Traditional babka with a vegan twist: this Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Babka recipe turns out wonderfully soft and fluffy. Crafted using only simple ingredients.
Whilst I’m one-quarter Polish according to Ancestry, I haven’t actually made a babka before this Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Babka Recipe! I like to think it was somehow in my blood though, cause what started as a simple ‘I wonder if’ test in the kitchen turned out pretty decent upon the first attempt. So good actually, that I made a second one right after to take the photos for this blog post and document the recipe steps.
It was actually seeing the contestants re-create babka on an episode of the Great British Bake Off that inspired me to re-create a vegan version. In terms of the dough, a traditional babka is pretty soft and fluffy and a well-risen dough all-together – something that is not as easy to create in the absence of milk and eggs.
The dough very much reminds me of a brioche-style – sweet, fluffy, and soft both outside and inside, so in order to create this dough base, I’ve used a similar technique as with my fluffy vegan brioche-style burger buns.
What you need for this Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Babka Recipe
- plain flour
- plant milk
- dry active yeast
- caster sugar
- sea salt
- rapeseed oil
- vegan chocolate spread
- crushed hazelnuts
- maple syrup (or agave nectar)
- mixing bowl
- non-stick saucepan
- rolling pin
- loaf tin
- sharp knife
How to create a fluffy vegan dough ‘brioche-style’
The dough used for a babka could be described as a type of brioche: with a soft and fluffy texture inside and out. Making this type of dough in a vegan version is not always easy, as soft and fluffy bakes usually involve eggs or milk. There are however ways to achieve a vegan brioche-style dough – either by ingredients (for example aquafaba) or by the way the dough is processed.
In this recipe, we’re creating the texture of the bake with a simple technique. We take a part of the flour, mix it with plant milk, and heat it on the stove until a sticky thick paste is created. This paste is then combined with the remainder of the ingredients – both dry and wet. This allows for the dough to stick together whilst the yeast rises, creating a soft and fluffy texture all around.
How to twist the babka
A classic babka is most recognizable by its shape. Traditionally the dough is rolled and twisted to give it its well-known shape and texture, with beautiful lines of the filling visible on the top.
When first creating a babka, the creation of the shape might seem mysterious and complicated, however, with a few simple tricks, it’s actually much simpler than it looks.
In general, the babka dough is rolled out into a large rectangular shape, then topped with the filling (dairy-free chocolate spread on this occasion) and rolled alongside the longer edge of the dough. From there the dough is cut with a sharp knife along the middle of the roll to create 2 halves that display the filled and cut layers of the babka.
To weave the babka into the right shape, simply start by lifting the right half over the left and repeat until the entire babka is woven. For the best shape try to aim for weaving diagonally and shortening the babka, rather than extending the weave for the full length of the dough.
Once completed, gently press and fold the ends of the babka to hold its shape and transfer the bake to a lined loaf tin. If your babka is too long for the tin, then gently push it together at both ends to shorten it slightly and carefully lift it into the tin.
This recipe is:
- 100% vegan
- created with yeast
- super fluffy and soft
- perfect to share
- easily adaptable
- using only simple ingredients
- easy to follow
Deliciously soft and fluffy vegan chocolate hazelnut babka recipe, filled with dairy-free chocolate and hazelnut. Crafted to a vegan brioche style recipe with only simple ingredients.
For the Tangzhong:
- 40g plain flour
- 180ml unsweetened plant milk
The rest of the ingredients:
- 420g plain white flour
- 2 sachets of dry active yeast (2 x 7g, 14g in total)
- 40g caster sugar
- a pinch of sea salt
- 160ml unsweetened plant milk, at room temperature
- 40ml rapeseed oil
For the filling:
- Vegan Chocolate spread (roughly 2-3 tablespoons)
- crushed hazelnuts
Vegan “egg wash”:
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (or agave nectar)
- 3 tbsp plant milk
Plus agave nectar to coat the babka after baking.
- In a large mixing bowl combine 420g plain flour, yeast, and salt. In a separate jug combine plant milk and oil.
- Add 40g of plain flour and 180ml plant milk to a non-stick saucepan and heat over low heat. Stir continuously until the mix begins to thicken. Remove from the heat.
- Create a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the contents of the jug as well as the Thangzhong. Combine all ingredients with a wooden spatula, then transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until soft and smooth.
- Place the dough ball into a greased bowl, cover and leave to rise for 1 hour in a warm place.
- Once the hour elapses, knead the dough again for 1 minute, then roll it out on a floured surface to about half a centimetre thickness.
- Spread the vegan chocolate spread on top and sprinkle with the crushed hazelnuts.
- Gently roll up the dough lengthwise and carefully slice it down the middle of the roll.
- Carefully fold the babka by lifting the right string over the right. Repeat until the entire babka is knitted, gently squish the top and bottom of the babka to get it into a denser shape. Transfer to a lined loaf tin, cover and let it rise for another 30 minutes.
- Brush with the vegan ‘egg’ wash, then transfer to a pre-heated oven and bake at 190C for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
- Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little agave nectar for a sticky coating. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before removing the babka from the tin.
- Enjoy warm or cold.
Instead of going for the classical babka shape created in a loaf tin, you can also shape your babka into a wreath or simply get creative!
For this babka filling I’ve used a vegan chocolate spread and crushed hazelnuts, however there are a variety of possible fillings depending on your personal preference. Some ideas: peanut butter & raspberry marmalade, cinnamon sugar, nut butter, marmite, biscoff spread.
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