This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure.

This buttery, soft, and fluffy Babka recipe is a decadent cross between enriched bread and cake with a luscious chocolate swirl.

hot chocolate babka loaves

If you’re looking for something truly special to make this holiday season, Babka is it. Soft, fluffy, buttery, and aromatic bread that’s subtly scented with fresh orange and rippled with cardamom-laced dark chocolate.

Comfort food doesn’t get any more beautiful.

Babka is made of an enriched dough with gorgeous swirls, typically of chocolate with a hint of cinnamon. Instead of cinnamon, here we’re using orange and cardamom for a twist on the classic.

The piney, menthol-like flavor of cardamom perfectly accentuates the fresh citrusy orange zest. And they both marry so well with the richness of dark chocolate.

slicing babka

Like most yeasted breads, this Babka recipe is a labor of love, but well worth the effort. And I’m sharing step-by-step photos because aside from being in the kitchen with you and making this lovely treat together, it’s the next best thing. You can do this!

This is the perfect baking project for a chilly fall or winter afternoon. At the end of the day, you can sit down with a thick slice of Baba swirled with chocolate and laced with citrus and spice. Along with a cup of hot coffee or tea, I can’t image a cozier way to relax.

chocolate orange babka recipe

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • The soft, rich, buttery bread. It’s made from an enriched dough containing butter, milk, and egg. And its flavor, aroma,and soft, fluffy texture are nothing short of divine. Pulling a slice of fresh Babka apart in your hands you’ll notice the softness and see exactly what I mean.
  • Dark chocolate swirls. Dark chocolate balances the bread’s sweetness. And additionally, it transforms Babka into chocolaty perfection. Especially when the Babka is still a little warm out of the oven.
  • A unique twist. This recipe is a little different from the traditional. We swapped out cinnamon and used a hint of cardamom and added fresh orange zest for brightness.
soft fresh babka slice

The Best Chocolate Babka Recipe

Ingredients in Chocolate Orange Babka

Dough:

chocolate babka ingredients
  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Instant yeast
  • Salt
  • Eggs
  • Egg yolk
  • Whole milk
  • Vanilla extract
  • Vanilla bean pate
  • Fresh orange zest
  • Unsalted butter

Chocolate Filling:

chocolate babka filling ingredients
  • Unsalted butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Ground cardamom
  • 60% dark chocolate

Simple Syrup:

  • Granulated sugar
  • Water

Babka Recipe Step-by-Step Instructions

Step-by-Step Instructions for How to Make Babka Dough:

how to make babka dough
  1. Add the flour, granulated sugar, yeast, and salt to the bowl of an electric stand mixer.
  2. Whisk to combine.
  3. Add the eggs, egg yolk, milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste.
  4. Now add the fresh orange zest; it will immediately smell incredible!
  5. Use the dough hook attachment on the stand mixer to mix on low speed until the ingredients come together and start to look like dough.
  6. With the mixer still on low speed, add the room temperature butter 1 tablespoon at a time until it’s fully mixed in. Wait to add the next tablespoon of butter until the previous one is fully incorporated.
  7. Once all the butter is mixed in, turn the mixer speed to medium and knead for 10 minutes.
  8. Oil a large bowl. Use your hands to shape the dough into a ball and place it in the oiled bowl, rolling it around to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Refrigerate overnight, about 12 hours.

How to Make Chocolate Babka Filling:

how to make chocolate babka filling
  1. Chop the dark chocolate. You don’t need it too finely chopped for this.
  2. Add the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and cardamom to a bowl.
  3. Stir until smooth.
  4. It will be thick and creamy with a consistency similar to Nutella.

Step-by-Step Instructions For How to Shape Babka:

how to shape babka
  1. Flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Cut the dough in half.
  2. Shape each half into a ball.
  3. Working with 1 ball at a time, roll it out on the floured surface into a rectangle about 10 inches by 14 inches.
  4. Spread half of the chocolate filling on top (leaving a border of about 1/2-inch all around).
  5. Sprinkle half of the chopped chocolate on top of the chocolate filling.
  6. Start with one of the 10-inch sides and roll the dough up into a log as tightly as you can. Place the log seam-side-down on the lined baking tray. Repeat this process with the other dough ball. Place the entire baking tray with the dough logs into the freezer for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the dough logs from the freezer and place 1 onto a floured surface.
  8. Butter and flour a sharp knife and slice the dough log in half length-wise.
  9. This next step of shaping the Babka determines how your final loaves will look, and there are several different ways to do it. You can start at the middle (cut sides facing up) and wrap the 2 log halves around each other, twisting them as you go. Or you can twist each log individually, and then wrap them around each other.
  10. No matter which method you choose, pinch both ends together once the logs are twisted together, and place it into the buttered loaf pan. Repeat this process with the other dough log. Cover both loaves with buttered plastic wrap (or you can spray the plastic wrap with coconut oil spray), and let them rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. And now they’re ready to bake!

