Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

eyedocbakes
amazingly fluffy babka, brioche style bread with chocolate cinnamon swirls

The fluffiest, most flavorful Babka! This one has been a long time coming. For months I’ve been researching babkas, seeing what types people like, what makes good babkas, what the ideal filling is, and baking and re-baking recipes. Well, I can confidently say this. is. it! 

If you were a Seinfeld fan, you’d know they had a whole episode about babka. Elaine and Jerry wanted to bring a babka to a dinner party, but the party before them got the last chocolate babka. “If we can’t get the babka, the whole thing’s useless.” said Elaine. However, there was still cinnamon babka available. They pondered, is it the “lesser babka”? I tried both so you don’t have to. And I have to say – they’re both good! So, why not combine them? This babka has a combination of cinnamon-brown sugar filling, as well as a chocolate swirls – I find it to be the perfect combination with the super soft and fluffy brioche.  

This recipe makes one large babka in a 9 inch loaf pan. Alternatively, I’ve also split the dough in half and made two smaller babkas from it. However, to get a large and beautiful swirly babka, I like using this recipe to make one large babka. I also used this recipe with berry jam instead of cinnamon chocolate filling – which is great too, if you want a more fruity flavor!

What You’ll Need. . . 

milk

active dry yeast

granulated sugar

eggs

orange zest

orange juice

vanilla extract

salt

flour

unsalted butter

semi sweet chocolate chips

vegetable oil

cocoa powder

powdered sugar

cinnamon

brown sugar

First, let’s make the dough. Warm the milk in your microwave for about 40 seconds. You want it to be hot but not boiling. Transfer milk to the bowl of your stand mixer (have the paddle attachment on at this point) . Add in 2 packages of active dry yeast and two tablespoons of sugar. Whisk together briefly and let sit 5-10 minutes. Next add in 1/3 cup sugar, your eggs, the orange zest and fresh squeezed juice, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Next, add in your flour and salt and mix until combined. Now add in your softened butter in 4 parts while mixing. Mix until combined. Switch to the dough hook and begin to knead the dough. If it is too sticky, add flour 1/2 tbsp at a time. Knead for about 7 minutes with the dough hook on your stand mixer (it will take longer if you knead by hand). The dough should still be tacky but stay together well. You’ll know you’re done kneading if you poke it and it puffs back up. Place the ball of dough into a prepared, large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise in a warm place. Make sure the bowl is large, because this dough rises a lot! Let it rise for 1.5 hours.

About a 15 minutes before the 1.5 hours is up, make the filling. Melt your chocolate and butter in a microwave for 30 second intervals. Once melted, mix in the vegetable oil and vanilla. Add in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Fold in and mix. Make sure mixture is smooth. Set aside. Now prepare your dough. Open the plastic wrap and punch dough in a few times. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to about 18x 22 inches. Melt 1/4 cup butter. Brush it onto the dough from edge to edge. Combine 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle this over the butter. Next, using a silicone spatula, spread the chocolate mixture all over the dough – do not leave any edges uncovered. Roll into a tight log, starting with the long side. Cut the ends of the log off on each side so that it is straight. (I like to bake up these little end pieces along with the babka, in a separate pan, as taste test/snack!) Refrigerate the log for 10 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator and cut it in half, lengthwise, so you have  two long logs. Place them side by side, cut side up. Starting at the top, tightly braid one side of the log over the other, continuing to keep the cut sides up, so you see the pretty swirls. Fold the braid in about half, and place it into a pre-buttered and parchment lined loaf pan. The parchment paper is key, for easier removal. You want the edges of the parchment paper to be a bit longer that the sides so the paper sticks up, for easy removal of the babka. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and a towel and let proof for one hour. Then preheat your oven to 350F. Brush the babka with an egg wash. Bake the babka for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick easily comes out clean (chocolate on it is ok, just no bread). While it is baking – there is a crucial last step. You must make a simple syrup. It gives the babka it’s lovely shine. Boil 1/4 cup water with 1/3 cup granulated sugar  – make sure you mix it in, and the sugar is dissolved. Then simmer while mixing two minutes. As soon as you remove the babka from the oven, brush it with the simple syrup. Let it cool, then cut and enjoy!  

Some notes. . .

