Super delicious Nutella babka made of fluffy and buttery brioche dough that is twisted around the best homemade Nutella filling is probably one of the most delicious recipes on my blog, the one that always warms my heart!
I hope (in fact I know!) you will fall in love with this recipe as much as I did! Once you learn how to make Babka with Nutella with the help of my step-by-step tutorial, you will make it over and over again with - with potentially different flavors too - I can guarantee!
Why this is the best recipe
- It is super easy – No fancy ingredients are needed, literally made of flour, butter, milk, etc. The recipe comes together really easily, a totally doable even if you are a beginner - however please make sure you pay attention to my Baking tips. Most of the work will be done by your mixer, while I will teach you the shaping and twisting process step by step
- It is not much effort, most of the time is just waiting for the dough to proof – The amount of effort making Babka is really minimal, however, you will have to rest the dough in between steps. Since Babka is a yeasted dough, you can´t really speed the process of proofing. Rest assured, the time you will spend in the kitchen itself is absolutely minimal
- It is super delicious – Imagine a delicious buttery chocolate hazelnut swirl in soft, pillowy brioche dough. This Nutella Babka is totally addictive! A lovely sweet bread that will equally fill your heart and body.
- No special equipment is needed – A stand mixer is super handy when it comes to kneading the Babka dough but apart from that, all you need is a loaf tin to bake, and you are good to go! Having said that, you can totally knead the dough with your hands as my Mom does, and replace the gym with baking on that day!
- It is super versatile – The Nutella Babka bread recipe can be made using different spices eg. cardamom, cinnamon, orange zest in the dough, or you can easily replace Nutella with walnut, pecan, apples, poppy seed, etc. If you love Babka, try my Walnut Babka and Apple Cinnamon Babka recipe too!
What is Babka
A babka is a sweet braided bread that originated in the Jewish communities across the world like in Poland (that is why some call it Polish babka) or Hungary where I grew up. A traditional babka recipe is prepared with a yeast-leavened dough (similar or the same as challah) that is rolled out and spread with a filling such as chocolate, cinnamon, fruit, poppy seed, etc. Then, rolled up and the filling twisted inside before baking.
Beginning in the 2010s the popularity of babka increased across the United States, especially in New York, where a popular Israeli bakery: Breads Bakery began to sell their babka filled with traditional fillings such as cinnamon, as well as non-traditional fillings such as Nutella, apple, cheesecake, etc. They became well known for their chocolate babka.
Making Nutella babka loaf is really hassle-free, easy and it is mostly about waiting for the dough to proof. You can totally make it at home even if you are a beginner baker!
- Butter: Use always unsalted butter as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. I am using 82% fat content butter in all my recipes. In this recipe, the butter needs to be at room temperature so soft enough to be able to knead into the dough. Make sure that you avoid last-minute microwaving as melted butter won´t incorporate into the dough
- Sugar: A small amount of white granulated sugar is used to make the Babka dough. No need to use too much sugar as the filling will make the Babkas sweet enough. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here
- Yeast: I am using fresh yeast in this Nutella babka recipe however it can be made with dry yeast too. My instant dry yeast pack says that its 7 g yeast equals 25 g fresh yeast. I used 12,5 g fresh yeast to make this recipe which is equal to 3,5 g dried yeast (approx. 1 teaspoon). Please check your local brand and calculate your yeast need accordingly. Also, check my ultimate yeast guide out for more information on how to handle yeast
- Milk: Use room temperature whole milk
- Egg: Room temperature as always, 1 egg + 1 yolk to keep the Babka bread extra moist and delicious
- Flour: Babka is effectively a sweet bread similar to brioche, or sweet bread, like Rum baba. Make sure to use high protein content bread flour which contains more gluten and helps to achieve that lovely airy texture. It might not be called bread flour in your country, so check the protein content and choose one that is higher. If you really can´t find bread flour, go with all-purpose flour. If you want to be a pro when it comes to deciding what type of flour to use in your baking, please read my article here
- Salt: An essential ingredient in most dessert recipes. Balances flavor and enhances other ingredients
- Filling: This Babka features a wonderful homemade Nutella filling. Feel free to use store-bought Nutella
- Syrup: Syrup makes this Babka shiny and even more moist. I am using a combination of sugar, water, lemon juice syrup that makes the Babka extra special and less sweet than soaking it with simple sugar syrup
Exact ingredient quantities can be found at the bottom of this page in the RECIPE CARD!