How to Baste Babka with Simple Syrup:

how to baste babka with simple syrup
  1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Bring to a boil, swirling the pan to help the sugar dissolve, and then let it boil for 1 minute. Remove the syrup from the heat and let the syrup cool to room temperature.
  3. As soon as the Babkas are out of the oven, slowly pour the simple syrup evenly over both loaves. The bread should be hot and the syrup should be cooled for it to absorb properly.
  4. There will come a point when you’ll think it looks like too much syrup, but trust me on this one and use it all (it’s just the right amount). Let the loaves cool for about 30 minutes in the pans, and then turn them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Storage

Similar to most fresh breads, Babka is best served on the same day it’s baked. However, if you wrap it well, it will keep for up to 3 days at room temperature.

After the first day, I like to heat it briefly before eating (I will either toast it or microwave it for a few seconds).

close up of slice of babka

Variations on This Babka Recipe

  • Switch back to cinnamon. In the chocolate filling, omit the cardamom and add up to 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
  • Try Nutella. Instead of the chocolate filling, spread on a layer of Nutella instead!
  • Go with lemon zest. Instead of fresh orange zest in the dough, use the same amount of fresh lemon zest.
  • Use whatever chocolate strikes your fancy. If 60% dark is too dark for you, by all means use milk chocolate. And on the other hand, if you like the bitterness of chocolate, go with a darker chocolate.
brioche bread with chocolate filling

Tips to Make This Babka Recipe a Success

  • If you have a kitchen scale, this is a good time to use it. Baking is very precise and involves a lot more science than cooking does. Even slight variations can have a big impact on the final result.
  • If you have a stand mixer, now is the time to pull it out. Yes, you can knead the dough by hand, but it will take much longer. It needs quite a bit of kneading – a full 10 minutes using the stand mixer!
  • Don’t rush adding the butter to the dough. You will likely end up with a greasy mess! I add it 1 tablespoon at a time, and make sure your butter is at room temperature.
  • I really do recommend leaving the dough in the fridge overnight for the first rise. It really makes a difference in the end result for the best flavor and texture of this Babka recipe! But if you’re pressed for time, you can let it sit for at least 6 hours in the fridge instead.
  • The dough won’t rise to double its size. Unlike other yeast breads, Babka dough doesn’t rise as much. If you’ve let it sit for the recommended time, it should be ready.
  • Don’t let shaping Babka intimidate you. This is a homemade loaf that you’re making with love, and odds are it will look homemade instead of looking like a mass-produced item that came from a factory somewhere. That’s a very good thing! And I have to say, no matter how messy it looks when the dough is raw in the loaf pans, it will likely bake up to be a thing of beauty.
  • I know the simple syrup might seem like overkill, but it’s not. Trust me on this one. The syrup not only adds sweetness to offset the chocolate’s bitterness, but it adds gorgeous shine to the top of this loaf. And additionally, it helps the Babka stay soft and fresh longer.
chocolate babka recipe graphic

Babka FAQs

What is Babka?

Babka is a sweet baked good that’s made with an enriched yeast-leavened dough. It blurs the lines between bread and cake, and is a cross between the two.

Where is Babka From?

Babka hails from the Jewish communities in Eastern Europe (specifically Poland and the Ukraine) in the early 19th century. But it was different than the decadent chocolate-swirled rich creation we think of as Babka today. Back then, jam or cinnamon was the filling of choice.

Emigrants from that region of the world brought Babka to other places, including the U.S. It’s said that Jewish bakeries in New York City transformed Babka into the decadence that it’s known as today, making the dough richer and adding the chocolate swirl.

And then it’s said that Babka was memorialized into an American icon the Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine talk it up.

You can read more about history and origin of Babka on Wikipedia, Food52, and My Jewish Learning.

slices of chocolate orange babka

What is the Difference Between Babka and Brioche?

Brioche is a French bread that is enriched with butter and egg. The resulting bread is rich with a soft and light texture and slight sweetness.

