Chocolate Babka Bakealong: Challenge #9

bakealong-logo Welcome to our April Bakealong challenge. Each month, we’ll announce a new recipe for you to try, along with helpful tips and step-by-step instructions here on our blog. We invite you to bake, then share a photo of your creation, tagging it #bakealong. Enjoy!

The New York Times says making it is “no casual undertaking.” Noted food writer David Lebovitz offers a recipe for a stunning version he enjoyed at Honey & Co. in London. Dean & DeLuca sells it online — for $28 a loaf. What is this mysterious bread, and is it really worth it? Take our Chocolate Babka Bakealong challenge, and find out!

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Chocolate babka, a dense, rich loaf swirled with an equally rich chocolate/butter/sugar/nut filling, is a classic eastern European Jewish bread. Here in the U.S., chocolate babka has gradually spread from its native big city bakeries into suburban bistros and coffee shops — and thence to the kitchens of those of us who enjoy an interesting yeast bread project.

This Chocolate Babka #bakealong offers everything you need to create a spectacular loaf. Click To Tweet

While we agree baking babka is “no casual undertaking,” it’s also attainable by bakers of any skill level — even beginner. Simply follow the steps one by one and before you know it, you’ll be pulling a couple of gorgeous loaves out of the oven.

Are you ready to take the Chocolate Babka Bakealong challenge? Let’s begin.

The following recipe makes two loaves: one to keep, one to give away. But if you’d rather make a single loaf, simply halve all of the ingredients and proceed with the recipe as written.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Chocolate Babka Bakealong challenge

Make the dough

Place all of the following in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer:

1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
2 large eggs
6 1/4 cups (26 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk*
2 tablespoons instant yeast, SAF Red or SAF Gold preferred
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

*Don’t have dry milk on hand? Omit it, and substitute liquid milk for the water.

Combine all of the dough ingredients (starting with the lesser amount of water), mixing until everything is moistened. Add additional water if necessary to enable the dough to come together.

Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

What does this short rest do? It allows the flour to absorb the water, which will make the dough less sticky and easier to knead — and help prevent you from adding too much flour, which would make your babka dry.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

After about 20 minutes, mix/knead the dough until it’s soft and smooth.

Let the dough rise

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and cover the bowl. The dough is going to rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until it’s quite puffy.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Ninety minutes later, see how nicely the dough has risen? Deflate it gently by picking it up and squeezing it.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a rough log. Set the logs aside, covered, while you make the filling.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Prepare the filling

To make the filling, combine the following in a medium mixing bowl:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa, Triple Cocoa Blend, or the cocoa powder* of your choice
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

*Should you use Dutch process or natural cocoa here? We prefer Dutch process for its rich, smooth flavor, but use natural if you prefer.

Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter. The mixture will look grainy and slick; that’s OK. Set this aside; it’s your first layer of filling. Note: If the filling sits too long it may harden up and become difficult to spread. If this happens, simply rewarm it gently; a microwave works well here.

Next, measure out 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, and 1 cup diced pecans or walnuts.

For a less-chunky filling, whirl the chips in a food processor briefly, to break them up a bit; or use chocolate mini chips. For best flavor, toast the nuts in a frying pan (no oil), 350°F oven, or toaster oven, watching carefully and stirring often until the nuts start to brown and become aromatic.

Assemble the babka

Shape each piece of dough into a 9″ x 18″, 1/4″-thick rectangle. Don’t be fussy about this; 19″ or 20″ is as good as 18″.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Working with one piece of dough at a time, spread it with half the chocolate filling. Leave about an inch bare around the edges.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Scatter half the chips and nuts on top.

Next: two choices for shaping your babka.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Shape your babka

Simple shaping:

Roll the dough into a log, starting with a long edge.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Double the log back on itself, like a skinny horseshoe.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Give the horseshoe a twist.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

More complex shaping:

Starting with a short end, roll the dough gently into a log, sealing the seam and ends. Use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthwise (not crosswise) to make two pieces of dough about 10″ long each; cut carefully, to prevent too much filling from spilling out.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

With the exposed filling side up, twist the two pieces into a braid, tucking the ends underneath.

Repeat with the remaining piece of dough, using whatever shaping method you choose.

Place each log into a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. If desired, line each pan with a parchment paper sling, which will help you remove the loaves once they’re baked. 

Top the babka

Next, make the streusel topping by mixing together the following ingredients until crumbly:

4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Beat 1 large egg with a pinch of salt until well-combined. (What does the salt do? It helps break down the protein in the egg white, making it less viscous and easier to spread.)

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Brush each loaf with some of the beaten egg.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Sprinkle each loaf with half the topping.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Let the loaves rise

Tent each pan with plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise until they’re very puffy and have crowned a good inch over the rim of the pan, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 300°F.

