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.
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.
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!
While babka may look a little intimidating, follow these simple steps for perfect babka every time. Let’s review:
- Make the dough. This is a soft, rich, puffy, and very buttery yeast dough– we’ll review the dough below.
- 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!
- Punch down the dough. This helps release the air bubbles. You’ll be left with super soft and supple dough.
- Divide dough into 2 pieces.
- 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.
- Shape the babka, then let it rest.
- 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.
- Bake. The only thing better than eating babka is smelling babka as it bakes– just wait until you experience that.
- 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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- Yeast: You can use an instant or active dry yeast– the rise time will be a little longer if you choose the latter.
- Sugar: Sugar feeds the yeast, increases its activity, and tenderizes the dough.
- Butter: Butter promises a rich and flavorful dough.
- Eggs: Eggs provide structure and flavor.
- Salt: Salt adds flavor.
- Flour: All-purpose flour is the structure of the 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.
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
- 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
Deliciously sweet and addictive bread swirled with Nutella and topped with buttery cinnamon crumbles!
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Generously grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans with butter or nonstick spray.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Allow both shaped (and covered) loaves to rest for 20-30 minutes as you prepare the crumble topping and preheat the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Stand Mixer | Dough Scraper | Pastry Cutter | Rolling Pin | 9×5 Inch Loaf Pan | Pastry Brush
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Comments & Reviews
Hello. Do you think I could use almond milk instead of whole milk?
Almond milk works, yes!
I’m looking forward to making this babka for the first time this week. All of your recipes are amazing and the step-by-step instructions, pictures and video definitely make it less intimidating to try something new.
Question – Is it possible to cut the recipe in half and only make one loaf instead of two?
Hi Elyssa! You can try to halve the dough recipe, but this volume of dough rises beautifully and is easy to work with. We recommend making the full recipe and freezing half to bake another time. See recipe notes for freezing instructions!
Hi Trina, I just wanted to thank you for your reply and ‘report back’ while I was on the site leaving a glowing review for recipes I made over the weekend. I did as you recommended and made the full dough, freezing half. The Nutella Babka came out perfect, was fun to roll and braid and – as if I should have doubted – was gone in 2 days.
Needless to say, the second half of dough didn’t stay in the freezer long! It was fun to make again and change up the filling.
Great recipe that I’m already planning to make again soon for a party – it’s not only delicious, but makes a gorgeous presentation.
I just made this Nutella Babka for my kids and they LOVED it. Made it as a desert and it was amazing!! Thanks for the tried and true recipes Sally!
Hi Sally, can you please post your “how to video” as I am having difficult shaping the babka and would benefit from the video. It doesn’t appear on this web page.
Hi Katherine, if you take a look at our homemade cheese bread recipe and video, you can see how Sally shapes this bread. Hope it helps!
Hi Sally, I am planning to make them into babka knots (buns). How much will the baking time differ (if it does) ?
Hi Ira! Baking time will be shorter, though we’re unsure of the exact time. Keep an eye on them in the oven!
Made the babka, Oh man the cutting and twisting was a BIG mess, but it was yummy. I could not find the video where you show how to shape the bread, only pictures.
I’m so excited to try this recipe! Have you tried making the dough with natural yeast? I’m guessing it’s just longer rise times
Hi Lori, we haven’t use natural yeast so we’re unsure of any changes in time. If you do give it a try, we’d love to know how it goes!
Hi Sally, wondering if I make two rolls out of one loaf and twist them would it make any difference as too cooking time o softness? I mean, instead of halving the logs I simply make two and twist them together. Would that work?
Hi Mariflor, that should work, but the final result may not have the same visible flaky layers that Babka typically has. Bake time should be about the same.
is there a way to substitute the eggs? or if we can omit them entirely?
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.
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?
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!
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.
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!
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.
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?
Hi Antoinette, we’re not sure which store bought bread would be most similar. Sorry we can’t help more!
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?
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!
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
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.
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!
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.
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 !
hello, Can I try mixing everything in a bread machine on the dough cycle?
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!
Hi, Can you please post a video of how to braid these beautiful loaves as it would greatly help with this intricate process.
Hi Kat, If you need a visual for this step, see the video tutorial for homemade cheese bread starting at the 2:54 mark. It’s the exact same process for this babka. Hope this helps!
