You are going to fall in love with this gluten-free babka recipe. It’s made with a special sweet dough mix and it’s braided to perfection. This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
You have stumbled upon a real treat. I’m going to show you how to make the best gluten-free babka of your life.
You’re going to send me fan mail after you eat this delicious, gooey and sweet chocolate babka.
You may have heard of babka before, particularly if you’re a Seinfeld fan. Remember the episode with the chocolate babka? Here’s a snippet to refresh your memory.
What is Babka?
Babka is a sweet braided bread common among Jewish people, although many cultures enjoy it too.
The bread is made with yeast-leavened dough that is rolled out similarly to cinnamon rolls and then spread with different fillings such as chocolate, cinnamon, fruit, or cheese. The dough is then rolled up and braided before baking.
Trader Joe’s offers a chocolate babka that I hear is delicious. I bet it is. Unfortunately I can’t eat it because it contains gluten.
But have no fear because I’m going to show you how to make your own chocolate babka, and it all starts by using the right gluten-free flour blend.
About that Flour
To make gluten-free babka, you want to have the right tools, and the flour is the most essential tool to getting it right.
Please note that Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour, a flour blend I use often, is not recommended for this recipe. In fact, Bob’s Red Mill says that it doesn’t recommend it’s 1-to-1 flour for yeasted recipes at all.
One flour mix that is recommended for yeasted recipes and sweet bread recipes is by Lorraine’s Gluten Free.
I found Lorraine’s Gluten Free on my quest to make the perfect gluten-free cinnamon rolls. I have made cinnamon rolls time and time again to no avail until I discovered Lorraine’s Sweet Dough Mix. This mix allowed me to make the best sticky and doughy gluten-free cinnamon rolls … and now I’m using it to make this chocolatey gluten-free babka too.
You cannot use another flour blend to make this recipe. That’s because Lorraine’s Sweet Dough Mix contains all the flour, sugar, starches and binders needed for this recipe. In other words, the mix contains all the dry ingredients you need to make the recipe, just as a box mix at the grocery store would contain all the ingredients needed to make the cake or cupcake pictured on the box.
How to Make Gluten-Free Babka
I’m going to show you how to make a gluten-free chocolate babka to remember using Lorraine’s chocolate babka recipe along with some of my tips and tricks to making everything turn out right.
Step #1: Prepare the Dough
To make the dough, combine 1 1/4 cups warm whole milk or dairy-free milk (105-110ºF) with 3/4 cup of melted butter (1 1/2 sticks). Add 2 large eggs (at room temperature) and mix everything together.
Add the entire contents of the Lorraine’s Sweet Dough Mix into the mixing bowl of your standing mixer, along with the three included yeast packets. Whisk it together and then slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix on low until incorporated (about 15-20 seconds) then mix on medium-high speed for 5 minutes.
Form the sticky dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it about 2 hours to rise in a warm place in your home. The dough should double in size.
Once the dough has risen, place it in your fridge for 2 hours or overnight. Cold dough will stiffen and be easier to work with.
Step #2: Knead Dough
Add the dough to a floured surface (use any gluten-free flour you have on hand) and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky (or only a little sticky).
Divide the dough in half. You only need half of the dough to make one loaf of babka. You can either made two babka loaves, or save the dough and make cinnamon rolls or donuts instead. The sweet dough is extremely versatile! Cover the excess dough until needed.
Step #3: Roll Out Dough
Divide the dough in half again and roll out each half on a flour surface to form two rectangles. It doesn’t need to look perfect.
Now spread a generous layer of Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread on each rectangular piece of dough. If the Nutella is stiff, microwave it for 30 seconds to make it more malleable. You can also sprinkle chocolate chips, hazelnuts or other topping (optional) or leave as is.
Tip! Do as I say, not as I do. Be sure to use a generous about of Nutella when spreading it out onto the dough. I was running low on Nutella after testing this recipe multiple times, so I used what I had. But it’s better if you spread the chocolate hazelnut spread to the edges and coat it generously. It will result in a more gooey result!
Step #4: Form Babka
Roll each rectangle piece of dough tightly together, jelly roll style, and pinch the ends together to secure it in place.
Now braid the dough, folding one of the rolls over the other until fully braided. Pinch the ends together to seal them in place before placing the braided dough inside a lightly greased 9×5 prepared loaf pan.
Brush the top of the dough with heavy cream, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm place to rise for 1.5-2 hours.
Below is what the babkas look like after they have risen and right before baking.
Step #5: Bake Babka
After the babkas have risen, place them in a 350º F oven for 35-40 minutes or until the top begins to brown. Allow the gluten-free babka to sit in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
You can add more heavy cream on top, or a sweet syrup or frosting. I like to leave it as is and add sweetness to each slice, if needed.
Once the babkas are slightly cooled, go ahead and cut into them with a serrated knife. Each slice will have plenty of chocolate goodness in it and you can always add more! This is a truly delicious sweet bread.