Bake the babka

Place the two pans onto a larger baking sheet, for ease of handling (and to catch any potential streusel-shedding). Bake the bread for 35 minutes. Tent lightly with foil, and bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes (for a total of 50 to 60 minutes). To ensure the loaves are baked through, insert a digital thermometer into the center of one loaf; it should register at least 190°F.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

The finished loaves should be a deep-golden brown.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Remove the loaves from the oven, and immediately loosen the edges with a heatproof spatula or table knife.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out of the pans onto a rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Babka Bakealong via @kingarthurflour

Slice and enjoy!

And here are what the loaves look like inside. At left is the babka with the more complex shaping method; at right, the simpler one.

With the more complex shaping, the one where you slit the dough log in half, you’re never quite sure what kind of interesting pattern you’ll see inside. With the simpler method, you’ll quite reliably see this double swirl.

Are you ready to take the Chocolate Babka Bakealong challenge? Follow this post on your tablet or laptop, or print the recipe. And when you’re done, remember to post your stunning photos, tagged #bakealong. We’re looking forward to sharing your success.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Denise

    Do you think I can use some if my almond flour? I already made the chocolate chip cookies with a 25% sub and they were great!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We love baking with almond flour, Denise! PJ compiled the research of our test baking into a blog called Baking with almond flour. Within it, we recommend adding up to 1/3 cup of almond flour for every cup of regular flour in yeasted recipes. That means in the babka recipe, you could add about 2 cups of almond flour to the dough (still using the full amount of all-purpose flour called for). We think you’ll like the nutty taste and golden brown color of the dough. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    2. Joslyn

      I’m confused! Are you saying ADD 2 cups of almond to 6 1/4 cups of All-Purpose Flour, totaling 8 1/4 cups? Or do you replace 2 cups of All-Purpose flour with 2 cups of almond flour, totaling 6 1/4 cups?

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      Joslyn, in yeast bread, we do recommend adding the almond flour to the total amount of All-Purpose Flour, rather than using it as a sub for a portion of it. Almond flour doesn’t have the gluten-forming proteins that wheat flour does, which is why we don’t substitute it for the wheat flour here. If this sounds like a lot of almond flour to add, feel free to consider a smaller amount. 1/3 cup almond flour per cup of wheat flour is the max we would recommend adding, less can still be delicious. Mollie@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Yes, Kate, absolutely — so long as your machine has the capacity. If you’re worried about any overflow, simply remove the dough after the kneading cycle and let it rise in a bowl. Good luck — PJH

  2. Regina

    This looks ah…maaazing! Thank you PJ, Mollie and Kye for think of us gluten free bakers. I can’t wait to try the gluten free recipe this weekend. The best to all of you.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Regina, I think you’ll be quite pleased. I was actually amazed it came out so well — I had no clue you could shape GF bread dough like that, and now we’re thinking of other uses for this particular dough… PJH

    2. Regina

      Oh PJ, other recipes would be great. I swoon over some of the regular bread recipes. Thanks to all of you for your hard work!

    3. Jordyn Shipley

      I’m having a really difficult time locating the gluten free recipe! Did it get taken down?

    4. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Jordyn,
      The gluten-free version wasn’t producing results that were quite as tasty as we were hoping for, and we pride ourselves on providing recipes that reliable produce fantastic results. If you’re still hoping to make something gluten-free, you might want to use our Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread recipe as a base. Prepare half of the chocolate filling here, and then layer and swirl it throughout the dough as shown in this blog. This should give you a delicious, chocolate-and-nut-filled bread. Kye@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Well, that’s usually a good test to see if yeast dough is thoroughly kneaded, Paola. But no, you don’t have to reach that point, especially if the dough will rise for quite awhile; because it’ll continue to develop its structure as it rises. In the case of this babka, I wouldn’t do the windowpane test; with the sugar, milk, eggs, and butter, you’re much less likely to be able to reach that point, and this rich bread, with its close texture/relatively low rise, doesn’t require that much kneading; just knead as directed, and you should be fine. Good luck — PJH

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      300°F! Sounds like you’re looking for the full recipe for the Chocolate Babka. You can see the full details you’ll need to make this recipe here. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  3. Carolyn

    This looks wonderful and I definitely want to make it. I’m not a fan of pecans or walnuts though. Is there another nut I could use? Almonds maybe? I realize it’s probably not really Babka anymore if I substitute.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Babka is all about the dough, so feel free to have fun with the filling, Carolyn! Chopped toasted almonds would be nice, or you can simply leave out the nuts and just use chocolate chips. Either way, we think you’ll love the final product. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  4. Margy

    Just a question. In the photo brushing with egg, it appears that you flipped the babka when you put it into the pan, leaving the smooth, uncut side on top. But the picture of the risen babka shows the cut side up. I would assume that it have to be placed in the pan cut side up so that it could open as it rises, and so that all of the filling doesn’t melt and puddle at the bottom of the pan?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The photo you’re seeing shows the first, more basic shaping option where the dough is rolled up, bent into a “U”, and twisted. The second, more complex shaping option includes cutting the loaf down the middle to reveal the filling and then shaping it. If you look closely at the photo showing the streusel-topping versions, you can see both shaping options. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    2. Margy

      Thank you Kye. That’s why I love you guys, you’re always responsive to questions, even the most obvious!

