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You’ll fall in love with each layer of deliciously sweet and addictive Nutella babka. It’s beautifully swirled and topped with buttery cinnamon crumbles. Make this New York bakery favorite in your own kitchen! Follow my step-by-step photos and helpful tips for best results.

Nutella babka

Let’s travel deep into the layers of babka today. Located somewhere between bread and decadent dessert, this irresistible treat uses the dough from my homemade cinnamon rolls recipe as the base, is filled with Nutella, and topped with buttery cinnamon crumbles.

Babka has a rich history. When I read more about the treat as I worked on this recipe, I learned that it originated in the early 1800s with the Polish Jewish community. Leftover challah dough was filled with jam or cinnamon, rolled up, and baked. The babka we see all over the place today, I read, is much richer and sweeter than its ancestor. You can find it filled with chocolate or almond paste– this is a delicious chocolate babka recipe— or the newer babka variations with pizza fillings, nutella, pesto, and more. Food52 has an in-depth article all about babka if you want to read more about its history and popularity today.

overhead image of 2 loaves of Nutella babka

Tell Me About This Nutella Babka

I include lots of step-by-step babka pictures showing you how approachable homemade babka truly is. (If you’ve ever made my raspberry twist bread, cinnamon crunch bread, or homemade cheese bread, you’re already familiar with the shaping method.) This is a fun starting point for yeast baking– just wait until you see how it all comes together. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that babka is totally something you can (and should) pull off!! Nothing to fear, I promise.

There are many ways to make babka, and today we’re using dough based off of my homemade cinnamon rolls. This babka recipe makes 2 loaves– freeze one or gift it to someone special. Trust me, someone will want this gift!

Nutella babka in loaf pan before baking

While babka may look a little intimidating, follow these simple steps for perfect babka every time. Let’s review:

  1. Make the dough. This is a soft, rich, puffy, and very buttery yeast dough– we’ll review the dough below.
  2. Let the dough rise. Let the babka dough rise in a warm environment until (roughly) doubled in size, about 90ish minutes. I use my oven to help with rising– it’s very simple. Preheat your oven to 200°F (93°C) then turn the oven off and place the dough inside the warm-ish oven. Leave the oven door slightly cracked open. Leave it alone, watch it grow!
  3. Punch down the dough. This helps release the air bubbles. You’ll be left with super soft and supple dough.
  4. Divide dough into 2 pieces.
  5. Roll them out. Spread with Nutella. You can also fill babka with a homemade chocolate filling– or really anything at all– but I reached for Nutella. I want today’s main focus to be on the dough and process, so let’s use a little shortcut for the filling. Bonus that it’s NUTELLA and it’s fabulous.
  6. Shape the babka, then let it rest.
  7. Add with crumble topping. I know what you’re thinking. Is the cinnamon crumble really necessary? The answer is YES. Isn’t cinnamon crumble always necessary? You’ll just need some brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter.
  8. Bake. The only thing better than eating babka is smelling babka as it bakes– just wait until you experience that.
  9. Enjoy. And get lost in the layers!!! Some recipes instruct you to brush the baked babka with sugar syrup when it comes out of the oven, but I skipped this step. It ensures a super crisp crust, but I liked the babka without it, too.
2 images of babka dough in a glass bowl and rising in the oven

Baking with Yeast Guide

Reference this Baking with Yeast Guide whenever you work with baker’s yeast. I include practical answers to all of your common yeast questions.

2 images of babka dough punched down and 2 balls of dough on the counter

Nutella Babka Uses a Rich Dough

We use a rich dough for homemade babka, which means that it’s prepared with fat like milk, butter, and eggs. Rich doughs make soft breads such as monkey bread, dinner rolls, and glazed doughnuts. Lean doughs, on the other hand, are made without much fat and produce crusty bread such as homemade bagels and pizza dough.

Today’s babka dough is egg rich, butter rich, calorie rich. It comes together with 7 basic ingredients: milk, yeast, sugar, butter, eggs, salt, and flour. You likely have them all in your kitchen now. Let’s review the importance of each babka ingredient:

  1. Milk: Liquid activates the yeast. Whole milk or even buttermilk is ideal for this dough. You can get away with 2% or 1%, but I do not recommend skim.
  2. Yeast: You can use an instant or active dry yeast– the rise time will be a little longer if you choose the latter.
  3. Sugar: Sugar feeds the yeast, increases its activity, and tenderizes the dough.
  4. Butter: Butter promises a rich and flavorful dough.
  5. Eggs: Eggs provide structure and flavor.
  6. Salt: Salt adds flavor.
  7. Flour: All-purpose flour is the structure of the dough.
babka dough rolled out into a rectangle and topped with a layer of Nutella

babka dough rolled into a log

babka dough filled with Nutella and sliced in half

twisting Nutella babka dough

It’s a little messy, but don’t all of the best foods need a little clean up? Place the twists into loaf pans, cover them up, and set them aside as you make a cinnamon crumble topping. This gives the dough time to rest before baking. Brush the babka with beaten egg white + milk (egg wash), then top with your cinnamon crumble.

