Sourdough Babka Recipe | A gorgeous and simple sweet bread

Making bread with a sourdough starter is usually a lean bread. Don’t get me wrong, those are great. I love a wonderful sourdough bread with a crunchy crust, a chewy crumb and great tang and super developed taste. Sometimes you’d like something else. Something sweet. Something chocolaty. This is my recipe for a sourdough babka with a chocolate filling.

Baking enriched doughs with a sourdough starter is a bit next level. In the beginning of my sourdough career I had a hard time with these types of doughs, simply because I underestimated how long you need to ferment a dough like that. So follow the instructions on proofing, because that is imperative to get a wonderful result.


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Babka? What is that?

Babka was developed in the Jewish communities in Eastern Europe in the early 19th century, where leftover challah dough was rolled up with jam or cinnamon and baked with the challah.

Before the end of the 1950s babka was largely unknown outside of Poland. At that point European style bakeries in the US and Israel started baking babka and the gained some traction. The chocolate babka was probably invented around this time, but it’s not known for certain.

In the early 2010s babka gained popularity and spread across the US. This resulted in many different babkas with meat, savory seasonings, and many different sweet varieties.

The babka that I am featuring in this article is a chocolate babka, but you can certainly freestyle it and put whatever you prefer inside the dough. For instance, meats, seasonings, cheeses.

sourdough babka on a board

What makes up this sourdough babka recipe?

Vitals

Total weight1057 grams
Prefermented flour11.1%
Hydration59.7%
Yield1 small babka

The dough

The dough in this sourdough babka is a wonderfully enriched dough with egg, milk, sugar and butter.

The flour used in this recipe is all-purpose flour for a wonderfully tender crumb. since it’s baked in a pan it doesn’t require a lot of gluten development.

The estimated hydration is about 60% which should result in a supple, tacky, but not sticky dough, that’s easy to work with.

The inoculation is 25% which is a bit higher than the “industry standard” of 20%, to promote a faster fermentation. Enriching the dough does retard dough development, so the dough needs all the help it can get, so this doesn’t turn into a multi day project.

The salt content is 2.2% which is pretty standard.

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
320gall-purpose flour100%
40gsugar12.5%
100gegg, whole31.3%
100gskim milk (0.5%)31.3%
80gstarter (100% hydration)25%
7gsalt2.2%
60gbutter, salted18.8%

If you. want to change quantity, hydration, inoculation or other things, you can do so here in my Bread Calculator.

slices of sourdough chocolate babka on a board

The filling

The filling for this babka is a chocolate filling. Babka’s can be filled with anything your culinary heart desires.

Use the best chocolate you can get. If you don’t like dark chocolate, substitute it with a lower percentage chocolate.

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
75gdark chocolate23.4%
75gsugar23.4%
75gbutter, salted23.4%
25gcocoa powder7.8%
delicious chocolate popping out of this babka

If you want to, you can also make a cinnamon based filling, which kinda makes this into a cinnamon bun bread. Maybe putting a frosting on top would take this to the next level?

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
100gbutter, salted31.3%
100gsugar31.3%
30gcinnamon9.4%

The simple syrup

The syrup that’s brushed over the top of the babka gives the crust a sweet and crunchy texture, which is super pleasing. If you’ve never tried this before it’s a bit surprising, but in that wonderful, ‘What is this? Mmmmh’ kind of way.

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
50gsugar15.6%
50gwater15.6%

The conclusion of the sourdough babka recipe

So what’d I expect from a sourdough babka?

  • Wonderful enriched dough with a well fermented taste
  • No sourdough tang
  • A great chocolate filling with lots of taste and sweetness
  • A gorgeous looking bread

Looking at the bread it just looks so inviting. Wonderfully caramelized exterior with random streaks of chocolate popping out.

Cutting into this babka reveals the wonderful inside. Just like a brioche, well fermented a full of small and evenly distributed alveoli (aka bubbles or holes). Because of the braided shaping, each piece has a unique crumb with random spots of wonderful gooey chocolate.

Take a bite and the bread is soft as a pillow, but the crust is sweet and crunchy. The taste of the bread is delicious. The pockets of chocolate are pure heaven. Smooth, deep dark chocolate flavor balanced by just the right amount of sweetness.

