If you’ve never tasted chocolate babka from a good Jewish bakery, it’s a bit like a brioche swirled with rich chocolate filling braided into the dough.
Fresh from the oven, it melts in your mouth.
Babka works for dessert, breakfast, or snack time. If you don’t like chocolate, you could make it with cinnamon instead.
I made these as part of the showstopper challenge from the great British bake-off, season 1, episode 3. The task was to make a bread basket with 3 kinds of sweet rolls and 3 kinds of savory rolls.
The theme I chose was “favorite family flavors”: chocolate babka, blueberry buns, sweet coconut rolls, mini pizzas, chana curry buns, and pesto-feta swirls. The other recipes are here if you want to give them a try.
I LOVE making bread, so this was my happiest challenge so far.
I made about a dozen of each and then picked the best ones for the pictures.
Sooo we will be eating bread for quite a while….
Great British Bakeoff Vegan: Season 1, Episode 3, Showstopper
- 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp coconut sugar
- ½ cup hot water
- 1 cup warm soy milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4 ¼ cups flour
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 8 Tbsp vegan butter
- ½ cup vegan butter, softened
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- ¾ cup walnuts
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 Tbsp soy milk or coconut cream
- 1 cup chocolate chips, melted
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ⅔ cup water
Prepare the dough
In a small, non-metal bowl, mix the yeast, 1 tsp coconut sugar, and hot water. Let it sit for 5 minutes to form a thick foam on the surface.
Once it has bloomed, gently mix in the warm soy milk and vanilla.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and mix until the dough comes together into a soft ball. If it’s too sticky, add a small amount of flour until it’s soft but not completely sticking to your fingers.
Now comes the messy kneading part: add half the vegan butter and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the rest of the butter and knead until the dough is nice and stretchy, about 5 to 7 minutes more. All that butter is great hand moisturizer!
Put the thoroughly incorporated dough in a buttered bowl, cover with a damp towel and let rise at room temperature for about 1 to 2 hours. It may not completely double.
After this rise, punch the dough down, re-cover the bowl with cling wrap and let it rise again, either at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, or in the fridge for 4+ hours (or overnight).
Prepare the filling and soaking syrup
In a food processor, blend together the vegan butter, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, walnuts, vanilla, and soy milk. Mix in the melted chocolate until the mixture is nice and smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
In a small pot over medium heat, mix the 2/3 cup sugar and 2/3 cup water. Simmer for 2 mins until sugar dissolves, then set aside.
Assemble and bake
Remove the dough from the fridge and divide the dough in half. On a floured board, roll each piece into a 9×17″ rectangle. Spread each half with half the filling. Starting with the long side, roll across the short side into a tight coil. Transfer onto a piece of plastic wrap and freeze for 10 minutes.
If you’re making 2 large babkas, slice the rolls in half lengthwise to expose the filling. Twist the halves together into a braid. Place into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper, letting it fold or curl around itself if it’s too long.
If you’re making 16 mini babkas, slice each roll into 8 pieces. Each one should show a nice spiral of filling. Place them into a greased muffin tin.
Cover with a damp towel and let rise at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours (it may not quite double).
Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes (large babkas) or 20-25 minutes (small babkas), until a chopstick goes into the babka and comes out clean or a thermometer probe inserted into the middle of the babks shows at least 190F.
As soon as the babkas come out of the oven, use a toothpick or chopstick to pierce them all over, going all the way to the bottom, then pour the syrup over top.
Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy your chocolate babka for dessert, tea time, or breakfast! Leftovers freeze well in an airtight container.