This vegan chocolate babka features pillowy dough and swirly ribbons of rich chocolate, finished with a delicious crumb topping.
Some traditionalists shun chocolate babka because it's not as "authentic" as cinnamon, but I bet this vegan chocolate babka could convert them. The gooey chocolate filling is rich and delicious, and the slightly cinnamon-y crumb topping provides the perfect finish. While it takes a bit of time, the dough is easy to prepare and the babka can either be made in one day or over two days, with the first rise done overnight in the fridge.
Prefer cinnamon to chocolate? Try my Vegan Cinnamon Babka!
How to Make the Vegan Chocolate Babka
Gather your ingredients:
- All-purpose flour
- Active dry yeast
- Granulated sugar
- Brown sugar
- Non-dairy milk
- Non-dairy butter
- Cocoa powder
- Vanilla extract
- Non-dairy mini chocolate chips (optional)
See recipe card for quantities.
Prepare the Babka Dough
Activate the yeast: Place the yeast, water, and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl and gently stir. Wait for yeast to foam up.
Add the flour, salt, and remaining sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to combine. Pour in the yeast mixture, non-dairy milk, and vanilla extract. Using the dough hook, mix on low until a rough dough forms.
Add the butter and continue mixing on low until it is fully incorporated. If the dough looks very wet, you can add more flour, one tablespoon at a time. Do not overdo it, though, or your dough will be too dry.
Continue kneading on low-medium for about 8 minutes, until the dough appears smooth and elastic. Remove the vegan babka dough from the stand mixer bowl and place it in a large lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a damp towel, and allow it to rise for about 1.5 hours.
Make the Filling and Shape the Dough
Place the risen dough in the fridge while you prepare the filling (it will be easier to roll out when it is chilled). Prepare the chocolate filling.
Grease a tube pan with non-dairy butter and then sprinkle flour over the whole inside surface of the pan to coat it; dump out the excess flour. Set the tube pan aside.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, then use a rolling pin to roll it out into a large rectangle. Distribute the chocolate filling across the dough. If using the non-dairy mini chips, sprinkle them over the filling.
Starting at the short edge, tightly roll the dough into a log. Then, using a sharp knife, cut the log in half, so that the layers are exposed. Braid the two halves together, then bring the ends to meet so that the babka is shaped in a circle. Place the braided dough into the tube pan.
Make the crumb topping: combine the brown sugar, melted non-dairy butter, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and stir. Use your fingers to distribute the crumb topping evenly across the dough.
Cover with a tea towel and allow the dough to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour; it should fill out, but will not reach the top of the pan.
Bake the Babka and Make the Sugar Syrup
Then bake the babka at 350°F for about 40-45 minutes. While the babka is baking, make the syrup: combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat on the stovetop using medium heat, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves in the water. Once the mixture simmers, remove it from heat. Brush the syrup onto the baked babka as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Allow the babka to rest in the pan for at least 30 minutes, until mostly cool. Gently lift it out of the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
The babka is best eaten fresh, but can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 2-3 days (after that, it will start to dry out). You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.
Make sure to measure your flour correctly. Flour settles as it sits, which means that if you simply scoop it into a measuring cup, you may end up with significantly more flour than intended. Instead, measure the flour as follows:
- Gently stir the flour with a spoon to get some air into it.
- Spoon it into the measuring cup. Do not pack it in or press down.
- Level it off with a knife, then add it to the mixing bowl.
Vegan Chocolate Babka
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- ½ cup water lukewarm
- 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar divided
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup non-dairy milk lukewarm
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup vegan butter softened
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- Pinch salt
- 5 tablespoons non-dairy butter melted
- 2-3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
- ½ cup non-dairy mini chocolate chips optional
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons non-dairy butter melted
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- Place the yeast, water, and 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar in a small bowl. Gently stir so that the sugar does not settle on the bottom of the bowl. Wait about 5-10 minutes for the yeast to activate (you should see the mixture foam up).
- Add the flour, salt, and remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to combine. Pour in the yeast mixture, along with the non-dairy milk and vanilla extract. Attach the dough hook and mix until a rough dough forms, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Add the butter and knead on low until it is fully incorporated into the dough; the dough will form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough looks very wet, you can add more flour, one tablespoon at a time (do not overdo it; your dough should remain soft and slightly tacky). Increase the speed of the mixer to low-medium and continue kneading until the dough appears smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel, and allow it to rise in a warm spot (between 70°-80°F) for about 1 ½ hours, until well risen (the dough may not quite double in size; this is okay).
- Place the dough in the fridge while you prepare the filling. Add the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and salt to a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the melted non-dairy butter and 2 tablespoons of the non-dairy milk to the dry ingredients and whisk until fully combined. The filling should be thick but easily spreadable; if needed, add 1 more tablespoon of non-dairy milk. Grease a tube pan with non-dairy butter and sprinkle flour over the whole inside surface of the pan to coat; dump out the excess.
- Gently punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a large rectangle; the dough should be about ⅛” thick. Use a spatula to distribute the filling evenly across the dough. If using the non-dairy mini chocolate chips, sprinkle them over the filling.
- Starting at the short edge of the dough, begin to tightly roll the dough to create one long log. Using a sharp knife, cut the log in half, so that the layers are exposed. Braid the two halves together, then bring the ends of the braids together to form a circle. Carefully lift the twisted babka dough into the tube pan.
- Make the crumb topping: combine the brown sugar, melted non-dairy butter, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and stir. Use your fingers to distribute the topping evenly over the babka dough.
- Cover the pan with a tea towel and allow the dough to rise for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The shaped babka should rise noticeably, but will not reach the top of the pan.
- As the dough finishes rising, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown. While the babka is baking, make the syrup: combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat on the stovetop using medium heat, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves in the water. Once the mixture simmers, remove it from heat. Brush the syrup onto the baked babka as soon as it comes out of the oven (it will seem like a lot, but keep going).
- Allow the babka to rest in the pan for at least 30 minutes, until mostly cool. Gently lift it out of the pan (use a knife or thin spatula to loosen, if needed) and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
- If you do not have a stand mixer, you can mix and knead the dough by hand. Start off by combining the ingredients with a wooden spoon, and when that becomes unwieldy, switch to using your hands.
- Make sure you are measuring the flour correctly. Gently stir the flour with a spoon to get some air into it. Spoon it into the measuring cup, then level off with a knife, before adding it to the mixing bowl.
- If you need to prepare the dough in advance, you may refrigerate it for several hours or overnight. Cover the bowl with tightly-fitting plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. When you are ready to roll and fill the dough, let it warm up for 45-60 minutes before rolling it out and preparing the filling.