A Babka to Remember
If you thought my cinnamon roll recipe was one for the books, you’re going to love this gluten-free chocolate babka recipe. Every slice is sweet and gooey, and the chocolate oozes everywhere.
It tastes best warm, so heat each slice for a few seconds in your microwave before eating. For additional sweetness, spread it with additional Nutella or sweet butter just before serving.
Store leftover babka in a sealed container on your countertop. You can also freeze the extra loaf for a rainy day.
Here are answers to your most frequently asked questions when making this gluten-free babka recipe:
Can I make it dairy free? Yes, simply find dairy-free swaps for the following ingredients:
- Milk (use almond, soy or cashew milk)
- Butter (use Earth Balance vegan butter)
- Heavy cream (use Silk dairy-free heavy cream or dairy-free milk)
- Chocolate chips (use dairy-free chocolate chips from Enjoy Life)
- Dairy-free chocolate spread (you can use this brand, or make your own. Many people will melt vegan chocolate chips and combine it with a nut butter to get a delicious chocolaty spread).
Can I make it egg free? The dough requires two eggs, and I have not tested it with an egg substitute. If you want to try it egg free, either use an egg replacer or two flax eggs (each flax egg is 3 tbsp warm water + 1 tbsp flaxseed meal).
The dough is too sticky? You’ll want to add flour to the dough until it’s no longer sticky. Unfortunately the Lorraine’s Sweet Dough mix doesn’t come with extra flour, so use any all purpose or 1-to-1 gluten-free flour you have on hand and knead it into the dough until the dough is no longer sticky.
I’m confused. How many loaves does this recipe make? This recipe makes two loaves of babka. Once you make the sweet dough mix, you divide it in half. Each half will be for one loaf of babka. It can feel confusing because once you divide the dough in half, you’ll want to halve it again as you’ll need to create two strands of dough per babka for braiding.
Tip! A lot of times I’ll cut the dough in half, use one half to make one babka, and the other half to make a half batch of my gooey cinnamon rolls.
How do you make the optional syrup topping? If you’d like to make your bread a little sweeter, you can add a simple syrup to the top of it after baking it. Combine 1/3 water and 1/3 cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and pour it on top of the babka as soon as it comes out of the oven. The glaze will add sweetness and a shiny glaze.
Gotta sweet tooth? Try some of these recipes on for size:
- 1 1/4 cups warm whole milk temperature between 105 – 110 F
- 3/4 cups butter 1 1/2 sticks, melted
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 package of Lorraine’s Sweet Dough Mix
- 1 cup Nutella or hazelnut spread more if needed (1/2 cup per babka)
- 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts or chocolate chips optional, more if needed (1/4 cup per babka)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup per babka
Syrup Topping (optional)
- 1/3 cup sugar per babka
- 1/3 cup water per babka
- Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf baking pan (or grease 2 loaf pans if using the entire batch of dough). Please note this recipe will make two loaves of babka.
- Add Lorraine's Sweet Dough and 3 included yeast packets into the large bowl attached to your standing mixer. Whisk to combine.
- Combine the warm milk (105º-110º F) and the melted (but not hot) butter and whisk until combined. Add eggs and whisk until combined.
- With mixer running on low, slowly add wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Once the wet and dry ingredients are combined, turn the mixer to medium or medium high and mix dough for 5 minutes until the dough is sticky and smooth.
- Lightly grease a clean bowl. Gather the dough, shape it into a mound, and place it inside the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 1.5 to 2 hours in a warm place (you can use a warming mat or the proofing setting in your oven).
- After the dough has risen, chill it for at least two hours, or overnight, so it stiffens and becomes easier to work with.
- On a heavily floured surface, knead dough until it's no longer sticky (a little sticking is ok).
- IMPORTANT! This recipe makes two loaves. Divide the dough in half. Wrap the extra half in the plastic wrap until you're ready to make the second loaf.
- Divide the half of dough in half again and form each half into a ball. Roll out each half of dough into evenly sized rectangles (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick). It doesn't need to be perfect.
- Heat the Nutella in the microwave for 20 seconds and stir until smooth. Spread the Nutella onto the dough and sprinkle the toasted chopped hazelnut and chocolate chips if using.
- Roll each rectangle dough like you would roll a cinnamon roll until you get two snake-like dough strands.
- Braid the two strands and pinch the ends together. Place the braided loaf in a greased loaf pan. If making two loaves, repeat the same process to make the second loaf.
- Brush the top of each babka with heavy cream. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area to rise for another 1.5 to 2 hours.
- After babka has risen, preheat the oven to 350º F and bake the babka for about 35 minutes until lightly brown on top and cooked through. Do not overbake.
- While the babka is baking, combine syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour the sweet syrup on top of the bread as soon as it comes out of the oven.
- Allow the babkas to cool in their pans for 5 minutes before placing them on a wire cooling rack to cool completely.