and manageable state was difficult. I ended up googling videos, and found tons that were very helpful.
I also used active dry yeast. It was the only kind I had. Active dry and instant yeast are different, but you can make the substitution by increasing the amount [3 teas. instead of 2] and letting the yeast soak in warm water before incorporating. I found that during the proofing step, the dough did not noticeably rise. Yet, in the oven it nearly tripled in size and came out looking loaf like, not the tiny braided coiled chocolate snake thing I had before.
Second time making this recipe (about a year ago since I made my first!). Chocolate filling was definitely *not* a paste right off the stove. But if you let it sit on the counter to cool for about 10-15 minutes while you roll out the dough, just pour the chocolate filling, and it will firm up once you spread it onto the chilled dough, turning it into a paste. I pinched each end (somewhat hard to do with chilled dough), and made about 2 twists, before nestling them into the pan. This didn’t rise very much while proofing, but did when baked. Also, 30 min bake time not enough. I baked for about 10-15 minutes more so that the center can bake through. This resulted in a drier outside, but I suspect the large amount of sugar syrup glaze fixes that.
Hi Deb! I was hoping to make this a ~~fall~~ babka with the bread dough being pumpkin flavored. How would you suggest I change the recipe to accommodate some pumpkin purée in the dough? Thanks so much!
Commenting late to offer advice on active dry yeast vs instant and adapting to the food processor.
I made active dry work by using 2.5 tsp dissolved in the water and letting the second rise go 2 hours. Worked fine.
For the food processor, I adapted the method from Mark Bittman’s “How to Bake Everything” babka recipe. Basically, I put all dough ingredients other than the water/yeast mixture and the eggs in the food processor (butter chilled and cut into chunks) and pulsed it until everything was well incorporated but the butter remained in crumbs. Then I added the eggs and pulsed some more til they were well incorporated. Then the water/yeast mixture through the feed tube with the machine running, and I let it run til a dough that rode around the blade formed. I kneaded that dough for a few minutes on a floured counter (til smooth), then proceeded with the refrigeration and other steps per the SK recipe. Worked well for me!
Great recipe! I was in a bind to make this in one day so I *very* begrudgingly let the dough proof at room temperature for three hours before chilling briefly and then handling. I thought that I was going to end up with a less than perfect babka because it didn’t have a long cold proof, but it turned out fantastic!
I increased the amount of the filling by about 1/3 and added chopped pecans to mine, which was perfect. I was able to roll out about a 12×15 square, so the layers of mine were a little finer than what is pictured. I Think because of this, I needed to bake mine a tad longer, 30 min without foil and about 25 with it covered at 375. I measured the internal temperature to 210F when they came out and there was one teensy spot in the thickest part of the loaf where it was slightly more underdone than the rest of the dough (which was perfect) – but by no means a mushy disaster.
I also forgot to add the orange zest at the beginning of mixing, so to impart that little citrus kick I threw a couple of orange rinds into my simple syrup and let it infuse for about 45 minutes … turned out amazingly! The mixture of orange, cinnamon and dark chocolate was just a heavenly combination that I literally. cannot. stop. eating. I definitely can attest to the nice contrast of textures that the nuts in the filling give, though I also made one sans nut for some family members with nut allergies, and it was still phenomenal.
Had zero issues with dough not rising, at the room temperature proof (in my oven, damp cloth, some hot water in there for warmth/moisture) and it was almost spilling out of its bowl before the three hour mark.
This recipe is definitely a keeper and I’m looking forward to making it to the letter (almost!) next time!
Until 15 minutes into baking I thought this recipe was a dud.
I followed all directions to the letter. Have made babka several times and liked the simplicity and ingredients of this recipe (specifically the construction of the chocolate filing).
The dough barely rose in the overnight refrigeration, barely rose in the second proof, and sat like a beautiful browning lump for fifteen minutes in the oven.
I composed a tautly worded comment, turned around and it had bloomed in the oven.
What I got were two nicely sized, glossy, beautifully twisted loaves of perfectly brioche-like cake with rich, just sweet enough chocolate. The orange came through the cake just right, although I might add a skosh more cinnamon next time. Because I will be making these again.
Good on you, Smitten. Another terrific recipe. You have become my go-to for new recipes.
Ah I made the dough about an hour ago and stuck it in the fridge for tomorrow. I just realized I forgot to add the salt to the dough! I used active dry yeast, not instant (came to the blog too late). As salt slows yeast down and I forgot the salt, what do you think? Am
I in the clear? Should I add salt now? Should I just roll with it and see what happens?
