Nutella Babka

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 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 and a quick shaping video below– 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 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. Be sure to watch my how-to video below.
  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 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?

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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
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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


Ingredients

  • 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. Watch the video above to see exactly how I do this step. 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!
  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

298 Comments

  1. hello, Can I try mixing everything in a bread machine on the dough cycle?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, we don’t own a bread machine and haven’t tested it that way, but other readers have reported success making it with a bread machine. Let us know what you decide to try!

  2. Wow! Ok . This is INCREDIBLE! Those 2 loaves will be gone within a few days! Very easy to follow instructions- and SUCH AN AMAZING outcome! Totally worth the effort. Thank you so much for the recipe !

  3. Hi, Sally! I made your cinnamon crunch bread – delish! Was wondering is the filling for that bread would work as a filling for this babka? I have made babkas before and want to try your recipe, however I agree with Jerry that cinnamon takes a backseat to no babka so want try that instead of the Nutella. Would it be too dry do you think? Any recommendations before I give it a whirl? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jennifer! Wouldn’t be a problem at all– you can definitely use the cinnamon crunch bread filling for this. Double it to have enough for two loaves.

  4. Hi Sally,
    I am resting the dough overnight in the fridge. I’m confused as to how the dough should be stored once the air is beaten out of it. Would you recommend rolling the dough into 2 balls and cling wrapping them?
    Thanks in advance

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Peg! Are you referring to the freezing directions? You can leave the dough in the bowl and tightly cover to freeze or place it in a freezer safe sealable bag. Plastic wrap may work as well but you want a tight seal around the dough.

  5. Hi Sally- I’m looking forward to making this but curious if the dough would work with non-dairy swaps for my lactose intolerant husband. Any thoughts on earth balance for the butter and soy milk?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jennifer, we haven’t tested those substitutes ourselves, but you can certainly give it a try. The dough will not be as soft and rich. Hope you and your husband enjoy it!

  6. Antoinette Marmora says:

    I love this recipe but if I am short on time is there a store bought replacement for the bread such as pillsbury french bread or screscent sheets?

    Thank you.
    A

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Antoinette, we’re not sure which store bought bread would be most similar. Sorry we can’t help more!

  7. Moulshri Mohan says:

    This turned out really well and got rave reviews from several people – my sister said it tasted like a “soft, sweet cloud”. One thing I had trouble with was the amount of nutella – I wasn’t able to get the full 300g into each babka and still roll it up (the nutella kept oozing out of the roll), but when it was baked I thought it could definitely have done with more nutella. I wonder if anyone has any tips on this! One person also mentioned that it left an eggy smell on their hands – I think I’ll try glazing it with a sugar syrup next time.

  8. Perfect babka for somebody who doesn’t have a stand mixer. I’ve tried a few other recipes before this with moderate success, but this recipe blows them all away!
    Didn’t have nutella so I used the chocolate filling recipe from Binging with Babish’s Seinfeld episode. I made half of this recipe, don’t have a pastry cutter either so I used two knives for the topping and it worked great. The texture of the dough is luxurious and it made a lovely loaf, even with my messy shaping 🙂
    I seriously appreciate how simple you made this recipe. This is now my go-to for future babkas, I’ll try other fillings but chocolate has to be the best babka!

  9. I’ve made many Babkas in my day, this one is a good one. My daughter and I made this recipe together, which made our babka sweet and delicious Thank you for giving us an activity on a rainy day.

  10. I made this a little while ago in the colder months and was ready to throw the dough away as after a couple of hours it hasn’t risen. I then put it near a radiator and after a little while, magic started to happen. I’m having another go making it now that we have some glorious weather which I’m hoping will help the dough along, but I found the dough very very soft this time and therefore impossible to shape into a ball. Has anyone else had such mixed results when making this more than once?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nina, When it comes to yeasted doughs, many variables are at play such as weather, humidity, brand of flour, etc. Some days a dough can be too sticky while others it’s just right. Though this dough should be soft, if you find it’s simply too sticky to work with, add a few more Tablespoons of flour to make a workable (but still soft!) dough. Hope this helps!

  11. SHARON WEISS says:

    I made this months ago before it turned hot and muggy in the South, and it was fabulous! There were a lot of bowls and steps, but it made two large loaves, and it froze well in a tight plastic container. The dough was easy to handle, not sticky. I will make this again after it cools down.

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