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Chocolate Babka

Rich, rich, rich is the best way to describe this out-of-this-world, decadent bread. This babka was a long time coming, as I had seen it on other food blogs ages ago, and have stared at it in my Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook countless times. So what took me so long to make it? Well, it makes 3 loaves of intensely rich bread. What would I do with three loaves of something I have no business consuming all on my own? I finally decided that the holiday season was the perfect time to finally dive into the babka so that I could share the riches with others. Up until this bread, my only knowledge of babka came from a Seinfeld episode, but wow, now I know what I had been missing out on. If you haven’t had it before, you should certainly plan on making this bread.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “How rich could this bread possibly be?” Well, to give you an idea, here is a small breakdown of some of the ingredients that the recipe includes:

- 2 pounds of chocolate
- 5 eggs
- 1+ pounds of butter
- 3+ cups of sugar

Definitely not for the faint of heart, but absolutely amazing and perfect with a cup of coffee after dinner (or for breakfast!).

Now, I’m not going to try to sell this to you as an easy recipe. It’s not. It’s time consuming and involves some different shaping methods. But boy is it worth it. Just be sure to read the recipe the whole way through a couple of times before proceeding to get your head around it. At its core it is much like a brioche (a rich, buttery dough) with the addition of a rich chocolate filling, and the loaf is twisted and turned a couple of times before being topped with streusel and baked. And of course, if you have any questions along the way, don’t hesitate to leave a comment and I’ll help you as much as possible!

More delicious yeast breads:
Soft Cheese and Pepperoni Bread
Potato Rosemary Bread
Challah

Chocolate Babkas

Yield: Makes 3 loaves

Prep Time: 1 hour (active) 1 hour 45 minutes (inactive)

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Ingredients:

1½ cups warm milk (110°F)
2 envelopes (¼ ounce each) active dry yeast
1¾ cups plus a pinch of sugar
3 whole large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
3½ sticks (1¾ cups) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and pans
2 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon heavy cream

For Streusel Topping:
1-2/3 cups confectioners' sugar
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast and a pinch of sugar over the warm milk; stir until dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together ¾ cup sugar, 2 eggs, and the yolks; add yeast mixture, and whisk to continue.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add the egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Switch to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until completely incorporated and a smooth, soft dough forms, about 10 minutes. The dough should still be slightly sticky when squeezed.

3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead a few times until smooth. Place dough in a well-buttered bowl, and turn to coat with butter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

4. To make the Streusel Topping:Combine sugar and flour in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger clumps remaining. Set aside.

5. In a bowl, stir together chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and the cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in remaining 1½ sticks butter until combined; set aside filling.

6. Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2¾-inch loaf pans and line with parchment paper, leaving a 1½-inch overhang along the sides. Brush more butter over the parchment, and set aside. Punch down the dough, and transfer to a clean work surface. Let the dough rest 5 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, beat the remaining egg with the cream. Cut dough into three equal pieces. On a well-floured work surface, roll out one piece of dough to a 16-inch square, about 1/8 inch thick. (Keep other pieces covered with plastic wrap while you work.) Brush edges of dough with the egg wash. Crumble one-third of the chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving about a ½-inch border on the long sides. Roll up dough lengthwise into a tight log, pinching ends together to seal. Twist dough evenly down the length of the log, a full five or six times. Brush the top of the log with egg wash. Crumble 2 tablespoons filling down the center of the log, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold log in half into a horseshoe shape, then cross the right half over the left. Pinch ends together to seal and form a figure eight. Twist two more times, and fit into a prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

8. Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the lower third. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash; sprinkle with one-third of the Streusel Topping. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until dough has expanded and feels pillowy, about 40 minutes.

9. Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F; bake until loaves are deep golden, 20 to 30 minutes more. (If the tops begin to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil.) Transfer pans to wire racks to cool completely. Babkas can be wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Note: A babka can be frozen in the pan for up to a month before baking. When ready to bake, remove from freezer; let stand at room temperature for about five hours. Be careful not to underbake; otherwise, the center may not set properly.

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56 Responses to “Chocolate Babka”

  1. Jessica @ How Sweet It Is on January 4, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I LOVE Martha’s Baking handbook. It is probably one of my most favorite cook/baking books!

    Reply

  2. BethieofVA on January 4, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    OMGaaaawd, 2 lbs chocolate, you know it has got to be gooooood! That looks amazing.

