The most yummy of all – sourdough chocolate babka

I just realized I've only been posting sweet breads lately (haven't heard anyone complaining though, which is a good thing).

It must be I'm compensating for something I'm missing in my life or just pure challenge and yumminess of the sweet dough. Whenever I can, I dream about soft, buttery dough and melting rich dark chocolate between shreadable layers.

I've been dreaming about babka for a long time. And I've tried my luck couple of times, but I wasn't quite happy with the result. It was either too dry, to hard or not sweet.

Last week I was really amazed by all of your comments, kind words and your ideas on what you would like to try and bake in my last post. Some of you wrote you would like to bake babka. I was intrigued!

I tried it again this weekend and it came out perfectly. So today I would like to share the recipe for sourdough chocolate babka. The secret here is that I used very soft brioche dough that I also used for hot cross buns. What I find important is that one type of dough can be used for so many purposes. If you find one that works, stick to it :)

Hop on this sourdough babka trip with me! Only sweet, delicious, chocolaty and buttery things ahead.

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Sourdough chocolate babka

Sourdough chocolate babka
Yields: 2 medium-sized babkas

Baking schedule:
The dough for the babka was mixed in the late afternoon, left to rise for 2 hours at room temperature, put in the fridge overnight, shaped in the morning, left to rise for couple of hours and baked in the afternoon of that day. 


Note: Baker's percentages are put in brackets if you would like to scale up or down the formula.

80 g white wheat flour (bread flour)
20 g brown sugar
25 g active mother sourdough starter
35 g water

350 g white wheat flour (bread flour) (100%)
all of the above starter (appr. 160g) (42%)
2 eggs (appr. 100 g) (28%)
50 g brown sugar (12%)
85 g unsalted softened butter (24%)
7 g salt (2%)
110 g milk (31%)  *

* NOTE: Please feel free to add more liquid (steps of 10 g), if you feel the dough is too stiff and all the flour is difficult to incorporate. Don't be tempted to add a lot of liquid as you add butter in the second stage of dough mixing which softens the dough.

Chocolate filling
130 g melted dark chocolate (I used 70%)
120 g melted butter
10 g cocoa powder
10 g powdered brown sugar
50 g roughly chopped chocolate or chocolate chips (optional)


Sourdough starter
1. In the morning, prepare your sourdough starter. The starter will be stiff, more like a dough. Leave it to ferment until doubled in volume. This may take from 4-12 hours, depending on the environment temperature and strength of your mother starter. If your starter doubles very fast but you are not ready to make the dough, put the jar in the fridge.

2. In the late afternoon mix the dough. /NOTE: I used mixer to knead the dough. / In a large mixing bowl put milk, starter, sugar, eggs, flour and salt. Mix everything together. If the dough feels dry, don't be tempted to add too much of additional liquid - mixing in the butter in the following phase will soften the dough (experiment with the softness of the dough) - but do add the liquid if you can't incorporate all the flour. Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes and then leave it to rest for 15-20 minutes.

3. Next, knead in half of the butter quantity. Once completely integrated, add and knead in the other half. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes (it is advisable to use mixer) until smooth and elastic - check how transparent can the dough be if you stretch it. If you feel the gluten is not developing well, leave the dough to rest for 15 minutes and you will be able to notice the change. Shape the dough into ball and place it into clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to ferment at the room temperature for 2 hours, then put the bowl into the fridge overnight.

4. In the morning, first prepare the filling. Mix together melted chocolate and melted butter, cocoa powder and powdered sugar. The batter will be runny. Put the filling to a fridge for at least half an hour or until the batter starts to thicken up and feel spreadable (like Nutella for example) - see photos below.
Also, prepare two tins and line them with parchement paper. I used one 25 cm (9.8 in) long and other 18 cm (7 in) long.

5. When the filling is ready, take the dough out of the fridge and place it on slighlty floured surface. Roll the dough into sqaure measuring approximately 45x45 cm (appr.18x18 in) and to be 4-5 mm thick. When done, spread the filling across the dough, leaving 1-1.5 cm (half inch) edge. If you want, sprinkle some roughly chopped chocolate or chocolate chips across the dough. Tightly roll the dough into log. Trim the ends if necessary.

Sourdough chocolate babka

6. Next, take a sharp knife and cut the log in half lengthwise all the way through - see the photo below. To shape the babka, take one half and place it over the other and than simply braid these two halves. Cut the braided dough to fit your tins.

7. Leave the babkas to rise until approximately doubled in volume. Final rise may take 4-7 hours, it's temperature depending. My needed 5 hours. When the babkas are almost risen, preheat the oven to 220°C/428°F.  Put in the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 220°C/428°F, then decrease to 200°C/392°C and bake for another 30-40 minutes or until nicely baked.