7 Expert Baking tips
1. How to work with yeast
I know a lot of you afraid of handling yeast, please don´t be scared! It is super easy if you follow some simple rules that are mainly related to the temperature! Also, check my ultimate yeast guide out for more information on how to handle yeast.
The process is easy: heat whole milk until lukewarm, mix the sugar in, then sprinkle yeast on top and wait 10 minutes until yeast starts to foam. The same process applies whether you are using fresh or dried yeast. The key here is that your milk is warm enough (lukewarm) but not too hot. Make sure that your kitchen is not too cold (above 20C / 68F). If yeast does not start bubbling after 10 minutes, chances are very low that the dough will rise. I recommend starting over again with new, fresher yeast.
Please follow the quantity of the yeast. Your Babka bread won´t get better or softer by adding more yeast! There is an exact science of adding leaving agents to baking products, and adding less or adding more is an equally bad choice.
Also, please make sure that you start using the activated yeast after it foams, about 10 minutes. Leaving it on the kitchen counter for too long might result in yeast overflowing and eventually breaking.
2. How to make the Babka dough
The Babka dough is basically a sweet brioche, therefore the process of making it is similar to baking bread meaning, and it starts with kneading the dough.
Once the yeast is foamy, place all the wet ingredients (the yeasty mixture + egg) into the bowl of your Stand mixer then after mixing for a minute, add the dry ingredients (bread flour, salt) and start kneading with the help of the dough hook. First, it will look a bit messy, but after a few minutes, the dough will start to come together then add soft butter in very small portions piece by piece while the mixer is on.
Very important that butter is at room temperature and soft, but not too soft or liquid which would make it impossible to mix that into the dough. Butter might not get mixed in immediately but keep your Stand mixer on, and eventually, it will all come together. Do not add more flour but keep kneading in your mixer! Once the dough comes together, you will have to knead it for another approx. 10 minutes on medium-high speed up until the dough is super shiny, elastic, and achieves the gluten window! At this point, the dough should not stick at all.
Please do not change this Babka dough recipe and add a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I promise the dough will come together in the process of kneading and does not require more flour or milk etc.
3. How long does it take to rise this Nutella Babka dough
There are two alternatives for rising the Nutella Babka dough: quickly at room temp or slower in the fridge.
Many would choose the lazy quick one and rise the Babka dough on room temp for 1-2 hours, then punch the air out and start the rolling process, then filling. It can work too, however, for the perfect taste and texture I strongly suggest rising the dough overnight in the fridge. The overnight rise in the fridge not just makes the Babka texture fluffier and softer, but also makes your life easier when it comes to shaping and twisting the dough. With that, you will work with a cold dough that does not stick, plus the gluten is well-developed therefore it will be easier to roll it and handle.
So for the first rise, place the babka dough into a glass or plastic bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge for min 12 hours (overnight).
4. How to fill and shape this Nutella Babka
There are endless filling options for Babka from walnut, chocolate ganache, raspberry etc., in this recipe I am sharing with you a Nutella filling. You can either use my home made Nutella recipe, or feel free to use store-bought.
The filling and shaping process of your Nutella Babka happens after the dough had its first rise in the fridge overnight. Have you ever had a disastrous experience shaping a soft babka dough that melts while the filling is all over the kitchen counter? Most recipes fail to explain one thing: the importance of TEMPERATURE! while shaping Babka.
