Espresso Chocolate Babka is made with super-soft brioche dough, spiked with a wee bit of rye flour for the most beautiful toasty flavour, then a rich chocolate and espresso filling, and a sneaky wee sugar syrup to give a beautiful glossy finish. I love making babka so much - it is super easy once you get the hang of it, and the filling options really are endless.
Table of contents
Chocolate Espresso and Rye Babka
Hi hi! Sorry things have been a bit quiet around here the last wee while - it’s been a weird year for sure! I am just popping in to share this chocolate, espresso and rye babka! I made this a few weeks ago and never got around to sharing the recipe but here we are - it’s so good!
Using Rye for Brioche Dough
There’s not too many tips and tricks for making this one. The dough is super simple - it is my go-to brioche, but I just subbed in a wee bit of rye. I got a grain mill a while back so have been playing around with adding different flours into my baking, and it’s so fun to play with! I love spelt and rye in things - I often just switch out 15% or so of the all-purpose flour to see how I go, and it makes such a huge difference in the flavour! The rye flour in this is pretty subtle, but I loved it for a wee variation on the traditional brioche. I got theis rye flour from King Arthur.
How to store Espresso Rye Babka
This recipe makes two loaves, which is perfect for having one for you and sharing, or not sharing at all and keeping them all for you - you can tightly wrap them in plastic wrap and pop them in the freezer, then thaw and briefly refresh in the oven for warm babka whenever you need! The dimensions that I roll my cinnamon rolls to are actually the same as my babka, so if you really wanted to you could divide the log in half, turn half into a babka, and the other half into rolls! I have done this before, and baked both off, then froze the babka and had the rolls that day. It works great. You do you here. Hope you’re having a great week! x
Steps for Making Babka
Babka has a few steps, but they are very similar to the process of making cinnamon rolls right up to where you form the log of dough. This is where it differs - for babka you split the log vertically and twist into babka. For cinnamon rolls you would cut into rolls. The fun part about that is that you can cut half into rolls and half into a babka if you like - do what you want here!
- Roll out your dough. Take your time here. See the tips below for rolling out a nice even rectangle of dough.
- Spread with filling. The chocolate espresso babka filling goes on nice and smooth and works perfectly with the rye.
- Roll up. Roll the dough up tightly into a log of dough.
- Chill. I like to cut the dough into two here and then chill down - this makes the cutting and twisting process much easier with chilled dough.
- Cut and Twist. To twist a babka you cut the log vertically down the middle and open to expose the layers. Then you twist up into a babka loaf and pop into the pan. It is ok if you need to give it a bit of a wiggle to get into the pan. Don't worry if it looks messy - rising fixes that.
- Rise and bake. Leave the dough to rise until it is puffy and doubled in size. Bake the babka, then finish with sugar syrup.
How to roll out dough into an even rectangle
Rolling out a nice even rectangle of dough can be really tricky. I've been there. There are a few wee tricks though that can make it a little easier.
- Shape your dough into a rough rectangle. The dough will probably have somewhat of a round shape from being in a bowl. This is fine if you want round dough. However, if you start with a rectangle you are more likely to have a more even rectangle of dough when you roll out. Squish the dough into a rectangle shape. I like to use a bench scraper to make the sides nice and straight.
- Flatten your dough slightly with your rolling pin. If you start rolling straight away, the dough will roll out unevenly. Instead, flatten it lightly with your rolling pin. Press down on it a few times to flatten it, starting at the bottom and working your way up, then turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the process again. What this does is gives you a larger flatter piece of dough to start rolling out, which is easier to keep an even thickness.
- Square off your rectangle as you go. As you are rolling out, pause a few times to square off the edges of your dough. Again, I like to use a bench scraper for this. It is easier to stop a few times and see what is happening than roll out all in one go and then try and fix any unevenness.
FAQ for Chocolate Espresso Babka
If you don’t want to use rye flour and just want to do full all-purpose, go ahead! use 565g all-purpose instead
I like to give my brioche dough a fridge rise as it makes rolling it out much easier. I do a minimum of 2 ½ to 3 hours but it can also be made the day before and chilled overnight. You can do the whole thing in one day if you like - it will need 45 minutes to an hour or so at room temp until it has doubled in size
The chilling step is also optional here but I find that it makes shaping the babka a bit less messy. You can skip that too if you like. A wee note on that for this specific recipe - the chilling step causes the chocolate to harden, so it may crack a wee bit as you are cutting the log in half and making into a babka. This isn’t a big deal at all, I just wanted to give you a heads up!
Leave out the espresso if you like too! If you don't have espresso, fine instant coffee would work too. This would likely work well with milk chocolate too. The chocolate is quite bitter so feel free to sub in some milk chocolate if you like.
