This traditional sweet chocolate babka recipe has become one of our favorite afternoon coffee cake or quick sweet breakfast on the go. Sweet swirls with chocolate and almond filling are just the perfect addition and compliments this sweet bread.
WHAT IS BABKA BREAD
What is babka? You must have seen on Pinterest or Instagram thousands of pictures of beautifully risen sweet bread with a hundred of chocolate swirls. Babka is a traditional Eastern European sweet bread that is typically enjoyed during holidays and special occasions. It is a rich, buttery dough that is typically filled with chocolate or cinnamon and sugar, and then twisted or braided into a loaf shape.
It also sometimes has a streusel on top or sugar syrup as a shiny glaze. I have decided to add a bit of almond flour to the chocolate filling to have a bit of twist. And it came out so delicious.
INGREDIENTS FOR ALMOND CHOCOLATE BABKA
FLOUR – The flour serves as the base of the bread dough, providing structure and stability. All-purpose flour is used in this recipe, which has a moderate protein content, allowing the dough to rise and develop gluten while still being tender.
SUGAR – Sugar provides sweetness and helps to feed the yeast. In addition, it also contributes to the overall tenderness of the bread.
INSTANT YEAST – Yeast is responsible for leavening the bread, creating carbon dioxide gas to help the dough rise. Active dry yeast needs to be activated by warm liquid before it can start to work.
MILK – Milk adds moisture to the dough, contributing to the soft and tender texture of the bread. In addition, the warmth of the milk helps activate the yeast.
EGGS – Eggs provide richness and flavour to the bread. In addition, they also contribute to the overall tenderness and structure of the dough.
VANILLA & ALMOND EXTRACT – Both adds flavour to the dough, complementing the chocolate flavour.
BUTTER – Butter provides richness and flavour to the bread. In addition, it also contributes to the overall tenderness of the dough.
SALT – Salt enhances the flavour of the bread and helps to regulate the fermentation process by slowing down the activity of the yeast.
WALNUTS – Brings a texture and crunch to babka loaf.
LEMON ZEST – Provides little tanginess and freshness.
CHOCOLATE CHIPS – The semisweet chocolate chips provide a rich and decadent chocolate flavour to the bread, adding a sweetness that complements the nutty flavour of the almonds.
ALMOND FLOUR – Brings nutty, marzipan like flavour in the filling.
HOW IS BABKA MADE
The style of baking for this sweet bread is little longer, then for usual yeast dough. You must let rest the dough at one point in the refrigerator overnight. So if you are planning this bread, think about long waiting time of rising. But with all this long time rising and waiting, it’s not a difficult recipe and at the end it comes out delicious and all the work is so worth. If you are in a hurry and want to have babka ready in few minutes, then you must try my version of POPPY SEED & CHOCOLATE BABKA made of puff pastry. If you store puff pastry in your freezer, this recipe is done literally in 1 hour and you have a flaky puff pastry filled with chocolate and almonds.
What filling to choose?
I have chosen to go with chocolate and almond filling. Traditional babka calls for cinnamon and raisins. That also is very delicious. But lately, chocolate/almond filling is much more popular in my house. So I stick to this filling. But you may opt for any kind of filling. Such as strawberry jams, streusel filling or simple nuts filling are used in sweet bread babka.
How to make the top of babka so shiny
You must be wondering, how come the top of babka is so shiny. I made a little trick with simple sugar glaze to add this shine. And at the same time, it adds a bit of crunchiness, when you take a first bite. This sugar glaze is very simple, and it’s made out of sugar and water.
Simmer those two ingredients for 5–10 minutes, and it will thicken to a syrupy texture. Let the sugar liquid stand for another 5 minutes to cool it a bit. This is where the syrup will thicken even more. But do not let it thicken too much. It will crystallize pretty quickly if left on draft or on a cooler place.
The glaze needs to be in liquid state to brush it over chilled babka bread. After few minutes o application, it will thicken on the bread and will create a sugary crust. Wait until you take a first bite, that slight crunch of sugar crust is so good.
There are many variations of babka that you can try, depending on your personal preferences. Here are a few ideas:
Nutella Babka: Replace the chocolate chips with Nutella and sprinkle chopped hazelnuts over the Nutella layer.
Apple Cinnamon Babka: Replace the chocolate chips with a mixture of cinnamon, brown sugar, and diced apples.
Lemon Blueberry Babka: Replace the chocolate chips with a mixture of lemon zest, blueberries, and sugar.
Almond Babka: Replace the chocolate chips with a mixture of ground almonds, sugar, and almond extract.
Savory Babka: Instead of a sweet filling, you can fill your babka with a mixture of sautéed spinach, feta cheese, and herbs.
Chocolate Orange Babka: Replace the vanilla extract with orange extract and add orange zest to the chocolate filling.
Pistachio Rosewater Babka: Replace the chocolate filling with a mixture of chopped pistachios, sugar, and rosewater.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Feel free to experiment with different fillings and flavor combinations to create your own unique babka recipe.
