These Babka Buns are filled with chocolatey and hazelnut flavors, along with Nutella goodness. Perfect for a tasty dessert or the next time you are hosting brunch.
You don’t need to hang out here long to be able to tell I love homemade desserts. Especially ones that you can fill with chocolate. So if we are the same people, be sure to try my Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice Cream Pie (because amazing things happen when you turn a pie into a frozen treat) or No Bake Chocolate Dessert Lasagna.
Let me preface the babka bun recipe by saying that they take a little while to make. But don’t be alarmed because they are totally worth the wait! Traditionally, you may have seen babka made in loaves, but we are going to be making actual buns. So, we will be using a baking pan versus loaf pans.
Ingredients for Chocolate Hazelnut Babka Buns:
For the Dough:
- flour – all purpose is fine to use
- instant yeast – make sure you get the instant kind
- whole milk – the milk needs to be warmed before using
- Butter – you will need unsalted butter and allow time for it to come to room temperature before slicing into small squares
- To make the egg wash, you will need an additional large egg that’s beaten.
Chocolate Hazelnut Filling:
- Hazelnuts – sometimes you can get these cheaper if you buy them at bulk stores (Sam’s, Costco, etc.)
- Nutella – this is my favorite but you can use any chocolate spread.
For the Glaze:
- Sugar and water
How to Make Chocolate Hazelnut Babka Buns
- Insert the dough hook attachment into your stand mixer.
- Add the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar into the large bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk together, then make a well in the middle.
- Heat the milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds. You want it to be warm, but not hot.
- Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, then pour them into the warm milk and beat again.
- Add the milk and egg mixture to the well you made inside of the mixing bowl. Turn on the mixer and mix at a low speed for about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium for another 7 minutes. If needed, use an offset spatula to scrape down the side of the bowl.
- While you are still mixing (on medium) add the slices of butter, one piece at a time. Make sure the butter is fully combined before adding another square. Once all of the butter has been added, you should have a smooth elastic dough.
- Grease a large mixing bowl with olive oil and place the dough in. Cover with plastic wrap and place Babka Bun dough in the refrigerator. Let it rise for at least 6 hours, but overnight works the best.
Making the Filling
- To make the chocolate filling, place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast them for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Add the Nutella spread to a small bowl.
- Once the hazelnuts have finished roasting, remove them from the oven and use a sharp knife to chop them. Mix the nuts into the Nutella.
Assembling the Buns
- Flour your work surface along with your hands.
- Take the dough from the fridge, place it on the floured surface and cut it into 8 sections.
- Roll each section with your hands into a ball. Then use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough balls into a rectangle. The rectangle doesn’t have to be perfect but should be about 9×5 inches.
- Add a heaping tablespoon of filling onto each rectangle, keeping it away from the edges.
- With the long side towards you, roll the dough into a sausage shape and seal the free edges with your fingers.
- Cut the dough lengthwise with a knife, but leave one attached by a gap of an inch or so.
- Twist the two strands of dough together and bring in the ends to make a circular shape. Tuck each piece underneath the loop like tying a knot.
- Place the chocolate hazelnut babka buns on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Leave them to rise for 40 minutes. You can let them sit on your countertop, as long as it’s fairly warm in the kitchen.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Brush the buns with the eggwash once it seems like they have doubled in size. Bake them for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown.
Making the Glaze
- Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow the syrup to boil for 2 minutes, stir occasionally while the sugar dissolves. Glaze the buns immediately once they come out of the oven.
- Allow them to cool before serving on the baking sheet, or transfer them to a wire rack.
- It’s much easier to make babka buns over two days. The first day, allow your dough to rise overnight in the fridge. Then, finish baking the second day.
- Do not overheat the milk. If it is too hot it will kill the yeast.
- Once you have added all of the butter, the dough should feel tacky but not stick to your finger. DO NOT ADD MORE FLOUR.
- Leave space on the baking pan so the buns don’t touch and have room to spread out when cooking.
Babka originated in the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe in the early 19th century. Bakers rolled up extra challah dough with fruit jam or cinnamon and baked it as a loaf alongside the challah. The chocolate babka likely developed in mid-20th century America. Its name (though not necessarily the dish itself) may be related to a type of Easter cake popular in Poland and Ukraine known as baba or the diminutive babka, which means “grandmother”, related to the Yiddish bubbe.
