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.

Bread:
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
Filling:
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 Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) May 28, 2010 at 1:42 AM

That looks so good!

Jenn

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2 Rachel May 28, 2010 at 2:47 AM

I absolutely have to try this. And I love the ideas for other possibilities.

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3 Name May 28, 2010 at 3:45 AM

This looks fabulous!!! I think I will make the whole recipe and put half of the dough int he freezer for later. It is beautiful!! you did a fantastic job.

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4 Memoria May 28, 2010 at 3:46 AM

The last message was from me. Oops!

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5 Sommer @ A Spicy Perspective May 28, 2010 at 4:57 AM

INCREDIBLE! It looks like the perfect thing to eat on a Saturday morning! We may have to give it a whirl this weekend!

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6 Ann May 28, 2010 at 12:02 PM

When do you have to add the yeast mixed with the lukewarm water?

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7 Simran May 28, 2010 at 10:22 PM

Yay! You made bread. And such good looking one too :)

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8 PurpleFoodie May 28, 2010 at 11:15 PM

Thanks everyone! :)

Yes, Simran I did! And I’m so proud.

Ann: Add it after the flour. I just added point no. 5.

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9 A&N May 29, 2010 at 11:44 AM

You are ready to bake bread now! Its pretty easy :)

And the babka – I’m yet to bake a ‘chocolate’ bread, you know? Maybe this one?

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10 KB May 31, 2010 at 4:57 AM

Hi there! I’ve been a fan of your site for some time now (The Purple Foodie was actually the very first food blog I stumbled across ages ago) but this recipe was the first one to get me so excited that I brought my laptop straight into the kitchen with me and began baking! haha.

I made a few mistakes (you can see on my site), but my babka was still delicious so thank you so much for sharing the recipe! A few things though…

1. did you mean to say “lukewarm milk” in step 1? i didn’t use any water in my version as i assumed that’s what you meant, but that could also explain why my dough was dry

and

2. did you add the vanilla in around the same time as the yolks? that’s what i guessed when i couldn’t find it in the procedure.

Thanks!

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11 PurpleFoodie May 31, 2010 at 8:58 AM

Hey KB! You just made my morning by saying all those good things! :)

You are right on both the counts – I’ve edited the recipe above to include that.

I’m quite surprised that your dough was dry. I, on the other hand, had to keep it well floured when I was rolling it out because it would start sticking.

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12 Ann May 31, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Tried your Babka recipe. Turned out fantastic! My family devoured it in no time!!! Thank you!

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13 Name May 31, 2010 at 4:32 PM

looks extremely delicious…

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14 sowmya May 31, 2010 at 4:34 PM

sorry the above comment was mine..

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15 keerthana May 31, 2010 at 8:51 PM

Looks sinful!

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16 Mags June 1, 2010 at 6:22 AM

That looks so amazing. I really am drooling here!

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17 Vaishali Sharma June 1, 2010 at 9:04 AM

Wow…This looks so delicious! I love anything with cinnamon..Infact I had made Cinnamon Rolls lately and they were delicious! Yours look so gorgeous and gooey!

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18 Amit Ahuja June 1, 2010 at 9:51 AM

can’t you post it at home so i don’t have to cook

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19 The Purple Foodie June 1, 2010 at 10:26 PM

Thank you all so much!

Amit: One day, I shall!

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20 Benjamin June 2, 2010 at 6:31 PM

thanks for the great recipe. It looked so good, I tried it today.
And wow…what a disaster in the kitchen :)
The dough came out great! But with the filling everything went south for me :)
Did you melt the chocolate and the butter together? Well, I did (I guess I made to many chocolate cookies), and as you can imagine, during roling and twisting the chocolate went everywhere. And then I realized I forgot the cinnamon.
I finally got the monster in the oven now. I’m sure it will taste great, but the next time I have to make a few changes to get a more aesthetic view :)

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21 The Purple Foodie June 2, 2010 at 10:46 PM

Hey Benajmin! Looks like you had some fun in the kitchen. :) Nope, I didn’t melt them together. Simply mixed the chopped chocolate with the butter and spread it on the dough. And now you just have to make it again because you left out the cinnamon! ha!

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22 Malin June 2, 2010 at 11:36 PM

I don’t fear yeast, but with these pictures I think you have converted any yeast-o phobes out there! I particularly like that last interior babka picture. D-r-o-o-l!

