Chocolate Babka

, from Issue #84. May, 2019
Photography by Olivia Galletly.
Chocolate Babka

Although the twists on this Jewish brioche loaf may look intimidating, it is surprisingly easy to create them.


250ml milk
50 grams caster sugar
1½ teaspoons dried yeast
2 large eggs, size 7
125 grams butter, melted
500 grams high-grade flour
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Chocolate filling
180 grams butter, cubed
200 grams chocolate, 100 per cent Dutch processed, broken into pieces
180 grams butter, cut into cubes
80 grams icing sugar
50 grams cocoa powder
140 grams pecans, chopped
200 grams white sugar
120ml water


Line two 23cm x 13cm loaf tins with baking paper, letting the paper hang over the sides. This will make it easier to pull the loaves out once cooked.

Dough: Heat the milk in a small saucepan until warm but not yet simmering. Remove from the heat and mix in the caster sugar and yeast. Set aside for 10-15 minutes until the yeast has activated and foamed on the surface. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and melted butter. Make sure the butter has cooled slightly before mixing with the eggs.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre, add all the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Using the dough hook attachment, knead the dough for 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and glossy. Alternatively, place on a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover and set aside in a warm spot for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Chocolate filling: Place the butter and chocolate in a microwave-proof bowl and microwave for 1 minute, or until butter and chocolate has melted. Sieve in the icing sugar and cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Cool.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

On a floured bench, roll the dough into a rectangle roughly 60 x 45cm, with the longest edge closest to you. Spread all the chocolate filling over the dough, leaving a 2cm border around the edge. Scatter the pecans over the filling. Starting from the long edge closest to you, roll the dough into a neat log – like a swiss roll – with the seam sitting underneath the log. Using a sharp serrated knife, carefully slice the dough in half lengthways into two long pieces. Turn the cut sides facing upwards, then twist and overlap the two halves as if to braid them. Cut the braid into two even-sized loaves. Carefully lift each loaf into the prepared tins, cover and set aside to rest for 1 hour.

Bake the loaves for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. If they start to colour too much on top, cover with tinfoil and bake until cooked through.

Glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Cook over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a simmer and cook until syrupy. Set aside to cool. As soon as the loaves come out of the oven, brush the tops with the glaze. Once they have cooled, remove from the tins. Makes 2 loaves