Even though it may seem like a bread, it’s actually yeasted cake!
Traditionally speaking, Jewish people would eat it as a dessert, but it’s one of those recipes similar to cinnamon rolls where I think you could eat it whenever.
These chocolate buns are best when eaten within the first 24 hours of making. You can store them in an airtight container or plastic bag on the counter for a couple of days, but past that they start getting stale.
Chocolate Hazelnut Babka Buns
- Stand Mixer
For the dough
- 3 cups plain flour
- 1 packet instant yeast
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 cup milk warmed
- 5 eggs
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature and cut into small squares of about a tablespoon each.
- 1 egg beaten
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- 2 cups Nutella or any chocolate spread
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- Fit a stand mixer with the dough hook.
- Put the flour, yeast, salt and sugar into a large stand mixer bowl. Use a handheld whisk to combine the mixture then make a well in the centre.
- Warm the milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds. It should be warm but not hot. Break the eggs into a jug or small glass bowl, lightly beat then add the warm milk and briefly beat again.
- Pour the milk and egg mixture into the well you made in the flour mixture.
- Mix on a slow speed for 2 minutes then increase the speed to medium for 7 minutes.
- Keeping the speed at medium, add the butter one piece at a time allowing the butter to become fully combined with the dough before adding the next piece.
- When all the butter has been added you will have a very light, smooth and elastic dough.
- Grease a large clean bowl with a little olive oil and transfer the dough into it. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours but preferably overnight.
- To make the filling, add the hazelnuts to an ovenproof dish and roast at 350ºF for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add 2 cups of Nutella to a small mixing bowl.
- Remove the hazelnuts from the oven and use a sharp knife to roughly chop them then add them to the bowl of Nutella and mix thoroughly together.
- Generously flour the work surface and your hands. Take the dough out of the refrigerator, turn it out onto the work surface then cut it into 8 sections.
- Use your hands to roll each section into a ball then use a floured rolling pin to roll the ball into a rectangle of about 9×5 inches(it doesn’t have to be a perfect rectangle).
- Spread a heaped tablespoon of Nutella onto the rolled out dough taking care not to go all the way to the edges.
- With the longest edge facing you, roll up the dough into a sausage shape. Seal the free edge together with your fingers.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the dough lengthways but leave one attached by a gap of an inch or so.
- Twist the two strands of dough together then bring the ends in to make a circular shape. Tuck each free end of dough underneath the loop as if you’re tying a knot.
- Transfer the twisted buns to two baking trays lined with baking parchment. Leave to rise somewhere warm for 40 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. When the buns have doubled in size brush them with the beaten egg then bake them in the centre of the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Meanwhile make the glaze by adding the sugar and water to a small saucepan set over a medium heat. Boil for 2 minutes then brush the syrup over the buns as soon as the come out of the oven.
- Leave to cool for ten minutes before eating.
- It is much easier to spread the process of making babka out over the course of 2 days. Make the dough on the first day then leave it to slowly rise in the refrigerator overnight. This makes the dough easier to handle and a cold rise will greatly improve the flavor.
- The milk should be warm but not too hot otherwise it will kill the yeast. Test it by putting your finger into the milk after it’s been heated to make sure it’s not too hot.
- It will take a fairly long time to add all the butter piece by piece but this is the best technique to get a truly enriched dough with a good texture.
- After the butter has been added the dough will be very smooth and elastic. If you touch it with a dry finger no dough will stick but it should feel slightly tacky. Don’t be tempted to add extra flour.
- When it’s time to divide the dough you can weigh it in its entirety then divide the weight by 8 or just eyeball it!
- Don’t be afraid to use plenty of flour when handling the dough at the shaping stage, it will not make any difference to the final texture.
- For the second rise the buns will double in size so it’s best to keep 4 to a baking tray leaving some space in-between them. They will also get bigger during baking.
- The Babka Buns are pretty huge so you can make up to 12 if you prefer them to be smaller, however, bear in mind that twisting them together will be more difficult since you’ll have less dough to work with.
- As with all freshly baked goods, these Babka Buns are best eaten warm on the day they are baked. They will keep for a couple of days but expect them to go stale after 24 hours.