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May 7, 2022

Chocolate Walnut Babka

This Chocolate Walnut Babka will become one of your favorite sweet yeasted celebration breads. 

Chocolate Walnut Babka on a Cutting Board.

Babka is a kind of sweet challah-like enriched bread laced with cinnamon, fruit, and/or chocolate. 

There are versions that are twisted and topped with streusel, versions that are rolled and piled into a bread pan, and versions that are baked into a fluted pan. 

This particular recipe involves a vanilla and cinnamon brioche-style dough filled with a chocolate and walnut filling. All of the filling is rolled up into the sweet yeasted dough. Next, the dough is split in half lengthwise and the two halves are twisted around each other, cut side up, before they are placed in a bread pan. 

Chocolate Walnut Babka slices showing chocolate swirls.

Babka is a sweet swirly bread with Jewish Eastern European roots. The word "babka" is a take on the word for grandmother. Evidently, grandmothers would take leftover challah and incorporate it into bread swirled with cinnamon.

Adding chocolate to babka evidently was invented by New York bakers as an adaptation to the original cinnamon version. There is no reason why you can't swirl anything into babka, including blueberries or peanut butter

In the past, when I heard the word "babka," all I could think about was a Seinfeld episode. Now I know that if the bakery runs out, I can make my own!

Chocolate Walnut Babka on a cutting board with slices.


Here is what you will need to make this babka:


Unbleached all purpose flour

Nonfat dry milk. I use King Arthur's Special Dry Milk

Instant yeast. I prefer SAF Red or, in this case, SAF Gold. The Gold version is good when there is sugar, eggs, and butter, but the Red version is fine too. It might just require a longer rising time. 

Cinnamon, sugar, salt, vanilla, and lots of butter

For the filling, you will need more cinnamon, sugar, unsweetened cocoa, butter, chocolate chips (preferably mini), and roasted walnuts. You could also substitute pecans (which I did this time). 

Chocolate Walnut Babka on cutting board.

The streusel topping is pretty much a revelation. It's a mixture of melted butter, cinnamon, powdered sugar, and all purpose flour. 

You mix it all together and the form it into clumps before sprinkling it over the shaped loaf. Once the loaf emerges from the oven, you might have to resist the urge to pick off bits of it and eating it straight away. 

How to Shape this Babka:

First, once the dough has risen, roll it out into a 9 inch by 18 inch rectangle.

Next, spread the dough with the cinnamon and chocolate filling and sprinkle it with the chocolate chips and walnuts.

After that, roll up the dough, beginning with the short end, until you have a log. Slice the log in half, lengthwise, and then cross the two halves over each other in the middle, with the cut side up.

Continue to braid the two halves of the dough on both sides, making sure both cut sides remain facing up. Seal the ends and place the dough into a loaf pan.

Chocolate Walnut Babka loaf side view.

You bake this bread at a fairly low temperature, 300 degrees F. It's really helpful to have an instant read thermometer to make sure that the bread is fully baked. The interior temperature should reach 190 degrees F.

You could start the bread in a 325 degree F oven for the first 10 to 15 minutes if you prefer for the oven spring, and then lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees after that. Be sure to watch the loaf carefully so that the top does not burn.

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This post was updated in May, 2022 with new photos and shaping instructions. Originally published in October, 2012. 

Chocolate Walnut Babka slices.

Chocolate Walnut Babka

Chocolate Walnut Babka
Yield: 16 slices
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 25 MinCook time: 1 HourInactive time: 3 H & 30 MTotal time: 4 H & 55 M
This Chocolate Walnut Babka will become one of your favorite sweet yeasted celebration breads.


  • 141 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) lukewarm water (about 100 degrees F)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 375 grams (3 cups plus 2 tablespoons) all purpose flour
  • 18 grams (1/6 cup) special dry or nonfat dry milk
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 7.5 grams (1 1/4 teaspoons) salt
  • 71 grams (5 tablespoons) room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 14 grams (1/6 cup) unsweetened cocoa (natural or Dutch process)
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 29 grams (2 tablespoons) melted butter
  • 85 grams (1/2 cup) finely chopped chocolate chips
  • 57 grams (1/2 cup) chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted
Glaze and Streusel
  • For the glaze: 1 large egg with a pinch of salt, beaten
  • For the streusel: 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 37 grams (1/3 cup) powdered sugar
  • 30 grams (1/4 cup) all purpose flour


  1. Dump all of the dough ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and knead for about a minute on low until everything is just combined.
  2. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Knead the dough with the dough hook for about 7 minutes on medium low.
  4. Let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Deflate the dough and set it aside, covered, while you make the filling.
  6. Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, espresso, and melted butter.
  8. Roll out the dough into a 9" by 18" rectangle.
  9. With an offset spatula, spread the filling on the dough, leaving about a one inch border along the edges. Sprinkle the chips and nuts over the filling.
  10. Beginning with the 9" end, roll the rectangle into a loaf as you would cinnamon rolls, sealing the seam
  11. Slice the rolled up dough in half, lengthwise, and place the center of one half over the center of the other half, cut sides up, forming an "X." Keeping the cut sides up, twist the two pieces over each other like a two-strand braid. Tuck the ends under and place the braid in the prepared pan, cut side up. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until the middle crests over the top of the pan by an inch and poking the dough with your finger leaves a dent, 1 to 2 hours.
  12. Prepare the egg wash and set aside.
  13. Prepare the streusel by mixing the ingredients and squeezing it into crumbles with your hand. Set aside.
  14. When the loaf has risen, brush the top with the egg wash, and sprinkle with the streusel. Place the loaf in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
  15. Bake the loaf for 50 to 60 minutes, until it reaches about 190 degrees. Tent with foil at the 35 minute mark.
  16. Remove the loaf from the oven and run a knife or spatula around the edges. Let the loaf cool in the pan for ten minutes, remove it from the pan, place it on a cooling rack, and let cool completely.

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This recipe comes from King Arthur Flour, and was inspired by A Blessing of Bread by Maggie Glezer.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Karen-I love your babka-it is gorgeous and thanks for the tip about poking instead of slashing. I have to make this over the weekend-my family would love it. Thanks again for baking with #TwelveLoaves:)

  2. this looks great, love Babka Bread and sold it many times at the farmer's market.

  3. Babka is one of those bucket list items for me. Yours looks incredible and I pinned it because I'm totally making it this summer!

  4. This is gorgeous! I wussed out with a simple Nutella Braid. Next time I need to try this!

  5. I’m definitely going to make this for my hubby! He would love it

  6. WOW! Stunning and gorgeous babka! I would love to try this soon!


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