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Chocolate Babka is the perfect holiday breakfast treat. A decadent orange and chocolate filling is swirled between layers of gorgeous enriched dough and brushed with an orange syrup. Make easy work of breakfast by preparing the dough the day before and assembling the loaf the morning you bake this treat!
You may think of babka as a difficult recipe, but it’s actually fairly simple and straightforward, not to mention fun and really tasty. While it does take some time, most of that time is hands-off, meaning the dough is proofing aka resting or rising. And the best part about making babka is that it’s actually best to break up the work into two days. If you want a cuter version, definitely check out my Chocolate Babka Buns made in a muffin tin!
What is Chocolate Babka
Babka is a traditional Jewish dish, with origins in Eastern Europe. Its name is derived from the Polish word for grandmother, which is apt given many Eastern European grandmothers have perfected their own version of this loaf.It’s a loaf that is made up of enriched dough reminiscent of brioche that is swirled with a filling. The dough has yeast, eggs, sugar, and lots of butter. The filling ranges from cinnamon to nuts to berry flavors like my Spiced Babka with Rhubarb Glaze. Chocolate babka is an American adaptation and my personal favorite. Some babka loaves are topped with a streusel while others are brushed with sugar syrup.
Ingredients You’ll Need for Chocolate Babka
- Flour – This is an obvious ingredient.
- Yeast – you can use instant or active dry yeast.
- Eggs – This is what you call an enriched dough, very similar to, say, my Overnight Cinnamon Rolls.
- Orange juice – This babka has hints of orange throughout, including in the dough. It adds such a nice subtle tartness to the dough that is really balanced with all the butter and sugar going on in the recipe.
- Chocolate – This recipe uses chopped chocolate and cocoa powder. Both add a nice balance to this chocolate babka.
For the rest of the ingredient list, please see the recipe card below!
How to Make Chocolate Babka
- Mix the flour, 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Add in the yeast, eggs, butter, and vanilla and mix on medium-low speed until most of the flour has been incorporated. Next, increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes or until it’s smooth.
- Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a bowl that has been oiled and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it proof in the fridge for 2 hours or until it’s doubled in size. I like to let it rise and rest overnight and finish the remaining steps the next day.
- Before forming the babka, make the filling by mixing together room-temperature butter with granulated sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, melted dark chocolate, and orange zest. Use a fork and mix until the mixture is smooth.
How to Shape a Babka
- Grease and line your loaf pan and set aside. Roll the dough out on a well-floured work surface into a rectangle that is roughly 10-inches by 12-inches. Next, spread the filling into an even layer, leaving about a ¼-inch border. Tightly roll, in a horizontal fashion, into a log. If your dough is soft, transfer it to the freezer for 10 minutes on a board or baking sheet.
- Use a serrated knife to cut off about a ½-inch from each end before cutting the log in half lengthwise. Lay the two halves, side by side, and pinch together the ends before twisting one strand over the other, keeping the cut sides up until you reach the other end of the logs. Use the photos if you need help visualizing. Pinch the ends together to seal, then transfer it to the prepared loaf pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let it rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes. Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet to catch any chocolate filling that might drip down.
- While it’s baking, make an orange syrup by combining water, Florida’s Natural Orange Juice, and sugar together in a small saucepan and heating the mixture over medium until the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove the loaf from the oven and brush it with the orange syrup. Let it cool in the pan for 30 minutes before removing the loaf from the pan and letting it cool completely on a wire rack. Be sure the loaf is completely cooled before slicing.
Tips and Tricks
- Make your dough the night before. This allows you to work with chilled dough, which is much easier to roll out and slice. The longer rise time also gives the dough more time to build up its flavor.
- Whole milk – I recommend using whole milk for more flavor, but you can use reduced fat if you prefer.
- Chop your own chocolate from a bar, rather than using chips. The chips have a coating that doesn’t make them ideal for melting. Don’t skip lining your pan. Not only does it make cleanup easier, but it also helps you to lift your loaf out of the pan.
- Store at room temperature, in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
I have found that a combination of cocoa powder and melted chocolate mixed with room-temperature soft butter; a duo of brown sugar and granulated sugar; and bright orange zest yields the best filling. It is so easy to work with and spreads like a dream. Be sure to plan ahead by bringing your butter to room temperature so that it’s easy to mix up with a fork.
If you tried this Chocolate Babka Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below. Thanks for visiting!
- 1 (9×5-inch) loaf pan
- 2 3/4 (330G) cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
CHOCOLATE ORANGE FILLING:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
- Zest of 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
TO MAKE THE BABKA DOUGH:
- In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, whole milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar, reserving the remainder. Let it activate for 5 to 10 minutes or until it’s foamy. In a stand mixer, with the dough hook, mix together the flour, the remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and kosher salt. Add the yeast mixture with the egg, butter, and vanilla extract and mix on medium-low, until mostly combined. Scrape down the edges of the bowl with a spatula. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 8 to 10 minutes or until the dough is shiny, smooth, and supple looking. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball.
- Spray a medium bowl with cooking spray. Transfer the dough to the greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge to proof for at least 2 hours or until doubled in size. If you want to make this ahead, you can proof the dough overnight and continue with the recipe in the morning.
TO MAKE ORANGE CHOCOLATE FILLING:
- In a bowl, using a fork, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, melted dark chocolate, and orange zest until the mixture is smooth and glossy. You can use a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer if you prefer.
TO ASSEMBLE THE BABKA:
- Grease and line an 8×4-inch or 9x-5-inch loaf pan. You’ll have a taller loaf if you use the 8×4-inch pan.
- On a liberally floured surface, dump the dough out and roll it into a rectangle that’s about 10-inches x 12-inches. Don’t be shy to break out a measuring tape. Spread the filling evenly onto the rectangle and stop about 1/4-inch before you reach the edge. Roll the rectangle tightly, in a horizontal fashion, into a log. If your log is soft and hard to work with, transfer it to a lightly floured cutting board and transfer it to the freezer (this will help when we cut and form the babka) for about 10 minutes.
- After the log has chilled, remove it from the freezer. Using a serrated knife, slice a ½-inch off the ends and discard. Slice the log in half and lay the two halves next to each other, with the cut side up. (See the photos above for help!) Pinch the tops together to seal them. And then lift one strand over the other, forming a twist. Try your hardest to keep the cut sides up. Repeat until you’ve worked your way down the entire log. Carefully transfer it to the prepared loaf pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a draft-free place in your home until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet to catch any chocolate filling that might drip down. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven and immediately brush the top of the loaf with the orange syrup (see below). Let the loaf cool in the pan for 30 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack. Let the loaf cool completely before slicing.
TO MAKE THE ORANGE SYRUP:
- To a small saucepan, add the water, Florida’s Natural Orange Juice, and sugar. Whisk together and cook over medium heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
- Make your dough the night before to break up the work. This allows you to work with chilled dough, which is much easier to roll out and slice. The longer rise time also gives the dough more time to build up its flavor.
- I recommend using whole milk for more flavor, but you can use reduced fat if you prefer.
- Chop your own chocolate from a bar, rather than using chips. The chips have a coating that doesn’t make them ideal for melting.
- Don’t skip lining your pan. Not only does it make cleanup easier, but it also helps you to lift your loaf out of the pan.
- Store at room temperature, in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.