brushing babka with egg and milk mixture before baking

2 images of cinnamon crumble topping in a glass bowl and topping on 2 babka loaves before baking

slice of Nutella babka
zoomed in image of Nutella babka

Want to know why this Nutella babka is so irresistible? Because each bite is different. Some bites are overflowing with gooey Nutella and others are full of soft flaky dough and cinnamon crumbles. Each twist and turn is unique, no loaf will look the same, and the whole thing stays moist for days. Good luck with it in your house!

Do you have a favorite babka recipe? How do you usually fill yours?

Print
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Nutella babka

Nutella Babka

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 40 minutes
  • Yield: 2 loaves 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Deliciously sweet and addictive bread swirled with Nutella and topped with buttery cinnamon crumbles! 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons (270ml) whole milk, divided*
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast (1 standard size packet)*
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature and divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 and 1/4 cups (531g) all-purpose flour, (spoon & leveled) plus more for dusting/rolling
  • 2 cups (600g) Nutella, divided

Crumble Topping

  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (31g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed

Instructions

  1. Make the dough: Heat 1 cup of milk to about 95°F (35°C). You can use the microwave or stovetop. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment (or you can use a handheld mixer or no mixer, but a stand mixer is ideal). Manually whisk in the yeast and 2 teaspoons of the granulated sugar. Cover the bowl with a clean towel. The mixture should be frothy and foamy after 5 minutes.
  2. On low speed, beat in the remaining sugar and the softened butter until butter is slightly broken up. Next beat in 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk (reserve the egg white) and the salt. The butter won’t really be mixing in, so don’t be alarmed if it stays in pieces. On low speed, gradually add the flour. Once it is all added, beat on medium speed until a soft dough forms, about 1 minute.
  3. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is soft and supple and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes. If you do not have a stand-mixer with a dough hook attachment, knead the dough by hand in this step.
  4. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Place into a large greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. (I just use the same mixing bowl that I made the dough in– remove the dough, grease it with nonstick spray or olive oil, put the dough back in.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm environment to rise until doubled, about 90 minutes. For this warm environment, I preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C) then turn the oven off and place the bowl inside the warm-ish oven. Leave the oven door cracked a bit.
  5. Once doubled in size, punch down the dough to release any air bubbles. Remove dough from the bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Punch down again to release any more air bubbles if needed. Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut dough in half. Work with only half of the dough at a time. Place a clean towel over the dough you aren’t working with.
  6. Generously grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans with butter or nonstick spray.
  7. On slightly floured work surface, roll one dough half out into a 9×13 inch rectangle (approximately). Spread with 1 cup of Nutella, leaving a 1/2 inch border uncovered.
  8. Tightly roll the dough into a 13-inch log. Place the log on its seam. Using a sharp knife, cut the log in half lengthwise. I find a serrated knife works best. Criss-cross one half, cut side down, on top of the other half– forming an X. Twist the two together. Place in prepared loaf pan and cover with a clean towel. Repeat with 2nd half of dough. This step can get a little messy! (If you need a visual for this step, see the video tutorial for homemade cheese bread starting at the 2:54 mark.)
  9. Allow both shaped (and covered) loaves to rest for 20-30 minutes as you prepare the crumble topping and preheat the oven.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  11. Make the crumble topping: Mix the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the brown sugar mixture until coarse crumbs are formed. Set aside.
  12. Whisk the remaining 2 Tablespoons of milk with the leftover egg white. This is your egg wash. Using a pastry brush, brush the babka loaves with egg wash. Do the best you can as some Nutella is exposed. Top each loaf with crumble topping.
  13. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until babka is golden brown on top. Gently tap the loaves– if they sound hollow, the bread is done. Remove from the oven, place each pan on a wire rack, and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
  14. Cover and store leftover babka at room temperature for a couple days or in the refrigerator for 1 week. (It won’t last that long!!) You can also freeze the baked babka for up to 3 months, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving. Or warm it up in the oven.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: After dough has risen two hours in step 4, punch down the dough inside the mixing bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days, then remove from the refrigerator and continue with step 5. OR freeze for up to 2 months, then allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and continue with step 5.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer, KitchenAid Stand Mixer Glass Bowl, Dough Scraper, Pastry Cutter, Rolling Pin, Loaf Pan, and Pastry Brush
  3. Milk: Whole milk or even buttermilk is ideal for this dough. You can get away with 2% or 1%, but I do not recommend skim. You’ll need 1 cup in the dough and you’ll use the other 2 Tablespoons for the egg wash in step 12.
  4. Yeast: Active dry or instant yeast work– if using instant yeast (such as Red Star Platinum) the 1st rise time will be a little shorter. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
  5. Filling: Instead of Nutella you can try a homemade chocolate fudge filling. This one is excellent. But I really love how the Nutella tastes in this!

