Babka is traditionally a sweet cake that is often made with butter, sugar, and eggs flavored with fruits and spices like cinnamon. For this parve (dairy-free) recipe, gooey chocolate and soft, flaky bread combine to make unforgettable parve chocolate babka. It's a sweet bread reserved for parties and special occasions, making a wonderful homemade gift too!
What is babka?
Babka is a special kind of sweet, yeast-leavened cake. It's made from an enriched dough that has been rolled out and layered with butter, sugar, and other ingredients. After the layers are formed into a log shape, it is twisted and baked until golden brown before being coated in syrup or glaze.
Usually, babka is made with butter and milk, and the dough is rich in flavors. This pareve babka is still very rich and delicious despite the lack of dairy products.
For the filling, I used a non-dairy chocolate spread. If you can't find any, then you can use the chocolate filling I made from scratch for my parve rugalach recipe.
This babka recipe is sweet and soft with chocolaty and gooey inside. What else can you ask for?
Tips for making the best chocolate babka
After you make this recipe once, you'll be more confident and able to whip together a perfect loaf of chocolate babka without a second thought. It looks impressive and complicated, but it really isn't!
Here are a few tips to help you make the best babka:
Skip egg wash and syrup
Often babka recipes call for brushing the cake with egg wash and adding sugar syrup after baking. I prefer not to brush my chocolate babka with egg wash, and I skip the sugar syrup as well. The outcome is very good, and that’s how I like it! You won't even miss it.
Braid the babka
To shape the babka, you need to roll the dough into a rectangle. This makes it easier to roll back up.
To do so:
- Roll it out as thin as you can, and then spread the chocolate on top.
- Try to spread and cover all of the dough - no one wants to have just dough with no chocolate. Now you're ready to roll it up!
- Start at one end and roll it up like a snake.
- Make two slices in the chocolate roll, but don't slice it all the way to the top, leave an inch at the top uncut.
- Then, braid or twist the two strands together.
Let it rise
It's really important that you let it rise one last time after you braid it together. This will make all the difference, giving you a fluffy, crispy babka in the end.
And there you have it: a delicious parve chocolate babka that is sure to impress! Enjoy your sweet treat!
Here are some questions people often ask about how to make chocolate babka.
What makes a babka a babka?
Braiding the bread is what makes it a babka. It's also called a yeast cake, but the braid is what sets it apart from other types of sweet bread.
What does babka mean?
Babka means "grandmother". It refers to the grandmothers on Shabbat who would make this sweet, braided bread out of leftover challah dough.
Here's a fun fact: the chocolate filling wasn't added to the bread until Jews came to New York. Chocolate was more affordable and easier to find in New York!
Can I use a mixer to make the dough?
Yes, you can use a stand mixer to make this babka recipe. Just be sure to knead it for at least 5 minutes and let it rise twice before forming and braiding.
Can I use other fillings for babka?
Yes, you can use any filling you want - from jam and marzipan to cherries or nuts. Some even like to add sweet cheese filling (one of my family’s favorites). Savory babka fillings are also very popular.
Just make sure not to add too much filling, so it won't become soggy!
What is the best way to store chocolate babka?
The best way to store babka is in an airtight container, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. If you refrigerate it, wrap cooked chocolate babka in plastic food storage wrap and keep it in the refrigerator for up to three days. Make sure to let it come to room temperature before serving.
You can also freeze babka for up to 3 months. Just be sure to wrap it tightly before freezing.
Make this chocolate babka recipe today!
Now that you have the basics, let’s get started. This chocolate babka recipe is easy to follow and makes a delicious treat. With just a few simple ingredients, you can make this decadent dessert in no time. Gather your ingredients, and let’s get baking!
Chocolate Babka Recipe (Parve)
- 3½ cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (heaping) dry yeast
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract / paste
- Non-dairy chocolate spread
- In a stand mixer bowl, place all dough ingredients and knead with the kneading hook for 5 minutes until a smooth, elastic dough is formed.
- Grease the bowl and make sure all the dough is greased, too. Cover with plastic (or kitchen towel) and let the dough rest in a warm place for 2 hours.
- Once the dough is doubled in size, divide it into 2 equal parts.
- Roll one part of the dough into a large rectangular leaf, about 3 to 4 mm thick.
- Spread the chocolate filling and roll the rectangle. Cut the roll in the middle.
- Braid the 2 strands and transfer them to a greased loaf pan.
- Repeat with the second half of the dough.
- Let the braided loaves rise for one more hour.
- Set the oven to 180°C / 350°F with fan and bake the 2 loaves for 30 minutes.
- Cool at room temperature, cut a piece, and enjoy!