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Recipe: Chocolate Babka

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A babka is a sweet braided bread or cake which originated in the Jewish communities of Poland and Ukraine.
In this recipe, luscious dark chocolate nuzzles into layers of rich brioche-like dough. Incredibly tender, decadent and, let’s face it, just a tiny bit sinful. Could there be any better way to start the day?

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Makes 12

  • 3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
  • 3 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 4 tbsp soft butter
  • 4 tbsp cane sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Place chocolate, butter and cinnamon in a bowl and set in the freezer while you prepare the dough. This will help to keep it in pieces, rather than a paste, when you blend it in a good processor.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk yeast and honey into milk and let proof until yeast is active and foamy, about 5 minutes.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed. Add vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time, until incorporated. Turn to medium-high and continue mixing until uniform and fluffy, scraping the edges with a. spatula as you go. If mixing by hand, mix as powerfully as possible. Stop mixing and add flour, salt and milk mixture. Continue mixing on low until well incorporated. Switch to the dough hook or knead by hand until dough is soft and pliable, about 5-7 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
  4. Just before dough finished first rise, pull chocolate, butter and cinnamon from the freezer and pulse in a food processor into fine pieces. Alternatively, you can chop by hand. Try to get it small enough that the mixture is crumbly. Return to the freezer until ready to use.
  5. With a rolling pin, roll dough into 15″ square on a lightly floured surface. Dough should be about 1/4″ thick. Sprinkle chocolate mixture evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4″ border. Tightly roll up dough, pinch the seams and place it seam side down on work surface. Using a sharp knife, slice the roll into 12 equal pieces. This is easiest if you cut the roll in half first, and then cut each half into 6 pieces.
  6. Line a 9″ x 12″ baking dish with parchment paper. Place rolls in baking dish, equally spaced. Cover with a dish towel and let rise for 1 hour.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove towel and transfer rolls to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden.

Cook’s tip

Having eggs at room temperature is ideal for baking and makes it easier to separate the yolk from the white. If you don’t remember to do it ahead of time, set the cold eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot!) water to bring them o temperature quickly.
This recipe by Hollyhock Cook Heidi Scheifley was initially published in one of our Hollyhock cookbooks. Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels.

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