This chocolate gingerbread babka is like the meeting between Christmas and my own Jewish background, cue '2 becomes 1' by the Spice Girls. This soft and fluffy babka is twisted with a gingerbread filling and chopped chocolate, because I just always have to sneak a little bit of chocolate into a babka recipe!
If you haven't heard of babka before, it's a sweet braided bread/cake that is popular within the Polish and Ukrainian Jewish communities. It's become popular within bakeries across the US now, and I always, always, always pick up a loaf (or two!) from my favourite bakery in New York City, Russ and Daughters.
FAQ & Tips
Patience is key here. While it might seem like this takes forever, there isn't actually a lot of hands on time. You're mainly waiting for the babka to rise on three separate occasions. While you're waiting though it gives you time to go do other things: make the babka filling, watch the episode of Seinfeld where they discuss the best babka flavours, etc.
The timings for the babka means you can either make it all in one day, or you can leave it to rise in the fridge overnight - giving you delicious and warm babka in the morning for breakfast!
With your filling, be sure to let it cool completely before you use it. I popped mine in the fridge to hurry that process along. If your filling is too warm and runny, then it is just going to spill out of the dough when you're rolling it up.
Yes! This super easy step is what is going to give your babka that shiny top.
- Yeast make sure your yeast is still active and within date! This is what is going to give the babka that lovely rise
- Flour regular all-purpose flour is used instead of bread flour.
- Treacle I use treacle to get that deep, gingerbready taste, but you can also substitute it for molasses
- Spices a whole mix of spices is used to give that warm, spicy, holiday feeling! I use a combo of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.
Other recipes to try
Chocolate Gingerbread Babka
- 1 loaf pan
- 310 grams flour
- 38 grams granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon yeast
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 60 grams water
- 60 grams whole milk
- 60 grams unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 egg
- 15 grams water
- 42 grams unsalted butter
- 40 grams light brown sugar
- 20 grams granulated sugar
- 20 grams treacle
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 64 grams chopped chocolate
- 20 grams granulated sugar
- 18 grams water
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the yeast, sugar, salt and 125g of the flour together.
- In a microwave or in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm 60g water, milk butter and vanilla. Add the warm mixture to the bowl in the stand mixer and beat (using a paddle attachment) on low until just combined. Add 1 egg and mix on low. Add remaining flour (185) and beat on low, until the mixture is just combined and you no longer see streaks of flour
- Switch to your dough hook attachment and beat on a medium-low speed for 5-7 minutes, until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl but the dough itself is still sticky when touched. If it isn’t pulling away, you can add up to 1 extra tablespoon of flour
- Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured surface and do a series of stretch and folds. Grab the top portion of the dough and pull it up, then bringing it on to the middle of the dough ball. Do a quarter turn, and repeat until 4 stretch and folds have been done. This isn’t a ‘must do’ BUT will give you a fluffier babka
- Oil your stand mixer bowl, place dough inside and cover with plastic. Let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size
- Scrape the dough back on to a lightly floured surface and press it out with your fingers, or with a rolling pin, until it is 8x6 inches. Wrap it with plastic and refrigerate it for at least one hour, or overnight. While one hour is fine, the flavour will improve if you refrigerate it overnight
- While that is rising, make the filling. Melt butter and molasses together until smooth. Stir in the sugars and spices. Let cool to room temperature.
- Grease a loaf pan with butter or baking spray and line with baking parchment.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out chilled dough until it is 13x10 inches. Using a pastry brush or small offset spatula, brush the filling over the dough but leave a ½ inch border all around the rectangle. Sprinkle with the chopped chocolate.
- Starting with one long side, tightly roll it up. Carefully lift it up and pull each end until the cylinder is 14 inches. With the seam of the cylinder facing down, use a bread knife to cut the cylinder in half. Overlap one cylinder over the other, with the filling side up, forming an X. Twist the upper half twice, then the lower half twice, and pinch the ends. Carefully place in the prepared loaf pans, tucking the ends under
- Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes - 1 hour (depending on how long you chilled it for), then test if it is ready to be baked with the finger dent test. Gently press your finger into the surface. You should be able to watch the dough spring back slightly but still show an indentation.
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Whisk together the remaining egg and water, then use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash on top of the dough.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown. While it is baking, make your simple syrup by heating up the sugar and water in a microwave or in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Let it cool before using.
- Once out of the oven, brush with the simple syrup. Let cool for at least an hour before cutting.