Sprinkle it on the dough as you roll it out. Maybe use a little less.
This is a wonderful recipe and alas, the result for me was a soggy mush-fest with a lovely perfect slice at each end of each loaf.
I baked for 30 minutes and felt no resistance when I tested it, but was still skeptical because so many people said theirs took 45 to 60 minutes. So I put them back in for another five. They were beautifully deeply browned and puffed-up high and felt done, so I pulled them and syruped them–and the middles collapsed completely into a gunky swamp of undercooked and now also soaking wet dough.
Now that I have successfully suppressed the urge to cry, I’m going to slice the cooked ends off, cut the remaining mushy center sections into thirds, put them back in the loaf pans cut side up, and bake at 300 to see if they dry out or do anything to make even parts of them edible. Four servings out of two loaves and 30 hours of loving attention is just too sad; I have to at least try.
That said, I must repeat that had I not underbaked them, they would have been fantastic. Great recipe. Just bake it twice as long as it seems to need. Sigh.
Update: Giving the undercooked loaves the biscotti treatment (sliced, laid cut-side-up, baked 15 minutes at 350, turned over, baked 15 minutes at 350, reduced oven heat, baked at 300 for 20 minutes, turned oven off and left them in for another 30 min as oven cooled) was successful in making them edible and nice, but did not of course result in anything like a tender perfect babka. I got a lovely toasty breakfast-tasting chocolate bread, and the orange zest flavor really sang out more. There were still some bits that stayed gummy and gloppy; those were surgically removed and entered the compost. Lucky worms. Looking forward to making this again; please learn from my mistake and err on the side of overbaking these. The syrup will do wonders to hydrate and tenderize slightly overbooked loaves; underbaking is without a true remedy.
I’m not sure on what planet this is a “better” babka recipe. Yes, this babka looks gorgeous and is not difficult to make. However, I hated the way it tasted. This is not the babka of my childhood. It’s more like a danish, not bready or chocolatey enough and kind of gross. I have not attempted to make the Martha Stewart recipe. My friend did a few years ago and I still remember it fondly. After tasting this horrible Babka, I’m tempted to try it!
I so agree. I love the Jerusalem cookbook and the other cookbooks by Ottolenghi but this babka recipe is the one failure. I’ve tried it so many times. I love Marcy Goldman’s Best Chocolate, Cinnamon and Poppy Babka at betterbaking.com.
I apologize for the harsh tone of my previous review. My disappointment got the better of me. The poor Ottolenghi babka indeed did inspire me to make the Martha Stewart babka, and It was SPECTACULAR! Yes, it was more challenging to make. The larger amount of dough is more unwieldy and that half-fold-over-and-twist with the filling in the middle is practically impossible. However, the recipe makes 3 loaves and if you are going to the trouble to make your own babka, it’s well worth it. I would make some minor adjustments to suit my personal taste. I like a breadier babka, so I would reduce some of the chocolate filling (gasp) or experiment with spreading it out less evenly to create larger bready areas and chocolate pockets. I also think the dough might benefit from a longer initial rise (and possibly less yeast) to develop more flavor. I would also consider reducing the amount of crumb topping. The Ottolenghi babaka are definitely more beautiful. All of Martha’s crumb topping (despite how delicious it is fused to the top crust of the babka) detracts from the overall beauty of the twisted loaves. This Martha recipe seemed so daunting to me for years. Now that I’ve made it, I feel like I can make anything. Thanks!
Fair enough — and I do agree that the word “better” here is relative. This one is easier to make and is less over-the-top. This Israeli-style babka is more of a sweet dough/danish with chocolate wound in. The Martha one is much closer to the one many of us grew up with; it’s a lot more work and a lot more rich (I’ve had people tell me it was “too chocolaty” but don’t worry, I never spoke to them again after that) but if you’re looking for your lost American childhood babka, you’re more likely to find it there. I can add a clarification in the recipe notes.
I agree. I was skeptical of the heavily enriched dough in this recipe, but I felt so encouraged by all the positive reviews in the comments that I went ahead and tried it anyway. You’re exactly right, it tastes like a danish or a sweet roll/bun. Not at all like a babka which was a real bummer! I will have to try the Martha recipe to see if it’s more bready like you suggest. In the meantime, I’ll find a friend to give away these “babkas” to. They are very good and the recipe was easy to follow and execute, as long as what you’re looking for is a chocolate twist.
