This nutella babka is made with super soft and fluffy brioche dough and filled with chocolate spread and hazelnuts. The dough is rolled up and braided before baking, creating this beautiful, eye-catching shape, which you will fall in love with! Finished bake is drizzled and brushed with sugar syrup, to create shiny glaze and topped with some extra hazelnuts.
The process of making nutella babka requires just a bit of time and patience, but the results are guaranteed to impress you, your family and anyone else who is lucky enough to be at the receiving end of this delicious treat.
Why you should make this babka
This cross between bread and a cake is made from soft, enriched brioche dough and filled with chocolate nutella and hazelnuts. It's a delicious bake, perfect to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee or on its own.
Babka makes a great addition to weekend breakfast or brunch, but it's also a perfect after-dinner treat. The dough can be prepared in advance and left to prove overnight, allowing you to enjoy super-fresh, warm and wonderful bake in the morning.
Below recipe produces two medium-size loaves, meaning you can enjoy one of them and freeze the other, to have it ready whenever you fancy a slice. It will also make a lovely gift for any holidays or gatherings with friends.
This babka recipe requires only few, very basic ingredients, which you probably already have in your kitchen. Here's what you will need:
- Flour - You can use strong white flour (bread flour) or plain, all purpose flour, or even a combination of both! I normally choose strong flour, due to it's higher protein and gluten content, but each will work. It may take a bit longer for the dough to come together if you are using plain flour.
- Yeast - Any type of yeast can be used in this recipe, just make sure you follow the instructions on the packaging.
- Sugar - Small amount of sugar gets added to the babka dough. You will also need more sugar for the sugar syrup, which is used to brush and drizzle baked babka with. It will also create the beautiful shiny glaze.
- Salt - Only ½ of teaspoon of salt is added to the dough. Salt tightens gluten strands in dough, which also makes them stronger. By strengthening these gluten strands, salt also enables the dough to hold carbon dioxide more efficiently.
- Milk - I mostly use full-fat milk in my dough recipes, but any type of milk will work.
- Butter - Babka is made with butter enriched, brioche-like dough, so butter is one of the crucial ingredients. Unsalted butter is my go-to, but you can use salted, if you prefer.
- Eggs - You will need couple of medium eggs. One goes into the dough, another is used for the egg wash.
- Nutella - Main ingredient for the filling. You will notice that the recipe calls for a 350g jar of nutella, but you will more likely have some left over. Alternatively, use my homemade chocolate filling from Chocolate Hazelnut Babka Buns recipe
- Hazelnuts - Chopped hazelnuts are a part of the filling. Most people prefer to use blanched hazelnuts, as their skin can give a bit of a bitter taste, but both types will work.
You will also need a couple of loaf tins. I suggest using 900g / 8,5 inch loaf pans. If you don't have this exact size, something similar or close to it will also work.
How to make the dough
Start by heating the milk and butter together. Once butter has melted, set this mixture aside to cool down until it is lukewarm.
Combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl or a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook. Add the egg and lukewarm milk and butter mixture and mix it on low speed for 2-3 minutes, until the dough comes together.
Increase the speed to medium and mix for 5-8 minutes, until you have smooth and elastic dough. You know the dough is ready and at the right stage, when it no longer sticks to the sides of your bowl. Transfer it to the clean bowl and allow to rise.
Different types of flour will absorb moisture differently, so if your dough feels really sticky, add more flour to it. But make sure to add only a little at a time (about 1 tablespoon). Too much flour will produce tough and dry babka.
When the dough has doubled in size, transfer it to lightly floured surface. Gently knock out the air from it, then roll it into rectangle, roughly 40 cm x 60 cm. At this point, you can also trim the edges of the rectangle, if you would like, to make them neater.
Nutella works great in breads and buns recipes, and it is often my go-to. I like the ease of using it, and it is much quicker than making your own filling. That said, you can use any of your favourite chocolate spreads instead. Alternatively, you can make your own filling, see the recipe notes for the homemade option.
