The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.


Gpats's picture


Hi Guys

Looking for some guidance from someone who has made or even just eaten a Babka before. I made a chocolate Babka over the weekend and the recipe called for a lot of butter to be incorporated into the dough, I proofed it over night in the fridge and I think with the cold temperature and the hardening of the butter it really stopped the bread from rising at all. The Babka ended up having more of a biscuit complexion rather than bread and the dough was quite hard to work with, it seemed to me that there wasn't a whole lot of gluten development as it tore rather than stretched. It still turned out delicious and was gobbled up before I could even get a picture to share, however having never even tried a Babka before I was wondering if this is in fact how a Babka is supposed to be or if I should perhaps use less butter or if there was some other way to work with highly buttery dough's.

Thanks in advance for your help, people on the fresh loaf have always been very helpful and I really do appreciate everyone's input



pmccool's picture

From your description, that's my impression.  Yes, any dough with that much butter in it will be very stiff when chilled. 

Here's a snip from a recipe on "let babkas rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until dough reaches top of pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Alternatively, let dough rise in pans in refrigerator 8 to 12 hours; bring to room temperature, 3 to 4 hours, before baking.)" 

Their instructions include an optional cold final proof but not a cold bulk proof.  In that scenario, there is an opportunity for the yeast to do some of their magic before the dough cools enough to slow the yeast and stiffen the butter.  Note that even with the cold final proof, the instructions give time for the dough to return to room temperature before baking.


caryn1047's picture

I have made Babka a few times but unfortunately don't have any real hints for you or answers to your questions. But, perhaps there may be something in this recent article that will be helpful. Numerous recipes and comments.


Truth Serum's picture
Truth Serum

The best recipe I found was from David Liebovitz.


notes I made...make the dough and let it rest in the fridge overnight;

In my oven It took 20 minutes longer

He does a lot of steps that I adapted my cookie crumbs might have been store bought, and I flavored the syrup with cinnamon and cardamon. and I might have used some nutella . but they were a huge hit.


David R's picture
David R

Hahahaha ?

I love this - "and I might have used some nutella" ?

Wouldn't want you to lie under oath or anything. ?

Truth Serum's picture
Truth Serum

as I now recall I ran out of filling because I had tripled the recipe. Rather than melt butter and chocolate I thought why not substitute nutella.

Tal's picture

A very good recipe, with Nutella:

it works!

Have fun


Gpats's picture

Thanks a lot for your responses guys, I do really appreciate it, the fresh loaf community coming up with the good yet again.

Ill try the recipes out over the next couple of weeks and see how it goes.

Thanks again


semolina_man's picture

Big babka fan here.  Two types: Jewish and Polish.  They may be called by different names, but they fall into two types. 


Jewish babka is more well known in the US.  It is the filled, rolled type with either chocolate or cinnamon filling.  The dough is butter laden.  This to me is more of a pastry and a dessert.   Polish babka is more of a sweetened bread with no filling, and can be made in a bundt-type annulus pan. 


Chilling a butter-laden dough will cause it to lock up.  Chilling should not be part of the method.


There are YouTube videos on making Jewish babka.  If the recipe does not call for twisting the rolled and filled dough, it's not the real thing.    Real Jewish babka contains and eyebrow-raising quantity of butter and chocolate.  I prefer chocolate over the lesser (cinnamon) babka.   Check Seinfeld for babka hierarchy. 


To sample the real thing, go to Moishe's Bake Shop, 115 2nd Ave, NY, NY on the Lower East Side.  This is the genuine article. 

David White's picture
David White

I'm following the infamous Paul Hollywood recipe (not Jewish as far as I know...). I get very little rise. First proofing is in the fridge. Second proofing (shaped loaf) in the proofing box. But, Paul cautions about using too high a temperate for that second rising as it would cause the butter to leak out. So I proof at 70F. Any thoughts on how high I could safely go? Most of the rise I get comes from oven spring!

sonofabrioche's picture

I don't think I have ever gotten a good rise out of my babka dough on the first overnight fridge proof. Its not really supposed to rise anyway - the cold retards the yeast. Nevertheless the dough has always been supple and flexible - even in the fridge - if it is not, then the butter has not been completely incorporated.

My skepticism about Paul Hollywood's recipe (and Prue Leith's claim that it is better than that of the lovely NY Jewish bakeries of my childhood) aside, I've found that you can go up to about 76 degrees F (summer time in my kitchen). Unfortunately, you do have to keep an eye on it as it proves - appearance is not enough and the risk of overproofing is high. I find the poke test most useful in such situations. 

Personally, I like Ottolenghi's recipe for babka.