Sourdough chocolate babka

chocolate babka
chocolate babka

A babka for me is another way to eat brioche, my favorite sweet bread. The combination of rich soft brioche and chocolate can only be described as heavenly. I have made this a few times before for get-together, tea parties and pot lucks. Those were made with commercial or instant yeast.

With my obsession with sourdough, lately, I have tried to replace instant yeast with natural yeast. It has been successful in almost all the cases. I guess once you get the hang of it, everything just falls in to places. Once you know your starter, you can predict it’s activity and how much rise you can get with what quantity and in how many hours and so forth. And after-all for me it’s a game of all senses. I clock my process and keep track of time, but at the same time, I touch and feel my dough and eye-ball too. This is what makes baking so much enjoyable and engaging.

chocolate babka
chocolate babka

So back to the babka. The brioche dough I’m using is comparatively less richer than a normal brioche or a traditional babka. Reason begin, I wanted to fill it with a much richer chocolate spread that would be oozing with butter and cocoa. So I thought, to take some of the richness off of the brioche would balance out the flavor and the consistency. Also I am using natural yeast, so less microbes than instant.

chocolate babka
Dough rolled out
chocolate babka
Nut and crumb on top of chocolate spread

A lot of recipes use some sort of nuts sprinkled over the chocolate spread. I am going with toasted almonds. I love almonds and the crunch they add. But you can use other nuts too or even a mix. Make sure to toast the nuts and chop them coarsely.

chocolate babka
twist the two dough strands

Some recipes call for a crumble instead of nuts or alongside the nuts. I have come across various recipes, that use different crumbs. This crumb gives a chewy texture and is a great addition. This can take an average babka to a whole new level of indulgence. In my case, I am using cookie crumbs. This makes it easier. I used some store bought brownie cookies. You can use any cookie, like chocolate chip, double chocolate, fudge etc. If you don’t like the crumb, omit this step completely. The babka will still be ohhh so good!!

chocolate babka
fit the twist in to a tin
chocolate babka
Let it rise and fill the sides

And that brings us to the most important thing, the chocolate. Use a good quality 70% dark chocolate. This elevates the cocoa flavor and it will prevent the spread from becoming super sweet. Recipe use both chocolate and cocoa powder. This is to reduce sweetness while lifting the deep chocolate flavor. Use unsweetened, dutch processed cocoa powder, again, make sure it is of good quality.

Those are my tips for nailing a great sourdough babka. Take these tips home and make it your own. Play with the recipe, use different ingredients and create something fun, share and enjoy!

chocolate babka
Let it cool completely before slicing
Sourdough chocolate babka

Bread, snacks

Servings: 1 loaf

chocolate babka


    for the dough
  • 100 g fed active starter
  • 300 g all purpose flour
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 40 g butter
  • 20 g oil (use olive/vegetable/canola)
  • 100 ml milk (+/-)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
    for the spread
  • 80 g butter melted
  • 50 g castor sugar
  • 50 g brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup 70% dark chocolate chopped
  • 5 tbsp of cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • hand full of toasted nut of choice (coarsely chopped)
  • brownie or chocolate cookie crumbs (optional)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 egg white to egg wash


  1. To make the dough, mix everything except milk in a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a hook attachment.
  2. Start mixing on low and slowly add milk, to bring the dough together
  3. If necessary add extra milk or a little water (tablespoon at a time). The dough should be soft but not runny
  4. Once the dough start to form, increase the speed to medium and mix for about 5 to 8 minutes, until dough becomes smooth
  5. Take the dough off on to a floured surface, and knead by hand to form a ball
  6. Place in a covered bowl and leave in a warm place for about 5 hours
  7. The dough will be risen considerably (almost double) if not leave for another hour or two
  8. Then pat down the dough and form in to a ball again, place in the same container and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. (I left it overnight and a whole day and it still turned out good)
  9. When you are ready to make the babka, take the dough out and let it soften (not too much, its easier to handle when cold)
  10. Prepare a loaf tin lined with a parchment paper
  11. Make the chocolate spread
  12. Melt butter and pour over the chopped chocolate
  13. Stir the chocolate and add the sugar
  14. Then add the cocoa powder and mix to a smooth paste. It’s okay to have undissolved chocolate pieces and sugar
  15. Add the salt
  16. Leave aside to cool (as it cools it will become spreadable)
  17. Take the dough on to a floured surface and roll out to a rectangle
  18. About 45 cm by 35 cm( the dough thickness should be no more than 1/2 cm)
  19. Once done, spread the chocolate mixture evenly
  20. Sprinkle the nuts and the cookie crumbs
  21. starting from one end roll the dough tightly length-wise
  22. Using a sharp knife cut the rolled cylinder in half along the length
  23. Now twist the two strands (look at the photos in the post)
  24. Twisting will make it shorter and would fit in the loaf tin
  25. Make sure to have cut sides exposed.
  26. Some nuts and crumbs may fall off, but its okay, you can toss them back in the pan
  27. Once twisted, pack the dough in the loaf tin
  28. Tuck the end bits underneath
  29. Make sure the dough is as evenly as possible spread across the tin
  30. Leave covered in a warm place for about two – three hours for the final rise
  31. The loaf will expand and fill the tin and will look fuller and softer
  32. Preheat the oven to 200 C
  33. Brush the top with egg white and bake in the center rack for 30 minutes
  34. Top should be golden brown
  35. Once done let this cool completely before cutting in as chocolate need setting
  36. Slice with a serrated knife

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    1. Of course you can use commercial yeast to make this. The process is very easy. You mix the dough and let it double in size(40 – 60 minutes), punch down and make the babka, place in the pan and let rise again (might take an hour) and bake. No waiting is needed. For this recipe replace starter with 4g of instant dry yeast (usual ratio is 7g yeast for 500g flour)
      Following is good recipe

    1. Thanks you so much Tracie.
      I don’t have a traditional sourdough brioche recipe on my blog right now.
      However my Sourdough brioche (dairy-free) coconut & matcha is very close. You simply have to omit matcha and replace coconut milk, oil with conventional ingredients. Let me know if you have any questions? Hope this helps.

    2. Hi Tracie, I just posted a sourdough brioche recipe on the blog. Wanted to let you know since you asked. Hope this helps 🙂

  1. Hi will this yield a sour babka as we are using a sourdough starter? I’ve been trying to bake with starter for sweet loafs but always ended up with sour taste to it. Thanks

    1. The babka wasn’t sour at all. The sour taste is due to either starved starter or longer proofing/retrading period. If you use fresh fed starter that is in it’s peak, there won’t be any sourness whatsoever. Hope this helps.
      p.s If you want to know more about starter/maintenance, I have a separate post too.

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