This Nutella Babka is made with a buttery brioche dough wrapped around a smooth chocolate and hazelnut filling. It’s definitely not a lesser babka.
If you’ve never made babka before this, be assured that it’s not difficult to make, but it does require patience. So grab your mixer and hold my hand as we walk step by step through making the dough, spreading it with Nutella, and braiding your babka. You’ll be rewarded with a slice of heaven to enjoy for breakfast, tea, or any time of day.
Nutella is a chocolate and hazelnut spread made by the Italian company, Ferrero, since the 1960s. Fun fact: the company supposedly uses one-quarter of the world’s hazelnuts, which are primarily grown in Turkey.
With its first two ingredients being sugar and palm oil, this Nutella babka isn’t for every day. You can make your own Nutella recipe and control the amount of sugar and fat in the recipe.
If you want more Nutella recipes, try my easy Nutella blondies or Nutella banana bread, these Nutella pop tarts, or Nutella waffles. Then double up with a hazelnut cocktail like this Frangelico sour to drink alongside this Nutella babka!
This chocolate hazelnut babka is an unusual cake in that the leavening in babka comes from yeast and not baking powder or baking soda. Despite my love for Seinfeld, I hadn’t made babka until I watched the Great British Bake Off and learned that yeast was the primary way of leavening cake until about 150 years ago.
Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
Variations and substitutions
- Use the chocolate filling from my chocolate rugelach for chocolate babka.
- Use this dough for other sweet babka, like dulce de leche or sprinkling with cinnamon sugar.
- You can make savory babka just like you can make savory waffles and quick breads. Check out these caramelized onions and apple waffles or this kale and cheese bread for inspiration.
Recipe tips and tricks
Making babka dough
The base of this Nutella babka recipe is brioche, an enriched dough made with eggs, butter, and milk. Brioche can be made by hand, but it is much easier with a stand mixer.
To start, mix the dry ingredients (Panel #1) and then the eggs (Panel #2).
Scalded milk is added next.
Tip from the wise quacker: scalding is important when using milk in yeasted doughs because it breaks down the milk proteins. If you don’t scald your milk, this can prevent your yeasted doughs from rising.
Change to the dough hook to save your mixer’s motor, and add the butter, piece by piece. The Jerusalem instructions say to scrape down the bowl a “few times.” This is an understatement.
During the butter incorporation, you will need to scrape the bowl frequently and fold your dough over with a spatula in order to get it to mix. And don’t be afraid to add a bit of flour if it looks like a sticky mess.
Eventually it will form a soft and pliable dough. Once it does, shape it into a ball and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator (Panels #4 and #5 above). Feel free to take it out and let it continue to rise at room temperature if it has not yet doubled in size.
Filling and shaping
To shape the Nutella babka, divide the dough in half. Put one half back in the bowl, covered in plastic. Roll out the dough on a floured surface (Panel #1 below) until it is about 12 inches by 14 inches or so (Panel #2). It does not have to be exact.
Use a knife or offset spatula to spread the Nutella evenly on the dough, leaving a margin of about a half inch (Panels #3 and #4 above). Roll the babka from the long end into a roulade, place the roll seam-side down on a baking sheet, and put it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. This brief chilling makes it easier to handle without making a mess.
To shape the Nutella babka, cut the roll in half lengthwise with a sharp knife and separate the halves with the inside facing up on the countertop (Panels #1 to 4 below).
Pinch the top of the halves together, then carefully twist the them until you get to the bottom. (Panels #5 to 8 above). Pinch the bottoms together.
Transfer the twisted babka to the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise and bake. Finish your Nutella babka with the sugar syrup, and let cool before slicing.
Babka, meaning “grandmother” in Polish, is a yeasted cake made by Ashkenazi Jews since the 1800s.
Halfway between a modern cake and a sweetened bread, most food historians consider babka a yeast-leavened cake.
Yes, you can freeze babka at pretty much any stage of the recipe, from the brioche dough, to the shaped and unbaked babka, or the baked babka. I prefer to freeze baked babka because yeast loses some activity in the freezer, which may be ok for overnight pizza dough but less ok for cake.
Double wrap the babka in plastic wrap and seal it in a freezer bag. You can let it come to room temperature or gently warm it wrapped in foil in the oven.
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.
- Stand mixer
- Two 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pans
- 4¼ cups (531 grams or 18.7 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour plus more as needed when adding butter and for rolling out the dough
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons instant yeast
- zest of two small or one medium orange
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- ½ cup whole milk, scalded and cooled
- 10 tablespoons (142 grams or 5 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed and softened plus more for greasing the pans
- vegetable oil for greasing the bowl
- 1 cup (280 grams or 10 ounces) Nutella
- ⅓ cup (67 grams or 2.4 ounces) granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup water
- Add the flour, sugar, yeast, and zest to the bowl of your stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment on low speed.4¼ cups (531 grams or 18.7 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2¼ teaspoons instant yeast, zest of two small or one medium orange
- Add the salt and mix on low speed.½ teaspoon salt
- Add the eggs one by one and mix briefly on low between each one.3 eggs, room temperature
- Add the scalded milk and mix on low until the mixture starts to come together.½ cup whole milk, scalded and cooled
- Switch to the dough hook and start adding butter cubes. Use a spatula to repeatedly scrape down the side of the bowl and fold your dough and mix until the butter is all incorporated. Add a bit of extra flour if your dough sticks to the mixing bowl.10 tablespoons (142 grams or 5 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed and softened
- Increase the speed to medium and knead for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft and pliable.
- Lightly grease the mixing bowl with oil, form the dough into a boule, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight. It should double in volume.vegetable oil
Shaping, filling, and baking the Nutella babka
- Prepare the pans. Butter two 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pans, layer the bottom with parchment paper, and grease the paper.
- Divide the babka dough in half and put one half back in the bowl. Lightly flour the countertop and roll out the other half of the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches by 14 inches.
- Use an offset spatula or knife to spread half of the Nutella onto the surface of the rectangle, leaving about half inch on all edges.1 cup (280 grams or 10 ounces) Nutella
- With the long side facing you, dab a small amount of water along the far edge of the rectangle. Roll the rectangle up into a roulade that will be about 14 inches long.
- Place the roulade seam side down onto a baking sheet and press down lightly to seal. Freeze for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the roulade in half lengthwise. You will have two halves about 14 inches in length.
- Lay the two halves on your countertop with the inside facing up and pinch the tops together.
- Twist them together by lifting one side over the other and repeating, always keeping the cut side of the halves facing up, until you have twisted the full length. Pinch the bottom of the halves together.
- Carefull transfer the twisted babka to the prepared pan, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume and reaches the sides of the pan, about 2 to 3 hours. Repeat with the second babka.
- When almost ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, until the top of the babka is a golden brown and a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water together over a boil until the sugar has dissolved.⅓ cup water, ⅓ cup (67 grams or 2.4 ounces) granulated sugar
- When the babkas have baked, place the pans on a cooling rack and brush with the sugar syrup.
- Let cool for about 10 minutes, then remove from the pans and let cool before slicing. Once cool, baked Nutella babka can be frozen or wrapped and stored at room temperature for several days.
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