FAQS & TIPS
Follow the recipe closely: Babka requires a specific balance of ingredients and steps to achieve the perfect texture and flavour. Be sure to read the recipe thoroughly and follow the instructions closely.
Use high-quality ingredients: Using high-quality ingredients will make a big difference in the final result. This includes using fresh yeast, good quality chocolate, and high-fat butter.
Use a stand mixer or bread machine: Kneading the dough by hand can be a lot of work and may not produce the best results. Using a stand mixer or bread machine will ensure that the dough is properly kneaded and well-developed.
Let the dough rise properly: Proper rising is crucial to the success of your babka. Be sure to give the dough enough time to rise until it has doubled in size. This will ensure that your babka has a light and airy texture.
Bake at the right temperature and time: Babka should be baked at a moderate temperature to prevent the bread from burning or drying out. Be sure to check the bread frequently and adjust the baking time if necessary.
Allow the babka to cool before slicing: Cutting into a hot babka can cause it to become dense and gummy. Allow the bread to cool to room temperature before slicing.
Make a double batch and freeze it: It is so worth if you make double batch of this chocolate babka recipe. Why double batch of babka? You will understand when the first one will disappear under your hands. If you do not wish to bake both loafs at the same time. You simply freeze the second loaf in an airtight container or leave it in the metal loaf pan and wrap it in plastic food wrap. You can freeze it up to 3 months!
And when you feel like having your second babka, take it out from the freezer, place the loaf pan on the kitchen counter and let it prove (this might take up to 6 hours). The dough should double its original size. Then bake it as in the recipe indicated. See for more handful notes in the recipe card!
Allow the babka to cool completely to room temperature before storing it. Wrap the chocolate babka tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out or becoming stale. If you plan to store the babka for more than a day or two, you can also place it in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag to keep it fresh.
Store the wrapped or bagged babka at room temperature for up to 3-4 days. If you need to store it for longer, you can freeze it for up to 2-3 months.When you’re ready to enjoy your babka again, simply thaw it at room temperature for a few hours or warm it up in the oven at a low temperature (around 300°F/150°C) for about 10-15 minutes.
Tools and ingredients I recommend for this recipe
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CHOCOLATE ALMOND BABKA
- 8" loaf pan
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp (25 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsps (4 g) instant yeast
- 1/3 cup (90 ml) warm milk 49 C/ 120 F
- 1 large eggs room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/3 cup (107 g) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature for buttering a bowl
- 1/2 cup (50 g) sliced walnuts
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/2 cup (85 g) milk or dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup (80 g) almond flour
- 1/3 cup (80 g) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 3 1/2 tbsp (40 ml) water
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer, fit the dough hook attachment and combine flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt.
- In another small bowl, whisk together warm milk, eggs, egg yolk, lemon zest and vanilla with almond extract. With mixer on low speed, gradually add milk mixture to flour mixture, beating just until combined.
- Start the stand mixer on low speed and gradually add liquid mixture to the flour mixture. Beat just until combined.
- Reduce the speed on medium and add room temperature butter; approximately 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until well combined, after each addition and the dough is smooth and elastic (about 3 -5 minutes). Add walnuts and combine.
- Next, butter another large bowl with room temperature butter. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size. It will take about 1 hour. Knead the dough 5 times with your hands and shape into a ball; return to greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 350 °F (177 °C).
- On the flour dusted surface, knead the dough 4-6 times with your hands and shape into a ball. Return to the greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
- Next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it stand for 1 hour on the kitchen counter. Preheat oven to 350 °F (177 °C), butter 8×4-inch loaf pan and line the pan with parchment paper.
- In the meanwhile, melt in a microwave chocolate chips with unsalted butter on 70% power, for 1 minute. Stir the chocolate in half way time. If the chocolate isn't melted, return it back to microwave and repeat the process with 30 seconds interval. Always stir the chocolate every time the microwave stops.
- Add almond flour and sugar to the melted chocolate and stir well. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 10×9-inch rectangle. Spread Chocolate-Almond Filling onto dough and roll it tightly from the wider side.
- Cut the dough lengthwise. Take two pieces of dough and cross them in the middle, with the cut side on top (the filling should be visible) and twist them gently. At the ends tackle the dough behind.
- Place babka in the lightly buttered loaf pan, lined with parchment paper and cover it with clean cloth. Let the dough rise for another 2 hours.
- Place the loaf pan in the oven for 30-45 minutes. Bake until golden or the inside the dough temperature reaches 190 °F (88 °C). Towards the end, you might have to cover the loafs with aluminum foil to prevent excess browning.
- In a small saucepan; simmer water with sugar for 5 minutes or until liquid thickens lightly. Let it stand for 5 minutes, or until it thickens a bit, but not too much. Brush the glaze over the loafs and let stand for another 5 minutes or until the glaze dries. Remove from pans and serve warm.