I made this yesterday and yep messy after the cutting and twisting. I love this dough – so soft and easy to work with. My only question is why not a second rise? I feel like the loaves did not rise much when baking and feel they were kind of compacted. I was curious and found a babka recipe on King Arthur site and their recipe had a second rise in loaf pan. Can you explain why your recipe is different? Also did your final loaves rise?
Hi Laurie, the shaped loaves slightly rise during that 20-30 minute rest period. With this dough, I found that if they rose for much longer, they easily deflated in the oven. However, feel free to extend the time if you’d like to try it. I wouldn’t rise for longer than 60 minutes though. Hope this makes sense and helps!
Help. My dough was very dry. No elasticity. Four and a fourth cups of flour to only 1 and a half eggs seems wrong to me. Maybe it’s the flour I used or maybe I simply mismeasured. Any thoughts? If it’s too dry this time, I’ll try another time before rating it.
Hi Kay! How are you measuring your flour? Make sure you are Properly Measuring your Ingredients, especially your flour. Spoon and level instead of scooping or you will end up with too much which will dry out your dough. Hope this helps for next time!
Can i keep the doughs together and baked i a bigger loaf tin?
If not can this be made in a round tin or bundt tin?
Or can i make on a tray?
Hi Jerrie, I’m sure you could use this dough and twist/wrap in a Bundt pan or tube pan but I haven’t tested it to be certain of the bake time. Let us know if you try it.
Made this in a bundt pan and baked according to the recipe, came out great!
This bread is really tasty but the brioche is much drier than I am used to. I really feel that there is not enough butter in this dough. I did however enjoy learning a new technique in brioche dough making. I typically add my butter at the end, but it makes for a pretty long process. Adding the butter at the beginning made the dough come together very quickly, but now I wonder if that contributed to the dryness. I’ll have to try this with my normal recipe and see what the outcome is.
Today will be my second time making this… It’s seriously so delicious!
I’ve also been craving cinnamon rolls so I think I’m going to try turning one loaf in to cinnamon roll shape and see what happens.
Could I still put the crumble on top or should I put that in the middle do you think?
Would a cream cheese frosting be overkill?
Hi Kathy, the crumble would be delicious on top, and cream cheese frosting never hurt! Hope you love them.
I did try it!
I still liked the bread more. I think I over baked them as rolls and they spread more and weren’t as soft.
But it could work for sure!
Was wondering if I could use bread flour for this recipe? Or is it not recommended?
Hi Christy, We recommend all-purpose flour for best results, but you can use bread flour in a pinch — expect a chewier texture.
Can I halve this recipe to make one loaf, or would I have to make more adjustments?
I love your recipes – They always come out so great! With the Babka, is there a way to form in a smaller loaf pan?
Hi Mary, I’m sure you could turn this 2 loaf dough into a 4 loaf dough. I’m unsure of the best measurements for rolling though– perhaps 5×9 inch rectangles. I fear anything smaller would just be too small. Let us know if you test anything.
I made this recipe for Christmas morning and it was delicious! I slightly over baked them, but that was my mistake for not paying close enough attention. I froze the other half of the dough and was wondering if I could use it to make cinnamon rolls? If I follow your guide for over night cinnamon rolls but amend it by 1) halving the filling and frosting because I’m guessing my dough will only make 6 rolls 2) skipping the over night bit and just let them rise at room temp after they’re rolled in the pan…do you think that would work? Any advice would be great! 🙂
Hi Bronwyn, I’m glad you tried this Nutella babka recipe– definitely one of my favorites. You could use the other half of dough for cinnamon rolls. I would halve the cinnamon roll filling/frosting and just let them rise after shaping in the pan since your dough already rose once. A 9-inch pan should be the best size.
Thanks! I gave it a try and it worked really well, in fact, I think I liked the cinnamon rolls better than the Nutella babka.
I have made this recipe in the past and it is fabulous. I would like to make some as holiday gifts. Would it be okay to freeze this unbaked so that people can cook it in their own ovens and have it fresh, or is it better to freeze it baked? Thanks!
Hi Rachel, for best taste and texture (especially since you will be gifting this), I recommend baking and then freezing.