Chocolate Babka


This recipe is based on Yotam Ottolenghi’s Chocolate Krantz Cake.


For the dough

  • 4 cups / 530 g all- purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 cup / 100 g superfine sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fast-rising active dry yeast
  • grated zest of 1 small lemon
  • 3 extra-large free-range eggs
  • 1/2 cup / 120 ml water rounded 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3cup / 150 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 3/4-inch / 2cm cubes
  • sunflower oil, for greasing

For the chocolate filling

  • scant 1/2 cup / 50 g confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup / 30 g best-quality cocoa powder
  • 4 oz / 130 g bittersweet/dark chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup / 120 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup / 75 g pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp superfine sugar

For the sugar syrup (enough for both cakes)

  • 1/3 cup / 80 ml water
  • 0.5 cups + 1/8 cup / 130 g superfine sugar


  1. Make the dough by placing the flour, sugar, yeast, and lemon zest in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add the eggs and water and mix on low speed for a few seconds, then increase the speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes, until the dough comes together. Add the salt and then start adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, mixing until it is incorporated into the dough. Continue mixing for 10 minutes on medium speed, until the dough is completely smooth, elastic, and shiny.
  2. Place the dough in a large bowl brushed with vegetable oil, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in the fridge overnight.
  3. Grease two loaf pans with butter and line the bottom of each pan with a piece of waxed paper. Divide the dough in half and keep one-half covered in the fridge.
  4. Make the filling by mixing together the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate, and butter. You will get a spreadable paste. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle measuring 12 by 10 inches. Spread half the chocolate mixture over the rectangle, leaving a 3⁄4-inch. Sprinkle half the pecans on top of the chocolate, then sprinkle over half the superfine sugar.
  5. Roll up the rectangle like a roulade, starting from the long side that is closest to you and ending at the other long end. Press to seal the end.
  6. Trim about 3⁄4 inch off both ends of the roulade with a serrated knife. Use the knife to gently cut the roll into half lengthwise. With the cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of each half, and then lift the right half over the left half. Work to create a simple, two-pronged plait. Gently squeeze together the other ends so that you are left with the two halves, intertwined, showing the filling on top. Lift the cake into a loaf pan. Repeat with the reserved dough. Cover the pan with a wet tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 to 11⁄2 hours.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the tea towels, place the cakes on the middle rack of the oven, and bake for about 25 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. While the cakes are in the oven, make the syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a boil. As soon as the sugar dissolves, remove from the heat and leave to cool down. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, brush all of the syrup over them. It is important to use up all the syrup. Leave the cakes until they are just warm, then remove them from the pans and let cool. Enjoy!