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Sourdough Chocolate Babka

This sourdough babka uses an enriched brioche dough, swirled with decadent chocolate filling.

sliced chocolate babka.

This sourdough chocolate babka is a real treat. The tender sourdough brioche base has a beautiful soft texture and tender crumb. It’s filled with a rich chocolate filling made of real chocolate and butter. If you’re not a chocolate fan, try this sourdough cinnamon babka instead!

Ingredients

Here’s a rundown of what you need for this sourdough cinnamon babka. The amounts are on the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  • Strong all-purpose flour with around 11% protein
  • Sugar – White sugar for the dough, and brown sugar for the filling.
  • Large eggs
  • Sourdough starter – I make a stiff starter for this dough.
  • Milk
  • Salt
  • Butter – This can be salted or unsalted butter. For the dough and the filling.
chocolate babka sourdough.

Stiff starter

When making an enriched sourdough babka dough, I adjust the feeding routine for my starter. Typically, I maintain my starter at 100% hydration , using equal weights of water and flour. However, for this recipe, I halve the water content.

This makes a stiffer starter, more like a ball of dough, which rises more slowly without peaking too soon. I mainly do this because I can add a larger amount of starter into the dough without adding too much extra liquid. This brioche needs a long fermentation time and I’ve found that the extra bit of starter really makes a difference.

For this dough, I make a separate levain with a 1:2:1 ratio—1 part starter, 2 parts flour, and 1 part water, always measured by weight for accuracy.

a jar of stiff starter.

Equipment

The brioche dough is very sticky. For the best results, use a stand mixer. All the added fat slows down gluten development so the dough needs an extra long kneading time, around 10-15 minutes of mixing to create the gluten structure necessary.

Baker’s schedule 

Here is the baker’s schedule I use for this chocolate sourdough babka. You can adapt and tweak to suit your environment and schedule.

  • The night before
    • Feed the starter
  • Day 1
    • 9 am – Mix the dough
    • 9:30 am – Let it rise in a warm spot until bulked out by half (approx 4-6 hours, depending on temperature)
    • 3:30 – Refrigerate the dough overnight.
  • Day 2
    • 9:30 am – Shape the babka and let it rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size
    • 2:00 pm – Bake.

Method

  1. Mix the starter with flour and water and knead it into a soft dough ball. Place it into a lightly greased jar and cover with a lid. Let it rise for 8-10 hours until it doubles and is domed on top.
eggs, flour, sugar in a bowl.
  1. Add the flour, sugar, salt, eggs, milk, and starter in a stand mixer bowl with a dough hook attachment. Turn the mixer on low speed and combine until it forms a thick but slightly sticky dough.
butter cubes added to dough.
  1. Mix this dough for around 5 minutes to begin developing the gluten.  Then, add in the cubed butter, a few pieces at a time.
stretchy dough in a mixer.
  1. Turn the mixer on medium sped and mix it for 10-15 minutes until the sticky dough strengthens and comes together, and pull away cleanly from the sides of the bowl. 
window pane test on dough.
  1. Let the dough rest for a few minutes, then see if you can stretch a little bit out thinly so it’s see-through, without tearing. This is called the ‘windowpane test’ and shows proper gluten development. 
  1. Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover it. Place it in a warm spot, ideally around 25°C/ 76°F, but under 30°C / 86°F so the butter doesn’t melt. Let the dough rise until it has bulked out by at least 50-60%. This will take around 5-7 hours, depending on temperature. This dough will struggle to rise if the temperature is too cool.
  2. Don’t rush this rise. It’s an important one and will set the standard for any future rising the dough will do.

Cold proof

  1. Once risen, cover the bowl tightly and place the dough in the fridge until you’re ready to shape it.

Filling and shaping

  1. Grease and line two 9×5 inch loaf pans with parchment paper
  2. Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Once melted, remove from the heat, and stir in powdered sugar and vanilla while it’s still warm.
a bowl of chocolate mixture.
  1. Pour into a bowl and let it cool until it becomes a spreadable paste. You can place it in the fridge to speed this up, but check on it and stir it regularly so it doesn’t stiffen too much. If it does, warm it up slightly to thin it out again.
  2. Pull the cold dough from the bowl (it will be stiff) and weigh it on a kitchen scale. Cut it into two equal pieces.
chocolate paste being spread on dough.
  1. Take one piece and use a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle measuring around 11×14 inches (27×35 cm).
  1. Add on half the chocolate mixture. Use an offset spatula to spread it out, leaving a ½ inch (1cm) border around all the sides.
rolling sourdough chocolate babka.
  1. Roll it up, from the long side upwards, into a log. Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes. Repeat with the other dough piece and the remaining filling. 
  2. Now there are two ways to shape this.
cut open babka dough.
  1. Shaping option 1: Once chilled, slice a log in half lengthwise with a sharp knife to expose the chocolate filling.
braiding sourdough babka.
  1. Take the top two ends and fold them over. Lift the left half over the right half, then the right over the left, and repeat all the way down, exposing the chocolate filling.
braided sourdough chocolate babka.
  1. When you reach the end, tuck the dough underneath to compact the loaf. Place the braid into a prepared loaf pan.
hand folding babka.
  1. Twist the log up its length, then take the two ends and twist them over each other.
rolled up babka.
  1. Place in a prepared loaf tin. 
  1. Let the babkas rise again in the loaf pans in a warm spot until they have doubled. I like to use a turned-off oven with a mug of hot water to create a humid spot so the dough doesn’t dry out.
risen sourdough chocolate babka.