You could also add chopped nuts here if you like - that would be so yum!
I use a 1lb loaf pan here - an 8"x4". Something slightly larger will work too the babka will just fill it differently.
For more Brioche Recipes:
- Apple and Cardamom Babka
- Mixed Nut and Dulce de Leche Brioche Knot
- Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls
- Brioche Doughnuts with roasted strawberry and vanilla bean pastry cream
Made this recipe and love it?
If you made this recipe then I would LOVE for you to leave me a review below to let me know how you liked it! Also, please make sure to tag me on Instagram if you make it!
A note on salt and oven temperature
It is important to note the type of salt that is called for in a recipe. I use Diamond Crystal salt throughout my recipes - if you use a different sort of kosher salt or regular table salt you will need to adjust accordingly as some salt is 'saltier' than others. Morton's salt is twice as salty, so you will need half the quantity. Same goes for a regular table salt. I am working to get gram measurements throughout my recipes for salt but still getting there.
All oven temperatures are conventional unless otherwise stated. If you are baking on fan / convection, you will need to adjust the temperature. An oven thermometer is a great investment to ensure that your oven is the correct temperature.
Using the double / triple function in the recipe card
You will notice that there is a '1X' '2X' '3X' button in my recipe card. This can be used for doubling or tripling a recipe. However, please note that this only doubles the ingredient quantities in the ingredients list and NOT in the method. If there are quantities or pan sizes in the method of the recipe (for example weigh out 150g brown butter), you will need to scale this number manually. It will also not change the baking time in the recipe so you will need to adjust this yourself too. It is always a good idea to read through a recipe fully before doubling it just to check this. If you would like to scale this recipe or convert for another pan size, use my calculator!
Tools and equipment
For a list of my go-to tools and equipment, I have a post you can refer to here.
Why is this recipe in grams?
I post my recipes in grams as it is the most accurate way to bake. Cups are not only inaccurate but they vary in volume worldwide. There is no way for me to provide one cup measure that works for everyone. However, posting in weight fixes this issue. If you would like the recipe in cups you are welcome to convert it yourself via google, but please do not ask me to do it for you as I am not comfortable providing a recipe using a method that I have not tested. Baking with a scale is easy, accurate, and also makes cleanup super simple. Here is the scale that I use if you would like a recommendation! Here's to accurate baking!
Recipe For Chocolate Espresso Rye BabkaPrint
Chocolate, Espresso, and Rye Babka
- Prep Time: 45 Mins
- Cook Time: 60 Mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: Makes two loaves 1x
A super easy, rich chocolate and espresso babka made with a rye brioche. The brioche dough is super soft and fluffy, made with rye flour for a toasty finish, and is filled with an espresso chocolate filling and finished with a simple syrup to give it shine and lock in moisture
Rye Babka Dough
- 250g whole milk, lukewarm
- 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- 85g rye flour
- 480g all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Chocolate Espresso Filling
- 350g dark chocolate (I used 70%)
- 150g unsalted butter (cold from the fridge is fine)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
- 4 tsp espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee powder)
- 120g powdered sugar, sifted
- 60g water
- 50g sugar
- ¼ tsp vanilla bean paste
- In a small bowl, combine the yeast, milk and 2 Tbsp of the sugar. Mix well, and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the remaining 2 Tbsp sugar, rye flour, all-purpose flour, and salt. Mix briefly to combine. Add the eggs, vanilla, and foamy yeast mixture to the bowl. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is starting to come together. It may look slightly dry but do not worry - it will mix together nicely in the next steps. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for another 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next piece. This process should take 3-4 minutes.
- Once the butter is fully incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes, until the dough is very soft and smooth.
- Transfer to an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to rise - at least 3 hours and up to overnight (see notes)
CHOCOLATE ESPRESSO FILLING
- Place the chocolate and butter into a medium heat proof bowl. Set over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the bowl does not touch the water, and heat, stirring often, until the butter and chocolate have melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Remove from the heat and add the salt, vanilla bean paste, espresso powder and powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly, stirring occasionally.
ASSEMBLY AND BAKING
- Lightly grease two loaf pans, and line with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 16" x 25" rectangle (40x64cm). Spread the chocolate filling over the surface of the dough. Starting with the long side, roll up into a tight spiral. Measure the length of the sausage of dough, then cut in half so it is in two sausages.
- Place these pieces side by side on the lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for an hour.
- Remove the dough from the fridge. Using a sharp knife, cut the first piece in half, lengthwise, and then cross the pieces over each other, and then cross over two more times to form a twist, as shown in the photos (See my IG highlight).