- Prepare your loaf tin and place parchment paper inside
- Roll the Babka dough on Silicone baking mat in that way you do not need to add flour while rolling. I suggest rolling it into a rectangle of 42x30 cm / 16x12 inches. Alternatively, roll the dough on a lightly floured surface
- Pop rolled out Babka dough into the freezer to chill for 3-5 minutes before filling
- Spread the Nutella filling on the Babka dough evenly, and smooth it with an offset spatula
- Pop the Babka back to the freezer again for 3-5 minutes before rolling it up. You have to chill the dough so you will be able to roll it up neatly
- Roll the Babka up tightly and neatly from the longer end. Press to seal the end onto the roulade
- Pop the Babka back to the freezer for another 5 minutes to properly chill
- Now using a sharp knife cut the Babka into half lengthwise. Try to cut it exactly in the middle of the roulade
- Check whether Babka filling is firm enough to proceed with shaping. If too runny, pop Babka again back to the freezer for a few minutes to chill
- Place Babka log over each other with filling facing up and twist the dough with your hands on both sides
- Gently squeeze together the ends and carefully lift Babka into a prepared loaf pan
- Now onto second proofing
So as you can see the most important part of shaping the Nutella Babka is always working with a dough that is cold enough so that the process is more comfortable, less of a mess. Of course, make sure you do not chill the dough to a point where it would be impossible to work with it because it is frozen.
5. How to bake this Nutella Babka
First of all, how not bake Babka? Do not bake it without a second proofing!
With the second rise, we are looking for the dough to double and it might take 1-2h depending on the temp of your kitchen. Make sure you cover your Babka so it does not dry out and place it into a warm spot in your house yet not too hot as you also do not want the filling to melt.
During the end of the second rise preheat your oven to 190C / 374F then once Babka dough is nicely risen place it into the oven, lower the temp to 180C / 356F and bake for about 40 minutes.
Please make sure you invest in an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to avoid under-baked or burnt Babka especially if you are having trouble with your oven. Check Babka at 30 minutes and adjust temp if needed.
Babka is ready when the toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
6. Secrets behind extra moist and shiny Babka
There is a moisturizing stage involved straight after baking, concretely, you will have to pour some hot syrup over the Babka immediately. If you are worried about this Nutella Babka bread being overly sweet and want to avoid using sugar syrup, I hear you and got you covered!
The syrup I am using is a mixture of water, sugar, AND lemon juice that balances the sweetness of the Babka without making it overly sweet. It gives the perfect shine while keeping the Babka extra moist and soft, you must try it!
Please make sure you let first the syrup sink in and the Babka slightly cool before removing it from the tin. I suggest moving it to a cooling rack when it is lukewarm so you won´t break it.
Making Babka with Nutella is really hassle-free, easy and it is mostly about waiting. Regarding the equipment I suggest the following:
First and foremost make sure you measure the ingredients with the help of a Digital scale.
For kneading, a Stand mixer is super handy with the dough hook on, however, if you are strong like my Mom, you can attempt doing it by hand, good luck!
Rolling pin is totally necessary to roll the Babka dough out then for spreading the filling an Offset spatula is very handy as you want to make sure that the filling is spread evenly and neatly. If you want to be a Pro, use Silicone baking mat to roll the dough and with that no need to use extra flour, otherwise, you will need to roll the dough on a lightly floured surface.
For baking, you will need a Loaf pan, the quantity stated in the recipe makes a standard size 1 pound loaf tin that is 12x22cm / 5x8 inches.
Yes, you can however high protein content bread flour will provide a better texture and flavor. Remember, babka is a sweet bread, you also would not make bread with cake flour, would you?
Technically you can. Once you finish kneading the babka dough in your mixer, instead of the overnight proof, you can proof the dough 1-2h at room temperature. Once dough doubles in size, knock the air out of it and continue with rolling, filling, shaping, second proofing then baking.