I made this babka over the holidays. I followed the recipe precisely, but let it prove on the counter for about 3 hours after shaping, but before baking (the oven was occupied — a fortuitous mistake in timing). Mine was done in 30 min, actually a little overbrowned on the top. I suspect the density might be why others’ bread is underdone and collapsing.
I’ve made this recipe before and it came out amazing! I recently tried Uri Scheft’s basic babka dough recipe from “Breaking Breads” and it didn’t work out great. After mixing the dough, he says to “stretch it until it rips and then fold it” before allowing it to rise. But my dough was too dense and not stretchy, and i just ended up kneading it and letting it rise. Any idea why?
Not sure at all, but I can give it a try and let you know how it goes one of these days. Maybe there’s a video of him making it online that will help make sense of it in the meanwhile?
I let this rise overnight and was very nervous to see that the dough looked exactly the same size when I took it out of the fridge the next day, but it puffed up just fine during the second rise. I didn’t have any loaf pans, so I made the two twists of bread into one big wreath, which I baked on a cookie sheet. It looked and tasted wonderful—and I managed it without a stand mixer, too! Simple to follow and totally worth the effort.
I finally made this recipe today and, um, this might be a problem. It is so fantastic I fear for my waistline,
I’m just about to make this and it looks amazing but before I just wanted to quickly thank you for taking the time to write your recipes in cups AND grams. It makes my life way easier. Much appreciated!
Hi Deb, I am going to make the babka, however, I keep looking at the photos and see nuts but do not see the nuts in the recipe.
Read through the notes at the end of the recipe, the pictures are from when she tried the recipe with nuts but she liked the results better without. She added a note on how to add them if you’d like though :)
This was delicious. My experience:
– didn’t have mixer so used big bowl and wooden spoon with softened butter, was fine
– didn’t have loaf tins so put dough in circle in cake tins – one silicon, one tin. I think this meant they took a little longer to cook. Cooking took at least 45 mins.
– was really nice kept in freezer – we just cut off a slice when we needed it and heated in oven
– strongly recommend the orange zest
These are in-progress! Currently waiting through the second rise with a cup of tea, and thought it might be worth commenting: I’m making these without a stand mixer, so I found grating the butter with a box grater (cheese grater) before adding to the dough made incorporating it much easier.
Great recipe, made it this past weekend.
Looking back, I was wondering, for the second rise at room temperature, do you look for the babka to double in size?
Thank you for any guidance.
It doesn’t double; you’re just looking for it to get puffier.
I made this over the last week, and here are a couple of notes:
1. I had events two days apart, so I left the dough in the fridge for two days. It turned out great, got the same rise out of the second loaf as the first.
2. It took longer than 30 minutes in my oven, the first loaf was a little doughy after that time despite reading a temp of 175F. The second I left in a little longer tented with foil, it hit 185 and was still a little doughy. I preferred it that way, but some people may want a breadier texture.
4. Freezing for about 10 minutes after rolling makes shaping much easier, especially in summer.
3. Rolling it thin gets some great layers, my dough ended up at about 12″x15″. It does mean you have to twist it a little to get it into the pan. but mine fit in a simple S shape, and it looks lovely.
This was a great recipe, I got a lot of complements both a brunch and a bread club! Thanks Deb!
Is it possible to make the dough further ahead of time than one day? Like can I make the dough, leave it in the fridge for a few days, and then do the filling and baking?
Probably but I cannot say for sure without testing it. It’s a pretty slow rise but a few days is a while. If you said a day or so, I’d feel more confident it would be fine.
Just made this yummy bubka for a housewarming…I got it in the oven late so it was still warm….it was gobbled up as soon as they cut into it…received many compliments.
The filling was a bit runny at first – but settled to a spreadable paste once it sat. My dough also did not rise overnight in the fridge, nor did the loaves at room temp – but it was cooked in 30 minutes as per recipe. Thanks for the tip about freezing the rolls before cutting. I love Ottolenghi’s cookbooks – and while this was a little time-consuming, it was not difficult.
This is a super old post now, but had to comment anyway. This is my FAVORITE recipe. Best I’ve ever made.
I actually cut the dough into 6 pieces and make “baby babkas.” Perfect for 2 people to share for the holidays or you know, when you forget you have them in your freezer and are craving cake and suddenly discover it back there?
I just made this and it is amazing but I have two questions:
1. In 30 min mine was still doughy. I didn’t realize it and glazed it. I am going to stick it back in the oven and see if I get lucky. Any hints on why it’s doughy at the bottom?
