This Vegan Chocolate Babka is SOO delicious! A sweet homemade chocolate sauce between layers of eggless brioche leads to the most desirable soft, fluffy, & delicious babka bread.
What is babka?
If you've never had babka before, it is a Jewish chocolate bread that is baked in a loaf pan. Usually, it is filled with swirls of cinnamon or, as I grew up eating it, with loads of chocolate goodness.
After doing some research, I actually learned that babka was traditionally made on Shabbat when grandmothers would twist leftover challah (or vegan challah) with nuts and seeds. In fact, it wasn't until Eastern European Jews arrived in New York that chocolate was added in since it was easier to find and affordable (source). How cool is it to learn a little history behind our favorite chocolate-filled bread?!
What does babka taste like?
Well, first of all, let me just say it is absolutely delicious! Think layers of soft, sweet, & fluffy bread filled with swirls of dense ooey-gooey chocolate.
The best part about babka? Because of the way it is twisted, you get the flavor of the bread & chocolate in every bite!
Oh and P.S- babka can be savory too! Make my Vegan Spinach Tomato Babka next and I promise you will become a savory babka covert!
Steps to make chocolate babka
To help you while baking, I am going to walk through the step-by-step instructions with pictures to make this eggless & dairy-free chocolate babka!
Make the vegan brioche babka dough
Since I used active dry yeast in this recipe, the first step is to activate the yeast in warmed oat milk. If you are using instant yeast, you can actually skip this step and add the yeast when you add in the flour later!
Next, add in the wet ingredients including the vegan butter, sugar, and vanilla, and mix together.
Then, add in the flour & salt.
I like to keep the flour a little open-ended since there can be slight variations due to the products you use. I will say, whenever I bake this babka, 2 ¾ cups flour is normally the perfect amount of flour- but you can add up to 2 Tbsp more flour if needed.
Knead the babka dough
Next, mix into a shaggy dough. Then, it's kneading time!
To knead the dough you can use a bread hook in a standing mixer or knead by hand on a well-floured surface. Keep in mind, when kneading by hand the time it takes is about double.
How do I know I am done kneading?
There are a few ways to tell:
- The dough will go from a shaggy lumpy dough to a smooth dough.
- The dough will become elastic and can easily be stretched without breaking
Once you are done kneading, form the dough into a ball and add to a well-oiled bowl (I rub my bowl with olive oil). Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise until it has doubled in size (about 2-3 hours). The dough can also be placed in the fridge to rise overnight at this point!
How do I know if the dough is done rising?
It will have doubled in size. Also, you will be able to easily indent the bread with a finger and it will not bounce back.
Make the chocolate filling
When the babka dough has doubled in size, make the chocolate filling. First, melt together the vegan butter and chocolate.
You can do this using the double boiler method or, if you're lazy like me, by microwaving in a bowl. If microwaving, make sure to microwave at 20 seconds intervals and stir each time until the chocolate has melted so it does not burn.
Then, add the sifted cocoa powder and powdered sugar to the bowl and mix together until a thick, but slightly runny, chocolate filling forms.
Roll out dough & add filling
Remove the dough from the bowl and turn it out onto a well-floured surface.
Then, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a rectangle about ½ inch thick. As you can see from my pictures, it really doesn't have to be perfect. I like to roll my bread out on my marble pastry board for the best results!
Now it's time to slather on that chocolate filling. I prefer to use a spatula for this step. Just make sure to leave a small border around the edges so it's easier to roll up the dough.
How to shape chocolate babka
Take the dough and roll it into a log. Make sure to pinch the dough ends together and flip over so the pinched side is facing down.
Then, use a very sharp knife to cut the vegan babka in half lengthwise. This step will likely get a bit messy, so just go with it and don't stress if the filling falls out!
Then, cross the two dough pieces over one another to form an X. Finish shaping the babka by twisting the bread together and tucking the ends under.
P.S- I've also posted a video in the recipe card below that shows you how to do this!
Add to loaf pan for second rise
Now, add the babka to a loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise another hour until it has proofed and puffed up quite a bit.
Glaze & bake the babka
Remove the plastic wrap from the babka and glaze the babka with a little vegan eggwash.
Then, bake at 350F for 38-45 minutes or until the babka is cooked through (and the center reaches 190F). The babka will rise quite a bit in the oven, so make sure to leave enough space above the rack and always bake the babka on the middle rack.
Once the babka is out of the oven, coat the top with the remaining vegan eggwash. This helps the babka stay moist and gives it that nice glossy finish! You could also pour on a simple syrup at this point, but I personally like to skip that as I find it makes the babka too sweet.
FAQ & Substitutions:
Unfortunately, this recipe cannot be made gluten-free. Gluten development is crucial to the structure of this bread and it would not work without it.
ly! I haven't tried it, but I don't see why not.