Sourdough chocolate babka

8. When baked, take the babkas from the tins and leave them to cool on a cooling rack. If eaten fresh, the babka will literally melt in your mouth, it's so soft.

Sourdough chocolate babka

Don't forget to share the experience if you try them - tag me with @mydailysourdoughbread on Instagram or let me know in the comment below ;)

24 thoughts on “The most yummy of all – sourdough chocolate babka

  1. I have made this several times with chocolate and also with cinnamon , sultanas and walnuts. It is divine and I am very grateful to you for the recipe.

    1. Thank you so much for the feedback Ann, appreciate it :)
      And what a great idea about the different filling, will try that in the future.

      Have a nice weekend,

    1. Lea,
      that’s a very good idea, indeed :) Noted for next time.
      Hmmm, imagine dark cocoa dough and white chocolate feeling? :)


  2. It looks so good! And you are right it opens a lot of possibilities for fillings and flavor combos…but chocolate is always a perfect idea of course ;)
    Have a lovely Easter!
    Big hug

    1. Thank you Sylvia! :)
      I could do egg wash, but there wasn’t much of the dough surface(just chocolate :)), so I skipped it this time. But you can always do it.


  3. Looks fantastic! Is there a tang to the bread, like most other sourdough? I love sourdough but my kids don’t like the tang to it, so I’m trying to use sweet breads recipes using sourdough starters to entice them…

    1. Thank you :)
      No, no tang at all, that is the advantage of sweet sourdough starter, I think your kids would love this one.


  4. Your blog (and instagram) is so inspiring and make me want to bake! I have made my first sourdoughstarter and baked two breads that turned out alright, but the starter separate all the time and doesn’t seem very alive, what can I do?

    1. Hi Anna, just stumbled on this site and saw your question. If I’m not too late, keep it on your counter and try adding a bit of rye flour to your starter. Feed it with a 2 to 1 ratio starter to flour and water. For example, 25 grams starter, 50 grams water, 30 grams white flour and 20 grams rye flour. I get mine out of the fridge, set it on the counter, and feed it morning and night starting a few days before I need to build up the volume. At first my starter was sluggish until I woke it up with Rye. Now it is a beast I’ve named Gertie:)

  5. Is this dough supposed to be very sticky? Mine got but I didn’t want to add more flour because I didn’t know the consistency of it. And overnight is more than 12 hours?

    Thanks in advance!

  6. Hello, I really really want to thank you as well. I have been looking all over for a recipe for this. Not only did you write it extremely well, you’ve added pictures, descriptions and specifics. I wanted to tell you thank you for taking the extra time and I will re-share on “Perfect Sourdough” when I send in pictures and the link… we all love to share recipes like this!

  7. Hello again Nataša! I did babka yesterday and it come out perfect! I’m simply in love with your recipes! It was my first experience with sweet sourdough recipe. Thank you!

  8. Do you think the dough could rest in the refrigerator for 36 hours? I have digestive issues that require a slow rise to allow the sourdough to gobble up some of the offending carbohydrates.

  9. Hi, I made it yesterday and it is amazing. The chocolate burned the top so I had to cover it with a foil for last 10 minutes. I am not sure if I baked it too long as it is slightly dry today?

  10. Hi Natasa – I tried this recipe today but it was a complete disaster for me. It didn’t seem to make nearly enough dough to get a 45 x 45 cm square. My square at that size was super thin – nearly windowpaned in some spots. I am confident I followed your recipe exactly, except instead of putting in the fridge after 2 hrs, I kept letting it ferment at room temp until the dough (~4.5 hrs at 21.5C) got gassy (not too much, but enough to know it was ready to go to shaping).

    Is it possible that the quantities here are only for 1 medium size babka instead of 2?


  11. Hi, after the overnite rise my dough does not seem to have risen and is very hard!! There is no way to roll it out till it softens at room temp. But the fact that it did not rise makes me think it is a flop. Before wasting the chocolate and energy, what do you think?? Thank you. PS…..the starter I used wasmfrom the fridge. Should I have fed it a couple of times before using it?

    1. It’ necessary to have an active starter. You should firts feed it 2-3 times and than mix. Straight from the fridge won’t work.

  12. Hi! I am a sour dough beginner and I’m trying to bake with it.
    I think I successfully made the starter as the starter doubled in 4-5 hours, then I followed the recipe. But at the end of step 3, my dough was so sticky than I couldn’t shape a ball so I had to ass a lots of flour to be able to shape – but still not a perfect tensed surface ball… what do you think is wrong with my dough? I knead manually as I don’t have a mixer, so is it because of that?? Every time I try to bake whatever recipe, this is my problem – the sticky dough. It would be great if you can give me some advice :-) Thank you!


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