Babka au Chocolat Brioche

November 17, 2016
8 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 1 babka
Author Notes

You're going to need to start this holiday-perfect bread one day ahead. You can use semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips in place of the dark chocolate in the filling, but results are not quick as decadent. You're going to need a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and a dough hook and a 8 to 10 cup tube pan with a removable bottom (greased) for this recipe. —Alice Medrich

What You'll Need
  • For the brioche:
  • 3 cups (425 grams) bread flour
  • 2 1/2 sticks (280 grams) cold, unsalted butter
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon (70 grams) sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
  • 5 large eggs, cold
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • For the filling:
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 grams) brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I prefer natural cocoa powder, but Dutch process is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (or a little more regular instant coffee power)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces (340 grams) dark chocolate (60-66 % cacao works nicely), chopped
  • 1 egg thoroughly whisked with 1 teaspoon of water and a pinch of salt, for the egg wash
  1. Spread the flour in a shallow baking pan. Cover and refrigerate or freeze until needed, at least 45 minutes.
  2. Use the paddle attachment to whip the cold butter only until it is smooth and slightly fluffy, but still cold. There should be no small hard lumps when you pinch it between your fingers. Scrape the butter into a mound on a piece of wax paper and refrigerate it until needed. Wash the mixer bowl. (Proceed with the recipe right away; too long a delay will re-harden the butter.)
  3. Dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar in the water in the bottom of the clean mixer bowl, now fitted with the dough hook. Add the remaining 1/3 cup (66 grams) sugar, eggs, yogurt, salt, and flour. Mix on low speed until the ingredients are blended, scraping the bowl as necessary. Turn the speed up to medium (speed 5) and knead for 5 minutes. At the end of the kneading period the dough will be soft, moist, and sticky, and very elastic. All or most of it will be wrapped around the dough hook. Add the cold creamed butter in several large pieces, pushing it into the dough, and beat with the hook until it is well blended. You will need to stop the mixer several times to scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl and pull it completely off of the hook, until the butter appears thoroughly incorporated. Scrape the dough into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight, or up to 24 hours.
  4. Thoroughly mix the brown sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, cinnamon, and salt. Cover and set aside. Grease an 8 to 10 cup tube pan with a removable bottom.
  5. Scrape the cold dough out onto a well-floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a thin square sheet about 18" by 18", sliding the dough to be sure it’s not sticking and re-dusting the surface beneath it as necessary. Mix the cocoa mixture with 2 teaspoons water—it should resemble slightly damp sand. Scatter and spread it evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch margin on the edges nearest and furthest from you. Scatter the chopped chocolate evenly over the cocoa mixture. Moisten the far edge of the dough with water. Beginning at the closest edge, roll the dough and filling into a tight jelly roll. Press firmly to seal the dough. Seam side-down, cut the roll into eighteen 1" slices with a sharp knife. Place the slices gently in pan haphazardly, without particularly arranging them. If you lay them flat in the pan, they will not stick together properly. Adjust the slices to reach the same level in the pan. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 2 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the egg wash gently over the surface of the babka (a natural bristle brush does the best job of this!). (Tip: you will have most of the egg wash left over, refrigerate it and add it to your breakfast scramble). Place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is deep browned and the bottom of the pan sounds hollow when tapped, or until an instant read thermometer register 190°F when inserted in the center of the bread. Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then pull the tube up to detach the babka from the sides of the pan before it has a chance to cool and stick—and slide a knife or thin metal spatula between the babka and the bottom of the pan.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Marina D Polak
    Marina D Polak
  • Allison
  • Jerry Nelson
    Jerry Nelson
  • Pam Kozlow
    Pam Kozlow
  • Mika Wieder
    Mika Wieder
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).