- Place into the loaf pan, tucking the ends under slightly if needed. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
- Lightly cover the loaf pans in plastic wrap, and place in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the dough springs back lightly when pressed. While the loaves are proofing, preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and measure 190°f / 90°c on an instant read thermometer. While the loaves are baking prepare the sugar syrup - combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then boil for 1-2 minutes. Leave to stand.
- Remove from the oven and brush both loaves with the sugar syrup while hot. Allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes then remove and transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container, or wrap tightly before freezing.
This Babka makes amazing French Toast!
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Could I substitute vanilla extract for the vanilla paste? Would it be the same amount? Very excited to make this, I’ve always been intimidated by babka!
Hi! Yep same amount of vanilla extract 🙂
I always thought this was difficult to make. You make it look so easy and it great to see no Nutella can't stand the stuff..LOL
I do like the sound of your apple and carbon, think it would be lovelly with apricots too. Thankyou I look forward to baking these...
Yay I hope you do! They are so good!
This is super delicious!!!!
And not that difficult to make.
Yay I am so glad that you enjoyed! It is definitely a favourite of mine! x
Hi Erin, thanks for sharing the recipe. Would I be able to let the dough rise in the tin overnight so we can have it for morning tea? Janis
Hi! I haven't tried it but it should be just fine with this one! I would leave it on the counter for 20 min or so before you put it into the fridge just to give it a head start, then take it out when you're preheating the oven to make sure that it has risen properly!
This is a great recipe. It made my first babka making a success and was super fun! The only thing is that I wish I just trusted my instinct instead of using the internal temp given by the recipe. It looked great after 40 minutes but I put it back in for another few minutes because my internal temp wasn’t reaching 190. Those few minutes caused it to be just a little dry (and even then it registered 185).
So glad you like it! Sorry it turned out a wee bit dry! Intuition always wins! x
This babka came out so lovely and very tasty. It was so strange that it took 20 mins for mine to bake. I am obviously not an experienced baker and had a problem that when the babka is cooling, it dipped like deflated somehow in the middle. What have I done wrong? Did I overproof too long?
Hi, it sounds like your oven was too hot! It should have taken a little longer to bake and then sounds like maybe it slumped a little because the inside wasn't fully finished? So sorry it didn't work out for you!
This was is AMAZING!!! Once I see this babka in my feed, I can't stop thinking about it until I make it again. The rye flour in the dough is just enough to give it flavor without making the dough too slack (as it's low in gluten!), and the filling is DIVINE. I do downscale the bread dough recipe a touch (downscaled everything pro ratio until total flour is 500 g, keep the two eggs) so I can bake it in one big bread tin. My BF actually hates coffee but it's just subtle enough to know it's there, and we both loved it! As we say in Dutch, what you don't know, doesn't harm you 😛
I also skipped the sugar syrup bc I usually eat about a third of a babka for breakfast and my teeth can't handle it otherwise 😀
Hi! Ahhhh I am so glad that you love! This modification sounds so good!
Hey Erin, this looks incredible, is there anyway to substitute the yeast for sourdough starter?
Hi! I don't know sorry as I haven't tried! I would look for a sourdough enriched dough - the one from these sourdough cinnamon rolls would probably work nicely! I have been meaning to try and use it for a babka!
If I don’t have enough baking chocolate can I use chocolate chips instead for the filling?
Hi! Chocolate chips generally don't melt. Regular bar chocolate will work great too!
I am trying to think how I could do both rises in the refrigerator. Is this possible? Thanks!
Hi! So sorry, I only just saw this. Yep you can do first one in the fridge then assemble and pop back in and it should be fine 🙂
Amazing recipe! It was the first but definitely not the last time I will make babka. Since it yiels two loaves, I halved the chocolate mixture and used your apple filling for the 2nd loaf. Difficult to say which one we liked best!
Also, grams for the win 😀
Yayyy so happy you loved! So smart to do two different fillings too!
Hi Erin! I'm digging through your babka/brioche recipes and noticed that this one calls for 50g more milk than most (250g vs 200g), although there is some variation in the amount of milk you typically call for. That seems like a pretty big difference to me. Is this dough noticeably wetter than some of your other brioche doughs?
Hi! This one has rye in it which means that I upped the hydration to account for it. I usually use 250g milk in babka / brioche now - I just haven't posted a recipe since I started using the higher quantity! The Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls is the go-to I use for everything now. My recipe has just evolved over the years. They all work, this one is just softer and nicer to work with!
Would I be able to halve the recipe? No freezer space and having 2 is too dangerous haha
Hi! You can, but I haven't tried it sorry!