2. I don’t understand the twisting process. Could you explain it again? I had a long rolled up cylinder and I cut it in half and gen filleted my halves. Now what? I messed around and did something but it sure was not what you did. I’d love to learn.
I have now made this recipe six times? More? It’s a standard, and you can have a lot of fun playing with the fillings — just did one with chocolate and peanut butter chips. I’m glad you don’t suggest streusel, which seems better to me for a cinnamon babka. (You know, that coffee cake vibe.) Have also used orange syrup for the last step.
They freeze and thaw really well.
What do you think about swapping maple syrup for the sugar syrup at the end?
I think it would be sweeter. I’m not sure if it would be as glossy.
I have a question. My babka was beautiful but it did not really rise. Any thoughts?
Does it look like my photos or smaller? The babka doesn’t have a huge rise but it should puff a bit, not taste overly dense.
Fantastic results!! I made this with my sourdough started instead of commercialized yeast. I followed this sourdough dough recipe, as it most closely resembled Deb’s (except I used regular starter, not sweet starter).
Also, for those who found their chocolate runny: As Deb suggests in an earlier comment, once my chocolate was done I put it in a class container and placed it in the freezer. It sat there while I rolled out the dough. It wasn’t in too long so it didn’t firm up, but it did cool it and thicken slightly.
I also rolled my dough out quite a bit larger than Deb – maybe 12×14? This allowed more space for spreading the chocolate. It was a bit more awkward to get into the pan, but it worked.
Finally, as I rolled the dough, I could see the liquid chocolate oozing forward. Rather than push all the way to the end and have chocolate ooze out, I took the final portion (where I had wet the dough) and folded it up onto the rest of the roll to seal in the chocolate. Hope that makes sense and helps!
I also froze mine for a few minute before cutting it.
I have made this several times now – but *properly* for the first time this week. I have found the recipe to be accurate (excellent & beautiful!), except I could never get the babka done (even baking much longer than the suggested times). It tastes good doughy, but it’s not *right*
Finally I read other comments about proofing time for the formed babka. This time I let them rise at room temperature for 2 hours and an additional hour in the oven heated to 200 degrees then turned off. This time the babka doubled in size and cooked all the way through at the suggested 30 minutes.
They keep great frozen, but start to get dry on the second day at room temp. I like to cut the babka before freezing, and take out a few slices at a time to minimize dryness.
This recipe is a keeper! But can someone help me with these questions:
1. Do you let the dough rest on the counter before rolling it out after leaving it to proof in the fridge overnight? If so, how long?
2. I think because I didn’t let it come to room temp, the loaves didn’t really rise in the pan but they baked well and tasted great!
3. The bottom of the bread was pretty brown – any way to prevent that?
Thanks in advance! I have tried many babka recipes and this is by far the best one!
What are your thoughts on using the same base dough but throwing in some cardamom to the dough? How much would you use? And for a filling what about some almond paste and fresh (stewed) cranberries?
I bought a thing of almond paste, fresh cranberries, and cardamom to experiment this weekend…
This is definitely a food of love, but it is sooooo worth it!! It is moist and delicious!! The long rise makes the bread REALLY tender. It reminds me of babkas my Grandma picked up in a Jewish deli, but better… Amazing recipe!!!
My friend and I made this babka last weekend (we weren’t brave enough to make it without some moral support because it looked so difficult). It was actually pretty easy and came out very well – especially using the the rapid rise yeast. Question though…the babka was very overbaked on the outside but had some raw spots on the inside. Would you recommend baking it at 350 for a little longer? Or use the convection feature on the oven? At what temperature? Just curious if this is a common issue. Advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
Chocolate babka has been on my list for years and this Christmas is the year I go for it. I’m trying to decide between this recipe and the over the top Martha one you posted years ago. Both look amazing but this streamlined version is calling my name except… NO STREUSEL! Curious about how you think using the streusel topping from the Martha recipe would go…
Ack ack ack I’m an idiot and did a full cup of butter instead of 2/3 cup. I just stuck it in the fridge for the overnight rise anyway but it’s probably doomed, right?
It might be fine. Just really buttery and it might take a little bit longer to rise.
I finally made this! Thank you for the advice about freezing the dough swirl loaf before slicing it open. It was much easier to handle than I feared.
