This gorgeous chocolate babka is from the First Lady of Chocolate, Alice Medrich. Although it takes 2 days to make, it’s absolutely worth it.
I’ve had this recipe saved in my bookmarks for a few years. Because it takes 2 days to make, I hadn’t had the time to dedicate to it until now. With some extra free time on my hands, I finally decided to tackle this babka.
Note that this babka will take you two days to make. The brioche needs to chill in the refrigerator for 24 hours before you roll it out, so your hands-on time isn’t actually very much. I cut down on the chocolate (shocker!) because what I had felt like it was plenty.
What was different about this particular recipe from the First Lady of Chocolate was that it was cut into slices like cinnamon rolls and then arranged in a tube pan. The previous babka recipes I tried just had me braiding the dough and baking it. This was a fun new way to bake bread, and my resulting babka was full of gorgeous chocolate swirls and flavor throughout.
My family enjoyed it too, as you can see from our rating scale below. In fact, this was one of the best breads I’ve ever made, so you’ll see that I rated this a 5 out of 5!
Husband’s rating: 4 out of 5
Addie’s rating: 4 out of 5
My rating: 5 out of 5
Chocolate babka from Alice Medrich
- 3 cups (425 grams) bread flour
- 2 and ½ sticks (280 grams) cold unsalted butter
- 1 envelope (2 and ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
- 5 large eggs cold
- 1 Tablespoon plain yogurt or sour cream
- 1 and ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (225 grams) brown sugar
- 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 Tablespoons instant espresso powder
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces (340 grams) dark chocolate (60% - 70%) finely chopped
- 1 egg plus 1 teaspoon of water for an egg wash
Make the brioche
- In a large baking pan with sides, place the bread flour and spread it out. Place it in the freezer for 45 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter. It should stay cold but not have any big clumps. Place it on a sheet of waxed paper and put it in the refrigerator to chill slightly. Wash the bowl so you can re-use it in the next step.
- Change the mixer attachment to the dough hook. Add the yeast, 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the water into the bottom of the clean mixer bowl. Allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes or until frothy.
- Add the remaining ⅓ cup of sugar, eggs, yogurt, salt and flour. Mix on low speed and stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Keep mixing for about 5 minutes on medium low speed. The dough should be soft, smooth and elastic-y. Then add the cold butter in several additions. The dough may contain chunks of butter, but keep mixing until the butter gets evenly distributed throughout. You may need to mix on medium speed for 5-10 minutes. The final dough will be soft, silky and tacky. Transfer the dough to a well-oiled bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Prep the filling
- In a medium sized bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, cinnamon and salt and set aside.
Roll out and assemble the dough (the next day)
- Generously grease a standard 8-10 cup tube pan with a removable bottom.
- On a well-floured surface, roll out your dough to an 18" x 18" square. Make sure the dough isn't sticking to your working surface or you will have a huge mess on your hands later on.
- Add 2 teaspoons of water to your filling mixture. It should resemble wet sand. Evenly distribute this on top of your rolled out dough, leaving about a 1 inch margin all around the border. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate on top.
- Roll up the dough, jelly-roll style so it's nice and tight. Place the roll seam-side down. Slice into 1 inch slides with a sharp knife or a bench scraper. Randomly place cut slices into your prepared tube pan. Make sure the slices end up on an even level. Cover and allow it to double, about 2 hours.
Bake the babka
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Brush the top of your babka with the egg wash. Bake in your preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until the tops are brown and the bread sounds hollow when you tap it.
- Cool the babka in your pan for about 10 minutes. Then quickly lift the removable tube from the rest of the pan so that the bread doesn't stick to the side. You'll also want to use a serrated knife or spatula to unstick the bottom so it doesn't harden. Keep the spatula/knife underneath the bread while it cools.