    Reply

  3. Kerstin on January 4, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Wow – I’m so impressed, this looks amazing! I definitely need to get a little more confidence with my bread baking skills before I tackle anything like this :)

    Reply

  4. Mireya on January 4, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Yum, yum!!

    Reply

  5. Emily Ziegler on January 4, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    You have just touched this Polish woman’s heart.

    Fantastic recipe. Can’t wait to try it out!

    Reply

  6. grace on January 4, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    three loaves of this should last a person all year, but i’d take it down in a couple of weeks. what a luscious and irresistible creation–nicely done!

    Reply

  7. Drick on January 4, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    my goodness, what have you gone and done now … sinful …blessed to now have this recipe…

    Reply

  8. Ciaochowlinda on January 4, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    I can’t think of babka without thinking of that Seinfeld episode either. With that bounty of rich ingredients, it’s bound to be wonderful.

    Reply

  9. jacquie on January 4, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    that does look yummy. though would you of happened to have come across a nut version in your search for recipes? just wondering since that is the filling i’m used to seeing in babka.

    Reply

  10. Mary Poppins in Heels on January 4, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    I had thought seriously about doing this as Christmas gifts. Now you’ve made me wish I’d tied it! Never too late, right?

    Reply

  11. food librarian on January 5, 2010 at 1:24 am

    Wow! This is beautiful and so rich. Glad you made it during the holidays to share. – mary

    Reply

  12. Deanna on January 5, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Oh, my! Those look fabulous!!!! I want one for breakfast right now :-) Thanks for posting!

    Reply

  13. Jane of Jane's Sweets on January 5, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Gorgeous! I’d pondered making a chocolate babka in recent weeks but never took the plunge. Glad you took it for me! This is a great post to return to if I ever decide to go ahead and do it. Yours really looks luscious.

    Reply

  14. lululu on January 6, 2010 at 9:25 am

    i’m seriously thinking about making this. just i need a little bit more elaboration on “Crumble 2 tablespoons filling down the center of the log, being careful not to let mixture slide off.” should i press the log a bit before i put the filling on along the log? how can i make sure the filling is not sliding off as the log needs to be folded and twisted after?

    Reply

  15. wasabi prime on January 6, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Yee-haw, this is a go-for-the-gusto dessert! What a rich and fabulous recipe. Two pounds of chocolate — I love it!!!

    Reply

  16. Lauren on January 7, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    I just stumbled upon your blog via my google reader recs, and I’m hooked already! This looks delicious, I’m flagging it for later!

    Reply

  17. Michelle on January 8, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Hi Jacquie,

    I did not see a nut babka recipe, but perhaps you could use the filling for nut roll? This is the filling I use for my nut rolls:

    1 pound walnuts, ground
    1/2 cup milk
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1 egg
    4 ounces (1 stick) butter

    In a medium saucepan, mix together all filling ingredients. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick. Cool completely before spreading on dough, but don’t refrigerate because it will become too firm to spread.

    Reply

  18. Michelle on January 8, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Hi lululu,

    Since you brush the top of the log with the egg/cream mixture and then crumble some filling on top, it will naturally stick, but I went ahead and lightly pressed the topping into the egg wash to be sure that it stuck. A few crumbs fell off here and there, but for the most part it all stayed on.

    Enjoy the babka! :)

    Reply

  19. bridget {bake at 350} on January 9, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    OK…I have this cookbook and have wanted to make this ever since watching Seinfeld! :) You’ve convinced me that it’s a “must make.”

    Reply

  20. Ashley on January 14, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    I’ve been wanting to make this chocolate babka for years since I saw it in a Martha Stewart magazine, but didn’t because like you I had no idea what to do with 3 loaves! Your babka looks amazing.

    Reply

  21. denise fletcher on January 28, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Eeeeeeeeeek! My waist, my waist! Your site should be banned! God, I just have to try making that bubka. Would you like to know how it turns out? : D

    Reply

  22. bob on February 18, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    NOTHING LIKE GREENS CHOCOLATE BABKA
    http://www.greenscakes.com

    Reply

  23. LarryB on March 2, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Thanks! I was hunting around for a filling for a chocolate babka and found your blog. I’ve been baking my way through Peter Reinhart’s “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” and just made the cinnamon rolls. Eating them, I thought the dough would make a nice babka. It’s a lot less rich than Martha’s, but still tender and light.

    I did cut down the chocolate in the filling a bit, and added in some walnuts so the filling is closer to what I had as a kid. The loaves are in their final proof right now, and I’ll eventually write a blog post and put some photos up on my flickr stream.