Just curious if you could bake this is a tube pan as you did with the Baklava Babka? Want to make this for an office gathering and the wreath shape is pretty cool if you ask me. 😉
Absolutely. You can use the same technique.
Is it possible to use a bundt pan here?
Just adding that I had success making this recipe in a bundt pan! I didn’t need to alter the cooking/rising time.
Deb, can you make this with cinnamon sugar instead of chocolate? I was thinking about making one of each for a family get together. Do you still add the orange zest? What would be a good ratio of butter/cinnamon/sugar? We love all of your recipes and can’t wait to try Babka!
Yes, but do check out the new babka recipe from last week. It does have nuts in it but might be a better springboard for a chocolate-free version. I might double up on the cinnamon sugar. I think the dough is a bit simpler, too.
I can’t wait to try this version, since David Lebovitz’s recipe turned out so well for me. His calls for twice the amount of yeast as this one. Any thoughts?
It might have a faster rise, no reason not to try it here but watch the times.
I’m really wanting to make a chocolate babka with peppermint– any suggestions? My mom used to make this great brownie recipe with candy canes on top; thinking something like that might work. Thank you!
You could crush candy canes on top of the chocolate before rolling the babka, or just add peppermint extract to it.
These were so so good! Mine baked for exactly 30 minutes with the oven at 350 by thermometer. To make them fit in the pan, I just smooshed the ends toward each other to make a fatter loaf. Has anyone tried rosewater for the syrup?
Oops, type. I meant 30 minutes at 375 by thermometer, not 350.
Typo, not type!! Sheesh. I give up.
Hubby bought me a stand mixer for Valentines day (yeah, he’s set a high bar) and this was the first recipe I wanted to make after bookmarking it years ago.
I doubled the recipe so I could make one loaf today (that’s 40 minutes into the 3 hour rise… so it should be baked by around 8pm for after dinner nibbles) and the other 3/4 is in the fridge for shaping and baking to take to the in-laws.
There’s no point to my rambling except to say that after I’m terribly excited to get this in the oven then in my mouth!
Hey Deb, in your other babka recipe you mention that after step 7 (filling and shaping the dough in their pans) that you can freeze them at that point, baking them after 5 hours at room temp. Does this tip also apply to this recipe? If yes, can I freeze and bake one in a disposable aluminum pan? I don’t have two loaf pans. Thank you!
Absolutely. And yes to the pan.
This babka is absolutely wonderful. The recipe is so well written, and the dough was a pleasure to work with. I added the zest of one orange to the dough, and 3/4 tsp of salt and 1/8 tsp of ground coriander to the filling. The combination was very good. My filling was very liquid but I was too lazy to cool it down. Worked just fine – just oozed a bit. I had no problems with the rise or 30 min baking time. In fact, I think they might be related. My loaves rose beautifully, both overnight and then braided, and were perfectly cooked after 30 min. I will surely make this again. Sooo good!
Made this yesterday. Turned out very good. Baked for exactly 30 minutes.
I made some changes ; I added less butter to the filling (just because I didn’t have enough lol) and a little bit more cocoa powder, it was a perfect paste and wasn’t too sweet. I didn’t need to freeze the dough to cut it either.
Very simple recipe
I made this and used salted butter by mistake! So I made another batch using unsalted butter and you know what? They both tasted awesome! So.. if you are absent-minded like me and don’t look at your labels closely, never fear, salted butter cannot overcome the addictively deliciousness that is this babka! I took one look at that photo and it’s been in my backbrain ever since.. waiting for me to make it. I am so glad I did (as are my friends and family since I have now 4 loaves to share…) Another SmittenKitchen success story!! Love you Deb and your impeccable taste buds!!!
I stumbled upon this recipe yesterday and couldn’t wait to give it a try! I made the dough last night and let it rest over night, however it did not seem to expand at all (let alone double). I continued with the recipe since I have never made bread dough before and honestly did not know what to expect. I have the 2 babkas in the loaf pans resting now. Its been over an hour and they did not expand at all. I used rapid rising instant yeast. Was I supposed to dissolve in water first? I followed the directions exactly so I am not sure what could have went wrong! Maybe my fridge is too cold?
I was hoping to bring this to a family get together next weekend so trying to work out all the kinks today.
Thank you so much!