However, I strongly advise against "quick and dirty" proofing for a number of reasons: 1. depth of taste 2. the texture of the final baked product 3. it is much harder to roll and shape the room temperature dough. Basically, with the overnight proofing, you will make your life easier as the (cold) dough will be much easier to handle
You should always use the yeast within the expiry date. Make sure that the temperature is correct for your yeast to get activated. Milk should be lukewarm, your kitchen should be also not too cold (above 20C / 68F). If yeast does not start bubbling after 10 minutes, chances are very low that the dough will rise at a later stage. I recommend not to waste the rest of the ingredients but start again with a new batch of yeast
It can be a combination of reasons: Either your yeast does not work, see point above. Or, the room temperature second proofing has not happened, or for not long enough. Perhaps the oven temperature was too low, or the ingredients are not measured accurately
Most probably yes, you can, however, you can´t just leave out / change one ingredient without reformulating the entire recipe. When one ingredient changes, some other ingredients need to be changed too in order to keep the balance in the texture and flavor. Sadly, I am not able to provide substitutes for all sorts of allergies and diets.
Yes, you can, however, you will need to adjust the ingredient quantities and baking time accordingly.
The Nutella Babka does not require a fridge, store it like you would store bread. In an air-tight container, it stays fresh for a few days, not that it ever lasts that long
You can easily freeze Babka in an air-tight container and enjoy it later whenever you feel like
Other Sweet Bread recipes
The Best Nutella Babka
- 60 g (¼ cups) Water
- 20 g (1 tablespoon) Lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 80 g (½ cups) Granulated sugar
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
First day - first proofing
- Start with mixing half of the sugar with lukewarm milk then sprinkle yeast on top. Make sure the kitchen is nice and warm, and in 10 minutes the yeast should foam
- Mix in dry ingredients; flour, rest of the sugar, salt and start kneading until the dough comes together.
- Slowly start to add in room temp (soft) butter chunks by piece. Knead the dough for another 10 minutes on medium high speed until dough becomes elastic and shiny and not sticky any longer
- Move the dough into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest and rise in the fridge overnight for 12 hours
- After the dough risen overnight, take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest on the kitchen counter for a few minutes, so it warmth a bit
- If the dough gets warm, pop the Babka in and out of the freezer for a few minutes to chill between steps, make sure the dough is always cold enough to work with
- Spread Nutella filling on top with the help of an Offset spatula. Roll Babka dough up evenly and tightly from the longer end then press to seal the end onto the roll
- Grease your Loaf pan with butter or use parchment paper inside.
- Cut the Babka into half lengthwise, then place the logs over each other with filling facing up and twist the logs with your hands on both sides. Gently squeeze together the ends and carefully lift Babka into a prepared Loaf pan.
- Proof Babka the second time. Proofing might take 1-2h, wait until the Babka doubles in size
- Pre-heat your oven to 190C / 374F then once Babka dough is nicely risen, place it into the oven, lower the temp to 180C / 356F and bake for about 40 minutes. Bake until a skewer inserted comes out clean
- During the end of the baking time make the syrup: boil water, sugar, and freshly squeezed lemon juice together until mixture reaches a syrup consistency. Pour hot syrup over baked Babka immediately. Let the syrup sink in and the Babka slightly cool before removing it from the tin to a cooling rack
- Store in air-tight container in room temperature
- Use always unsalted butter in baking, in this Babka recipe butter needs to be at room temperature so soft enough to be able to knead into the dough
- Fresh or Dried yeast can be used. My instant dried yeast pack says that 25g fresh yeast equals 7 g dried. I use 12,5 g fresh yeast to make this recipe which is equal to 3,5 g dried yeast (approx. 1 teaspoon). Please check your local brand and calculate your yeast need accordingly
- Use milk and egg at room temperature in order for the ingredients to properly emulsify
- Since Babka is effectively a sweet bread use high protein content bread flour
- For activating the yeast (whether it is dried or fresh), make sure that the milk is lukewarm and your kitchen is also nice and warm
- You will knead the dough for about 10 minutes in a stand mixer. The dough is ready when it is shiny, elastic, and does not stick to your fingers any longer. Do not add more flour to the dough. If it sticks too much, continue kneading
- Overnight proofing is recommended for the best results. It is much easier to handle (roll, shape) a dough that is risen in a chilled environment
- During the rolling, filling, shaping process try to work with chilled dough
- Second proofing is necessary for the perfect rise = fluffy texture
- Do not skip the syrup at the end. It will make your babka super shiny and moist