Chocolate Babka

chocolatebabkaIt really was as good as it looked.  I don’t think I’ve ever made a bread quite like this.  There’s a ton of butter in the dough.  I mean, I’ve made some doughs enriched with butter and eggs, but nothing like this.  And you know what?  It was a beautiful dough.  Super tender and delicious.  We loved it!   I was hoping to make a bread pudding with the second loaf, but it never made it that far.  We ate it.  Slice by slice with lots of yummy sounds in between.  I saw a picture of this bread on Smitten Kitchen a few months ago, and thought, “One day I’m going to try this!  It’s so pretty.”  And so I thought about it for weeks.  And finally I decided to try it.  It was a good choice.  The Chocolate Babka bread is a little time consuming, but if you have all your ducks in a row, you can make it the night before, and eat it the next day.  I’ve adapted the recipe slightly to my liking.  I found that the dough did NOTHING- nada- no rising whatsoever when I put it in the fridge.  I left it out on the counter for a good 8 hours before it would rise.  I did place the dough in the fridge for a few hours right before forming the rolls to make them easier to handle.  It makes a mess, and you think your bread going to look awful, but seriously, once it comes out of the oven it’s magnificent!!  No matter how ragged it looks before hand.  I’ve got another bread on my radar.  Swedish Saffron Buns.  I’ll get to it.  I’ve got 6 days until Christmas!

Chocolate Babka


  • Dough
  • 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 an orange
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup water (cold is fine) and up to 1 to 2 tablespoons extra, if needed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter (150 grams or 5.3 ounces) at room temperature
  • Oil for greasing or Pam spray
  • Filling
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet 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
  • Syrup
  • 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. This is definitely not a typical dough I'm used to. It only has about 1/3 the water amount I'm used to. 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. This seemed like a giant gloppy mess. The butter seemed to coat the sides of the bowl more than incorporating into the dough. It was sticky and slimy. Eventually it pulls together. Patience here is a virtue. Mixing took me approximately 8-10 minutes before the mixture looked like a bread dough to me. You’ll need to scrape the bowl down a few times.

Remove dough hook and dough and grease the inside of your mixing bowl. Knead dough into a ball and place in the coated bowl. Cover the dough with a dishcloth or some grease plastic wrap. Place dough on counter until doubled in size. Seriously my dough took 8 hours. To speed up the rise you can place the bowl in a warm oven. Make sure it's covered really well so the dough won't dry out.

Make filling right before rolling out dough. Melt butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar and cocoa; mixture should form a spreadable paste.

Assemble loaves: Coat two 9-by-4-inch (2 1/4 or 1kg) loaf pans with Pam spray or butter. 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. Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, cinnamon roll. Seal the end of the dough to the rest of the roll. I just pinched and smeared the dough until it stayed. It doesn't have to be perfect. You'll be cutting the roll anyway. 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.

Cover with a towel and leave to rise another 1 to 1 1/2 hours at room temperature. Repeat process with second loaf. The loaves didn't rise much again. I was worried about them turning out like little bricks, but once they were in the oven they puffed up nicely. I was pleasantly surprised.

Bake and finish cakes: Heat oven to 375°F . 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.

Recipe adapted slightly for this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, and originally from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem  cookbook.


  1. Eamon says

    I came across your blog in search for a reason as to why my babka dough wouldn’t rise. I too have used smitten kitchens recipe and noticed my dough didn’t rise much whatsoever. It’s winter here in Australia, so I left my assembled loaves in the water closet on top of the hot water service, yet it still barely rose.
    At the time of adding the butter, it was still quite firm as it is so cold. I’m not sure if it’s a mixture of both the butter and the temperature when trying to rise the dough that caused my babka to be quite dense. So I’m wondering if you still used the instant yeast when leaving yours out for 8 hours or if it was normal, water started yeast that you used for that method?
    Any feedback would be wonderful as I’m really struggling to figure this out.

    • Lisa says

      Oh Eamon!! I’m so sorry to be so stinking slow responding!! I’ve taken a little hiatus from blogging:) I do use instant yeast in my babka. I use instant in all my doughs because that’s what I like to work with. I’ve noticed though that if my yeast isn’t as fresh as can be it won’t rise as well as I’d like. Sometimes I double the yeast if I’ve had my yeast sitting in the refrigerator for a few months. It gives my doughs the extra lift. With as much chocolate and other good things in the babka, maybe a little extra yeast wouldn’t hurt. Good luck and let me know how it turns out!

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