Chocolate Babka

Curious? This is worth the effort

I’ve never tasted chocolate babka (or any other type, for that matter) or made babka, so I took on a bit of a project for a holiday assignment for Thank goodness for Seinfeld, right? Like many people I know, my only brush with babka is the Seinfeld episode where Elaine and Jerry stop to buy a chocolate babka to take to a friend’s house. Maybe that’s all you need to intrigue you. If you’re curious, this is definitely a recipe to try – it’s so worth it!

Time on your side…it has to be

I like to think I have the baking gene in me (my dad used to bake his own bread – lots of it – every few weeks), and I was excited and anxious to make this treat. I discovered that it’s actually fairly easy to make, if you have the luxury of time.

It takes a little time to prep everything. Then you have to let the dough rise two different times, for about an hour each. Plan for about half an hour for baking – which I can deal with. But the final step is allowing the bread to cool before slicing into crumbly goodness. What torture when you can smell something so delightful, and see the golden loaf you know is filled with chunks of chocolate and bits of walnuts, wrapped around a sweet dough. That, my friends, is when time seems to drag.

This sweet bread is amazing, but I can see why it’s reserved for the holidays. I’m sure most families have their own special recipe, but since I don’t, I adapted this from Ladies Home Journal. What a special treat!

 Recipe for Chocolate Babka
Yields 1 loaf

Adapted from Ladies Home Journal


For the bread
  • 1/2 package of active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1, 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan
For the filling
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
For the streusel
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened


For the filling
  1. Add the sugar, cocoa, cinnamon and walnuts to a small bowl and mix together well.
For the dough
  1. Add the warm water to a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Allow the mixture to stand for about 5 minutes, or until the water is foamy.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, 3 tablespoons of melted butter, egg and salt. Whisk the ingredients until well combined.
  3. Once the water with the yeast is foamy, add the yogurt mixture to it.
  4. Add the flour to the mixture, adding one cup at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon.
  5. Knead the dough in the bowl until all the flour is mixed into the dough. The dough should be soft.
  6. Spray a large bowl with the nonstick cooking spray and place the dough in the bowl, then lightly spray the top of the bowl.
  7. Place a clean kitchen towel over the bowl, and place it in a warm spot for about an hour, or until the dough it doubles in size.
  8. Once the dough has risen, lightly flour a flat work surface. Place the dough on the surface and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
  9. Stretch and roll the dough to a rectangle shape, about 15 inches long by 10 inches wide.
  10. Brush the 1 tablespoon of melted butter over the rectangle, leaving a small border (about 1/2 an inch) around the edges.
  11. Sprinkle the sugar and cocoa mixture over the dough. Starting from the shorter end, roll up the dough. Pinch the ends closed, along with the seam.
  12. Gently twist the dough (like your wringing clothes) a few times, and place it in a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan. You may need to curve the roll back and forth to fit into the pan.
  13. Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel and allow it to stand in a warm place for about an hour.
  14. Stir the streusel ingredients together in a small bowl until crumbly, and when you are ready to bake the babka, sprinkle it on.
  15. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  16. Bake the babka for about 25-30 minutes, or until it is lightly golden on top.
  17. Allow the pan to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, remove it from the pan, and continue to let the babka cool before serving.

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