    Reply

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  25. LadyGCat on January 26, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Have you tried chocolate babka recipe from the Moosewood Dessert cookbook? That’s the only yeast cake I know how to make – it requires no kneading – just mix dough and put it in the fridge for a day (or two). The only alteration I make is to substitute walnuts for 1/2 of the raisins, but that’s just a matter of taste. It comes out perfect every time.

    Reply

  26. Pepper on August 3, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I made Chocolate babka last week and stil have much left(freezer) My filling had Apricot jam,ground almonds, and I threw in 1/4 cup of brandied raisins, plus some butter. This was smeared on before adding the chocolate-it gave depth to the flavor. Really good.I couldn’t bring myself to add the streusle topping,because the calorie count was already through the roof!

    Reply

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  28. Gordon on October 19, 2011 at 11:36 am

    What does it taste like? I’m very curious.

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 20th, 2011 at 3:13 pm

      It’s a sweet dough with swirls of chocolate running through it. I would say almost like a chocolate danish, but in bread form.

      Reply

  29. Patty on November 4, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Looking forward to trying this recipe. Any comments on eliminating or substitutions for the cinnamon? I react to most spices but will tolerate them when I can not pass on a recipe and this one sounds like a “must try” recipe.

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 4th, 2011 at 4:40 pm

      Hi Patty, You could definitely omit the cinnamon without a problem. Enjoy the bread!

      Reply

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  32. dede on December 8, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Good morning! Just wondering if you think this could be halved for mini loaf pans? Do you think this could be refrigerated uncooked?

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 8th, 2011 at 11:41 am

      Hi Dede, I definitely think you could make this into mini loaves. I have not experimented with refrigerating the dough before baking though, so I’m not sure how that would turn out.

      Reply

  33. Sarah on March 1, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    This looks amazing! My local bakery sells babka rolls and I have been known to have them for breakfast from time to time…. Can’t wait to try this!

    Reply

  34. Carrie on January 7, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    I saw this on your list of holiday recipes and finally got to trying out it this weekend. Holy hell this is freaking AMAZING. It tastes just like the bakery cake and I feel awesome for having succeeded at making it! This will definitely be made again!

    Reply

  35. Sofy on May 8, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    For the streusel topping, what does “1-1/3″ and 1-2/3″ mean? Many thanks xxx looks so delish x

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 9th, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      Hi Sofy, That means 1 & 1/3 cups and 1 & 2/3 cups. Hope that helps!

      Reply

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  37. cheyanne on November 10, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Just finished letting this cool..its delish! I made your cinnamon babka last weekend for my husband to bring to work. It was gone within 15 minutes and after unrelenting requests for more all week I decided to tackle this version… I must say I like this one more! I halved the recipe and made one giant loaf.. that should last 30 minutes (hopefully!). I love your site, thank you for all the wonderful recipes!! Cant wait to try the apricot cream cheese babka next. Cheers!!!

    Reply

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  40. Lynn on January 28, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Hi Michelle! I’d like to tackle this recipe, but I’m a little stuck on step #7. I’m a visual learner, and this step is blowing my mind. Any chance you could describe a little differently what to do here so I can figure out what the heck I’m supposed to do? Thanks in advance!

    Reply

    • Lynn on January 28th, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      Scratch that! I figured since this was an older post, it was before you started taking pictures of all of your detailed steps! I checked your apricot cream cheese babka post and I’m fully in the know now… So I helped myself with your help! ;-) Thanks! Can’t wait to try this!!

      Reply

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  42. Sara on April 8, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Do you prefer your chocolate or cinnamon babka?

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 9th, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      Hi Sara, I love both! Chocolate babka definitely feels more like dessert, while the cinnamon I’ll eat for breakfast or a snack (or dessert, too!).

      Reply

  43. Dani on April 17, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    I made this the other day for Easter and it’s fantastic! I’ve never made bread before (or done much baking from scratch) but it wasn’t that difficult. I chose not to do the streusel topping since I don’t think it really needs it.

    Reply

  44. Sara on April 29, 2014 at 6:30 am

    Will you clarify the rolling process? I cannot picture the whole figure 8 thing. Won’t the filling come off then? I have only seen recipes when the dough was folded over on itself.

    Reply

  45. Sara on May 7, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    I froze this before the 40 minute proof. Will the 5 hours at room temperature be sufficient enough to let it rise?

    Next time, should I let it proof before freezing?

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 12th, 2014 at 10:46 am

      Hi Sara, I’m not sure how well it will rise, I usually do not freeze yeast doughs other than pizza dough or pastries.

      Reply

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