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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 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 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 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. Hello Sally, many thanks for your beautiful recipes. Always such a joy baking with you at my side
    I would like to ask if I should reduce the baking time if I only bake one babka at a time( freeze the other half of the dough).
    Tried it last night, it was magnificent!
    I sneaked down early this morning to ‘check’ it, tasted great but similar to Sarah’s in that it had hardened considerably. The centre is still quite soft. The outer crust is quite dark all around the body of the loaf too.
    I did use the foil tent as it was darkening too much but wonder now if maybe a combination of temp and time might resolve it. Many many thanks Sally.

  2. So. Delicious.
    I made one babka, and used the other half of the dough just as a brioche type loaf (I just formed the flight into a loaf shaped and baked the same). Both were HUGE hits!
    We used the brioche loaf for brie and bacon grilled cheese (with bacon cherry jam) and classic French toast.
    And the babka we wolfed down in no time. I couldn’t walk pat without grabbed a bite!!
    I will definitely make this again!!

  3. Hey Sally! This looks amazing – I am a huge nutella fan 🙂 I am making a similar kind of bread called cozonac (Romanian) for Orthodox Easter. But the recipes I’m finding all start with their ingredients in different forms. What’s the difference between using melted butter and softened butter in a sweet bread? And what does a whole egg vs just an egg yolk do to the bread? Help!
    Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Teo! Happy to help. Softened butter creates an extra soft and rich dough, while melted butter creates a denser dough. Egg yolks add delicious fat, while whole eggs have that fat as well as structure. Hope this helps and let me know if you try this dough recipe!

  4. First time I tried it , it was delicious. This will be a go to recipe.

  5. Came out perfect and tasted amazing! I didn’t put the crumb topping on (prefer it without) and it was sooo delicious

  6. Made it on Friday as is. Came out perfect!
    Great recipe

  7. Looks delish and soo good. Can I use bread flour for this one?

  8. First time making babka and it was excellent! I didn’t have enough Nutella, so I whipped up some chocolate filling too. This is definitely a keeper, so so so good!

  9. i made this today for Mother’s Day and it turned out so good that we can’t stop eating it! My topping turned out to be cinnamon butter mush because it’s crazy hot where we live, but it’s still deeeelicious. definitely a recipe for keeps!

  10. This was my first time making babka and it came out great. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe

  11. Hi Sally, I made this for mother’s day and it was (as are all of your recipes) amazing!!
    I want to make the dough ahead and freeze but am a bit unsure how to proceed. I think I let rise once, punch down, wrap and freeze. Then I’m unsure if I thaw overnight in fridge and let rise again? Or thaw and roll out? Help !!!
    thanks

    1. Hi Marilyn, so glad this recipe was a hit! No need to let the thawed dough rise again. Simply continue with the recipe. Divide in half, preheat the oven, and begin shaping.

  12. This is the best babka i have ever tried! The dough is so moist and soft it feels like youre eating a cloud. So good!!!

  13. This recipe is easy and delicious! It has became my favourite sweet bread. As I haven’t tried it before. Just can’t get the crumble right. You you just tosse the butter cubes into the dry mix? Mine melted and became a paste.

    1. Hi Liane, so glad you enjoy this recipe. Make sure you don’t over-work the crumble to the point that it becomes a paste. Stop when it becomes crumbly.

  14. Can I bake this as a log on a cookie sheet? Trying to make a dessert for a woodland baby shower that looks like a log. I don’t know if I should cut the dough but I think the crumb would look like rough bark. Suggestions?

    1. Hi Gale! I wish I Could help, but I’ve never baked this out of a loaf pan before. I fear both loaves will sink down on the sides, but you can certainly try it if you’d like. Let me know if you do.

  15. Hello Sally! I’ve seen this on most, if not all, of your yeast recipes, but I’m not sure I’ve ever read an explanation as to why….what is the reason behind letting the dough rest for 20 minutes before putting into the oven to bake? I’m sure there is one, I’d just like to know what it is so that if I’m in a hurry I know whether or not I can skip this step! 😉

    1. Hi Gemma! So the shaped loaves have time to rest and slightly rise before baking. I don’t recommend skipping it.

  16. I wanted to make these for so long, and I finally got around to it this past week! Absolutely perfect – way easier to make than I suspected (I love bread but am hesitant to bake it due to the yeast/rising factor), and it disappeared in one afternoon with rave reviews! The twist and oozing Nutella looks amazing but is so simple to shape. I only made one loaf this time but definitely making two next time – maybe one with Nutella and one with apple and cinnamon or dulce de leche. Thank you for an amazing recipe and great instructions Sally!

  17. Hi Sally, thank you for sharing such a detailed and wonderful recipe…tried it yesterday…made three loaves- Nutella, strawberry n walnut and caramelized walnuts n cinnamon….it was so delicious n was a hit at home…. definitely a recipe to keep

  18. Made this to bring to work and it was a hit! I only had one 9×5 loaf pan, so I used a deep 8×8 pan and shaped one dough into a twisty circle. Baked for the same amount of time, and it turned out well for a first attempt.

    I am interested in making a cinnamon sugar recipe — would you stuff it similar to how you’d make a cinnamon roll? Not sure how the excess butter will affect the dough and/or cook time. Thanks!

  19. Hello Sally – I absolutely love your recipes. I am a new maker and have made your star bread and the cinnamon wreath and they came out brilliantly. I live in India and sometimes the ingredients you mention may not be avilable here but I manage with substitues. This weekend I am going to try this babaka! (If I manage to keep my hands off the Nuttela bottle of course!) Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experienec with us.

  20. Hi Sally, can I use peanut butter or any other filling in place of Nutella? 🙂

    1. Hi Ellaine, We give an option for a chocolate filing in the notes, but you can use a peanut butter filling or others. Let us know what you try!

  21. Delicious! This recipe was so easy and baked beautifully in four mini loaf pans. Can’t wait to make it again!

  22. Hello!

    Made this today, however, my dough was sticky. Why could it be? Anything I need to do with my dough?

    1. Hi Giselle! 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. I hope this helps.

  23. The recipe is great but I added 1/2 tblsp of vanilla extract along with the zest of ~ 1/2 a medium orange & it reminded me of the babka I grew up eating in NY!

  24. Hey there! I followed this recipe pretty closely, but for some reason, the bottom of the babka was pretty burnt. Can you help me understand what might have gone wrong?

    1. Hi Zach, this could be fixed for next time using a lighter colored loaf pan (I love using USA Pan brand loaf pans– not sponsored, just a genuine fan!) or reducing the oven temperature and extending the bake time.

    1. Hi Jess, The video is displayed under the words “Quick Shaping Video.” Give the video right below a few seconds to load. It’s a faded horizontal image. Click on the play button in the center to play it. Make sure any ad blockers are temporarily paused on your browser.

  25. This recipe is easy to follow and it turned out well. My only recommendation would be to put 3/4 c of Nutella in each Babka. I found a full cup to make it hard to actually taste the dough itself (and for the dough nearest the Nutella to not fully cook).

  26. Hi Sally, I don’t have a hand mixer with a dough attachment, so could I just mix this by hand? will it be really difficult/impossible? thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Grace, If you do not have a stand-mixer you can knead the dough by hand!

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