Rich chocolate and orange babka

Made with loads of orange zest, mixed spice and chocolate


Photo: Emma Lee

Babka, which translates from Polish as 'grandmother', often contains nuts, raisins and cinnamon. My version, however, is made with loads of orange zest, mixed spice and chocolate, which I think makes it even more addictive. This makes two 450g babkas or one giant 900g babka. It doesn't keep well, so make it the day you want to eat it. (As if you'd be able to have it sitting in your kitchen and not eat it immediately anyway...)

Makes two 450g babka loaves or one 900g babka


For the dough
● 350g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
● 250g strong white bread flour
● 100g caster sugar
● 14g instant yeast
● 1 tsp cocoa powder
● ½ tsp ground mixed spice
● ½ tsp salt
● 200g unsalted butter, melted (or use 200ml sunflower oil for a dairy-free version)
● 1 egg plus 2 egg yolks grated zest and juice of 1 large orange
● ½ tsp vanilla extract
● 200ml lukewarm water
● Oil, for the tins

For the filling
● 350g dark or milk chocolate chips
● 50g unsalted butter, melted
● 100g dark soft brown sugar
● Grated zest of 1 orange
● ½ tsp mixed spice

For the topping
● 1 egg white, lightly beaten, just to break it up
● 2 tbsp demera sugar mixed with ½ tsp mixed spice


● Lightly oil two 450g loaf tins or one 900g loaf tin.

● For the dough, put the flours, sugar, yeast, cocoa powder, mixed spice, and salt into a large bowl and mix well.

● In a separate bowl or jug, mix the melted butter, whole egg, yolks, orange zest and juice, vanilla extract and water. Make a hollow in the flour mixture and pour in the liquid ingredients. Stir until well combined, then knead for a few minutes until you have a soft, spring and moist (but not sticky) dough. Set aside, covered with cling film.

● For the filling: mix the chocolate chips with the melted butter – it doesn't matter if the chocolate starts to melt – then add the sugar, orange zest and mixed spice.

● If you are making two loaves, divide the dough into two equal pieces, otherwise leave it whole. Roll out into a rectangle about 5mm thick. It needs to be twice as long as your loaf tin. Spread the filling mixture over the rolled-out dough, then roll the dough up tightly like a Swiss roll. Bend the roll in half, then twist the two pieces of dough around each other, so you have a long spiral twirl of dough (or two, if you are making two loaves). Tuck the ends under and place in the loaf tins.

● Bush the tops of the loaves with the beaten egg and sprinkle evenly with the sugar-spice mix. Leave to prove for around 30 minutes, until puffy. Meanwhile heat the oven to 180°C.

● Bake the loaves for 1 hour if making two loaves and 1 ½ hours if making a single loaf, until the outside is golden brown and you can see there is no raw dough in the twisted sections.

● Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn out on to wire racks. Serve in slices.

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