Buttery and fluffy vegan chocolate babka recipe with swirls of chocolate ganache and a touch of cinnamon. This braided bread has no weird ingredients and is easy to make!
Table of contents
- What IS babka and is it vegan?!
- What ingredients are in babka?
- How to make brioche-like dough for the babka
- Tips for resting the dough
- How to make dairy free chocolate ganache
- Braiding the chocolate babka
- Baking and serving the vegan chocolate babka
- Can I make this recipe overnight?
- Can you freeze babka?
- Troubleshooting babka
- My other vegan babka recipes
- My other vegan cinnamon roll (and brioche) recipes
What IS babka and is it vegan?!
Babka is a Jewish braided bread using a brioche dough and often filled with chocolate or cinnamon. It's often drizzled with a sugar syrup to give it extra moisture and a beautiful shine. Babka is most popular in Eastern Europe, the USA and Israel, which is where I tried it!
Babka isn't always vegan but in some countries it is 'parve' which is vegan, dairy free and eggless. With this recipe, you can make your own homemade vegan babka!
If scenes of Seinfeld are replaying in your mind and you're debating whether chocolate or cinnamon babka is better, just make all of them! I have other epic babka recipes including my vegan cinnamon babka or my raspberry jam donut babka.
What ingredients are in babka?
This chocolate swirl bread combines two of my VERY tried and tested recipes: my vegan brioche and dairy free chocolate ganache from my cookbook. As such, this recipe is eggless, dairy free and can be made refined sugar free! It has no 'weird' or uncommon ingredients and no egg replacers.
For this braided yeast bread, you will need:
- Plain flour
- Plant-based milk, such as almond, soy or coconut
- Vegan butter at room temperature. Both block butter and vegan spreadable butter will work but you may need to add a dash more of water or flour if your dough is too dry or sticky.
- Cane sugar
- Instant dried yeast
- Ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
For the chocolate ganache filling, you will need:
- Chocolate, dairy free and vegan friendly!
- Coconut cream, just the thick cream at the top of the can.
If you'd like to make a sourdough chocolate babka, check out the notes in the recipe card at the bottom of this post! I am also working on creating a gluten free vegan babka so watch this space!
How to make brioche-like dough for the babka
This step is very easy! Simply add all ingredients to a stand mixer or large bowl, mix and knead it for 5-10 minutes. If you're using a stand mixer, 5 minutes of kneading is sufficient. If you're kneading by hand, you'll probably need to knead it for 10 minutes or more.
The kneading is important as it strengthens the gluten and makes the dough stretchy, soft and feathery. You can even do the kneading (and first rise) in a bread maker!
If the dough is a little dry and not coming together, add a dash of non dairy milk and knead again. If the dough is sticking to the side of the bowl, add a little flour (~1 tablespoon) and knead again. The dough needs to be soft and tacky but not stick to the side of a bowl or kneading surface.
Tips for resting the dough
Once you've kneaded your dough, leave it in the bowl of your stand mixer (or another bowl). And cover it with a slightly damp tea towel for about 1-2 hours. The moisture in the tea towel prevents the dough from drying out!
Make sure the bowl is in a WARM draught-free spot in your home. If you live in a cold climate such as myself, place the dough near a heater or in the oven with the light on.
If your dough doesn't rise, re-position it in a warmer spot in your home. It's REALLY IMPORTANT that your dough rises at this stage otherwise your final chocolate babka will be dense.
How to make dairy free chocolate ganache
This is the best chocolate babka recipe because it's filled with REAL chocolate rather than cocoa powder. Real chocolate always tastes better and is simply more decadent!
I'd recommend making the ganache while your dough is resting. To make the ganache, simply add the chocolate and coconut cream to a small saucepan (or double boiler), melt and mix until incorporated. Then set aside to cool!
By the time your ganache has cooled, your dough should have doubled in size and then you can assemble the babka!
Braiding the chocolate babka
Now, this is the fun and slightly messy part! Roll out your dough into a rectangle shape. Spread your ganache on the surface and roll it up like a burrito. One step closer to enjoying your chocolate swirl babka!
Once you have a 'log' of dough, use a sharp knife to cut it in half lengthways. You'll then have two strips of dough with an intriguing zebra pattern.
Fold the strips of dough over each other, as if you're making a two strand braid.
Then carefully transfer the babka into a loaf pan. I shifted the bread onto my forearms and gently compressed it into my loaf pan. The 'squishing' (I know, big technical word) adds character to the chocolate braided bread!
Baking and serving the vegan chocolate babka
Similar to my jam donut babka, I baked this chocolate babka at 170°C (340°F) instead of the normal 180°C (350°F). I find that a higher temperature browns the surface too quickly! It’s a tall bread loaf so I wanted the heat to get right in the middle!
Once your bread has finished baking, keep it in the loaf tin. I'd recommend brushing a simple sugar syrup on the babka while it's still hot from the oven. This gives it a beautiful shine and helps 'traps' some of the moisture.