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23 PJ June 5, 2010 at 5:00 AM

i made this this morning and it was delicious!

i split the batch and did one as the recipe says. the other i topped with cream cheese frosting while it was still hot and it turned out amazing.

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24 Rachel June 5, 2010 at 11:42 PM

These look amazing. Maybe I will have to make these for my husband on our anniversary.

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25 Laveena Dsouza July 21, 2010 at 7:53 PM

Hi,
Just going through your blog would you be able to guide me as to what quantity of fresh yeast can i use to get the desired results in the chocolate cinnamon babka.
Thanks
Laveena

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26 The Purple Foodie July 21, 2010 at 8:07 PM

Hi Laveena, you should use 3x the quantity of instant dry yeast.

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27 kels July 26, 2010 at 10:06 PM

About to cook this!

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28 kels July 27, 2010 at 1:01 AM

Does bread flour work also?

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29 The Purple Foodie July 27, 2010 at 1:57 AM

Hey Kels! I just rechecked the book and it doesn’t give an alternative for another flour. Plus, my gut instinct would be to stick to all-purpose because, this bread is essentially a cross between bread and cake.. given that its enriched and everything. I haven’t worked with bread flour so I don’t know much about working with it. If you do use bread flour, please report back telling us how it turned out for you?

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30 Jean | Delightful Repast September 29, 2011 at 12:04 AM

I agree with Purple Foodie’s gut instinct that you should stick with all-purpose on this because it is a coffeecake. But I use unbleached all-purpose flour for all my breads (I’ve been baking bread a long time). Simplifies my life greatly (AND saves space in the kitchen) to not have another bin for bread flour.

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31 laveena Dsouza August 8, 2010 at 1:20 PM

Hi,
Still really keen on following your recipe to the t.
Please do let me know as to where can one procure instant yeast?
or if fresh yeast is used then is the amount of milk to be reduced.
Would be really great to hear from you.
Thanks

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32 Em August 12, 2010 at 11:37 AM

I don’t have a KitchenAid but I’m going to try and see how this goes by hand.

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33 Aida Leal August 26, 2010 at 3:08 AM

Oh MY GOD is the thought in my head right now, can’t believe on how great that looks…really really must try!

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34 Cassoe September 16, 2010 at 1:09 AM

is active dry yeast the same thing as instant yeast because mine did not rise at all:(

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35 The Purple Foodie September 16, 2010 at 2:32 PM

Active dry yeast is not the same asinstant yeast. Instant yeast is more potent.

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36 Mini February 22, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Absolutely Love your blog. Am converted now.
Please tell, for all purpose flour how much ‘maida’ and baking powder? Also, I have dry yeast – how much to use in this recipe?

Thanks. Will certainly give a feedback after trying.

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37 The Purple Foodie February 22, 2011 at 5:39 PM

maida = all purpose flour. So just follow the recipe.

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38 Ellyn October 2, 2010 at 4:28 AM

Is it possible to substitute something like dutch processed cocoa powder, or do you need to have chocolate?

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39 The Purple Foodie October 2, 2010 at 9:59 AM

You won’t have bits of melted chocolate inside the bread, which makes is sooo good!

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40 Bethany October 9, 2010 at 9:57 PM

I made this last night for a party, and it was a HUGE hit! I have never before gotten such a great response from something I made! Thank you so much for sharing this. But, when I made the filling my chocolate and butter were too chunky to smear. I tried using a hand mixer to combine everything evenly, but it wasn’t soft enough for spreading. How did you combine your filling ingredients? I’d love to be able to try this filling in the braided version.

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41 The Purple Foodie October 10, 2010 at 10:26 PM

Thanks for sharing your experience, Bethany! :)

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42 Reshmi Ahmed October 14, 2010 at 3:01 PM

this looks so gorgeous….shall try this twist soon :)

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43 Sandra October 16, 2010 at 12:53 AM

This looks so amazing and yummy, I am off to the kitchen to make one or two, lol
The only thing I will change in mine will be that it’ll be all cinnamon and raisins, so I figure I will have to add some sugar to the filling in place of the chocolate. Later on will bake one just like yours with chocolate. Will let you know how it turns out.
Hugs

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44 Garth December 5, 2010 at 4:15 PM

Thanks for the recipe puplefoodie.

