Chocolate Babka: #106 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

Babka takes 2 days to make. If you’ve never tasted it from a good Jewish bakery, it’s a bit like brioche swirled with a rich chocolate filling braided into the dough. Fresh from the oven, it melts in your mouth. Babka works for dessert, breakfast, or snack time. And if you don’t like chocolate, you could make it with cinnamon instead.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($10 total for 2 babkas)

4 ¼ cups flour – $0.68
⅓ cup + 1 tbsp sugar – $0.30
1 ½ tsp salt – 0.07
1 tsp vanilla – $0.20
½ cup hottest tap water – free
1 tbsp active dry yeast – $0.50
4 eggs – $1.16
10 tbsp butter – $1.55

½ cup sugar – $0.44
¾ cup whipping cream – $1.12
1 cup chocolate chips – $1.00
8 tbsp butter – $1.24
2 tsp vanilla – $0.40

⅔ cup sugar for syrup – $0.58


1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, mix the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, and vanilla. In a small, non-metal bowl, mix the yeast, 1 tbsp sugar, and hot water. Let it sit for 5 minutes to form a thick foam on the surface.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and add in the eggs too, mixing until the dough comes together into a soft ball. If it’s too sticky, add small amounts of flour until it’s soft but not sticky.

Now comes the messy kneading part: add half the butter and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the rest of the butter and knead until the dough is nice and stretchy, about 5 to 7 minutes more. All that butter is great hand moisturizer!

Put the thoroughly incorporated dough in a buttered bowl, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place about 1 to 2 hours. It may not completely double.

After this rise, punch the dough down, re-cover the bowl with cling wrap and put in the fridge overnight or for 4+ hours.

2. Make the filling: In a medium pot over medium heat, combine the 1/2 cup sugar and whipping cream. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and stir in chocolate, butter and vanilla until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. 

Make the syrup: In a small pot over medium heat, mix 2/3 cup sugar and 2/3 cup water. Simmer for 2 mins until sugar dissolves, then set aside.

Prepare the dough: Remove from the fridge and divide the dough in half. On a floured board, roll each piece into a 9×17″ rectangle. Spread each half with half the filling.Starting with the long side, roll across the short side into a tight coil. Transfer onto a piece of plastic wrap and freeze for 10 minutes. 

3. Slice the coils in half lengthwise to expose the filling. Twist the halves together into a braid. Place into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper, letting it fold or curl around itself if it’s too long.

Cover with cling wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours (it won’t quite double).

Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes, until a chopstick goes into the babka and comes out clean. 

As soon as the babkas come out of the oven, use the chopstick to pierce them all over, going all the way to the bottom, then pour the syrup over top, making sure to use half the syrup for each babka.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving. Enjoy for dessert, tea time, or breakfast! Leftovers freeze well covered with cling wrap and aluminum foil.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 1 = >3 hours
  • Servings:  3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 1 = eat rarely
  • TOTAL: 14/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

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