Sourdough babka is a sweet and soft enriched brioche-like dough swirled with chocolate and baked to perfection. Made with simple ingredients and naturally leavened with sourdough starter, this bread will win over any sweet-tooth.
As I’ve made more and more sourdough bread recipes, I’ve realized there really is no limit to the type of bread you can make.
Once I got my sourdough brioche bread down to a science, I decided to take my brioche dough to the next level by turning it into babka!
This sourdough chocolate babka is the current favorite dessert at the farmhouse. We’ve already gone through two this year (and it’s only January!). I may even go as far to say that this is in my top 5 of dessert sourdough recipes. It’s just that good!
I make mine with a chocolate filling, which is more traditional. But you can experiment with different fillings if you are not a chocolate-lover like most of my family.
If you are looking for a sweet treat this winter, this sourdough chocolate babka is the perfect cozy comfort food!
What is Babka?
Babka is a sweet, cake-like bread made with an enriched dough. It is filled with chocolate or other sweet concoctions, rolled up, and braided for a beautiful looking babka loaf. For this recipe, I use a very similar recipe to my sourdough brioche recipe, but with a little less butter.
Chocolate is the traditional filling for babkas, but if you are not a chocolate lover, you can also use cinnamon.
This recipe yields 2 loaves, so you could always make one chocolate and one cinnamon to try out!
Why you will love this recipe:
Easier to digest: If you have a hard time digesting unfermented grains, this long-fermented recipe will have less gluten and will be easier to digest than regular bread.
Delicious: With a sweet, tangy dough and a decadent chocolate filling, this bread will make your tastebuds sing with every single bite.
Simple: Although it looks super impressive, this bread is actually fairly simple to make. With just a few ingredients, you can make a beautiful and delicious bread.
You can make it your own: You can experiment with various fillings to fit your sweet tooth desire! If you love cinnamon rolls, I highly recommend trying a cinnamon sugar filling (recipe below!). I’ve heard of people experimenting with a Nutella filling and various fruit fillings, too!
Sourdough Babka Making Tips:
- Once you have your babka filled and rolled up, move it to a piece of parchment paper before cutting it and braiding. This way, you can use the parchment paper to easily lift it into your loaf pan. It also makes for easy clean up! Just be sure your parchment paper is cut to the right size.
- This dough is a wet dough. Even if you are tempted to add more flour, don’t. Too much flour will give you a tougher bread rather than something light and fluffy.
- Feed your starter 4-12 hours before you plan to start the dough. You want it to be super bubbly and active, at its peak.
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Sourdough starter – Active and bubbly. You really want to have a very active starter for this recipe so it has a really nice rise.
Bread flour – Bread flour gives this dough a much lighter and fluffier texture compared to using all purpose flour.
Sugar – Preferably organic cane sugar.
Milk – Preferably whole, but 2% should also work just fine.
Salt – I always chose sea salt.
Unsalted Butter – Room temperature.
Semi-Sweet chocolate – You can also use dark chocolate here if you prefer.
Tools you may need:
Stand mixer (optional – you can also knead by hand!)
What nationality is babka?
Babka is a Jewish dessert and can be traced back to early 19th century Jewish communities in Eastern Europe.
What is active sourdough starter?
Active sourdough starter is starter that has been fed water and flour and allowed to sit until it is bubbly and about doubled in size.
What is the difference between brioche bread and babka?
Both babka and brioche are made with an enriched dough. Brioche does not include a filling and can be used as a sandwich bread. Babka is a sweet bread with a chocolate or cinnamon filling.
What do you eat babka with?
Babka is great all on its own. We also love to enjoy a slice with a cold glass of milk on warmer days or a hot cup of coffee or tea in the winter.
How To Make Sourdough Babka
Feed starter at night before bed. This way when you wake up in the morning, it will be nice and bubbly.
Kneading Sourdough Babka Dough
In the morning, combine all ingredients in a mixer with a dough hook and knead until smooth and glossy. The dough will be very wet, but after 10-15 minutes in the stand mixer (or by hand), it will come together. Don’t add more flour even though it is tempting.
Cover with plastic wrap, a damp towel, or tight lid and place in a warm spot for 6-8 hours (or until doubled) for bulk fermentation.
After the 6-8 hours, refrigerate for a few hours (or overnight) so that dough is nice and stiff for shaping. Even a little fridge time makes shaping easier like it does with brioche and challah.