  5. Michael Hessling

    This came out nicely. 300ºF seems rather low, though! I ended up turning it to 350ºF for a few minutes.

    Reply
    1. Lynn

      I thought so too. I make a chocolate babka and I bake mine at 350. I also do not put nuts in mine. But that is a personal choice.

    1. Susan Reid

      Hi, Gary. You could refrigerate the dough after the first rise, but the longer it’s in the refrigerator the more sour it’s going to get. 24 to 36 hours is as long as I would recommend, and you may see some compromise as far as the final rise. Susan

  6. JoAnn

    Hi.. I want to make sure I understand this correctly. If I don’t have dry milk – I can substitute milk 1/3 c. Then I minus 1/3 from the total of the water? Is that correct?

    Reply
  7. Stephanie Reilander

    Thanks for this. I love your recipes and helpful advice. Would buttermilk powder work here instead of regular milk?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We think you’ll enjoy this recipe just as much as our others, Stephanie! Buttermilk powder should work just fine as a substitute for non-fat dry milk here. Any changes to the final product would likely be so slight as to be unnoticeable. Mollie@KAF

    1. Susan Reid

      By all means, Larry. Either swap them for some of the walnuts or add right to the mixture. Susan

  8. Marie-Pierre

    I definitely want to try this! However, I’m wondering if, like for almond flour, coconut flour could be used instead of some of the wheat flour. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Marie-Pierre, you could use some, but coconut flour behaves very differently than almond flour does. It absorbs 4 times its weight in liquid, so if you add 1/4 cup of coconut flour for each up of flour, you’ll need to add at least 1/4 cup more liquid. Susan

  9. Gwen Adams

    Would the King Arthur golden brioche bread mix work for the dough? If so, would it be sufficient for one loaf only and I should decrease the filling and toppings by half? Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Elena

    That’s great guided recipe.
    I love sourdough. Do you think it would turn out nice if I used sourdough instead of yeast? How much should I use?
    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Elena, if your starter is 100% hydration (equal parts water and flour by weight), you should be able to sub it in for equal parts water and flour, again by weight. For example, try subbing 8 oz (roughly 1 cup) sourdough starter for 4 oz (or a scant cup) flour and 4 oz (1/2 cup) water. We haven’t tried making this with only sourdough starter to leaven it, and we suspect that could be tricky. To ensure a good and full rise, it may help to keep at least some commercial yeast in the dough. If you’re up for an experiment and decide to try reducing or eliminating the commercial yeast, be sure to use a very active starter and plan for extended rise times. Best of luck and happy baking! Mollie@KAF

    1. Susan Reid

      Yes, this loaf will freeze; wrap it well, as airtight as you can. Best way to thaw is just to put in the refrigerator overnight. You might want to refresh the bread in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes before serving. Susan

  11. Janet

    I’d just been reading a luscious sounding recipe for chocolate babka on the Smitten Kitchen website. I didn’t have the right size pan but for your recipe I do! Question…my loaf pan is made of Corning Ware…will that make a difference?

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Yes, Janet, it will, and good for you for asking. We recommend you lower the baking temperature by 25°F; the loaf may take a little longer, but you’ll have better results. Glass pans heat up more slowly, but retain heat longer once they’re up to temperature. If I were you I would cut some parchment paper to line the pan, with a little extra coming up the long edges for a handle. Put the parchment sling in the pan, then grease it. You will have much more success getting this tender bread out of your pan once it’s baked; just unclip the paper (we use the spring clips you find in the stationery store), run a knife along the short ends to make sure it’s loose, then pull it straight up with the parchment. It will look great. Susan

  12. Nancy Mock

    I have always wanted to try making babka! I am really excited to do this BakeAlong… well, I’m always excited for the BakeAlong!

    Reply
  13. Lisa

    I would love to try this but work a lot. Would I be able to prep this in the evening, refrigerate it overnight and bake it the next day?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Yes, Lisa, that should work fine. Let it rise in the pan for about 45 minutes before refrigerating; and leave yourself time the next day for the loaf to warm to room temperature, and finish rising, if necessary, before baking. Good luck — PJH

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      A fully baked and cooled loaf of babka will freeze quite well, Georgina. We recommend double wrapping it, for example in plastic wrap and a Ziplock bag, and putting it into the coldest part of your freezer. Mollie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Subbing buttermilk for the water + non-fat dry milk should work just fine, Tom. Take care to warm it up, like you would your water, to get the yeast working in your dough. Mollie@KAF

  14. Tandolio

    So what would happen if I manipulated all of the dough (or perhaps 1 1/2 of the 2-loaf amount?) into the fancydancy cut version and snaked it into my Bundt pan? Birthday “cake” for my bro-in-law. Must be made today, please advise. Oh, and I have some nice poolish that grew all night using your instant yeast in my (fed) sourdough starter…can I use that too?

