This Earl grey chocolate babka is made from a rich yeasted dough wrapped around a delicious, nutty chocolate filling with subtle notes of Earl grey. This post is sponsored by Calphalon. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Beyond Sweet and Savory possible.
Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been honing my bread skills and couldn’t be more excited to partner with Calphalon to share one of my favorite bread recipes, earl grey chocolate babka. Making a babka is no casual undertaking. This traditional Jewish bread requires a lot of patience but the end is so worthwhile.
How to make babka
The whole process takes about 2 days but the result is worth every second! It involves making the dough, proving, rolling, filling, shaping, and baking. Although there are a lot of steps, each is simple and success guaranteed if you read the instructions thoroughly before making it.
How to make the dough
For this bread, we start with a yeasted dough that’s enriched with whole milk, eggs, and butter. Similar breads that utilize rich dough are cinnamon rolls, monkey bread, and star bread. The most important thing is making sure the temperature of the milk doesn’t go above 110 degrees F or the yeast will die. Instant dry yeast or active dry yeast works for this recipe but the rise time will take a little longer if you use the latter. Always check the expiration date on your yeast package otherwise the yeast might be old and the dough won’t rise properly.
The dough requires two proving steps. After the dough is made, leave it in a warm spot in your kitchen to rise for 2 hours. Once it doubles in size, punch down the dough to release any air bubbles and let it prove overnight, about 8 hours, in the fridge to develop flavor.
What to put in the filling
For my babka, I used a mixture of heavy cream, chocolate, butter, sugar, vanilla extract, Earl grey tea leaves, and hazelnuts. The Earl grey tea is infused in the heavy cream then added to the remaining ingredients. Chopped hazelnuts lend texture and an element of nuttiness to the babka. The filling can be made the same day as the dough and sit in the fridge to chill and thicken until ready. If you’re making it the day of baking, prepare the filling before you make the babka.
How to shape babka
I have included a series of step by step pictures to show you how to shape the babka. Slicing, twisting and shaping the babka can be really fun. Don’t worry if you don’t get the perfect shape on your first try. It comes with practice. Keeping the dough chill makes the job a bit easier.
Roll the dough out to a rectangular shape, spread the chocolate mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 inch-border then sprinkle hazelnuts on top. Roll up the dough from the longer side so that you end up with a 16-inch log. Use a sharp knife to halve the log along its length to expose the layers. Place the halves with the cut side up.
It might get a little messy with the filling oozing out but I wouldn’t worry too much about it. At this time, I like to chill the dough for about 10 minutes to let it firm up before twisting the strands together to form a braid.
A lot of recipes I have tried require another step of proving in a warm place for another two hours but I found it unnecessary. Once the braid is formed, place the babka into a lined loaf pan and let it rest while the oven is preheated.
I baked the babka at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes in my Calphalon Performance Cool Touch Countertop Oven. The Calphalon countertop oven uses Quartz Heat Technology for consistent, even heating on the inside, and the innovative cool touch exterior keeps the outside of the oven 75% cooler even when cooking at maximum temperature.
Its sleek and modern stainless steel design with a high-contrast LCD screen and touchscreen buttons provide an intuitive user experience. With 12 cooking functions: Toast, Bagel, Bake, Roast, Broil, Pizza, Cookies, Reheat, Dehydrate, Keep Warm, Defrost and Bread Proof, the Calphalon Performance Cool Touch Countertop Oven makes cooking and baking efficient and enjoyable.
The Toast, Bake, Roast, and Broil are the ones I use often but having the bread proof is a huge win given how long it takes for breads to prove in my cold kitchen.
After 40 minutes, the babka is baked to golden perfection. Self-control and babka don’t coexist but let it cool for a few minutes before cutting into it.
When you cut into it, you get a moist, tender-crumbed babka layered with a nutty chocolate filling infused with beautiful notes of Earl grey tea. This earl grey chocolate babka is a labor of love but worth every second.
This babka doesn’t even last a day at our house and barely an hour when I bring one to work. We love to eat it still warm from the oven when the outside is crunchy like the edges of brownies while the middle remains tender with the melted layers of chocolate. Luckily this recipe makes two loaves so there are plenty to go around! If you’re not feeding a crowd, freeze your extra loaf in the freezer and you can have babka when the craving hits!
For more bread inspiration, check out these recipes: banana nut bread.
Earl Grey Chocolate Babka
- Two 8.5x4.5-inch loaf pans
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 package of active instant yeast
- ¼ cup and 1 tablespoon of sugar (for the yeast)
- 4 cups all purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ tablespoon loose Earl grey tea leaves, finely ground
- 4 large eggs, at room temp, lightly whisked
- 8 tbsps unsalted butter, cubed
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 8 tbsps unsalted butter, room temp
- 2 tbsps sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon loose Earl grey tea leaves
- ½ cup hazelnuts, finely chopped
- Pour milk in a small bowl and warm it in the microwave until lukewarm. Make sure the max temperature is 105-110 degrees. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and give it a quick stir before adding the yeast. Let mixture sit for 7 to 10 minutes, until foamy.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine flour, remaining sugar, salt, and ground tea leaves, stir until combined.
- Add in the yeast mixture and eggs until the dough comes together in a soft mass, about 5 minutes. If the dough sticks to the side of the bowl, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it comes together, beating very well in between additions.
- Add the butter and beat until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Continue beating until the dough is smooth and stretchy, another 5 minutes.
- Butter a clean bowl, form the dough into a ball and roll it around in the bowl so all sides are buttered. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until it puffs and rises, about 2 hours. Gently press the dough down with your hands, re-cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight
- While the dough is proving, prepare the filling. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine heavy cream and Earl grey tea and bring it to a gentle boil. Let it steep for 7 minutes. Don’t steep it for too long or you’ll get a bitter taste. Strain the cream and discard the tea leaves.
- In a separate medium saucepan over low heat combine butter, sugar, chocolate, and vanilla. Add the cream and tea mixture and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until everything completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Scrape mixture into a bowl. Let it cool to room temperature then refrigerate.
- Butter two 8.5x4.5-inch loaf pans, then line with parchment paper.
- Remove the dough from refrigerator and divide in half. On a floured surface, roll one piece into a 12x16-inch rectangle. Use an offset spatula, spread with half the filling leaving a 1-inch border. Top with hazelnuts.
- Roll up tightly from one of the longer sides, so that you end up with an 16-inch log. If the dough has softened too much for you to handle it, place on a tray and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the log in half along its length to expose the layers. Place the halves with the cut sides facing upwards. Lift one halved log over the other so that they form a cross at their midpoints, with the filling layers still pointing upwards. Continue to twist the strands over each other until the dough looks like a braid.
- Place the braid in the lined baking tin. If you’re only baking one, wrap the extra loaf in foil and freeze.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Transfer the loaf pan to the oven and bake until a tester goes into the cakes and comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.