Homemade nutella babka – a rich brioche dough gets stuffed with homemade nutella, chocolate shards, and hazelnuts then braided and baked to a beautiful loaf that is buttery, chocolatey, and perfect for a breakfast treat.
Hi my name is Joanne and I am a carb addict.
As an endocrinologist who treats diabetes on a daily basis, this puts me in kind of an awkward (/hypocritical??) position when I spend half the visit yelling at my patients to JUST RESIST THE DONUTS. And by yell I really mean brainstorm all of the delicious fruits and veggies and whole grains they can eat to replace the donuts because it is so much better to think about all of the food you can eat rather than what you can’t when you have to be on a restrictive diet of some sort.
And then I go home and eat babka. Hmmm.
In my defense, have even you seen those homemade nutellas swirls????
I stand by my life choices, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.
Also, babka is a bit of a labor of love so it’s not like we’re eating it all day every day around here. It’s a special occasion/weekend kind of food in part because of how rich and decadent it is but also because it definitely takes a full weekend day to make and is definitely the kind of thing you need to plan ahead. I like to start the night before so that the brioche can get a solid overnight rest in the fridge but also so that I’m not up until midnight baking bread. You do you.
This recipe is from Joanne Chang’s newest bake book called Pastry Love. The name is a little bit misleading as the book is not all pastries, but also has a lot of totally approachable cookies/cakes/sweets along with some savory options as well.
What is extra special about this babka is that it is swirled with homemade nutella that tastes way better than anything you can buy in a store and brushed with hazelnut syrup to give it a glossy look and a bit of a nutty crunch when you bite into the crust. Mine was a little bit on the underbaked side (which I loved, but daresay Paul Hollywood would not have approved of), so make sure to pay attention to the timing if you’re looking for something a bit on the more “well done” side of the spectrum.
While the braiding seems complicated initially, one thing you should remember is that the swirls in the cut bread will looks spectacular no matter what, so you really can do no wrong here and shouldn’t let that keep you from attempting this wonderful loaf. (And if you’re still worried, there are also some great tutorials on Youtube that show you how it’s done.)
- 1¾ cups (245 g) all purpose flour
- 3 cups (300 g) bread flour
- 2¼ tsp (7 g) active dry yeast
- ⅓ cup (65 g) sugar
- 2½ tsp kosher salt
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 18 tbsp (255 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup (75 g) blanched hazelnuts
- 1 cup (240 g) heavy cream
- 6 oz (170 g) milk chocolate, chopped
- 3 oz (85 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup (75 g) blanched hazelnuts
- ½ cup (100 g) sugar
- 1 recipe brioche dough (above)
- ¼ cup (40 g) blanched hazelnuts
- homemade nutella (above)
- 1½ oz (40 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- hazelnut syrup (above)
- Combine the all purpose flour, bread, flour, yeast, sugar, salt, ½ cup cold water, and the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Mix on low for 3-4 minutes or until everything comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then mix on low for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add the butter to the dough 2 tbsp at a time with the mixer running on low. Once all the butter has been added, continue to mix for another 10 minutes. The butter needs to mix completely into the dough so you may need to occasionally stop the mixer to break up the dough with your hands in order to get it to fully combine.
- Mix on medium for another 15 minutes. The dough should be soft and shiny. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and mix for 1 minute. At this point it should be slapping against the sides of the mixer bowl.
- Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap that is pressed directly against the top of the dough. Place in the refrigerator and allow to proof for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Heat oven to 350F (180C) and place a rack in the center of the oven. Scatter the hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Toast for 8-10 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Remove from the oven and cool.
- In a small pan, combine the cream and the hazelnuts. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to medium and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Pour the hot cream over the milk and dark chocolates in a heatproof bowl. Whisk until melted. Add in the salt. Pour into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.
- Heat oven to 350F (180C). Scatter the hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Toast for 8-10 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Remove from the oven.
- Combine the sugar and hazelnuts in a small pan along with ½ cup (120 g) water. Bring to a boil and then lower to medium. Allow to simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
- Pour into a food processor or blender and blend until the nuts are ground into tiny pieces. Strain through a mesh sieve and discard the solids.
- Store the liquid in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 months.
- Prepare the brioche dough up to the proof in the refrigerator, as above. Prepare the homemade nutella and the hazelnut syrup.
- Heat oven to 350F (180C). Scatter the hazelnuts onto a baking sheet in an even layer. Toast for 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to the touch, then roughly chop them.
- Grease two 9x5-inch loaf pans. Set aside.
- Remove the brioche dough from the fridge and divide in half. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one half of the dough into a rectangle that is 20x12 inches. Spread half of the nutella over the surface of the dough with an offset spatula into an even layer. Sprinkle half the chopped nuts and half of the chopped chocolate over the nutella. Roll the dough tightly as you would a jelly roll. Repeat with the second half of the brioche dough. Place both dough rolls onto a baking sheet and place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from the freezer. Working with one of the dough rolls at a time, cut it half lengthwise exposing all the middle layers. Place one cut half across the center of the other forming an X with the dough. Twist the top and bottom halves of the dough around each other, trying to keep the cut sides with their beautiful layers visible and exposed. You should have a long twisted braid of dough. Fold the dough braid in half into a horseshoe or U shape, then give it a twist so that the cut sides with the nutella are now hidden on the inside of the braid. Place in a prepared loaf pan. Repeat with the second dough roll.
- Cover both babkas with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1.5-2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Heat oven to 350F (180 C). Remove the plastic wrap from the babkas and bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. When done the babkas should be golden brown and sound hollow when you tap them.
- Remove from the oven and brush them with the hazelnut syrup while still warm. Allow to cool completely in the pans on a wire rack.