Baking

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and place a rack in the middle. Bake the babkas for approximately 35-40 minutes until deep golden brown. If they are browning too much, loosely cover the tops with foil. 
  2. While the babkas are baking, prepare the sugar syrup to glaze them. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer until the sugar dissolves, then remove it from the heat. 
  1. Once the babkas are removed from the oven, brush them liberally with the syrup. 
  1. Let them cool In their pans for 20 minutes, then remove them and let them cool further on a wire rack. Serve the babka at room temperature or slightly warm. 

Storing

Babka can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days. Alternatively, it can be frozen in a freezer bag for future use. On the following days, it will stiffen up because of all the butter in the dough, but babka reheats well in the microwave for 5-10 seconds until warm. 

sliced sourdough babka up close.

Related recipes

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Sourdough Chocolate Babka

Elien
This sourdough babka uses an enriched brioche dough, swirled with decadent chocolate filling. This recipe makes 2 loaves.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
1 day
Total Time 1 day 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 2 Loaves
Calories 386 kcal

Ingredients
  

Stiff Starter

  • 35 g sourdough starter
  • 70 g all-purpose flour
  • 35 g water

Dough

  • 550 g all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • All the stiff starter
  • 125 g milk
  • 8 g salt
  • 180 g unsalted butter room temperature, cubed

Filling

  • 200 g Semi-sweet chocolate 50-60% cocoa solids
  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 100 g powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Sugar syrup

  • 60 g water
  • 50 g granulated sugar

Instructions
 

  • The evening before: Mix the starter with flour and water. Knead it together into a soft dough ball. Place it in a lightly greased jar and cover with a lid. Let it rise for 8-10 hours until it doubles and is domed on top.
  • The following day: Add the flour, sugar, salt, eggs, milk, and starter in a stand mixer bowl with a dough hook attachment. Turn the mixer on low speed and combine until it forms a thick but slightly sticky dough.
  • Add in the cubed butter, a few pieces at a time.
  • Turn the mixer on medium sped and mix it for 10-15 minutes. Mix until the sticky dough strengthens and comes together, and pull away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
  • Let the dough rest for a few minutes, then see if you can stretch a little bit out thinly so it’s see-through, without tearing. This is called the ‘windowpane test’ and shows proper gluten development.
  • Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover it. Place it in a warm spot, ideally around 25°C/ 76°F, but under 30°C / 86°F so the butter doesn’t melt. Let the dough rise until it has bulked out by at least 50-60%. This will take around 5-7 hours, depending on temperature. This dough will struggle to rise if the temperature is too cool.
  • Don’t rush this rise. It’s an important one and will set the standard for any future rising the dough will do. Once risen, ensure the dough is covered tightly and place in the fridge until you’re ready to shape it.

Shaping

  • Grease and line two 9×5 inch loaf pans with parchment paper
  • Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Once melted, remove from the heat, and stir in powdered sugar and vanilla while it’s still warm.
  • Pour into a bowl and let it cool until it becomes a spreadable paste. You can place it in the fridge to speed this up, but check on it and stir it regularly so it doesn’t stiffen too much. If it does, warm it up slightly to thin it out again.
  • Pull the cold dough from the bowl (it will be stiff) and weigh it on a kitchen scale. Cut it into two equal pieces.
  • Take one piece and use a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle measuring around 11×14 inches (27×35 cm).
  • Dollop half the chocolate mixture on. Use an offset spatula to spread it out, leaving a ½ inch (1cm) border around all the sides.
  • Roll it up, from the long side upwards, into a log. Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes. Repeat with the other dough piece and the remaining filling.
  • Shaping option 1- Once chilled, slice a log in half lengthwise with a sharp knife to expose the chocolate filling.
  • Take the top two ends and fold them over. Lift the left half over the right half, then the right over the left, and repeat all the way down, exposing the chocolate filling. When you reach the end, tuck the dough underneath to compact the loaf. Place the braid into a prepared loaf pan.
  • Shaping option 2- Twist the log up its length, then take the two ends and twist them over each other. See the post for pictures.
  • Loosely cover the babkas and let them rise in the loaf pans in a warm spot until they have doubled in size – around 4-6 hours depending on temperature.

Baking

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and place a rack in the middle. Bake the babkas for approximately 35-40 minutes until deep golden brown. If they are browning too much, loosely cover the tops with foil.
  • While the babkas are baking, prepare the sugar syrup to glaze them. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer until the sugar dissolves, then remove it from the heat.
  • Once the babkas are removed from the oven, brush them liberally with the syrup.
  • Let them cool in their pans for 20 minutes, then remove them and let them cool further on a wire rack. Serve the babka at room temperature or slightly warm.

Notes

Babka can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days. Alternatively, it can be frozen in a freezer bag for future use. On the following days, it will stiffen up because of all the butter in the dough, but babka reheats well in the microwave for 5-10 seconds until warm.

Nutrition

Calories: 386kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 6gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 221mgPotassium: 93mgFiber: 2gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 610IUVitamin C: 0.03mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 2mg
Keyword babka, Brioche, Chocolate, Sourdough
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