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Tandolio, this is a great idea. The recipe amount depends on the size of your Bundt pan. a 9- or 10- cup Bundt pan uses roughly 6 cups of batter, which, by the way, happens to be the same capacity as a 9″ x 5″ pan. So if that’s your Bundt pan size, half the recipe is the right amount. If your pan is bigger, a 12-cup pan, 1 1/2 x the recipe works. I don’t know the hydration of the poolish you have, but there’s no reason not to put it to work if you want to. If it’s 100% hydration (equal amounts of flour and water by weight), simply subtract equal amounts of flour and water (again, BY WEIGHT) from the recipe amounts. Good luck; should make an interesting cake!! Susan

  15. Sophie Wildrick

    Can I bake the Babka and then freeze it? Or should I prepare the dough and filling, combine it in the pan, then freeze for next week and then bake it?

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Hi, Sophie. You are better off making the bread all the way through and freezing. There’s a lot of ingredients in a complicated structure to put through a freeze/thaw cycle and hope that everything behaves itself! Susan

  16. Kathy

    My first time to do a Bake-along challenge. This Chocolate Babka sounds wonderful. I plan on making it and taking to the family Easter dinner instead of our usual Polish Babka as a surprise.

    Reply
  17. vasken

    Hi, could I use sourdough starter instead of instant yeast? if yes, how do I substitute 100% hydration sourdough starter to the recipe. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Vasken, you can certainly use your starter in this recipe for added flavor and a little extra boost. To do this, simply sub the starter for an equal amount of flour and water by weight — 8 oz starter for 4 oz flour and 4 oz liquid, for example. We haven’t, however, tried using sourdough starter as the sole leavening agent, so it would be a bit of an experiment to eliminate the commercial yeast. If you choose to give it a try, you’ll want to be sure to use a very active starter, like we show here, and you can reasonably expect your rise times to increase significantly. Please do let us know how it goes! Mollie@KAF

  18. Candice Hawkins

    The 3 things I love the most. Streusel, Chocolate and Bread. I’m a goner. Instead of hammering along side my hubbie this weekend on the new chicken coop I think I will reward him (and myself) with this wuunderful Babka.
    Thanks PJ

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You sure can, Judy. You may find that your dough requires a little more liquid to reach the desired dough consistency as a result of Bread Flour’s higher protein content and absorption rate, otherwise the differences will be minimal. If you’re interested, you can read about our experiments subbing one for the other in this blog article. Mollie@KAF

    2. PJ Hamel , post author

      Yes, Judy, you just may have to increase the water by 2 to 3 tablespoons to make the soft, smooth dough you’re looking for. PJH

  19. Barbara

    Wondering about using that wonderful chocolate-hazelnut spread as the filling instead of the one in the recipe. I have to leave out the chopped nuts anyways.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Barbara, I think that would work fine. My only concern would be it melting and draining out of the loaf, but as I recall, the spread holds its shape pretty well while baking. Give it a try — PJH

  20. Joanne

    Would the ZOJIRUSHI have the capacity for this Babka to rise? It seems like it would be large enough, but I wanted to run this by you to be sure! I bought my ZO from King Arthur a couple of years ago, and believe it or not, I’m still learning! I really love it.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Joanne, it would be close, given the amount of flour. It could certainly knead the dough, but you might just want to play it safe and let the kneaded dough rise in a bowl outside the machine. Glad you’re enjoying your Zo! PJH

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Jane, so long as the bowl is large enough that the dough doesn’t overflow onto your counter, you’re all set. PJH

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Dana, this loaf doesn’t include almond flour. If you’re worried about the nuts in the filling it’s fine to leave them out — they won’t affect the bread’s structure at all. Hope your grandson enjoys this — PJH

  21. Jeanmarie Zalinka

    What are your thoughts about using plain soy milk? It would be the substitute for the dry milk/water.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  22. Marcia B

    If you look at the step by step instructions they say to roll starting with the long end. The printed instructions say to roll starting with the short end.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Marcia, you start rolling with a long end when doing the uncut “horseshoe twist” method; a short end when cutting the dough in half lengthwise and then twisting. I just checked the directions in the blog post, and they match those in the recipe, so we should be all set. Thanks for your feedback — always good to double check. PJH

  23. Arlita Robinson

    I have made chocolate babka before and you had to keep manipulating butter into the dough. This recipe in no way resembles that. What kind of babka is this?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Arlita, it sounds like your babka uses a brioche-type dough. The inspiration (and method) for this Eastern European-style babka come from one of our long-time friends, Maggie Glezer, who featured it in her book, “A Blessing of Bread.” — PJH