For the dough, you could sub cane sugar with coconut sugar or maple sugar. I don't know of a great substitute for the powdered sugar in the chocolate filling, but if you try one definitely let me know.
I used my favorite USA Pan Loaf pan which measures 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.75 inches.
This is due to your babka not being fully baked. Believe me, I've been there before and the best way to do this is to use a food thermometer to check the temperature inside the bread (it should be 190F in the center).
That is why I give such a broad baking time- everyone's oven temperature varies a little and baking time may vary based on your oven.
Babka is truly best right after baking! However, leftovers can be stored at room temperature for 3-4 days and it truly is best enjoyed warm.
Babka can also be pre-sliced and frozen in a closed container between layers of parchment paper for up to 1 month. Allow to defrost at room temperature and then warm up in the microwave or oven to enjoy!
The one thing I do not recommend is storing this babka in the fridge. It really dries it out and will go stale much faster.
I truly hope you love this Vegan Chocolate Babka bread! It is soooo soft, moist, chocolatey, and delicious! I will personally be enjoying this Jewish chocolate bread for Hanukkah this year, though I suspect it will make a reappearance over Rosh Hashanah and many other Holidays to come. Enjoy!
More vegan sweet bread recipes you will love:
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Vegan Chocolate Babka
Babka brioche dough
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoons oat milk
Make the babka brioche dough
- Begin by adding the warmed oat milk and yeast to a mixing bowl and stirring together. Let sit 1-2 minutes to activate. (If using instant yeast can skip this step and add the yeast directly to dry ingredients).
- Then, add in the melted vegan butter, sugar, and vanilla and whisk together.
- Next add in the flour and salt and mix together until a shaggy dough forms. I like to start with 2 ¾ cup flour at this point.
- Once the dough has formed, it’s time to knead the bread. If you are using a standing mixer, use the bread hook to knead the dough until it is elastic and no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl (about 5-7 minutes). If you are kneading by hand, add the dough to a well-floured surface and knead for 8-12 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, you can add up to 2 Tbsp more flour to the dough as you knead it. Do not add more flour than this or the dough will be too dense.
- When the dough is elastic, form into a ball and place into a well oiled bowl (any oil works). Then, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise 2-3 hours until the dough has doubled in size. The dough can also be placed in the fridge to rest overnight at this point.
While the dough is rising, make the filling
- Melt the vegan butter and chocolate chips together using the double boiler method or in the microwave. If melting in the microwave, make sure to remove and stir every 20 seconds until melted.
- Then, add in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar and mix together until a thick, but spreadable filling forms. If your filling gets too thick, you can always add in more melted chocolate. If it is too thin, just add in a little extra powdered sugar.
- Set aside the filling and shape the babka.
Roll out, Fill, & Shape the Babka
- Once your dough has doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. You will need to lightly flour the rolling pin too so the dough doesn't stick. Roll the dough into a rectangle that is ½ inch thick in height.
- After the dough is rolled out, use a spatula to spread the chocolate filling evenly across the dough. Make sure to leave a ¼ inch border around the edges without filling.
- Beginning with the longer side of the rectangle, tightly roll up the dough into a log. Lightly flour the dough as you go to help if it gets a bit sticky. Seal the roll by pinching the dough ends together. Then, flip the dough over so the pinched side is facing down.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the log down the center. It's okay if this step gets messy, your babka will still turn out delicious! Then criss-cross the two halves of dough on top of each other with the filling facing up to form an X and twist the dough together.
- Place the dough into the greased pan, adding back any loose filling and tucking ends under, if needed. Cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap and let rest 45 minutes- 1 hour to proof a second time.
Bake the babka
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- While the oven is preheating, make the vegan egg-wash my whisking the maple syrup & oat milk together in a small bowl.
- Brush the proofed babka with ½ of the egg wash and bake the Babka for 38-45 minutes until cooked through and browned on top. The babka dough should reach 190F in the center when cooked.
- As soon as the babka is out of the oven, coat it with the remaining vegan egg-wash. This helps to seal in the moisture and gives it that desirable glossy finish.
- Then, let the babka cool in the loaf pan for about 10-15 minutes.
- Run a knife along the edges of the pan and gently remove the babka from the pan. Slice and serve while warm!
- Oat milk can be subbed 1:1 for any non-dairy milk (almond, rice, soy, etc)
- If using instant yeast, it can be added directly to the flour and does not need to be activated in warmed milk.
- This babka cannot be made with gluten-free flour- it doesn't work the same with yeast.
- Babka can be sliced and stored at room temperature for 3-4 days in tin foil or in a closed container. It can also be sliced and frozen up to 1 month. I do not recommend refrigerating babka as it dries out the bread.
- If you prefer a sugar topping, top the babka with 2-3 Tbsp of simple syrup when it is right out of the oven in place of a vegan eggwash, I personally find this makes the babka too sweet for me, but it is a more traditional way to top the bread.