Babka, if you’re unfamiliar, is a sweet yeasted bread that’s swirled with anything from chocolate, cinnamon, jam, and in today’s case, Nutella. It’s an Eastern European speciality that’s made quite a splash on the food scene in recent years, first gaining popularity in New York. For someone who loves bread, especially sweet bread, I’m shocked it’s taken me this long to make my own! I’ve been a babka appreciator for years though, they’re just so versatile. Some have streusel on top, others are baked into Bundt pans, and of course the flavors are ever changing, both in the dough and fillings.
While chocolate and cinnamon are always head to head in my favorite flavors, I had another jar of Nutella to finish. And boy, that was a great gift. The Nutella recipes are endless on ABeeBakes because my husband loves it so much that we go through it like most people go through milk and eggs. Search “Nutella” in the search engine below for more ideas. My personal favorite is Nutella Mousse, followed closely by Nutella Brownie Tartlets. The catch though is that my husband always leaves the bottom inch of Nutella in the jar. By that point, he doesn’t like that it’s no longer fresh (with the exposure to more air in the jar) and it slightly alters the texture (thick and dense). I refuse to throw it away, because I’m a little over the top with hating food waste, and so I’ve come to actually look forward to the “rejected” Nutella. It’s become my baking Nutella. Sometimes too, I put a scoop of vanilla ice cream, directly into the jar and it serves as a final sauce. It’s wonderful.
Anyways, babka. Delicious with the hazelnut chocolate spread. If you’d like, you can toss in some fresh berries as well or completely adjust the filling to whatever you’re in the mood for. Nothing beats this though, straight out of the oven, with a little softened butter. Enjoy!
- 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast; one 7g packet
- 1/2 cup milk, warm (97F degrees)
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 egg (room temperature)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup nutella (warmed 10 seconds in the microwave to easily spread)
- 1 egg with 1 tbsp. milk for an egg-wash
In a large bowl or in a bowl of a stand mixer, mix yeast, milk, sugar, and ½ cup of flour. Give it a light stir and let bloom for 5 minutes, or until mixture is bubbling. Once bubbling, add the egg. Fit the stand-mixer with the dough hook, and mix on low speed. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Gradually add the remaining flour and the salt. Knead for 5 minutes on low speed, until the dough becomes smooth. (Increase kneading time for 7-10 minutes, if kneading by hand).
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead a few times by hand to create a smooth ball. Grease a large bowl and place your dough in it, flipping it over once so it’s lightly oiled on each side. Cover with plastic wrap and place in warm spot, until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Pro tip: Turn on the oven to 400F for exactly one minute (it will not get to 400F degrees). After one minute, turn the oven off and placet he bread in there to rise.
Generously grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan or line with greased parchment paper; set aside. Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
On a well-floured surface, roll dough into a 16×12-inch (ish) rectangle. Spread the Nutella over the dough in an even layer. Starting with the long side closest to you, tightly roll the dough into a log, being gentle not to squeeze the filling out. Make a slice right down the center length of the log with a sharp knife. With the cut sides up the whole time, begin at the top to twist the two pieces together making a braid. Pinch and tuck the ends under.
Gently place the dough in the prepared pan. Let rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size. Brush with egg wash and bake for 30 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.
Adapted from Amanda Frederickson.