  24. Karen

    I made the Chocolate Babka yesterday but I had a few problems. I tried the two different methods for shaping the loaves. The more difficult braided loaf deflated after I took it out of the oven (it was at 190). The second loaf seemed better but still had some rather large internal holes. Should I have rolled it up tighter? They were fabulous tasting and everyone raved. I will definitely try them again and see if I can perfect the technique.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Karen, so sorry your bread deflated; I’m wondering if somehow your thermometer was resting in a pocket of filling and thus the reading was higher than it would have been if it was in the bread itself? If so, that was just bad luck. If by large internal holes you mean between the layers (gapping), then yes, it was probably the rolling. If it was holes in the bread itself – like the large holes you get in a baguette – then i was more likely your bread was a tad under-risen, or perhaps the dough was just a bit on the slack (wet) side. I’m glad you’re going to try again; this is a very tasty loaf, as you discovered! PJH

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Great question! The dough should roughly double in size when it has finished proofing. A great way to monitor the rise is to let the dough rise in a large measuring cup or another straight-sided vessel. This way you can mark where it starts and clearly see the progress. Another tip? Poke the dough with your finger; when the indent stays and doesn’t spring back, it’s usually ready! Kye@KAF

  25. Mojo's mommy

    I love this blog! Aanyway, I decided to see if I could make this using just my sourdough starter to leaven:

    Used two cups/16 ounces of starter, and initially shaved the flour down to 4 1/4 cups/17 ounces. I ended up using approximately 5 cups/20 ounces of flour.

    Did not use any water as the starter is 100% hydration. Ended up adding approximately 5 ounces of milk for moisture (as well as the powdered milk) , hoping this would “tender up” the crumb.

    Mixed the dough except for the salt: allowed the dough to autolyse about 45 minutes then kneaded in the salt.

    Other than that, followed the recipe at “sourdough speed”.

    Just plain forgot to twist my “horseshoe”.
    Still stunning, delicious, and that sourdough tang! (Toasts well,too:)

    I can imagine this with rum-soaked dried cherries instead of pecans, so many more possibilities!

    Thanks for such a great tasting and forgiving recipe💗

    Reply
  26. Heather

    We have egg allergies here. I’ve had good luck with egg replacer in bread doughs in the past, but I’m stumped as to how to apply the streusel topping. Any ideas?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Heather, you can skip the streusel-topping altogether if you like. It does add another yummy flavor component to the bread, but it’s certainly not necessary. You can also try brushing the loaf with a bit of melted butter or milk to get the streusel to adhere. Either way, we’re sure it will turn out delicious! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      This babka is a bit delicate by nature with all the twists, fillings, and streusel topping. However, there’s a few things you try to improve the texture. First, be sure you’re using the right amount of flour by weighing it using a scale or using this technique here. Second, make sure it rises at room temperature, as warmer temperatures can compromise the texture, and be sure it doesn’t over-proof (rise too much). If all else fails, you could try putting slices on a bit of foil and warming them in your oven (or toaster oven) before enjoying. Eat all the crumbs! 🙂 Kye@KAF

  27. Pat Hirsch

    The dough ingredients include 10 T of butter. the filling ingredients do not list butter, but in the instructions it includes 4T of butter. Were these 4T supposed to be taken from the 10T in the dough? or just omitted from the ingredients in the cocoa filling?
    I am in the middle of this and have already made the dough with 10T. (and only have 2 T of butter left so I will be going to the store during the rising!
    thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Pat, we’re happy to clarify. First, try looking at the full recipe to help keep yourself organized. You’ll see you’re right in thinking 10 T. of butter goes into the dough. Then another 1/4 cup (4 T.) of melted butter gets added to the filling. You will see it listed under the “Filling” ingredients in the recipe, and it’s listed here under the header that says “Prepare the filling.” (After the note about cocoa powder it says, “Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter.”) We hope that helps set you straight! Kye@KAF

  28. Michael

    I made the babka yesterday, my first time. It came out great. Told my dad he said to make cinnamon raisin babka. What do you use for the filling? Just cinnamon sugar and raisins.

    Reply
  29. Victoria

    Made the two traditional rolled loafs of babka today. Wow!! Came out perfect with a perfect chocolate swirl. Moist, high loafs (maybe because my pans are 8×4) I used milk for the entire amount of liquid and they came out with perfect texture! Not sure what eating a whole loaf of bread will do to a person, but I just might have to find out. Too late, the family walked in! Amazing! Also, I made the Lemon Bliss Bundt Cake last month…again, amazing!

    Reply
  30. Hannah

    Does cooking time differ if you use a glass loaf pan vs metal? Mine is taking significantly longer than the specified time to come to 190 degrees.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Glass pans do insulate heat differently than metal pans do, so we typically recommend turning down the temperature and extending the baking time slightly. However, since these loaves bake at such a low temperature already, keep it at 300°F and continue waiting for the inside to reach 190°F. Remember to tent with foil if the loaves are becoming too brown. Your patience will pay off! Kye@KAF

  31. Janet St-Pierre

    Made it yesterday, doubled the recipe and made two chocolate and two with a poppy seed filling. Turned out beautifully, definitely a keeper.