This was just the baking project I needed last week. Surprisingly easy, and now the reason why my children think chocolate bread is an acceptable breakfast food. Thank you! Cant wait to make again and try a cinnamon filling!
Hi! Ahhh so happy it worked so well for you!
Hello! I have a question about the first rise steps. So, if I don’t want to do an over night rise, can I leave it out after mixing for 45-1hr like you would normally do with bread? Or do I need to mix it and then give it 2hr in the fridge before rolling it out and filling?
Hi! Yep you can do the first rise at room temperature! The only thing is that it may be a little harder to roll out as cold dough is easier to work with. I mention this in the tips section of the post too - there is notes about doing a cold rise all in one day. 🙂
This babka was such a hit. The flavors perfectly balance sweet & slightly tangy. The rye and espresso help keep it balanced and make you want to go back for another bite. The recipe was clear, concise, and easy to follow.
Can I sub the whole milk with 2%? Will it just cause the dough to have less flavour/not as nice of a texture?
I haven't tried it but it should be fine!
I have always wanted to try babka - and this recipe looked too good to pass up. So here I go! Already had some mishaps (my kitchenaid likes to leak oil and got some on my dough, but I just picked that spot out >_>).
I thought I had two loaf pans.... I do not, lol. So my question is - can I freeze this dough before it goes into the loaf pan for the final proof?
Hope to have the first loaf baked soon - will update my review when I get to eat it 😀
Hi! Whoops sorry I just saw this. Hope it worked out ok! I haven't tried freezing before!
Hi~! No worries 😀 Updating with a star rating because I just tried the first loaf and oh my god, it's delicious. I very slightly overbaked it a little but it's just so good, I don't even care lmao.
On the second loaf I froze - turns out it's okay! Takes a long time to thaw lol, but I just sliced it in half and let the halves sit in my room temp oven for a few hours. I wove them together (clumsily, messily). Shoved them in a pan and let it raise for another hour or so. The house is pretty warm, so it didn't take too awful long to see that the yeast survived the freezing. It's in the oven now 😀
So, so good! I don't know if these will survive long enough to become french toast but I'll bet it's absolute dynamite. This recipe's a keeper!
Hi there, I am super excited to try this recipe - just wondering if it would be possible to mix the butter in by hand as I don't have a stand mixer 🙁 any tips much appreciated!!! Thanks 🙂
Hi! I have a no mixer brioche recipe in my rhubarb custard buns. you can use that - double it for this recipe
I just made this and it tasted great! But the dough came out... crumbly? It still held together had a nice crust, but the slices were not easy to cut! The filling didn't seem to stick to the dough if that makes sense. Could you help me troubleshoot please?
Hi! Oh that's strange! Did you make the recipe by weight?
I did make it by weight! Although I made it with 565g AP flour instead of the rye. Although it wasn't dry - so i'm wondering if that's normal?
Amazing recipe! I have never made babka or brioche dough before but was committed to making this all in one day. It came out AMAZING. Very through instructions and loved the addition of being able to watch the video on Instagram of the rolling and twisting.
Super delicious! I was a bit nervous about working with rye but it wasn't too hard at all!
This turned out spectacularly delicious! First time baking with yeast and it rose perfectly despite my temperamental oven. Will make again.
hi Erin, LOVE the brioche recipe!! I did a poppyseed filling and wrapped the babka as you describe it. Moreover, I made tiny babka's with chocolate filling (no espresso powder) using your braiding-rolling-muffin tin technique. They make very cute breakfast rolls.
I made the dough the afternoon before, shaped the babka and rolls after 3 hours of proofing, left them for 1 hour on the bench and then put them in the fridge overnight. The following morning took them out of the fridge while the oven was pre-heating. This works brilliantly and definitely ensures super breakfast treats ;-).
Thanks for sharing your talent on this blog! Love every single recipe!!
So. Good. Great weekend bake. I dedicated Saturday to it so we could have Sunday for breakfast. Want to try a cinnamon sugar version next time but will use this dough which is a dream to work with. I’ve also made the dough the night before and final bake the next morning. I find an hour in my fridge makes the log too firm to twist but a 30 minute chill before cutting/shaping works well.
Question, not being snarky, truly curious. Why are all the other ingredients in grams but the sugar and yeast are in tsp/tbsp measurements. Wouldn’t it be easier to have it all in grams?
Hi hi! I know it's confusing haha - lots of people don't have a scale which is accurate enough to measure by the single gram (some only do 5g) so for things like yeast I usually do tsp first as it's my best chance of getting people to use the most accurate measure! I need to go back and add in yeast in grams in recipes but I haven't gotten around to it yet!