Keywords: babka, nutella babka

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Hi Sally – I’m pretty bummed right now because this came out super burnt. I noticed around the 30 min mark that it was browning more than I’d like, so I made a foil tent. The issue ended up being that the bottom and sides just burned to a crisp. I have an oven thermometer inside of my oven so I was monitoring the temperature. The dough was beautiful and I followed the recipe exactly. I made your cheese bread and sandwich bread and they were absolutely perfect. I have no idea what went wrong!

    1. Hi Holly, this could be fixed for next time using a lighter colored loaf pan (we love using USA Pan brand loaf pans– not sponsored, just genuine fans!) or reducing the oven temperature and extending the bake time. Also be sure that the pans are very generously greased to help prevent the burning, too. Hope this helps!

      1. Hi Sally, baked this bread today. We love it so much. Thank you for the recipe.
        I reduced the nutella and its perfect sweetness for us.
        Keeping the half of the dough in the fridge.

  2. This was a lot easier to make than I thought. For us, we all agree it’s too much nutella. I will reduce it by maybe 1/3 to 1/2 next time. It’s a gorgeous 2 loaves, and tastes like a dessert bread. The directions were great.

  3. Hi, can I use a combination of cake flour and all purpose flour for this recipe?

    1. Hi Kat, cake flour is too light for this dough. I recommend all-purpose flour or you can use bread flour (or a combo of the two).

  4. Hey Sally! Is there a way to make the crumble chocolate flavored? My family are huge chocoholics and anywhere I can put more chocolate they’d appreciate. We’re not big fans of cinnamon, so I’d leave that out.

    1. Hi Izzy, what a great idea. I would leave out the cinnamon, as you suggest, and replace 1 Tbsp of flour with unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or dutch process, doesn’t matter).

  5. Hi Sally! I absolutely loved this recipe, and my loaves of babka were so tasty. I matched it with a book in my newsletter.
    Thanks again for the awesome recipe.

  6. I made this yesterday for a pool gathering. Both breads
    were devoured!!!I I wish I could attach a picture of how high and beautiful it rose! The only two little tweeks I made to this recipe were: margarine instead of butter..couldn’t even tell the difference. I always use margarine as a substitute
    for my breads (cheaper, too!). I also added chopped walnuts right on top of the Nutella before I rolled it up. It gave the breads a little of a crunch, which my Italian family likes. Pecans may be nice next time. Also, next time I won’t put so much Nutella (even though my family loved it). Next time I will put 3/4C on each bread next time.
    As for cooking it, mine turned out perfect at 350f on the middle rack for exactly 45mins. After 35 minutes or so I put foil not on top of the breads, but on the very top rack so that it didn’t brown too much.
    Also, I let the dough rise in the oven with the light on for about 65min, not the full 90. It didn’t need it. I also did not let it rise after I rolled it and placed it in the loaf pans. They rose in the oven while cooking! I bought fresh baking powder, so maybe that’s why. I also used plain old 2% milk, not whole. It turned out perfect.

    Thank you so much for this recipe! EVERYONE couldn’t believe this was homemade.
    Cheers from Stouffville, Ontario

  7. Hi Sally! I’ve recently started to play with Almond meal, as I read it’s a hidden secret to super moist baked goods. I also love this hint of almond. Any suggestions with recipes like this?

    Thanks in advance for your time?

  8. This bread is lovely! I was wondering though, if I could do a punpkin filling? Any recommendations for that?

    1. Hi Emily! So glad you loved this Nutella babka! Pumpkin would be a tricky filling since it’s so wet. You may be able to add some pumpkin puree to the dough to add some pumpkin flavor, but that would require testing to get right. Let us know if you try anything!

    1. Hi Klara, if using instant yeast (such as Red Star Platinum) the 1st rise time will be a little shorter. Reference our Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.

  9. Hi Sally! The dough didn’t rise at all. Is it possible that we overworked it? I was thinking that the mixer might be going to fast at it?
    What options do I have? Just restart from scratch?

    1. Hi Aina, there are a few things that could have happened if the dough did not rise. Was your yeast expired? If the milk was too hot in step 1, it could kill the yeast which will make it ineffective in the dough. Over kneading could also be a culprit. Our Baking with Yeast Guide will be helpful to review if you decide to give this recipe another try — hope you enjoy it!

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