    Reply
  32. Diane Perris

    Just made the babkas today and I am thrilled that I produced something this wonderful as a novice baker. I made two loaves, one with the simple shaping and one with the more complex shaping. I actually had more trouble with the “simple” because I didn’t quite understand how to twist the horseshoe, but I figured it out. I used a parchment sling in my bread pans which made it very easy to get the bread out. I did proof it both times in the oven using the oven light only and it really rose a lot (perhaps a bit over-proofed?) but that didn’t seem to affect the quality and it held together well. Next time I’ll try just proofing at room temp.
    The only thing that didn’t work out so well for me was the topping. It was more like a lumpy paste than struesel and was kind of in bigger clumps that didn’t stick that well to the bobka. Otherwise, terrific.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sounds like overall you had pretty good results, Diane! As for the streusel sticking, did you use the egg wash to brush the dough? This ingredient acts as the “glue” needed to hold it on. If you streusel gets clumpy, chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes and then use a fork or two knives to break it up into smaller chunks. Or, you can always leave it out too. The babka can stand on its own as a delicious loaf. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    2. Diane Perris

      Diane again with an additional comment. I did a live chat before baking this bread to ask about kneading times since it wasn’t in the recipe. I was told 10-12 minutes for hand kneading (my preferred way to knead bread) and did 11. My have been too much. Next time will probably start with 8 minutes and then just go by dough consistency.
      Gave slices to my neighbors (they were very happy) otherwise would have eaten the whole thing in two days!
      Yes, I did use the egg wash but the topping still was more like cookie dough. Next time I will try chilling it first; also melted butter may have been too warm.

  33. Mary Ann Poch

    At the start of the recipe, it says to put all of the ingredients into a bowl, or stand mixer. I’m using a stand mixer but I’m not sure which mixing tool to use. Should I be using the paddle, or the dough hook? Can’t wait to get started on the baking of this bread, I’ve never made Babka before!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Great question, Mary Ann. For the first step, you can use the paddle attachment to help distribute the ingredients evenly. Then after the 20 minute rest, you can jump in with the dough hook. It will do all the kneading for you. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  34. Christine Freeling

    My husband and son loved the Babka , made it Sat and they are asking me to make them each their own loaf.

    Reply
  35. Jasmine Wang

    The recipe says if you do not have dry milk, substitute liquid milk for the water. does that mean you’re foregoing the 1/3 cup of dry milk and putting in 1 1/4 cup of regular milk? or 1 1/4 cup water and 1/3 cup milk?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Jasmine, sorry for the confusion — 1 to 1 1/4 cups liquid milk in place of the water. PJH

    2. Jasmine Wang

      Thanks so much! I finally made it, and halved the recipe but it looks like my loaf was a little on the dense side. My bread never crowned over the rim to an inch, although it rose substantially. Any tips on judging the final proof?

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      Great question! We actually have a full article on our blog about the best ways to judge rising time. It includes some helpful photos to guide you. When you poke the dough with your finger, the indent should stay instead of spring back when it has finished rising. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  36. Ann

    So I’m​not a chocolate lover. Can you suggest a cinnamon brown sugar substitute filling? I can’t wait to try the knot from Posie’s post!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Ann, try using 1/2 cup Baker’s Cinnamon Filling mixed with 2 tablespoons water to make a yummy cinnamon filling. If you don’t have Baker’s Cinnamon Filling, substitute 1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark) and 1 tablespoon cinnamon; omit the water. This substitute may turn slightly runny during the baking time, so be prepared! Kye@KAF

  37. Nancy Hudson

    Made Babka this weekend, was at times over whelmed by all the steps, but, when I sliced into it, after it cooled, it was all worth it. Will try it again, now that I am more into what I need to do. Thanks for the recipe.

