My sister, whose experience with babka began with her love of the television show Seinfeld, has jokingly poo-pooed my other babkas, such as this raisin walnut babka, because they weren’t chocolate or cinnamon. This Babka with Chocolate and Hazelnut (babka z czekoladą i orzechami laskowymi) was my effort to appease her.
What is babka?
Babka comes from the Polish word babcia which means grandmother. They are often baked in bundt pans which are said to resemble an old woman’s skirts.
There are limitless variations. Babka can also be baked in loaf pans. They are often made with an enriched yeast dough full of eggs and butter.
The dough might be rolled out and spread with a filling, or it might have flavorings worked into the dough.
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Less commonly, it can also have baking powder for leavening and resemble pound cake. Toppings include a sweet crumb topping, a cinnamon crumb topping, or a powdered sugar glaze.
However you make and finish your babka, it will make a delicious dessert or just a tasty treat to enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea.
I baked mine for a family gathering. My brother was visiting from New York and our daughter drove down from the Phoenix area for the occasion. When people are traveling that far to have a meal at our home, I feel like I should be serving something homebaked.
How to assemble babka
Some readers have asked for step by step instructions for assembling a babka, so I’ve tried to provide that here.
Roll the dough out to a thin rectangle, spread with the filling, roll up the dough, and slice it in half lengthwise. A pizza cutter works well for this. I make the dough thin because I like a high filling to bread ratio.
Place the end of one piece on top of the other. One piece should be cut side up, the other cut side down. Twist the two lengths around each other.
Place the twisted dough in the pan. When using a loaf pan, the twisted dough is doubled up, essentially making a loop of twisted dough in the pan.
If you are interested in Polish recipes, let me tell you about my new cookbook. You can order a signed copy from this website, and it will be available on Amazon mid-November 2019. It sells for $25 and has a color photo of every recipe. There’s a choice of perfect binding (glued) or a plastic coil binding. I had great help on the project, and I’m so happy with the way it turned out.
Happy baking and smacznego!
Babka with Chocolate and Hazelnut
- Prep Time: 3 hours + overnight
- Cook Time: 50 min
- Total Time: 28 minute
- Yield: 2 loaves 1x
A chocolate hazelnut spread winding though a rich soft dough topped with cinnamon strusel topping. You’ll want a slice!
- 1 cup whole milk, warmed (110° F)
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
- 4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread, divided
for the topping:
- 2 tablespoon milk
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup butter, cold and diced
- Add 1 cup warm milk to a mixing bowl with yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar, stir and let sit fo r5 minutes. It should become foamy.
- Add remaining sugar, egg, egg yolk, flour, and salt. Mix until well combined using a mixer dough hook for 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons butter and mix until fully incorporated, about 3 minutes. The dough will be tacky.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temp for an hour. Divide the dough in half, and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Regrigerate the dough overnight. This long, slow rise is supposed to develope great flavor.
- Roll each piece of dough out to a 16 inch square. Spread with Nutella (warm it a little to make it easier to spread), leaving 1/2 inch clear around the edges. Starting on the side nearest you, roll up the dough as snugly as possible.
- Cut the rolled dough in half lengthwise. With one piece face up and the other face down, wrap/twist the two pieced of rolled dough around each other. Loop the dough into 2 parchment-lined loaf pans (8 or 9 inches).
- Whisk together the 2 tablespoon milk and egg white. Brush over the bread. Combine brown sugar, 1/4 cup floour, and cinnamon. Work in the 1/4 cold butter until you have a crumb texture. Sprinkle over the egg washed loaves.
- Cover and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Preheat the overn to 375°. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and remove from the pans.
An accountant by trade and a food blogger since 2009, Lois Britton fell in love with Polish cuisine during the years she lived in Poznań, Poland. As the creator of PolishHousewife.com, she loves connecting readers with traditional Polish recipes. Lois has a graduate certificate in Food Writing and Photography from the University of South Florida. She is the author of The Polish Housewife Cookbook, available on Amazon and on her website.
Can this Babka be frozen?
Yes, it would be fine. Planning ahead? 🙂
Hi. Do I have to use parchment paper or can I grease the pans instead?
You can just grease, but parchment guarantees that your baked goods release cleanly and intact. It makes cleanup much easier too.
Given everything going on right now, I cannot find yeast anywhere and I am out! Do you have any suggestions ( or experience) with any substitutions?
I think growing a sourdough starter will be the best substitute. I’ve done that with rye flour, but I always used it all in my bread. I don’t really try to keep it growing, but I’m sure there’s a lot of info on the internet.
Are you able to adjust the ingredients and recipe to European measurements please? I mean to Grammys/kilogrammes and degrees C?
Thanks Kasia Surrey, UK
Hi Kasia, when the demands of my day job lighten up, I’d like to revisit all of my recipes and update them with metric measurements. But for now. . .
The recipe does not state if the butter is melted or just softened to room temperature.
Softened should work well.
The cake you presented is not a Polish babka. It’s a Jewish cake, which took only a name fromthe Polish traditional easter bread. Jewish babka is just an enriched challach. In Polish similar cakes would be called “strucel pleciony” “braided strucel”.
will wanuts like in Poteca work as well is ground fine?