Buttery and fluffy vegan chocolate babka with layers of chocolate ganache and a touch of cinnamon. This braided bread uses common pantry ingredients and is easy to make!
Table of contents
Ingredients you'll need
All-purpose flour (plain flour) or bread flour. Note that babka made with bread flour rises *a lot* more.
Plant-based milk, such as almond, soy or coconut.
Vegan butter at room temperature. Both block butter and vegan spreadable butter will work for this recipe. However, if you use block butter, you may need to add 1-2 tablespoons of extra milk
Cane sugar, coconut sugar or maple syrup.
Instant dried yeast which is the easiest variety of yeast as it doesn't need to be bloomed. However, other types of yeast will work for this recipe. As this babka has no eggs, we're using a little extra yeast to make sure the babka is FLUFFY!
Ground cinnamon and salt for flavor.
Dairy free chocolate and coconut cream for the chocolate ganache filling. I prefer this filling over the typical chocolate icing filling as it's richer.
If you'd like to make the babka without yeast, I've also included an option for sourdough babka! I haven't had much luck with using gluten-free flour for this recipe but I'm working on it so stay tuned.
The full list of ingredient quantities and instructions are in the gray recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Making the easy babka dough
Simply add all ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl then mix/knead it for 5-10 minutes. Unlike mixing a cake, the longer you knead the dough, the better!
If you use a stand mixer, around 5 minutes of kneading is enough. If you're kneading by hand, you will need to knead the dough for 10 minutes or more.
If you have a bread maker, you can use your machine to knead the dough and for the first rise!
Due to variability in ingredients and climates, your dough may be a little sticky or dry. If so, you can add a sprinkling of flour or dash of milk to get the dough to the right consistency. The dough needs to be soft and slightly tacky without sticking to the side of the mixing bowl or surface.
Tip: The softer the dough, your softer your babka will be. However, the firmer your dough, the easier it'll be to handle! The sweet spot is a dough which is slightly tacky but will hold it's shape when in a ball.
Tips for resting the dough
Leave your kneaded dough in your stand mixer or mixing bowl then cover it with a tea towel for at least 1-2 hours.
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 vegan 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 chocolate filling while your dough is resting. Simply add the chocolate and coconut cream to a small saucepan (or double boiler), melt and mix until incorporated.
By the time your dough has doubled in size, your ganache will have had time to cool. The ganache should be a little runny but spreadable.
Braiding the babka
Now, this is the fun and slightly messy step! Roll out your dough into a large rectangle or square. Spread your ganache on the dough and roll it up like a Swiss roll or burrito.
You'll now have a long 'log' of dough. Use a sharp knife to cut it in half lengthways to create 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. Don't worry if your babka is a little messy - each curve adds character to your 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). This slightly lower temperature helps prevent the babka from burning quickly. It’s a tall bread so I wanted the heat to get right in the middle!
When your bread has finished baking, I'd recommend pouring/brushing a simple sugar syrup on the babka while it's still in its loaf tin. This makes the babka shiny and 'traps' some of the moisture.
The babka is best enjoyed warm! This vegan, parve, dairy free and eggless bread is just as delicious as your conventional babka!
Common recipe questions
If you use active dry yeast or fresh yeast, you will need to bloom it before using it in the recipe. To do this, simply 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. If it doesn't bubble, your yeast may be too old.
Yes! This babka can rest in the fridge overnight at either of the following stages:
1. After you make the dough, for the first rise. This is before you add the chocolate filling mixture and shape the babka.
2. After you shape the babka and place it in your loaf tin.
I personally prefer to chill the babka in the first option. This makes the dough cold which is so much easier to shape!
I'd recommend using coconut sugar or around 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup instead of the sugar. However, some sweeteners like erythritol cannot be used to bake yeast breads.
Yes! The sugar syrup helps keep some moisture in the bread. I'd recommend tightly wrapping your babka or storing it in an airtight container.
I've baked this recipe and variations over 50 times which means it's a very tried and tested recipe. However, there are soooo many variations with ingredients and environments so here are a few ways to troubleshoot any issues!
