This chocolate babka is a gorgeous soft brioche bread with ribbons of chocolate throughout! Topped with chocolate crumble, this babka is without dairy, so it is a fabulous vegan dessert that is sure to impress!
It’s no secret that when it comes to recreating recipes, I am VERY stubborn. When I try something I like or when a friend tells me their favorite dessert, I somehow make it a mission to have a crack at making it myself. While I tend to stick to a famous cookie or cheesecake recipes, I was recently intrigued by the classic babka.
It happened by accident. I was with one of my very good friends, and we’d randomly gone for a drive. We stopped at a bakery for some coffee, and she decided to pick up a chocolate babka. I’ve always loved a good babka, especially since I spent over a year in New York, the birthplace of this famous sweet bread. She was keen to try and make her own, and with that, so was I!
What is babka?
Babka, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is a sweet braided brioche bread, with a strong Jewish background. It’s most often filled with cinnamon or chocolate, but can have seasonal twists to it, like apple or pumpkin.
Now, this vegan babka recipe may look incredibly fancy, but I promise you it is SO easy to make and requires no fancy kitchen gadgets. It might be a little more time consuming than other recipes, but most of it is just waiting for the dough to rise- I promise you it will be worth every second.
This isn’t your traditional Babka, as there is no dairy or eggs in it, but you’d never tell. The vegan brioche is buttery, moist, and with a tender crumb. It easily pulls apart, especially in areas full of chocolate. The flavor is pleasantly sweet, with hints of cinnamon, but heavy on the chocolate flavor throughout, without being overpowering. The crumb topping on top gives it that extra oomph.
I gave my friend a loaf the other week, and she could NOT believe that the babka was vegan- In fact, she’d never tasted a brioche-style bread that tasted so good, vegan or not.
Ingredients to make vegan chocolate babka
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this chocolate babka. I recommend you do each part separately, then put it all together. Please avoid substituting the ingredients out, to ensure it comes out perfectly.
For the babka
- Milk of choice– Either soy milk or unsweetened nut milk can be used. Try to avoid using vanilla flavored ones, as they leave a lingering flavor.
- Instant yeast– Yeast doubles the size of the dough, and is a must for any good bread based recipe.
- Butter– Vegan butter from a block, not from a tub. The latter often has added water to it, which can change the texture of the babka.
- Aquafaba– A fantastic vegan egg substitute, aquafaba is the liquid remaining in the cans of chickpeas. Discard the chickpeas and use them for another recipe (I love roasted chickpeas!)
- Sugar of choice– Either white sugar, brown sugar, or coconut sugar can be used. I prefer the white sugar, as it yields a more fluffy loaf and lighter color.
- Cinnamon– A must for any good babka recipe!
- Salt– Balances but also brings out the sweetness of the other ingredients.
- All purpose flour– Either plain flour or gluten free all purpose flour. If you use the latter, it must contain xanthan gum, otherwise your babka won’t turn out at all.
For the chocolate filling
- Chocolate Chips– Dairy free chocolate chips or a chopped up vegan chocolate bar.
- Butter– Unsalted vegan butter.
- Milk of choice– Again, I used unsweetened almond milk.
For the chocolate crumb topping
- Butter– Melted, to make the crumb topping easier to mix together.
- All purpose flour– Regular or gluten free flour.
- Sugar of choice– Either white or brown sugar.
- Cocoa powder– Sift your cocoa powder to ensure there are no clumps.
How do you make babka?
Start by heating up the milk until it is warm, but not hot. Transfer the milk to a large mixing bowl then add in the yeast and let it dissolve in the warm milk. Let it sit for several minutes until it is foamy. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the flour, and mix well. Once it is all mixed, you’ll add the flour and mix well, until combined. Gently knead the dough, and add a little extra flour if it remains sticky. Continue kneading for 8-10 minutes, or until it is smooth.
Now, preheat the oven to 40C/104F. Once it is warm, turn the oven off. Cover the dough with a damp towel and place it in the warm oven for around an hour, to allow it to double in size. When the dough is almost done proofing, start by preparing your chocolate filling. In a microwave safe bowl or in a small saucepan, combine your ingredients and heat up until the chocolate has melted. Whisk together until smooth. Let the mixture cool, until it is no longer runny, and the texture of a thick spread.
After the dough has doubled in size, lightly flour a kitchen surface. Roll out the dough in a rectangular, 1/4 of an inch in thickness. Spread the chocolate mixture over it, leaving room around the edges. Now, using a sharp knife, slice the dough in half. Roughly twist the dough together to form a spiral shape. Transfer the dough into a loaf pan covered with parchment paper. Cover the pan once again with a damp towel, and let it rest for around 30 minutes, so it continues to expand.
While it is resting once more, prepare the chocolate crumb topping by mixing together all the ingredients. When the babka is ready to be baked, sprinkle the tops of it all with the crumble topping and bake for around 50 minutes, or until golden and slightly crusty. Cool completely, before dusting with powdered sugar and slicing up.
Tips to make the best vegan chocolate babka
- While this recipe may look difficult, it’s only the waiting time that is the time consuming part. There is no fancy kitchen mixers or gadgets needed.
- Leave 1-2 inches of parchment paper overhanging from each side of the loaf pan,
- You can replace the chocolate filling with your favorite chocolate spread, like Vegan Nutella.
- The crumble topping is completely optional. You can omit completely, if desired.
- Serve babka warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or coconut milk ice cream.
How to store chocolate babka
- To store: Leftover babka can be stored at room temperature, provided you intend to enjoy it within 2 days. Store it in the refrigerator to keep longer. Be sure it is well covered, and it will keep for up to 1 week.
- To freeze: Place slices of the babka in a ziplock bag and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
More vegan desserts to try
Best Ever Babka (Vegan, Gluten Free)
For the babka
- 1 packet instant yeast 7 grams
- 1/2 cup oat milk any vegan milk can be used
- 1/4 cup vegan butter melted
- 1/4 cup sugar white, brown, or coconut
- 4 tbsp aquafaba
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour use gluten free, if needed
For the chocolate filling
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon chocolate chopped
- 1 tbsp vegan butter
- 2 tbsp oat milk any vegan milk can be used
For the chocolate crumble topping
- 3 tbsp vegan butter melted
- 6 tbsp all purpose flour gluten free, if needed
- 1 1/4 tbsp cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 40C/104F. Once warm, turn the oven off. Grease a loaf pan and cover with parchment paper.
- In a microwave safe bowl or stovetop, heat up your milk until warm. Remove from the heat and pour it into a large oven safe mixing bowl. Add the yeast and let sit until it begins to foam, around 5 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the flour, and mix well. Gently fold in the flour until combined. Gently knead the dough, around 8 minutes, until no longer sticky. If it continues to be sticky, add a little more flour. Once the dough has been kneaded well, cover with a damp towel. Place in the still warm oven for an hour, for the dough to double in size.
- While the dough is proofing, prepare your chocolate filling. Heat up your chocolate, butter, and oat milk until warm. Whisk together for the chocolate to melt properly. Let sit at room temperature to thicken and firm up.
- Transfer the proofed dough onto a flat kitchen surface. Roll out the dough, until about 1/4 inch in thickness and in a rectangular shape. Spread the chocolate filling over the top, reserving room around the edges. Carefully slice the dough in half. Twist the dough together to form a spiral shape. Gently transfer it into the prepared loaf pan. Cover once more and let it rest for a further 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Prepare the chocolate crumble by mixing together all the ingredients until thick crumbs remain. Sprinkle over the babka and place in the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crusty.
- Remove the babka from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan completely. Once cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar and slice up.