Babka is a rich dough usually filled with ground nuts, jam, chocolate, dried fruit or any combination of those things. This Chocolate Cherry Babka recipe is baked under a dome, which traps in moisture causing the rich dough to rise. The dough is filled with a creamy chocolate spread and plump dried cherries. Although complicated in appearance, it is easy to make.

This is my final post celebrating national flour month. It’s been a great opportunity for me to think about the different kinds of flour that I use in bread baking. I want you to enjoy making quality bread at home, just like we do. And I want to thank my friends at Emile Henry who are supporting this effort with their giveaway. This celebration also launches the recipe booklet produced to accompany their bakeware. I was fortunate in helping them write the booklet and develop recipes expressly for their bakeware.

Like most rich bread dough such as brioche, babka dough uses high protein flour. Bread flour helps the rich dough, which contains eggs butter and sugar, rise. You mix the dough for this Chocolate Cherry Babka in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook because you need to blend the ingredients thoroughly and knead the dough to develop the protein into a smooth silky dough.

After the dough has risen, you roll it out like pie dough into a large rectangle then schmear it with filling.  I’ve included a recipe for a rich chocolate one, but I’ve also used canned poppy seed in some of these photos. (Poppy seed filling was a specialty of my maternal grandmother who came to the U.S. from Poland when she was a teenager.)  And canned almond, apricot or almond filling are also delicious in this babka.

Jump to Recipe

Because of the added sugar and butter, babka dough rises slowly. It’s important to be patient and watch the dough to decide when it is ready. After mixing the dough, let it rest, covered, in a bowl for anywhere from one to three hours. The dough should rise to one and a half to two times the size that you started with.

Here is the dough in the mixer. I’m poking it with my index finger to be sure it isn’t too sticky. I would add a teaspoon or two more flour if I felt it was sticky.

Chocolate Cherry Babka

Here is the dough caught in the action of being kneaded. Even though this photo is blurry, you can see how the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and it is kneaded.

Chocolate Cherry Babka

I scrape the dough out onto a silicone mat or floured worktable.

Chocolate Cherry Babka

See how smooth it is?  Those are specks of ground cardamom in the dough.

Chocolate Cherry Babka

Here is the dough before rising.

Here is the dough after a few hours of rising (or fermenting). See how it has nearly doubled in size?

To prepare the babka for baking, you roll out the dense dough into a large rectangle. The silky supple dough rolls out easily into a shape that can be coated with the filling and rolled up. You spread the chocolate filling into an even layer over the large sheet of the dough. Leave a half inch border on each edge so the dough sticks to itself. The cut the dough in half lengthwise. Roll up each piece of dough into a long , tight rope. Twist together the two ropes of dough and form it into a wreath shape. Pinch together the ends of the dough.


When rolling out any kind of bread dough, you will notice its tendency to spring back. This is the elastic property of gluten protein.  Just wait a few minutes for the dough to relax. Then continue rolling.


Chocolate Cherry Babka

Here I use my hand to tug on a corner of the dough to shape it into a neat rectangle.


The silky chocolate filling spreads easily over the thinned dough.

I scatter dried cherries evenly over the coated dough.

To make two neat logs for the babka braid, cut the rolled and filled dough in half lengthwise then roll each on up into a tight log.

Rolling in two

You can see it better here on a version of the recipe that I filled with canned poppy seed filling.

To braid the dough, start by crossing over the two logs of filled dough in the center.

Cross over

Then continue to twist the two logs together.



Bring the two ends together to form a wreath shape.  Tuck under and pinch together the two ends.

Wreath of chocolate cherry babka dough

Before proofing the dough, brush it with egg wash then sprinkle some streusel on top. The egg wash gives the babka some shine and the streusel some texture.



Wreath of dough with streusel

Right before baking, score the dough with a lame or serrated knife in several places.

Chocolate cherry babke scored and ready to bake

Here is the Chocolate Cherry Babka right from the oven.

Finished Chocllate Cherry babka

Here is a poppy seed filled babka right from the oven.

Chocolate Cherry Babka




Here are slices of a poppy seed filled babka.


Chocolate Cherry Babka

Yield: 1 Round Ring-Shaped Loaf

Chocolate Cherry Babka


For the Dough:

1/2 cup (120 grams) whole milk

6 Tablespoons (90 grams) butter 

2 ½ teaspoons (7 grams/ 1 envelope) instant yeast

¼ cup (60 grams) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

3 cups (375 grams) bread flour

¾ teaspoon ground cardamom

1 ½ teaspoons (9 grams) table salt

For the Filling:

1/3 cup (82 grams) heavy cream

6 ounces (170 grams) semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 ounce (30 grams) butter

2 Tablespoons (40 grams) honey

1 Tablespoon (8 grams) cocoa powder

1/4 cup (25 grams) powdered sugar

½ cup (85 grams) dried cherries

For the Streusel Topping:

3 Tablespoons (27 grams) all-purpose flour

3 Tablespoons (45 grams) butter

3 Tablespoons (24 grams) powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons (15 grams) dry breadcrumbs

Egg wash made from 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water


  1. To make the dough: Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan until simmering and the butter melts. Cool to 110°F.
  2. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the yeast, sugar and eggs. Blend for about 1 minutes. Add the flour, salt and cardamom. Knead on low speed for several minutes until the dough comes together. Scrape the bowl if needed and knead for 4 to 6 minutes until you have a smooth, supple soft dough.
  3. Scrape the soft dough out onto a worktable. Form into a ball and place in a container or bowl. Cover and let rise for 1 ½ to 3 hours until the dough rises 1 ½ to 2 times in volume.
  4. Make the filling while the dough rises. Place the heavy cream in a bowl over simmering water. When the cream is warm and bubbles appear on its surface, add the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts. Remove it from the heat. Add the butter and stir until it melts. Whisk in the honey, cocoa and powdered sugar. Set aside to cool and firm to a spreadable consistency.
  5. Place the dried cherries in a  small bowl. Cover with boiling water. Let sit for a few minutes. Drain in a strainer and set aside.
  6. Make the Streusel Topping: Combine the flour, butter, powdered sugar and breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Blend the ingredients with your fingertips into a uniform crumbly mass. Set aside.
  7. To form and bake the Babka: Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured silicone mat or worktable. Press the dough out into a rectangle. Then roll it out into a large rectangle measuring approximately 16 inches x 22 inches. Spread the Chocolate Filling into an even layer over the dough’s surface leaving ½-inch border plain on each side. Scatter the drained dry cherries over the dough.
  8. Cut the dough in half lengthwise. Roll each piece of the dough up from the wider side into a tight roll. 
  9. To form the dough into a wreath shape, lay one half of the cut dough over the other to make a cross. Then twist together the two pieces of dough from each end. Gather the long twist of dough into a circle. Tuck the ends under and pinch them together to make a wreath. 
  10. Transfer the shaped dough to the circle of parchment. Place on a sheet tray. Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with the streusel topping. 
  11. Cover with a sheet of plastic and let proof until visibly puffed from 1 to 2 hours depending on the temperature in your kitchen. 
  12. Thirty minutes before baking, place an Emile Henry Bread Cloche into the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  13. Remove the bread cloche from the oven. Remove the lid and carefully lift the parchment to transfer the proofed dough onto the heated platter. Cover with the heated lid and place in the oven.
  14. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the dough is well risen and starting to brown. Bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes to evenly brown the loaf. The internal temperature should be 180 – 190°F. Cool on a wire rack before serving dusted lightly with powdered sugar if desired.