The main thing with the filling is to make sure it is the right consistency. You want it to be softened and slightly melted so it can spread easily. Simplest way to do it is to place the nutella into a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave it for 30 seconds. It should be fluid-like but only just warm.
Use the spatula, palette knife or bench scraper to spread the filling evenly on top of the dough. You may not need to use full jar of nutella. Simply transfer any leftover spread back into the jar and store, as you would normally.
Once the filling and chopped hazelnuts are added, it's time to roll the dough. Start with the longer edge of the dough facing you. Roll it into a tight log/ sausage/ spiral. Ideally you want to keep the seam underneath.
You will have one long log of dough, which you will then cut in half. Place dough rolls into a baking sheet.
It can be a bit tricky and messy to attempt to slice and shape the dough at this stage, so I usually place it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. That way, the filling will have a chance to firm up and set a bit, and the dough will cool enough to make it much easier to shape in the next stage.
When ready, slice each log lengthways into two long pieces. You can slice all the way, or leave them attached on top, like in the photo below. Make sure to use a large, sharp knife when slicing the dough. Pizza cutter will also work well!
With the cut sides facing upwards, twist the two strands around each other. I usually cross both strands in the middle first, then twist the top and bottom parts. If you left them attached on top, simply just twist the rest of the dough towards the bottom.
Transfer each babka into loaf pans lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap or clean tea towel and allow them to prove for 30 minutes.
While your babkas are rising, prepare the sugar syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan, bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes until it thickens and becomes syrupy. Set it aside to cool.
Brush each babka with an egg wash and bake at 190 C (170 C for fan-assisted ovens) for the first 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 170 C (150 C fan), and bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Brush warm babka with sugar syrup, then allow it to cool for another 10-15 minutes, before slicing it with large serrated knife.
Make ahead instructions
If you would like, you can also prepare this chocolate babka in advance. The dough is actually much easier to handle if you prepare it in advance and store it in the fridge overnight. Cold dough will be much easier to roll and shape.
To make ahead, you can make the dough and follow the recipe instructions up to step 4. Transfer the dough into clean, lightly greased bowl, cover and prove it overnight in the fridge. Next morning, remove the dough from the fridge and proceed to second part of step 4 in the recipe instructions.
Other way of making this recipe ahead, is to prepare the dough and shape the babkas, then place them in the fridge to proof overnight. Next morning, remove them from the fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes- 1 hour. Brush them with eggwash and proceed to baking.
Lastly, you could also roll the dough into large log, cut it in half and allow both logs to sit in the fridge overnight. next day, take it out of the fridge and continue with the step 7 of the recipe instructions.
Storing and freezing
This nutella babka is best eaten on the day it's made, but will keep for 1-2 days wrapped in clingfilm. You can also freeze baked babka for up to 2 months. Wrap it tightly before placing it in the freezer. Thaw overnight at room temperature.
Do I need freestanding mixer to make this recipe?
No, but it will make it much easier! Although freestanding mixer is not essential to make this nutella babka, it will definitely make it much quicker and easier. If you don't own freestanding mixer, you can knead the dough by hand. Just be patient with it, as it will take longer for the dough to come together.
Can I use plain flour?
Yes you can. The only thing to be aware of is that with plain flour, it will take a bit longer for the dough to come together. Strong white flour has higher protein content and is higher in gluten, making it ideal for bread-like bakes.
How can I melt nutella if I don't have microwave?
You can place the jar with nutella into a bowl with freshly boiled water, and allow it to sit there for few minutes. This should warm it up and make the consistency softer and perfect for spreading on top of the dough.
What else can I use instead of nutella?
Try using your favourite chocolate hazelnut spread or use homemade chocolate spread from my chocolate hazelnut babka buns recipe. You can also use chocolate chips, your favourite nuts, some cinnamon or even your favourite jam.
Help! My dough is too soft to handle and shape, what can I do?
Place it in the fridge. I normally allow the rolled logs of dough to sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before slicing it into halves. Cold dough is much easier to handle, so if yours is too soft, simply place it in the fridge. This will also allow the filling to set and firm up, making the shaping process much neater and easier to manage.