Make Your Filling
The traditional babka has a rich, sweet, chocolate filling.
In a pot, add the cocoa powder, sugar, and softened butter. Heat on low until melted, stirring occasionally.
For a cinnamon filling, mix together 10 tablespoons of softened, room temperature butter, ¾ cup brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons cinnamon.
Divide into two equal portions. I really like to use my bench scraper to do this.
You will then roll out each portion into a 10” by 14” rectangle. Trim any extra dough to make a straight edge.
If you don’t want to make two babkas, you can also freeze one portion of the dough for a couple of months to bake later.
Add the filling and roll
Add your filling to the rolled out rectangle of dough. Bring the filling to the edges, except on one of the short ends. Leave about an inch of dough.
Roll up your dough from the opposite short side.
Once rolled up, use a sharp knife to cut in half.
Twist the halves into a braid and add it to your loaf pan.
Pro tip: Place your braided dough on parchment paper and use it to lift your loaf into the pan. It makes it easy to transfer and also makes clean up a breeze!
Let your babka rise in the loaf pan, covered for about 4 hours or until doubled.
When your babka is ready to bake, create an egg wash by beating an egg with a little bit of water. Brush it over the loaf
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 40-45 minutes.
How To Store:
Once your babka has cooled, wrap it in plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container. It can usually keep at room-temperature for 3 to 5 days.
You can freeze your baked babka for up to a month.
We also love to turn our babka bread into French toast if we haven’t used it up in a few days!
8 p.m. Feed your starter
8 a.m. The next morning: Mix up your dough
8:25 a.m. Cover your dough and let it rise for 6-8 hours until doubled
4:25 p.m. (or sooner) Place the dough in the fridge for at least an hour and up to overnight.
8 a.m. The next day: Mix up your filling, roll out the dough, fill, and roll.
8:20 a.m. Cut and braid your dough and place in your loaf pan. Let it rise another 4 hours.
12:20 p.m. Bake your babka for 40-45 minutes in a 350 degrees preheated oven.
Find more Of My Favorite Sourdough Bread Recipes:
- Sourdough Pretzel Bites
- Sourdough Discard Focaccia
- Rosemary Sourdough Bread
- Sourdough Potato Bread
- Sourdough Pizza Dough
If you try this recipe and love it, I would love if you gave it 5 stars! Also, tag me on Instagram @farmhouseonboone.
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 8 tbs unsalted butter
- 1 cup active sourdough starter
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 4 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped
- Feed starter at night before bed. This way when you wake up in the morning, it will be nice and bubbly.
- In the morning, combine all ingredients in a mixer and knead until smooth and glossy. The dough will be very wet, but after 10-15 minutes in the stand mixer (or by hand), it will come together.
- Cover with plastic wrap, a damp towel, or tight lid and place in a warm spot for 6-8 hours (or until doubled).
- Refrigerate for a few hours (or overnight) so that dough is nice and stiff for shaping.
- In a pot, add the cocoa powder, sugar, and softened butter. Heat on low until melted, stirring occasionally.
- Divide the dough into two equal portions. I really like to use my bench scraper to do this.
- Roll out each portion to a 10” by 14” rectangle
- Add the filling to the edge, except on one short end, leave about an inch of dough showing. Sprinkle the semisweet chocolate over the filling.
- Roll up your dough from the opposite short end.
- Cut the roll down the middle and twist.
- Add your babka to a loaf pan, cover, and allow to rise until doubled, about 4 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Create an egg wash by beating an egg with water. Brush over the loaf.
- Bake 40-45 minutes
Don’t add more flour even though it is tempting.
Once you have your babka filled and rolled up, move it to a piece of parchment paper before cutting it and braiding. This way, you can use the parchment paper to easily lift it into your loaf pan. It also makes for easy clean up! Just be sure your parchment paper is cut to the right size.
This dough is a wet dough. Even if you are tempted to add more flour, don’t. Too much flour will give you a tougher bread rather than something light and fluffy.
If you don’t have bread flour, you can use all-purpose. It will not be quite as soft as using the mix of the two flours, but it will still be yummy.
Feed your starter 4-12 hours before starting to the dough. You want it to be super bubbly and at its peak.
For a cinnamon filling use:
10 tbs unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 220Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 348mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 1gSugar: 11gProtein: 4g