This recipe is amazing. I just baked it – it’s easy to make, just follow all the steps, so delicious- it melts in your mouth. Thank you for this masterpiece:)
Thank goodness I’m not the only one who looked that recipe and thought in her head “this is babka”. I was planning on making it for my aunts holiday party, I will heavily reference this when the time comes. Thank you thank you you’re the best.
made this twice now — first time i underbaked and it was delicious, if perhaps not very safe. i think i did both with pecans.
this time i did one with pecans and one without, and while i enjoy both, with pecans is DECIDEDLY my favorite. i will do it *with* from now on. i had no problem with the pecans and staying rolled up.
in my oven, i will also put foil on much sooner next time than i did this time — well before the 20min mark. I’m still learning what needs adjustment in my small upper oven
Can I use active dry yeast in lieu of I start yeast and what changes should I make
If you wanted to just make this a cinnamon babka, what filling recipe do you recommend?
I was very excited to make this recipe. I had no problem with the cooking time but it didn’t seem to have enough chocolate. Also I found it hard to roll tightly so next time I will work faster and I also found it hard to braid so I will try to let it warm up a little before braiding. Any other thoughts?
Great recipe. Followed directions but subbed butter for margarine to keep it non- dairy and it came out absolutely delicious.
Just checking in to say I review this recipe every year- my closest friends and I have a Blini and Babka Christmas Picnic- they really are the best of foods, and this is the best recipe!
Thanks for this!
I made 2 batches for desperately needed Christmas presents – utterly fabulous!
At our age we only give presents that are consumable, thus paring down on the cleanup after the inevitable departure, lol!
Can you leave this in the fridge for closer to a day instead of just overnight?
So, I find SK recipes to be consistently reliable and delicious. I was not impressed with the babka results. While I think I should have trusted my judgment to roll the dough out thinner than 10 or 12 inches in order to get decent swirl action, the chocolate filling was underwhelming, and the bread was unremarkable. I loved the Dean and Deluca chocolate babka and this was unfortunately not even close.
What’s the maximum amount of time you can leave the dough in the fridge before assembling the loaves?
Thank you for the fabulous recipe! I’ve made it several times as written, but reporting back on alternate timing/slicing (inspired by the chocolate swirl buns) I just tried successfully. Yesterday, I let the dough rise for 3 hours at room temperature, rolled it out and filled it without chilling, sliced into 12 pieces (like cinnamon rolls), and put them in a greased 9”x13” pan. I covered the pan and threw it in the fridge overnight. This morning I pulled the pan out and left it on the counter for half an hour, then put it in a cold oven while the oven preheated. I was worried because the rolls didn’t look like they’d risen much. I baked for ~30 after oven was at temperature. Rolls rose and browned beautifully. I brushed them with about half the sugar syrup- delicious!
After making this multiple times – I have finally gotten the dough to rise well both in the fridge and in the oven! Hope others may find this helpful:
– Use slightly warm water — this helped my dough to finally rise a little overnight in the fridge. Not double in size, but the dough increased by a half (previous attempts barely rose).
– Use the whole packet of instant yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
– Put the rolled logs in the fridge (not freezer) to cool for 5-10 minutes to keep them cool enough to cut, yet pliable enough to swirl in an s-shape
– Definitely use a thermometer to make sure it’s cooked through (190 deg about)
– Since the baking time went a little long, I covered with tinfoil to make sure it didn’t brown too much
– Finally use the best dark chocolate you can find plus the black cocoa powder — makes it a truly special babka worthy of gifting and splurging
My family and everyone adores this recipe — thanks Deb for another knockout~!
I have made this babka every year around the new year for the past three years and it always turns out so delicious—excited to make it again soon! However I am wondering if I can use this recipe to make mini babka muffins like you did with a different recipe—Instead of twisting and baking in a loaf pan can I just cut circles from the cylinder and make them in a muffin pan? Any suggestions or changes for this? (I just moved and am hoping to bring a few muffins each to the neighbors :) ) Thanks!
Yes, and in fact, I’ve done it before but with the other babka recipe. I also have, for reference, challah buns in the archives. Hope you enjoy.
I have a giant can of poppy filling left over from other baking and thinking of using it as the filling but otherwise using the dough and baking instructions from this recipe… any suggestions on how much of the filling per babka to get the right filling/dough ratio? (or a description of about how thickly to slather on the filling before rolling up?)
I’ve never used the canned filling before so I cannot fully advise on how it will work, but I’d go thick.
This time last year I was holidaying in New York and went to Breads Bakery for babka. It was incredible. This year, stuck at home in quarantine, seemed the best time to try making it myself. The dough was really hard out of the fridge, I was worried. Then the chocolate wasn’t really a paste, it was quite loose so I put it in the fridge to thicken. They didn’t rise much on the second proofing so that had me worried too! Turns out there was no need – they are AMAZING. So delicious, I feel like I’m back in NY :) Thanks for a lovely recipe Deb.