26 Reviews

ustabahippie December 4, 2023
Typo. Not “quick” as decadent.
Jen.Mathis January 27, 2022
This was an insanely beautiful dough and final product. It kept very well for several days. Great toasted or warmed for a few seconds in the microwave. I added chopped hazelnuts to the chocolate crumb mixture, and I will do the same again. This recipe is not hard — just follow the steps even if it doesn’t make complete sense as you are doing it (especially if you have baked yeasted breads before — brioche is someone different). This is worthy to be put on my “short list” of recipes to pull out again and again.
Marina D. April 16, 2018
Made one yesterday and it was delicious! the whole babka-brioche disappeared in 20 minutes!
Allison December 25, 2017
How small should the dark chocolate be chopped?
Sabine March 6, 2017
I don't have a stand mixer. Wondering what's better as an alternative...hand mixer or just my hands an maybe a wooden spoon. I'd love to try this recipe. Any insight appreciated ;)
Babs March 6, 2017
I think this would be tough to make without a stand mixer. The mixing and kneading and keeping the right temperature seems very difficult with a hand mixer and close to impossible with just your hands. If you decide to go ahead with the hand mixer please report back, I'd love to hear how it goes!
Sabine March 8, 2017
Thanks for the feedback. I think I'll hold off for now; the things you mention, are the exact things I was concerned about...but if I decide to give it go, will definitely post here. ;)
Jerry N. January 30, 2017
As a follow up, I did the rise and then refrigerated over night. Took it out of the fridge while the oven heated up and it cooked up fine. It did rise a bit more while in the fridge, but it just made it fluffier. I've made this twice now and my wife has already asked for it again.
Pam K. January 27, 2017
Can AP Flour be substituted for bread flour?
Mika W. December 31, 2016
Can I refrigerate the dough less then 8 hours? Let's say, 5 hours ?
Jerry N. December 29, 2016
I made this for Hanukkah dessert and everyone loved it. Worth all the work, but could you do the 2 hour rise and then refrigerate for baking the next day? Would like this for New Years morning, but don't want to do any work with a hangover.
Blanka V. December 29, 2016
Looks intimidating but will try it - snowy blustery day today and perfect for this :) Is it possible to post a pic of what it looks like in the pan before and after baking? Thanks.
SF E. December 26, 2016
This is wonderful. There are a lot of steps and yes, it takes time and makes a huge mess, but the results are absolutely worth it. I started the day before and then got up early to roll out the dough and proof it. We ended up eating it around noon! I am fairly new to the stand mixer and yeast breads, but it came out absolutely perfectly. Next time I'll use less chocolate as I found the dark chocolate a little overwhelming (more of a rich dessert than a breakfast pastry) but that's my only quibble.
linda December 22, 2016
What other types of pan can this be made in if you don't have a tube pan?
Lisa L. December 25, 2016
A similar-capacity Bundt pan ought to perform equally well!
Lolli January 7, 2017
Just made one in a bundt pan. Even though it measured 10 cups it was too small. I couldn't get all the pieces in and then it was hard to turn out of the pan because you can't help some of all that chocolate running out and sticking. This is so yummy though it's going to be worth investing in the right pan.
Lolli January 7, 2017
This was a non-stick pan, too. Also, when you turn the cake right side up to show off that beautiful glazed and browned crust it starts to collapse because the top is bigger than the bottom (the bundt cake meant to be served upside down).
Marlena M. December 21, 2016
I made this and it's amazing! this was the best dough - it was a dream to roll out and is the best babka i've ever made. I'm terrible with yeast breads, so this was an accomplishment.

The only comment i have is based on how long you should knead the dough. I had made brioche rolls before and remember the instructions about it making a slapping sound in the mixing bowl and that helped me know that the butter was fully incorporated (in case anyone gets nervous like i do).

thanks for a great recipe!
Babs December 18, 2016
I just made this and it is still warm and looks beautiful. I would like to make this in smaller loaves for gifts but couldn't decide how the recipe would divide up. Any thoughts?
Paula November 3, 2017
I know you asked a long time ago, but the holidays are coming round again, so I'll add my thoughts. I would make the whole recipe and then see how many slices you could put in several small loaf pans. If you don't have at least 6 or 7 small loaf pans, I would go for those paper disposable ones.
reem December 13, 2016
How can I manage the dough if I need to wait more than 24 hours between refrigerating the dough and baking it?
thedrells December 25, 2016
Just says at least overnight (8 hours), start the day before you want it.
Laura K. December 12, 2016
I REALLY want to make this recipe, but I don't see anywhere what size pan you used to bake this wonderful babka or if you grease the pan (I assume you do). Can you let me know? Thank you!!! -Laura
Pamela December 13, 2016
Laura, it's in the Author Notes at the top. An 8-10 cup tube pan with removable bottom (greased).
Laura K. December 13, 2016
Thank you!!!!!!!!!
IZ August 20, 2017
Hello, recipe sounds wonderful. Do you think it is possible to grate frozen stick of butter and refrigerate instead of using mixer? Just trying to save a step. Would it work with margarine if i try for parve recipe? thanks