On the other hand, Babka is made from brioche dough that is swirled with a chocolate filling.

chocolate babka

More Festive Baked Goods to Make

chocolate babka recipe with orange and cardamom

Let’s Connect

an edible mosaic submark initials

Did you make this recipe? Please rate it and leave a comment below. You can also tag @anediblemosaic on social media.

To stay up-to-date, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter!

Chocolate Babka Recipe with Orange and Cardamom

Prep Time1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Other Time15 hours
Yields: 32 servings
This buttery, soft, and fluffy Babka recipe is a decadent cross between enriched bread and cake with a luscious chocolate swirl.

Email This Recipe

Get this recipe link emailed straight to your inbox!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Ingredients
 

For the Dough:

For the Chocolate Filling:

For the Simple Syrup:

Other:

Instructions
 

For the Dough:

  • Add the flour, granulated sugar, yeast, and salt to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Whisk to combine.
  • Add the eggs, egg yolk, milk, vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, and orange zest to the flour mixture. Use the dough hook attachment on the stand mixer to mix on low speed until the ingredients come together and start to look like dough.
  • With the mixer still on low speed, add the room temperature butter 1 tablespoon at a time until it’s fully mixed in. Wait to add the next tablespoon of butter until the previous one is fully incorporated.
  • Once all the butter is mixed in, turn the mixer speed to medium and knead for 10 minutes.
  • Oil a large bowl. Use your hands to shape the dough into a ball and place it in the oiled bowl, rolling it around to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel.
  • Refrigerate overnight, about 12 hours.

For the Filling:

  • Take the dough out of the fridge so it can come to room temperature.
  • Stir together the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and cardamom in a bowl until smooth.

To Assemble:

  • Butter the insides of 2 (9 by 5-inch) loaf pans.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Cut the dough in half and shape each half into a ball.
  • Working with 1 ball at a time, roll it out on the floured surface into a rectangle about 10 inches by 14 inches. Spread half of the chocolate filling on top (leaving a border of about 1/2-inch all around). Sprinkle half of the chopped chocolate on top of the chocolate filling. Start with one of the 10-inch sides and roll the dough up into a log as tightly as you can. Place the log seam-side-down on the lined baking tray. Repeat this process with the other dough ball.
  • Place the entire baking tray with the dough logs into the freezer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the dough logs from the freezer and place 1 onto a floured surface. Butter and flour a sharp knife and slice the dough log in half length-wise.
  • This next step of shaping the Babka determines how your final loaves will look, and there are several different ways to do it. You can start at the middle (cut sides facing up) and wrap the 2 log halves around each other, twisting them as you go. Or you can twist each log individually, and then wrap them around each other. No matter which method you choose, pinch both ends together once the logs are twisted together, and place it into the buttered loaf pan. Repeat this process with the other dough log.
  • Cover both loaves with buttered plastic wrap (or you can spray the plastic wrap with coconut oil spray), and let them rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

For the Simple Syrup:

  • Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, swirling the pan to help the sugar dissolve, and then let it boil for 1 minute.
  • Remove from the heat and let the syrup cool to room temperature.

To Bake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F during the last 30 minutes while the loaves are rising.
  • Bake the Babkas until they’re golden on the outside and reach an internal temperature of 185 to 190F, about 45 minutes. When it’s done cooking, the loaf should sound hollow when you tap on the bottom.

To Finish:

  • As soon as the Babkas are out of the oven, slowly pour the simple syrup evenly over both loaves. The bread should be hot and the syrup should be cooled for it to absorb properly.
  • Let the loaves cool for about 30 minutes in the pans, and then turn them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Notes

  • Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe makes 2 (9 by 5-inch) loaves of Babka. Cut each into 16 slices and 1 slice = 1 serving.
  • Storage: Like most fresh breads, Babka is best served on the same day it’s baked. However, if you wrap it well, it will keep for up to 3 days at room temperature.
  • Serving Tip: After the first day, I like to heat it briefly before eating (I will either toast it or microwave it for a few seconds).

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 191kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 83mg | Potassium: 84mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 236IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Bread
Cuisine: Jewish
Keyword: Babka, Babka Recipe, Chocolate Babka, Chocolate Babka Recipe, Chocolate Orange Babka

Share it with me on Instagram and leave a comment to let me know your thoughts!

chocolate babka recipe with a step-by-step photo guide
Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Similar Posts