I know this is a very late in the game comment – but I made this absolutely amazing, delicious and beautiful babka yesterday – and my family is already clamoring for more, so another batch of dough goes in the fridge today. I just wanted to mention that I only use regular (not rapid rise) yeast mostly so I don’t have 2 yeast jars hanging around. Anyway, the rule of thumb is 25% more regular yeast than instant when substituting in a recipe. So here, I used 2.5 teaspoons of regular yeast and it came out perfectly. Not to say the instant doesn’t lead to an amazing result as well! Just that if regular yeast is all you have, it still does work!
Incredible!! I was terrified to try making babka because it seemed so complicated, but my roommate wanted it so I decided to try your recipe. It turned out amazing! Light and fluffy and full of chocolate. We only have one bread pan so I put the other in a bundt and it worked great! Thank you :)
Deb, your recipes are keeping my family (me, namely) sane through quarantine. I’m having a blast cooking through as many recipes as I can while I’m home so very much more than I have ever been. Question – I don’t have instant and don’t have a way to get it right now…you mention here that active dry yeast didn’t work…does that mean I have to skip this recipe?
No, I think you’ll be fine based on my more current experiments. You can use it 1:1 for you should first warm the liquid here a bit (not hot; you’re looking for 110 to 115 degrees F), add the yeast to that and get it foamy (as you usually would for active dry), then continue as normal with the recipe.
If you only have one loaf pan – what do you suggest for the remaining? Would muffin tins work? Or small 8 inch pie dish?
I think 8″ pie dish should be close. Or muffins.
Finally made this and it’s so so good. Was easier than I feared though my son did all the mixing by hand! We used white whole wheat flour (that’s what we have), which worked fine. The dough rose only a tiny bit overnight. After we filled and shaped the dough, we put 1/2 in a loaf pan and 1/2 in a bundt pan (I only have 1 loaf pan). No problems rolling out the dough or with the filling – it was easily spreadable and didn’t ooze out. Didn’t have to chill dough before slicing/braiding. Before baking we put the dough in a cold oven with a cup of very hot water to warm it up a bit (our kitchen is cold). After 2+ hours the dough had risen nicely. Baked for 35 minutes and they were perfectly done. This recipe was perfect/easy. We planned to freeze 1/2 but I don’t think they’ll last more than a few days.
Made this a couple of times – it’s really good. Today I wanted individual bulkas so the 2nd half of the dough … made 10 bulkas – probably could have made 12. Baked at 190 C for 12 minutes. Tasted amazing.
I made two batches of this babka recipe and they were both amazing. I made one batch vegan by replacing the eggs with aquafaba (I used the liquid of one can of chickpeas to replace the three eggs), the butter with a vegan buttery spread, and vegan chocolate chips. All four babkas were great, but (maybe I’m a little biased being a vegan myself), I think the vegans ones came out even better than the non-vegans ones. Chilling in the freezer was immensely helpful- such a good tip! Thanks for a great recipe!
First time making babka and this turned out great! I used active dry yeast instead of instant. I used 2.5 teaspoons active dry yeast stirred with 1/4 C. warm water and 1 tsp. sugar and allowed it to get frothy before adding to the dry ingredients. When it was time to add water to the dough, I only added 1/4 C. instead of the full 1/2 C (since there was already 1/4 C. in the yeast mixture). When I measured the sugar, I took a teaspoon out as well. I did not use any citrus zest because I didn’t have any lemons or oranges. The flavor was lovely, despite. I did add some crumbled halvah to the top after taking it out of the oven and glazing it (an idea from a favorite local bakery that makes chocolate-halvah babka). Next time, I’ll add crumbled halvah to the inside too. Dough was very easy to work with after rising overnight in the fridge. I was able to roll it length-wise a bit longer than 12 inches. Finally, my loaf pan was 8.5 x 4.5 instead of the 9 x 5 recommended. I think my babka was too squeezed in the pan and that is why just the very center was a bit undercooked and the top was a bit too browned even (left it in the oven for 40 minutes instead of the recommended 30 and covered w/ foil at the 25-minute mark). The babka that I made in a 9-inch round cake pan was perfect. So, if you have a smaller bread pan than 9 x 5, you may want to use a different type of pan altogether that’s roomier, or cut some of the dough off and bake separately so that it’s not so jammed in. Or keep it in the oven and be at peace with a very crunchy top. Recipe was easy-to-follow and my husband and kids loved it! Soft, bready, buttery, gooey, chocolate-y, crisp edges, not-too-sweet, and beautiful to look at. Everything you want in a babka. Thanks for this recipe!