The babka is best enjoyed warm! You'll see how this vegan, parve, dairy free and eggless bread is just as delicious as your conventional babka!
Can I make this recipe overnight?
This vegan babka can be refrigerated overnight at one of two stages.
- When you combine all the dough ingredients for the first rise. This is before you spread the chocolate filling on the dough and roll it up.
- After you shape the babka and place it into your loaf tin.
I've done both and they both worked well!
Can you freeze babka?
Like any other enriched bread, you can absolutely freeze babka! The sugar syrup helps prevent the bread from drying out. I'd recommend tightly wrapping your babka or storing it in an airtight container.
I've used this recipe and variations about 10 times and have many readers who baked variations with success.
However, everyone cooks with different brands of ingredients and in different climates so here are a few ways to fix any issues which may arise!
Your dough should be soft and supple. However, it shouldn't stick to the side of the bowl or be so dry that you can see cracks in it.
As mentioned in Step 1, if your dough is sticky, simply add 1 tablespoon of flour and knead until it's combined. If your dough is dry, simply add 1 tablespoon of milk and knead until it's combined.
Your dough may resist ingredients at this stage of the mixing. However, keep kneading and it will get there!
Your bread doesn’t need to double in size – it just needs to grow by at least 50%! However, if it doesn’t grow at all, this could be due to various factors:
Issue 1: The dough needs to be placed in a WARM place. If you're in a cold climate, place the dough near a heater or in the oven with the light on.
Issue 2: Your yeast is old and no longer active or you used a different type of yeast. Instant dried yeast doesn't need to be activated but if you use fresh yeast (or another type), you'll need to activate/bloom it beforehand. Add the yeast to a small bowl of warm milk with a punch of sugar. Wait until it bubbles then use it in the recipe.
Issue 3: Ingredient substitutions will 100% affect whether the dough rises. For example, heavier flours such as spelt and olive oil will make it more difficult for it to rise.
It sounds like your oven is too hot. Ovens can say they are 170°C (340°F) but are really much higher! If you bake a lot, I'd *highly* recommend you get an oven thermometer.
Nevertheless, if this happens, lower the temperature of your oven and cover the babka with an oven-proof bowl or plate. Bake until it's ready!
My other vegan babka recipes
My other vegan cinnamon roll (and brioche) recipes
- Vegan Brioche
- Sticky Cinnamon Buns
- Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
- Jam Donut Cinnamon Rolls
- Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls
Vegan Chocolate Babka
- 2 ¾ cups (345g) plain or all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- ½ cup (125g) dairy free milk, such as almond, soy or coconut, warm
- ½ cup (112g) vegan butter, room temperature
- 3 tbsp (40g) cane sugar, or coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon (10g) instant dried yeast**
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of any good-quality salt
Chocolate Ganache filling
- ⅔ cup (110g) roughly chopped chocolate or chocolate chips, milk or dark and sweetened
- ½ cup (120g) canned coconut cream, to taste (optional)
Babka glaze (optional)***
- ¼ cup (50g) cane sugar, or coconut sugar
- 2 tbsp (30mL) water
To make the babka dough:
- Combine all the dough ingredients in a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix everything until it comes together. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes or until the dough becomes soft, stretchy and comes away from the side of the bowl. If the dough is a little dry and hasn't formed a smooth ball, add a dash of milk and knead again. If the dough continues to stick to the bowl, add a little more flour and knead again.
- Leave the dough in the bowl or stand mixer, cover with a damp tea towel and leave it in a warm place for at least 1 hour or until the dough doubles in size (or close to double).
To make the ganache filling:
- Add the chocolate and coconut cream to a small saucepan or double boiler over medium heat. Stir until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
Shaping the babka:
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle shape (the long side should be a little longer than your loaf tin). Spread the ganache onto the dough 2 cm / 1 inch away from the edge. If you have too much ganache, reserve the remainder for drizzling on your babka after baking.
- Starting from the long side of the dough, roll the dough into a log.**** Use a sharp knife to cut the login half length ways creating two long 'strips' of dough. Carefully twirl the two halves together.
- Lift the twirled dough into a lined or dusted loaf tin (I used a 10x20 cm or 4x8 inch tin but a longer tin will be fine). Place a damp tea towel over the babka and set aside to rise for about 1 hour. It won't double in size but should rise by at least 25%. You can also let it rest overnight in the fridge, as long as you bring the babka back to room temperature before baking.
Baking the babka:
- When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F).
- Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until the outside is golden brown and a skewer can be inserted into the middle and there is no wet dough on it. If the outside is browning too quickly, turn down the oven to 160°C (320°F) and cover the babka with an oven-safe bowl or plate. Remove the babka from the oven.
- While your babka is baking, make your sugar glaze: Add the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. While the babka is still hot from the oven, brush the sugar glaze on top.
- The babka is best eaten the day it is baked. Alternatively, store it an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days. Warm up leftovers before enjoying them.
Please leave a comment below if you made this recipe, have any questions or thoughts! Your comment will help other readers and Rainbow Nourishments.