Jerry and Elaine’s Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

May 28, 2010

Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

Rejoice yeast-o-phobes! I have found the perfect recipe to convert you.

I am one anxious person when I’ve to make bread. I’m never sure if a new recipe I try will work out. Will it rise? Will it get a nice brown crust? Will it smell too yeasty (answer to this: I used to think mixing instant yeast with warm water to start the fermenting would be a good idea, turns out, it does the same job when added to the flour, just a lot less stinky dough).

Babkas originated in Eastern Europe and in several Jewish settlements, though in my mind they were popularised on Seinfeld (The Dinner Party). Jerry and Elaine miss out on the last wonderful chocolate babka, and have to settle for a cinnamon babka. Chocolate vs cinnamon – that’s a tough spot to be in, isn’t it? To eliminate this predicament once and for all, and in honour of this wonderful Seinfeld episode, I decided to make “Jerry and Elaine’s Chocolate Cinnamon Babka”.

The chocolate cinnamon babka recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday looked too good to be true, so just as a precaution, I halved the recipe. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t because this was so soft and chocolatey and delicious. (I’ve given the full recipe here).

Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

So why is this recipe so good?  Glad you asked. This chocolate cinnamon babka starts with all the familiar things of making a cake that puts you at ease instantly… cream the butter and the sugar together, add the egg yolks one at a time and then the flour… See? And before you know it, you’ve added the yeast mixed into milk and the dough has beautifully come together! A golden yellow dough (read rich dough full of butter, eggs and sugar!) results and you’re half way through making your bread.

Now you just have to let it rest for about 2 hours (or you can refrigerate it overnight, just make sure to pull it out 2 hours before you want to bake it).  Next, roll it out and spread it with dark chocolate and cinnamon. Roll it. Twist it. Bake it!

Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

And of course, the flavour possibilities with this bread are endless: cinnamon sugar, white chocolate vanilla and (I’m thinking we might get some of the caramelised white chocolate goodness that David Lebovitz raves about), Nutella (!), chocolate with sliced almonds, pistachios, etc. and maybe even some fruits – fresh as well as dried?

Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

Chocolate Cinnamon Babka Recipe

Adapted from: Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday (OMG, I love this book!) (USA | UK | India)

Makes 1 really large loaf or two medium sized loaves.

2 tbsp / 19g instant yeast
3/4th cup / 170g lukewarm milk
6 tbsp / 85 butter
6 tbsp / 85g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
3 ½ cup / 425g all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups / 225g dark chocolate, coarsely grated
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/4th cup / 55g butter
  1. Whisk the yeast into lukewarm milk and set aside for about 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until smooth.
  3. Add the yolks to the bowl, one at a time, mixing constantly for 30 seconds between each addition.  Add the vanilla and mix until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the flour and salt and continue to mix until it all comes together.
  5. Now mix in the milk + yeast mixture and let it mix until it forms a soft dough.
  6. Knead by hand for another 2-3 minutes. You will have a soft, supple and golden dough.
  7. Let this rise for about 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight, making sure to remove it from the fridge two hours before baking.
  8. For the filling: mix the chocolate, butter and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  9. Once the dough has risen, roll it out into a sheet with a thickness of 1/8th to 1/4th inch. Make sure to keep it dusted well with flour at all times, else it might stick.
  10. Spread the chocolate mixture over it.
  11. Roll the sheet of dough and then pinch the seams to seal it. Roll it to a length of about 24 inches. Either you can keep it this big if you’d like a big loaf, or cut it into half for two medium loaves.
  12. For the gorgeous twisty shape, cut the log down the middle lengthwise, making sure to keep the top end attached. Twist over each other to get the braided look.
  13. Now you need to let if prove for another 2 hours, but I skipped this step because I overlooked it. Turns out, you too can totally skip it, if you’re short on time.
  14. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C and bake for 15-20 minutes for medium sized and 20-25 minutes for the large loaf.
  15. The babka tends to brown quickly because of the high(er) sugar content, but you shouldn’t worry. It tastes fab!
  16. Cool for an hour (painful) or eat it right away (delightful!)
  17. The bread stays good for 2-3 days in an airtight box.

