Back To Babka


I can only assume you’ve had your fill of matza for about the next year…. I know I have. So to celebrate the return to everything flour and yeast-filled, I present to you a recipe for a rich, indulgent chocolate babka – also known as a chocolate yeast cake.

None of the steps in this recipe are difficult, but it is time consuming with the rising time included. You can also make the filling in advance and keep it in the fridge – but make sure to bring it to room temperature before using or it will rip the dough when you try to spread it. This recipe makes two big babka loaves but I wouldn’t halve it – both because it is easier to make in this quantity and also because you’ll want to eat every last crumb. It freezes well, so even if you can’t finish two by yourself, stick one in the freezer for a special occasion another time.

Chocolate Babka

½ cup warm water
½ ounce/two envelopes active dry yeast
½ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
5 cups flour
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs plus one egg white (save the yolk for brushing on top)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
½ cup cocoa
½ cup mini chocolate chips or coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate

optional – turbinado sugar

Place the water, yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in a large bowl and leave for 10 minutes until bubbles form.
Add ½ cup sugar, all the flour, the margarine and butter and 2 eggs and egg white.
Mix well with wooden spoon or dough hook until combined. Let rise 2 to 4 hours in bowl.
Beat the butter, sugar and cocoa for the filling together until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll one into a 10×7″ rectangle. Spread with 1/4 of the filling, and sprinkle with 1/4 of the chocolate chips. Roll up into a long tube and press down the seal.
Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, filling and chocolate chips.
Twist two of the pieces around each other, and place into a greased 10 or 11″ loaf pan.
Repeat with the remaining two pieces.
Brush with the egg yolk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar if desired.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown.

Amy Spiro is a journalist and writer based in Jerusalem. She is a graduate of the Jerusalem Culinary Institute’s baking and pastry track, a regular writer for The Jerusalem Post and blogs at She also holds a BA in Journalism and Politics from NYU.