After making the chocolate cinnamon babka as detailed here last weekend, I tried this weekend for just a cinnamon babka. I used the babka recipe from here, and the filling recipe for cinnamon scrolls from http://www.bestrecipes.com.au/recipe/Cinnamon-Rolls-L5299.html.

I also used the icing from that recipe and uses a piper to pipe it over the babka, came out absolutely fantastic. As an alternative to piping I suspect you could heat the icing and it would be runny enough to poor as when you put it on the hot babka it melts and runs nicely. My partner is happy, agrees they are even better than the cinnamon scrolls.

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45 Magpie February 12, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Awesome! I went crazy a few months ago looking for a chocolate babka recipe after I saw the rerun with that episode. Smittenkitchen’s was what I had bookmarked but this looks amazing! Love the twisty effect!

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46 Mini February 23, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Thanks. And the dry yeast quantity? I don’t have instant yeast.

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47 Lara March 5, 2011 at 5:50 AM

I made this tonight for my family and it was a hit all around. I loved how beautifully it turned out and the texture and flavor were just perfect!

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48 Vivian Henoch May 27, 2011 at 9:08 PM

Searching for a chocolate babka recipe I can steal (augment, improvise) to post on my site: http://www.wildturtlecrossing.blogspot.com and cross posted on Open Salon. This looks fab. Do I have your permission to site?

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49 Jean | Delightful Repast September 29, 2011 at 12:06 AM

I have a babka in the oven right now so thought I’d pass the time looking up babka on the Internet and found your lovely blog. This is a different shape babka than mine (made in a fluted tube pan), but it is gorgeous! Love your photos.

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50 mini verghese October 2, 2011 at 3:14 PM

hi tried this one today.. i was so excited…and thought nothing could go wrong…but i don’t know why…but my babka tasted very weird..it had an artificial taste to it…synthetic..maybe its because of the excess yeast..iam really not sure what went wrong..and iam not an amateur baker…have been baking for a long time now…and i have read all the comments how everyone’s babka turned out perfect…but mine did not…i followed everything step by step….very disappointed

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51 Sarabjeet October 22, 2011 at 4:23 PM

Do you cook and deliver by any chance? :)

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52 BSD November 18, 2011 at 5:43 PM

What do you think it means if, when I’m rolling out the dough, its pretty dry and bits are crumbling off?

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53 The Purple Foodie November 22, 2011 at 12:29 PM

It needs moisture to form a supple dough.

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54 Jackie December 22, 2011 at 9:36 PM

For those who have a food processor, here is a suggestions for the filling – try a combination of cocoa powder, semisweet pieces and butter. Place the semisweet pieces in the freezer beforehand to make them harder, then dump all in the food processor and pulse till it forms a “schmear”. You can add pecans and cinnamon this way too (my favorite).

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55 Ria December 25, 2011 at 7:07 PM

Fun recipe! It didn’t turn out as great as I hoped it would (the bread was too dry for me), but that might have been user error.

I made a couple changes out of necessity. Because I used active dry yeast, which needs “food” to develop, I dissolved 2 of the 6 tbsp of sugar in the warm milk before combining the ingredients, and it rose beautifully.

I’m also way too lazy to grate chocolate, so I melted the chocolate chips+butter, added the cinnamon, let it cool for about 5 min, spread the mixture on the dough and rolled it up, then put it in the fridge for about 10 minutes to make the chocolate firm enough to stay in the roll. I then let it proof for about an hour and cooked for 18 minutes (the internal temperature was about 165F, which I think was too high– I’ll probably shoot for 150-155 next time).

It was a little dry, but the chocolate-cinnamon mix is fantastic and it still tastes great heated up and dipped in coffee. Thanks for the recipe!

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56 Angela March 2, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Getting ready to make this. Are you supposed to put this in a loaf pan like most bobkas, or on a sheet pan? Greased? Thanks.

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57 The Purple Foodie March 4, 2012 at 9:39 AM

I like to make it on a sheet lined with parchment paper. If you’re using one, you could grease it or use some parchment.

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58 Tsen March 14, 2012 at 9:47 AM

Hi,your babka looks so beautiful and yummy.can I do the dough using bread machine.?please advise.thanks

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