    Reply
  38. Gina

    I just made this and it’s in the oven so I can’t comment on the deliciousness of it yet, but I’ll post photos to Instagram and comment there. I am an experienced baker (especially bread), have made chocolate babka before, though not this recipe. My observations:
    1. You better have a dishwasher because I had every surface in my kitchen covered. I have a fairly large island and I dirtied so may bowls for butter melting, cutting boards for chopping nuts and chocolate chips (not an easy task), bowls for mixing the filling and the topping and the egg wash. You also need a large surface to roll this out, 18″ to 20″. I usually wash as I go along but that didn’t happen here as there was so much stuff in use and reuse. Maybe a minor detail but knowing is better than not knowing. There are many many steps and some of them could have been consolidated, like the multiple butter meltings for instance.
    2. Some of the steps are not clear if you’ve not done this before. “Shape each piece of dough into a 9″ x 18″ rectangle” is not as easy as it sounds. The dough is quite stretchy and if this is your first time doing this you’ll need to let each piece rest, then and roll out or shape in stages. I used a rolling pin for most of it.
    3. The chocolate butter filling is very thick and hard to spread. I ended up having not nearly enough for my first loaf and had to repeat the filling to fill the next loaf. It may need more butter so that it is more spreadable. I used mine as soon as I mixed the melted butter with the chocolate and the espresso and it was like mud. Both times, so I didn’t mis-measure.
    4. I would advise not using the regular size chocolate chips. They are too large and don’t stay on the dough well. Chopping them is an extra step and creates more dirty dishes (food processor or knife and cutting board). I’d grate a large chuck of chocolate next time, or use the mini chips as suggested.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Wow, Gina, sorry this turned out to be a lot of work. I can see how this would definitely be a challenge without a food processor for the chips and nuts, and a microwave for melting butter. I hear you about the chocolate chips; I’ve amended the recipe to call for chopped chocolate or mini chips, or chopping standard chips in a food processor. And I’ve added advice about letting the dough rest if you find it difficult to stretch out. As for the filling consistency, “mud” is an apt word; but none of us seemed to have any difficulty spreading it, so long as it was done before the butter hardened. And there was plenty of filling for a thin layer on each loaf; I’ve added advice to make a “thin” layer. Thanks for your help in making this recipe as clear as possible. PJH

  39. Bobbi

    I have 2 loaves in the oven and it smells amazing!! I do have a question. Any thoughts on why I don’t get the second rise? It’s not just this recipe but with the majority of my breads. I’ll get a beautiful first rise, deflate and shape, and let it rise again but I am lucky if I get a quarter inch crest over the pan. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Hmmm, could be a lot of different things. If your yeast isn’t fresh; or if you’re using “rapid rise” yeast, the yeast could simply be pooping out. If you’re using a different size pan than the recipe suggests, your loaf may not rise very tall, since it’s spreading sideways. If your dough is overly salty or sweet, the yeast will slow down. This sounds like a subject for further discussion, though — how about calling our hotline: 855-371-2253. Our bakers will be happy to talk this through with you. Good luck! PJH

  40. pwzii

    On this tutorial website it has 1/2 cup sugar for the filling. On the page that has the ingredients and the 14 steps it lists 1& 1/2 cups sugar for the filling. Which is correct?

    If it is 1.5 cups and not .5 cups that may account for why some came up short on the filling spread?

    Making the recipe this evening. Will report back after my daughters and sons-in-law have a taste after birthday and Easter dinners this weekend. They are a tough crowd when it comes to Babka. So far their favorite is one I make with a cherry cream cheese filling in a bundt pan. Its a combo of several recipes I’ve adopted and adapted. Will see how this one stacks up 🙂
    This has been fun to make!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Hi — I’m not seeing where the filling recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups sugar? I’m looking at it and it says “1/2 cup sugar,” which is the correct amount. At any rate, I hope your babka is a big hit — though it could be hard-pressed to beat out your cherry cream cheese version, which sounds absolutely delicious! 🙂 PJH

    2. pwzii

      Hi PJ
      You have two versions of the recipe apparently on the website. Look at “http://www.kingarthurflour.com/bakealong/chocolate-babka.pdf” under the Filling section definitely has
      “FILLING
      1 1/2 cup sugar
      1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      1/3 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa powder

      One of the pages send you to this link to read the recipe

      I made two passes at these all were delicious. The first pair I made had the nice rise but when cooled the middle of the loaf sunk problem. The second batch held the shape well.

    3. PJ Hamel , post author

      Ah, thank you so much! Forgot about that .pdf. We’ll get it fixed. So glad your second loaf held its shape better — PJH

  41. Lyn C

    I am interested in your comment about over rising due to too high a temperature (rather than leaving it too long). I have a low oven setting ability and so usually use 95 degrees F to proof breads. A professional told me they do 115 degrees for first rise and 125 for the second rise. When I learned to make bread as a kid, we used to put the bowls of dough (covered) on the back window shelf in our closed car parked in the Texas sun….certainly was over 100 in there. What is too high a temp for this babka? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Lyn, yeast thrives at about 78°F; that’s its favorite temperature. Any higher, and the dough will rise so quickly it won’t develop the flavor it could. Try letting your dough rise cooler and slower sometime; I think you’ll be surprised at your bread’s enhanced flavor. Personally, I let my dough rise at room temperature, which in my house ranges from about 60°F to 75°F. Thankfully, yeast is both patient and flexible, and does well in many different conditions. P.S. I’ve never heard of letting dough rise at 125°; that sounds pretty wild! PJH

  42. Lanie

    The step by step version shows the streusel topping being added BEFORE the second rise while the printed instructions say to add the topping AFTER. Does it make a difference? (just as long as you use the egg wash)

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Lanie, we did it both ways in the test kitchen, and either is fine. Personally, I like to do it before the rise, since otherwise I may forget and stick the babka in the oven naked! And I didn’t find the streusel weighs it down and hinders rising, so don’t worry about that. Thanks for noticing that discrepancy, though. PJH