  1. Make sure to use Active Dry Yeast, not rapid rise. It makes a difference!
  2. You can bake babka in a round or loaf pan. I’ve done both. If you prefer, after the first rise of the dough, you can slice the dough in half and make two smaller babkas, instead of one large loaf.
  3. Make sure to do the simple syrup at the end as soon as you take the babka out of the oven. It helps it to achieve that glossy finish.
  4. Try to use a bread knife to cut the babka for neater slices.  
  5. I like the babka warm or cold. If you prefer warm, you can reheat a slice in the microwave. You can store the babka at room temperature, in an airtight container, for about 3 days. 

If you liked this recipe, you might want to try. . . 

  1. Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Muffins
  2. Twist Buns

Tried this recipe?

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Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

A super soft and fluffy brioche style dessert bread, with swirls of cinnamon sugar and chocolate
Prep Time3 hrs 10 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time4 hrs
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Eastern European
Keyword: babka, brioche, brioche bread, chocolate babka, chocolate cinnamon babka, chocolate swirl, chocolate swirl bread, cinnamon babka
Servings: 1 large babka

Ingredients

Dough

  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 packets active dry yeast (about 4 ½ tsp)
  • cup granulated sugar +2 tbsp
  • 3 eggs
  • zest of half an orange
  • 1 tbsp orange juice freshly squeezed
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 3⅓ cup flour + extra when kneading
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup butter softened, chopped into 4 pieces

Filling

  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • ½ cup unsalted butter divided in half
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Topping

  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup water +1 tbsp
  • cup granulated sugar

Instructions

Dough

  • Warm the milk in a microwave safe bowl for about 40 seconds. You want it to be hot but not boiling. Transfer milk to the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment on. Add in 2 packets of active dry yeast and two tablespoons of granulated sugar. Whisk together briefly and let sit 5-10 minutes.
  • Now add in your ⅓ cup granulated sugar, your eggs, the orange zest and fresh squeezed juice, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
  • Add in your flour, 1 cup at a time, and add the salt after the first cup of flour. Mix until combined.  Now add in your softened butter in 4 parts while mixing. Mix until combined. Switch to the dough hook and begin to knead the dough. If it is too sticky, add additional flour 1/2 tbsp at a time. Knead for about 7 minutes with the dough hook on your stand mixer (it will take longer if you knead by hand). The dough should still be tacky but stay together well. You'll know you're done kneading if you poke it and it puffs back up. Place the ball of dough into a prepared, large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise for 1.5 hours in a warm place. Make sure the bowl is large, because this dough rises a lot! About 15 minutes before the 1.5 hours is up, make the filling.

Filling/Putting it Together

  • Melt your chocolate and ¼ cup of your unsalted butter in a microwave for 30 second intervals. Once melted, mix in the vegetable oil and vanilla. Add in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Fold in and mix. Make sure mixture is smooth. Set aside.
  • Open the plastic wrap and punch dough in a few times. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to about 18x 22 inches. Melt ¼ cup butter. Brush it onto the dough from edge to edge.
  • Mix ⅓ cup light brown sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle this over the butter. Next, using a silicone spatula, spread the chocolate mixture all over the dough - do not leave any edges uncovered.
  • Roll into a tight log, starting with the long side. Cut the uneven ends of the log off on each side so that it is straight. (I like to bake up these little end pieces along with the babka, in a separate pan, as a taste test/snack!) Refrigerate the log for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the refrigerator and cut it in half, lengthwise, so you have two long logs. Place them side by side, cut side up, so you can see the chocolate. Starting at the top, tightly braid one side of the log over the other, continuing to keep the cut sides up, so you see the pretty swirls. Fold the braid in about half, and place it into a pre-buttered and parchment paper lined loaf pan. The parchment paper is key, for easier removal.
  • Cover the pan with plastic wrap and a towel and let proof for one hour. Preheat your oven to 350F when it is almost done proofing.

Topping

  • Mix together the egg and 1 tbsp water. Brush the babka with it before you place it in the oven. Bake the babka for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick easily comes out clean (chocolate on it is ok, just no bread). While it is baking - make a simple syrup.
  • Boil 1/4 cup water with 1/3 up granulated sugar  - make sure you mix it in, and the sugar is dissolved. Then simmer while mixing two minutes. As soon as you remove the babka from the oven, brush it with the simple syrup. Let it cool, then cut and enjoy! 

Notes

  1. Alternatively, you can use jam as a filling. I have baked this babka with homemade berry jam and it was great! 
  2. I use a 9 inch loaf pan. If you would like to make two smaller loaves, or a round babka, feel free to split the dough in half after the first rise, and make two babkas. 
  3. The simple syrup is not an optional step. It gives the babka its beautiful shine on top. 

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