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, reposition the dough near a heater or in the oven with the light on.
Issue 2: Ingredient substitutions will 100% affect whether the dough rises. For example, heavier ingredients like spelt flour and olive oil will make it more difficult for it to rise.
It sounds like your oven is too hot! Lower the temperature of your oven and cover the babka with an oven-proof bowl or plate. Bake until the middle is just cooked!
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.
Other vegan bread recipes
Vegan Chocolate Babka
Babka Dough (note 1 for sourdough version)
- 2 ½ - 3 cups (315 - 375g) all-purpose plain flour, or bread flour (start with less flour and add more if needed, note 2)
- ⅔ cup (165g) dairy-free milk, warm as needed
- ½ cup (112g) vegan butter or butter spread, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons (40g) granulated sugar, or coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon (10g) instant dry yeast, (note 3)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
Chocolate Ganache filling
- ⅔ cup (110g) roughly chopped vegan chocolate or chocolate chips, milk or dark and sweetened
- ½ cup (120g) thick scoopable canned coconut cream
Babka glaze (optional, see note 4)
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar, or coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30g) water
- Line an 8 inch (20 cm) loaf tin with parchment paper. A longer loaf tin will work well too.
To make the babka dough:
- Combine all the dough ingredients in a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix until all ingredients come together.
- Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. The dough is ready when it's soft, stretchy and comes away from the side of the bowl (or kneading surface). If the dough hasn't formed a smooth ball, add a dash of milk and knead again. If the dough sticks to the side of the bowl (or kneading surface), add a little more flour and knead again.
- Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a tea towel. Rest the dough in a warm place for at least 1 hour or until the dough doubles in size. If the dough doesn't double in size, place it in a WARMER spot and wait until it does.
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:
- Dust a clean surface with flour. Roll out the dough into a rectangle shape around 10 x 8 inches (25 x 20 cm) large. The long side of the dough should be a little longer than the length of your loaf tin.
- Spread the ganache on the dough leaving a 1 inch (2 cm) border around the edge. If you have too much ganache, reserve the remainder for drizzling on your babka after baking.
- Starting from the long side, roll the dough into a log (if your dough is extremely soft, see note 5). Use a sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthways. This will create two long 'strips' of dough. Carefully twist the two strips together. Use the pictures in the above blog post for guidance.
- Lift the twisted dough into your loaf tin. Cover with a tea towel and set aside to rise for at least 1 hour. The babka is ready when it rises by at least 20% and looks soft and puffy. 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 your babka is ready to bake, preheat your oven to 170°C (340°F).
- Bake the babka for 30-40 minutes. The babka is ready when its surface is be golden brown and if you insert a skewer into the middle and there's no wet dough on the skewer.
- If the top of the babka is browning too quickly (and the middle isn't cooked), reduce the oven to 150°C (300°F) and cover the babka with aluminium foil (or an oven-safe bowl which doesn't touch the top of the babka). Remove the babka from the oven.
Sugar glaze (make this while your babka is baking):
- Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. While the babka is still hot from the oven, pour the sugar glaze on top.
- The babka is best eaten on the day it is baked. Alternatively, store it an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days. Warm up the leftovers before serving.
- To make a sourdough chocolate babka, I'd recommend using ½ cup (~100g) active sourdough starter, reducing the flour to 295g, reducing the milk to 75g and omitting the yeast. This is a similar ratio to my tried and tested sourdough cinnamon rolls.
- If you use bread flour, your babka will rise *a lot* more. So I'd recommend baking the babka in a longer loaf tin or 2 x 8 inch loaf tins.
- Instant yeast doesn't need to be 'activated' or 'bloomed' beforehand. However, if you use another type of yeast (such as active dry or fresh), combine it with warm milk and a pinch of sugar beforehand. Wait until it bubbles then use it in the recipe. Note that different types of yeasts need different quantitites.
- Alternatively, use 50g of any liquid sweetener (such as maple syrup) instead of the sugar and water. Heat it up and drizzle on the hot babka.
- If your dough is too soft, it will be difficult to shape. If so, place it in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up. This is just for the appearance of your babka and will not affect its taste or texture.
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