  43. Karen

    I enjoyed making this bread, and my loaves turned out beautifully, however, they had a funny almost metallic taste so I had to throw them out. Any idea what that would have come from? The nuts weren’t rancid, my daughter thought maybe the chocolate tasted burned, but the loaves weren’t too dark and were in the oven around an hour.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Karen, what kind of bread pan did you use? If it was an old aluminum one (or cast iron or steel), that could very well be where the metallic taste came from. Other than that, I’m afraid I can’t see any of the ingredients that would add that kind of flavor. Baking soda can taste metallic, but there’s no soda in the recipe — did you maybe scrub the pan with baking soda at some point? Any chance you’d cleaned your oven lately, and there was some residue from the cleaner left over? Readers, anyone else have any ideas? PJH

    2. Karen

      I used 2 professional sandwich loaf pans, and one small pan, similar to Wilton brand. They all had the funny taste so I don’t think it was the pans. Thanks for responding!

  44. William Closs

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe – it has a marvelous taste and the dough is a treat to work with. Just a couple of questions I can’t figure out (I made the recipe twice). Both times when I used the traditional method of shaping (horseshoe and twist) the top layer of dough came away from the filling and left a very large gap and also it had a nice rise and then sank in the middle upon baking. Any advise would be great!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      This “gapping” is often an issue. What’s happening is the yeast in the top layer is suddenly working harder and faster than the yeast inside, and so the top rises more quickly and separates. This might signify that the loaf was slightly under-risen; or the oven was slightly too hot. As for sinking in the middle, this is also a common problem, and can happen especially if the loaf isn’t quite fully baked. The issue with this loaf is, it’s hard to tell when it should come out of the oven, as it browns quickly, and a thermometer inserted into the center is just as likely to hit filling (which is hotter than dough) as dough. I’d say next time, try baking a bit longer; and tent it with aluminum foil when it’s medium brown, to keep it from over-browning. Good luck — PJH

  45. Pat Ballentine

    Made this for the first time for Easter! FABULOUS! Can’t stop eating it! I made one w/ the cut braid method and one with the simple raid. Likes the cut method best but either way…they will be NONE left! Next time I will use the parchment paper sling idea .

    Reply
  46. Errign

    Would this work if instead of two full size loaves, I made 1 full size & 2 half sized? I want to make it for my husband to bring to work, but I’d also like to sample a little bit! Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi there,
      Yes, you can vary the size of the loaves. I saw some minis baked the other day, about 3×6″. So cute! ~MJ

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Sure, Leah – substitute full-fat vegetable-oil margarine for the butter, and leave out the dry milk. Be sure your chocolate chips don’t include dairy, also. Good luck — PJH

  47. Alliya

    I finally made this Babka today. Scrumdillyicious!! It looks so gorgeous, the chocolate swirls are beautiful,and it tastes really good. Shared it on my instagram page. Whaaat!!! Hubby loves it.

    Reply
  48. Rachel

    Could you please post more explicit instructions (or link to photos or guidelines) for how the more complex shaping method is achieved? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We actually put together a full article on our blog about how to shape babka, including directions and photos about how to make the twisted loaf shown here, as well as a few other delicious options. We hope that helps and if you have any other questions, feel free to give our friendly bakers on the hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE(2253)! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Shandy, we test all of our recipes with standard (non-convection) home ovens, since that’s what most of our readers are using. If you’re using a commercial oven with a convection setting, you might want to reference our blog article on baking with convection heat for helpful tips. Best of luck and happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  49. Nancy Mock

    This was a fun recipe, and now I can say I’ve made babka 🙂 I added 1/2 cup of hazelnut flour to the filling in place of the nuts -yum! My loaf took longer to bake, but I think that’s due to the ceramic pan I baked it in. The 2nd half of the dough I sliced into 12 pieces, pinched the ends closed and put into a muffin pan, baking them for about 35 minutes. The little individual babkas are cute and swirly on the inside. Thanks for another fun BakeAlong!

    Reply
  50. Cristina

    My daughter is allergic to nuts. What do you suggest for replacements that give similar depth and texture? For this recipe I can omit nuts, but there are so many lovely recipes that feel incomplete without nuts – I would love some ideas!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Cristina, as a fellow nut-free baker, I feel your pain! Like you said, you can simply eliminate the nuts in this recipe, but if you want to add crunch or another flavor element you can consider using carob chips or cacao nibs for a bit of pleasantly bitter chocolate flavor. You can also use sunflower seeds or dried fruit in some cases; I like golden raisins in many recipes. Recipes vary widely in how the nuts are used, so you can always give our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE(2253) if there’s a specific recipe you’d like to adjust. We hope that helps, and happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Typically babka uses butter to achieve the rich, buttery flavor and soft texture. If you’re hoping to use oil instead, you might want to use a recipe for challah dough instead, and then fill it with chocolate filling and topping in this recipe. This will give you better results since that recipe is designed to work well with oil. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

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