A delicious Chocolate Babka Recipe made with a sourdough starter. A rich brioche dough swirled with a creamy chocolate or hazelnut, sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts. So good you will want to eat it for breakfast, snack or even dessert.
During the past year, I like almost half the world got onto the sourdough band wagon. I was actually a bit into it quite a few years ago so I thought this would be the perfect time to jump back in.
From making a simple basic Sourdough starter I learned to make bread, specialty breads and of course how to use the starter discard. You will need some extra time to make this Babka Recipe but it will definitely be worth the wait.
Table of Contents
What is Babka
Babka means “little grandmother” in Slavic. It is a sweet dense yeast cake/bread with Jewish roots. It is usually made with a chocolate or cinnamon sugar filling. Twisted and braided, it is traditionally served on Easter Sunday although it can also be served during other times of festivities.
- All purpose flour – Flour adds structure and strength.
- Sourdough Starter – I used my basic Sour Dough Starter
- Granulated Sugar – Adds sweetness to the bread.
- Salt – Helps add flavour.
- Eggs – Adds fat and moisture to the dough.
- Butter – Adds needed fat to the dough and helps make it soft and rich.
- Milk – Also adds fat and moisture to the dough.
- Hazelnut Cream Filling – Also known as Nutella but you make your own if you prefer.
- Chocolate Filling – If you prefer this instead of Nutella.
- Nuts – Adds a crunchy delicious taste to the bread.
- Chocolate Chips – You can never have too much chocolate! It gives the Babka a rich and intense flavor.
What other fillings to use
If you prefer a Cinnamon Sugar filling, you can spread some soft butter on the dough, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and some chopped nuts if you wish, a chocolate ganache, chopped fruit or dried fruit would also work, try not to use anything too watery or it will make the baked loaf soggy.
What should the texture of Babka be?
Babka is considered an in-between a sweet yeast bread and a cake. It’s a braided rich dough containing a sticky and gooey filling made up of cinnamon or chocolate layers. Babka should taste decadent, soft but also a bit dry.
How to make it
In the stand up mixer with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, sourdough starter, sugar, salt, eggs and milk. Knead for about 10 minutes, let the dough rest.
Add the butter a little at a time, continue to knead between each addition. Then knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth but still a little sticky.
Leave the dough covered in warm draft free area for about 2 hours, then refrigerate over night.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll into into a rectangle. Using an offset spatula or back of a spoon, spread with your favourite Hazelnut Cream Spread (Nutella) or Chocolate Cream Spread, leaving a bit of a border, sprinkle with nuts and chocolate chips if desired.
Roll the dough up lengthwise, then cut the rolled dough in half lengthwise.
Twist it to form a braid.
The braid is quite long so you can cut it in half and make two loaves or place it in a bundt, tube pan or pie dish and join the ends. Cover the pan and let rise in a warm draft free area until doubled in bulk.
Brush the risen dough with an egg wash and bake in the pre-heated oven until golden. Move the Babka immediately to wire rack to cool before serving.
What is a sourdough starter?
A sourdough starter also known as a Levain is a combination of flour. All purpose, bread, rye or even whole wheat flours are often used along with water. Together they attract the wild yeast that is in the air and surroundings. After about 6-8 days it becomes strong enough to produce breads and other baked goods, such as this Babka Bread.
How to feed the sourdough starter
To start baking with your refrigerated starter, first remove the Starter from the fridge there will probably be no activity since it is dormant, if there is liquid on top then either remove or stir into the starter either way be sure to stir the starter, then leave ½ cup (120 grams) of starter in the jar, discard the remainder, then add 1 cup (125 grams) of flour (all purpose, unbleached) and ½ cup (125 grams) water.
Stir well, cover lightly and place at room temperature for 12 hours then repeat the feeding, until it has almost tripled in volume. Make sure once your starter has risen to it’s peak it stays there for 3-4 hours that means it is strong enough to leaven the bread, if it peaks but only stays for an hour or so it is not strong enough, repeat the feeding.
Remove the amount you need for your recipe, then feed the remaining starter, leave it at room temperature for about 1-2 hours then refrigerate. Repeat as above whenever you wish to make fresh bread.
Tips for making the Best Babka
- Don’t start the bread or any sourdough bread unless you have the time to prepare and wait for it to rise.
- Make sure your sourdough starter is active, depending how long your starter has been refrigerated you it may need a couple of feedings.
- Make sure to have your ingredients at room temperature.
- When you fill the dough, be sure to use a filling that isn’t too watery, that will end up making a soggy dough.
- Be sure to cool the bread on a wire rack, this also prevents a soggy dough.
- When cutting the bread dampen your knife after every cut, that way it won’t stick to the bread.
How to store it
As most homemade breads, Babka will be best consumed the same day, but it will last once it is cooled completely, stored in an air tight container or wrapped in plastic at room temperature. It should keep for up to three days
How to freeze it
To freeze the bread, make sure it has cooled completely then wrap it in plastic wrap then either wrap again in foil or place in a freezer safe bag or container. It will keep for up to a month in the freezer.
I hope the next time you reach for your sourdough starter, you give this tasty Chocolate Babka Recipe a try and be sure to let me know what you think of it. Enjoy!
More Delicious Sourdough Recipes
Sourdough Chocolate Babka Recipe
- 2½ cups all purpose flour (325 grams)
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon active sourdough starter (see post for instructions)** (125 grams)
- 1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt*
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- ½ cup + ½ tablespoon butter (softened) (120 grams)
- ⅓ cup + 1½ tablespoons milk (I used 2%)(room temperature) (100 grams)
*If using unsalted butter then add ¾-1 teaspoon.
- ½-1 cup Nutella or Chocolate Spread (294 grams)
- ¼-½ cup coarsely chopped nuts (38-75 grams)
- ¼-½ cup chocolate chips (42-85 grams)
- 1 large egg
- 1-2 tablespoons water
- In the stand up mixer with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, sourdough starter, sugar, salt, eggs and milk. Knead for about 10 minutes, let the dough rest, then add the butter a little at a time, continue to knead between each addition. Then knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth but still a little sticky. Leave the dough covered in warm draft free area for about 2 hours, then refrigerate over night.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll on a floured flat surface into into a rectangle (10×18 inches/25x45cm), about ¼ inch thick. Spread with your favourite store bought or homemade Hazelnut Cream Spread (Nutella) or Chocolate Cream Spread, be sure to leave a bit of a border (½ inch/ 1 cm) sprinkle with nuts and chocolate chips if desired.
- Grease and flour 2 loaf pans (8-9 inches/ 20-22cm), a bundt or tube pan (9½ inch / 24cm) or a pie dish (8-9 inches / 20-22cm).
- Roll the dough up lengthwise, then cut the dough in half again lengthwise, twist it to form a braid. The braid is quite long so you can cut it in half and make two loaves or place it in a the prepared pan and join the ends.
- Cover the pan and let rise in a warm draft free area until doubled in bulk, approximately 3-6 hours.
- Pre-heat oven to 375F (190C).
- Brush the risen dough with an egg wash and bake 25 minutes, lower the oven to 350F (180C) and continue to bake 5-10 minutes or until golden. Move the Babka immediately to wire rack to cool before serving. Enjoy!
- In a small bowl beat together the egg and water.