{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elizabeth September 30, 2012 at 8:17 PM

I’ve been searching and searching for a good babka recipe… this by far looks like the best one. I’m definitely going to use this for Thanksgiving. One question though… My boyfriends Thanksgiving dinner is on Saturday, and my families dinner is on Sunday. I plan to make 2 loaves… one for each dinner… but there is no way I’m going to be able to make this the morning of each dinner and I’d like it to be freshly baked for both. Would it work to maybe make the 2 loaves on the Friday and before I do the step of putting it in the oven, I put it in the fridge covered up in a bowl and then take it out and bake it the day I need it?

Sorry if this is a dumb question… I’m new to baking :)


2 Shaheen October 2, 2012 at 6:58 AM

Hey Elizabeth, I think you can safely make the babka up till the point of putting it in the oven. It should be ready to bake in the morning. The only thing – just make sure it’s really cold because we don’t want the dough to overferment.


3 Elizabeth October 5, 2012 at 12:07 AM

Perfect!! Thank you so much for clearing that up for me! : )


4 Suzanne October 14, 2012 at 12:38 AM

What size pan do you use to bake these delicious babies in?


5 Lynn November 11, 2012 at 11:04 PM

:) LOVE this. Made this today. It is a beast! Might make 2 smaller loaves next time. I did a brown sugar cinnamon filling. I have to work on making it prettier, but I think it will come in time. So easy and incredibly delicious!


6 Jen November 16, 2012 at 12:25 PM

This recipe sounds AMAZING and will definitely have to try it as is, but I’d like to make one sans chocolate for a friend’s breakfast. Any suggestions on substitutions for just a cinnamon filling?

Thanks so much!


7 Shaheen November 17, 2012 at 8:25 PM

Light brown sugar + butter + cinnamon with these:
chopped dried apricot
dried fig
ground almonds or walnuts


8 sam March 31, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Hi Shaheen
Cant thank u enuf for d clarity in yr recipe + d photogs
Keep up d gud work.


9 sam March 31, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Hi Shaheen
Cant thank u enuf for d clarity in yr recipe + d photogs
Keep up d gud work. Its fun working on yr recipes cos d measurements r so vry clear


10 Shaheen April 2, 2013 at 4:39 PM

Thanks, Samira! : )


11 Eliza April 29, 2013 at 12:57 AM

Made this on the weekend for the first time and the family PLUS the boyfriend both loved it.

You could probably make a little more of the chocolate-cinnamon-butter filling so that it spreads over the entire dough. But apart from that, this recipe is EXCELLENT!!! Thank you!


12 Carol Engelson May 23, 2013 at 10:48 PM

Loved the recipe~ easy, easy. I swamped out the milk for coconut milk.
I rolled the dough in some sprinkles before I cut it & braided it to make it more festive looking.
I glazed it with a honey water as soon as I pulled it out. Sticky & yummie.


13 Margaux June 2, 2013 at 4:08 AM

This is awesome! I searched “chocolate cinnamon babka recipe” on Google because that Seinfeld episode made me crave a chocolate cinnamon babka – thanks for reading my mind :)


14 Carol Engelson June 2, 2013 at 5:30 PM

Your bread is beautiful!
I tried your recipe~ foolproof I would say. Oh so yummy. I too swapped for coconut milk. And I did glaze it with honey/water wash when it came out of the oven.
Stayed moist for days, but mostly inhaled a good portion in hours. The bread is very beautiful done when split down the middle to twist. I wish my hair could hold a braid like that!!!


15 Deepika Mehrotra December 10, 2013 at 8:38 AM

Love your blog and recipe. I came across this recipe and wanted to make it.
I was wondering if this would work in microwave oven, as I do not have earthen oven.


16 shannon December 15, 2013 at 2:56 AM

Hey there, I am mid baking and I’m worried about the stiffness of the dough. Is it supposed to be hard? I used everything how you said to, but the amount of flour added to butter sugar and eggs, seems a lot. It makes a dust almost, until you add the milk. It was stiff to knead.

I will go ahead as is, I hope its all good.


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