This is something else. I think you should try baking this babka.

slices of sourdough chocolate babka made with this recipe

Please share this sourdough babka recipe on social media

This is my recipe for sourdough babka. If you like the recipe please consider sharing it with like-minded bread lovers on social media.

If you make it and post it on Instagram, please tag me as @foodgeek.dk so I can see it. That would make me very happy.

Ad links! Links for equipmement and ingredients in this recipe are affliate links, which means that I will a commission if you purchase the product!

Sourdough Babka

Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Jewish
Keyword: babka, chocolate babka, sourdough
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Proofing: 8 hours
Total: 9 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 1 babka
Calories: 3360kcal
Author: Sune Trudslev
Nutrition Facts
Sourdough Babka
Amount Per Serving (1 babka)
Calories 3360 Calories from Fat 1449
% Daily Value*
Fat 161g248%
Saturated Fat 95g594%
Trans Fat 4g
Polyunsaturated Fat 9g
Monounsaturated Fat 44g
Sodium 1178mg51%
Carbohydrates 429g143%
Fiber 26g108%
Sugar 140g156%
Protein 63g126%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Babka is a braided bread that can contain both savory and sweet fillings. This is my sourdough version of delicious chocolate-filled babka.
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Ingredients

Dough

  • 320 g all-purpose flour
  • 40 g sugar
  • 100 g egg 2 large eggs
  • 100 g milk any kind you like
  • 80 g sourdough starter at its peak
  • 60 g butter

Chocolate Filling

Egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water

Simple Syrup

  • 50 g sugar
  • 50 g water

Instructions

Mix dough

  • To the bowl of your stand mixer add: 320g all-purpose flour, 7g salt, and 40g sugar.
  • Mix it a bit to distribute the salt.
  • Then add: 100g egg, 100g milk, and 80g sourdough starter.
  • The starter should be at or before the peak to eliminate any tang.
  • Mix on two with a dough hook at 2 out of 10. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  • Then when the dough looks nice and cohesive, start adding 60g cubed butter a couple of pieces at a time.
  • When all of the butter is kneaded into the dough, move the dough to a bulking container with straight sides. Level the dough.

Bulk fermentation

  • Mark the top of the dough and a mark where the dough will have grown 50% and set the dough somewhere warm for proofing.

Prepare chocolate filling

  • In a microwave safe bowl add: 75g dark chocolate, 75g granulated sugar, 75g butter, and 25g dutch processed cocoa powder.
  • Put it in the microwave on full for a minute until the butter is melted. Then mix it up so that everything is combined.
  • Put it back in the microwave on full for a minute more. Mix it until it’s smooth.

Shaping

  • When the dough has finished fermenting, flour your counter.
  • Flip the dough out onto the flour. Flour the top of the dough.
  • And roll it out into a rectangle of about 20 cms x 30 cms, about 8 inches x 12 inches.

Final proof

  • Spread the chocolate filling on top of the dough.
  • Roll the dough up on the short edge.
  • Put it in a pan lined with baking paper and put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm up the dough.
  • Get a very sharp knife and slice the roll in half. Then braid it making sure the chocolate parts stay upright.
  • Grab a small bread pan and spray it with baking spray. Move the dough to the pan.
  • Cover it with plastic wrap, and do a second proof. The dough should rise 25% to 50%.
  • This took around 5 hours in my proofer, but it’s the rise that’s important, not time.

Baking

  • When the dough is about there, heat your oven to 180°C/350°F.
  • Brush with egg wash made by mixing one egg with 1 tablespoon of water.
  • Put it in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until it’s done. Aim for an internal temperature of about 95°C/203°F.

Prepare simple syrup

  • While the babka is baking, prepare a simple syrup.
  • Add to a microwave safe bowl: 50g sugar, and 50g water. Microwave on high for 1 minute.
  • Take out the bowl and stir to make sure the last of the sugar is melted. Then leave it until you need it.

Finish baking

  • When the babka is done, remove it from the oven, and put the pan on a wire rack.
  • Brush the top of the babka with simple syrup. Leave it to cool for about 5 minutes, then remove the babka from the pan to let it cool completely.
  • Don’t wait longer than 5 minutes, because it might get horribly stuck, because of the sugar in the syrup hardening.
  • Enjoy!

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