I have made this a few times now, and I just want to thank you so much for posting this and giving us all the gumption to try babkas! I didn’t have room temp butter and couldn’t wait to start, so I grated my butter before adding it to the dough with a cheese grater. The butter incorporated much more smoothly, for me, after trying this. It still took 10 minutes to incorporate, but the result was a much softer dough. Thank you so much–love your site and your recipes!
The recipe is great (I’ve made it before with success) but I messed up; I over baked them and should’ve checked them sooner. They still taste delicious, just too dry. Don’t be like me: please check them early like Deb suggests (at 25 minutes).
I doubled the cinnamon; still can’t really taste it – might add more next time.
I have been challenge to make a chocolate babka and you were my first resource.
In your OG recipe you mention it should be 1/8 thin, is that the same for this recipe?
Super excited to try this.
That would work here too.
This is a wonderful babka recipe, 10/10 would recommend! I made this because I had a hankering for Trader Joe’s Chocolate Brooklyn Babka (my favorite) and it turned out even better than TJ’s babka!
Some notes on my bake:
– I did a same-day bake and the 3hr room temp rise + fridge time + 1hr second rise worked beautifully
– I think I may have accidentally added a little extra yeast, as my dough more than doubled
– It took ~20 min of mixing on a stand-mixer for my dough to become smooth + pull away from the sides, and I added around 1.5 tbsp of flour in small increments
– I used granulated sugar instead of powdered for the filling, no noticeable difference except that the filling is slightly more textured (which I actually really liked)
– Similar to another commenter, I had to bake these loaves much longer than 30 min, maybe around 50 min in total? When I checked after 30 min, the outsides were nicely baked but the insides were raw/ wet/ doughy. I covered the loaves with foil and baked until insides were fully done
All in all, a wonderful bake! I’m really glad that I decided to splurge on high-quality dark chocolate. I might try adding some cinnamon in the filling next time but these are lovely as-is.
Hello, do you use the dough hook for all of the mixing? Looking forward to making this!
I did the same-day method and it was SUCH a success! No stand mixer, so hand-kneaded the butter into the dough, which didn’t take as long as I feared. Let rise at room temp for 3 hours and then stuck in the fridge for another 3ish hours (intended to bake them sooner, but was out running errands longer). An hour for the second rise and about 40 minutes total in my oven. They are marvelously pillowy and sweet-but-not-too-sweet. The only thing I would do differently is be more precise with measuring my dough and filling when splitting the loaves – one ended up with a noticeably higher dough:chocolate ratio than the other. I will need to share with friends lest I give into temptation and eat both loaves myself within the next day.
Could this also be turned into individual buns like your other recipe, or do the buns need the additional butter?
This should work as small buns without changes.
I’d like to bake this but I’m in Europe and my loaf pans are 11.5” x 4.5”. Will this still make two loaves? Should i just make one loaf?
I think, because it’s longer but thinner, it should be just fine as an equivalent.
Can I hand kneed/mix instead of using a kitchen aid? I don’t have one and I really want to make this!!
Yes, but it’s a very sticky dough. Try to resist adding more flour to make it easier to knead; it won’t benefit the final babka.
Hi! Can i do the second rise overnight in the fridge or will t rise too much?
No, it should be fine.
Would you let it sit out at room temp for awhile (1hr?) before baking, or would you bake straight from the fridge?
Thanks so much! We love this recipe! It’s the Christmas morning tradition in our family. Running short on time this year, and boy wouldn’t it be great to have fresh-from-the-oven babka for breakfast?
Do you know what temperature the bread/filling will be when done? Mind seemed woefully underdone at 30 minutes but got quite brown afterwards.
My guess would be 190 degrees F. However, see if you can get a sense of how it feels when you put a skewer in. An underbaked bread will feel tight and rubbery, a little — doughy, basically. A skewer should slide easily through a baked bread, with little to no drag, even with chocolate.
I’m not sure if it’s because I used glass pans but mine took closer to 45 minutes to get over 180 in the center. But they came out delicious and I did them again with orange ginger cranberry and a cinnamon swirl per the requests of my kids.
Love this recipe, thank you!