Raise your hand if making bread scares you! Me, me, me! Listen, I am an amateur baker. I was an art major and I’ve never taken any culinary courses. I teach myself how to make things using the ole trial and error system and by watching Youtube videos. And any time I see a recipe for a yeasted dough I’m like “Oh but…maybe they’ll want chocolate chip cookies instead,” and I run for the hills. But lately I’ve been trying to lean in a little bit more to what scares me, and today that’s Cinnamon Chocolate Babka.
Making bread scares you? How about this seemingly super complex braided, twisted one filled with chocolate and cinnamon. HAHA. I know, I probably could’ve started with something a little more basic, but go big or go home right? I was sweating the whole time, but guys, this Cinnamon Chocolate Babka turned out perfect on the first try.
And if I can do it, you can too.
Chocolate vs Cinnamon Babka
If you’ve never been lucky enough to try babka before, you’re probably a little confused about what makes this braided loaf so special. Pronounced ‘Bahb-kah’, this sweet treat is a dense bread that’s usually swirled with either chocolate or a cinnamon sugar filling.
Something you might not know about me is that I absolutely hate making decisions. So whenever possible I try to choose both. While this might not always work in my favor (particularly when it comes to shopping), it certainly worked here. Cinnamon and chocolate are a match made in heaven. The two flavors combined really deepen the flavor of this bread and make it seriously addicting.
We made our babka with our favorite cinnamon roll bread which is fluffy, just sweet enough, flavorful and perfectly moist. Then we made a to die for cinnamon and chocolate filling using butter, finely chopped chocolate, and cinnamon.
If Tilly hadn’t licked this entire loaf while we were shooting it, I would’ve eaten the whole thing.
Tips for making chocolate babka
The bread used to make this cinnamon chocolate babka is what The Great British Baking Show would call a “enriched dough,” meaning it’s a yeast bread made with butter, eggs and sugar. It also has a bad rep for being a little tricky. So we rounded up some tricks to make this babka go as smoothly as possible for you.
- Make sure your yeast is still active: You do this by dissolving the yeast in warm milk. The yeast should bubble up and foam, meaning it’s still active! While this step isn’t actually necessary, I always feel better if I check first.
- Knead your dough by hand: Kneading dough is SO fun. If you’re feeling some pent up anger or frustration get yourself some bread dough and just knead until you’ve got it all out. The best thing about kneading by hand is that you can’t over knead it. I feel like I have a lot more control over the the consistency of the dough when I do it by hand vs. by machine which can easily overwork your dough leaving you with a flat or tough babka.
- Refrigerate your rolled dough before cutting: This will make your life so so much easier. Just pop your dough in the freezer for 10 or 15 minutes before braiding and swirling to help keep the babka filling in.
I encourage you this coming week to do one thing that pushes you outside your comfort zone. Maybe that’s making a jump in your career, finally planning that vacation, or signing up for an intense workout class. Or maybe it’s making this Cinnamon Chocolate Babka. Whatever it is YOU GOT THIS.
Have an amazing weekend bbs!
Cinnamon Chocolate Babka
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 1 loaf 1x
- Category: breads
- Method: baked
- Cuisine: european
for the dough
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant active yeast
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons Rodelle Vanilla Bean Paste
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
for the filling
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
for the dough
- Pour milk, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and yeast into a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. The mixture should foam, signaling that the yeast is active.
- Add in the remaining sugar along with the vanilla bean paste, eggs, and flour. Turn mixer to low and allow to come together. Once mixture has just come together, transfer to a well floured surface and knead for 15 to 20 minutes or until the gluten is developed and the dough is less sticky. Note that it is a wetter dough, so this is OK!
- Coat a large bowl with oil and place the dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm area to proof for 1 hour.
for the filling
- Meanwhile make the filling. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and then add in the finely chopped chocolate, stirring to combine and melt. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and salt and mix well. Allow the mixture to cool completely before using.
- Spray a 9 by 4 inch loaf pan with butter and flour, or parchment paper and set aside. Coat a large area very well with flour and turn the dough out onto the surface. The dough should have almost doubled in size. Roll out 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 the chocolate and cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Brush the end farthest away from you with water. Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, tight cigar. Seal the dampened end onto the log. I found that transferring the log to a lightly floured baking tray in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes made it much, much easier to cut cleanly in half.
- Trim last 1/2-inch off each end of log. Gently cut the log in half lengthwise 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. In one batch, mine was long enough to “S” inside the pan and I nested the trimmed ends of the log in the openings. Even if you don’t (and choose to bake them separately in a little pan, as I did in other batches), the dough will fill in any gaps by the time it’s done rising and baking, so don’t worry.
- Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise another 1 to 1 1/2 hours at room temperature.
- Bake and finish the loaf. Heat oven to 375°F (190°C). Remove towel, place 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 babka is 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 babka leaves the oven, brush the syrup all over it. 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 (an adorable suggestion from Ottolenghi — don’t worry, we know you’re going to eat it warm).
- Do ahead: Babka will keep for a few days at room temperature. Longer, I’d freeze it. They freeze and defrost really well.
Keywords: chocolate, cinnamon, cinnamon chocolate, babka, enriched dough, european, breakfast, snack