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- 2 x 900g loaf tins
- baking paper
- freestanding electric mixer with hook attachment
For the dough:
- 250 ml milk
- 150 g butter
- 500 g strong white flour plus extra for dusting
- 7 g fast-action dried yeast
- 40 g sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 medium egg
For the filling:
- 350 g nutella (spreadable consistency) *see notes for the alternative filling*
- 100 g chopped hazelnuts
For the syrup:
- 1 medium egg for eggwash
- 100 g sugar
- 100 ml water
- Lightly grease 2 x 900g loaf tins and line them with baking paper with some overhanging. Set aside.
- Pour the milk into a small saucepan set over low heat and add cubed butter. Heat it up gently (but avoid bringing it to boil), swirling the saucepan every now and then to encourage the butter to melt. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is lukewarm.
- Place the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl or a bowl of a freestanding mixer with hook attachment and stir to combine. Add one egg and lukewarm milk and butter mixture and mix it on low speed for couple of minutes, until the dough starts coming together. Increase the speed to medium and continue to mix for another 4-5 minutes, until you have smooth and elastic dough that no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Alternatively, you can knead it by hand, until you have smooth and elastic dough.
- Transfer the dough into a clean, lightly greased bowl, cover and let it rise for 1-2 hours or until it has doubled in size. When ready, transfer the dough into a lightly floured surface and roll it into rectangle, roughly about 40 cm x 60 cm, with the longer edge facing you. You can trim the edges of the rectangle, to make them a bit neater, using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, if you'd like.
- Spread the nutella filling over the dough. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts (save a small amount of hazelnuts for the topping, if you would like). Starting from the long edge closest to you, roll up the dough into a large sausage/ log, keeping the seam underneath.
- Cut the dough log in half, so you have two smaller logs and transfer them to the fridge for about 20 minutes. This step is not necessary, but it will help the filling to firm up and set a bit more, which will make the shaping process much easier.
- Using a large sharp knife, slice the dough log lengthways, through the middle, cutting it into two long pieces.
- With the cut-sides facing upwards, cross both pieces of the dough in the middle, then twist the dough towards the top and bottom, to make two-stranded plait. Press the ends together to seal. Repeat with other log of dough. Gently transfer the dough into prepared loaf tins, cover and set aside somewhere warm, allowing it to prove for half an hour, or until doubled in size.
- While the dough is proving, prepare the sugar syrup. Combine the sugar and water together in a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes until the mixture becomes thicker and syrupy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Heat the oven to 190 C (170 C fan). Brush each babka with an egg wash, sprinkle with some more chopped hazelnuts on top (optional) and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 170 C (150 C fan), and bake for another 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and the skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven.
- Transfer the babkas in the tins into a wire rack and brush generously wit sugar syrup. Leave in the tins to cool for 15 minutes, then lift from the tins, slice and enjoy!
Please note that all my recipes are developed and tested in metric grams. I recommend that you use digital scales for a more accurate results. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- To make your own spread, place 200g of butter, 250g of sugar and 200g of chopped dark chocolate (min 70% solids) in a small saucepan and allow to melt over a small heat. Keep stirring from time to time, to combine all the ingredients well. Remove from the heat, add 50g of cocoa powder and stir well. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool, before using in the recipe.
- Prepare the dough up to step 4 in the recipe. Transfer the dough into a clean bowl, cover and place in the fridge overnight. Next morning remove from the fridge and continue to step 4.
- You can also prepare the dough, spread the filling and chopped hazelnuts on top of it, roll it into log and then store it in the fridge overnight. Next morning, remove the dough from the fridge and continue to step 6.
- Shaped babka can also be stored in the fridge for the overnight prove. Next day, remove them from the fridge, let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, brush with an egg wash and bake as per the recipe instructions.
- Babka is best eaten fresh, on the same day that it is made. Any leftovers can be wrapped in clingfilm or kitchen foil and stored at room temperature for 1-2 days.
- You can freeze baked babka for up to 2 months. Wrap it tightly with clingfilm, then place in the freezer-friendly container and transfer to the freezer. Thaw at room temperature overnight.