Basic Sweet Babka

Babka can seem daunting—how do you achieve those swirls? But once you know how simple it is to make, you will be experimenting with sweet and savory flavor combinations of your own.
  • Author: Shannon Sarna
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Rising Time: 120 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Jewish



For the Dough

  • 1 tablespoon dry active yeast
  • 1/3 cup + 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup whole or 2% milk or almond milk
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (or margarine), melted (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 2 eggs
  • Suggested fillings: 1 to 1 1/2 cups chocolate filling cinnamon sugar, or other filling of your choice

For the Sugar Syrup

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla



  1. For the dough: Place the yeast and ½ teaspoon sugar in a small bowl. Add the lukewarm water and stir gently to mix. Set aside until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the flour, ⅓ cup sugar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
  2. Scald the milk:  In a medium saucepan, scald the milk (bring almost to a boil, until milk is just simmering). Allow to sit for 1 minute to cool just slightly.
  3. Mix: With mixer on low, add the water-​yeast mixture, milk, and melted butter. Add the eggs one at a time.
  4. Mix on high: When the dough begins to come together, after 2 to 3 minutes, turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides. Raise the speed to high and mix for another 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is shiny, elastic, and smooth. It may seem like a long time to mix, but the result is worth the wait.
  5. Rise: Place dough in a greased bowl with a damp towel on top. Allow to rise 1 to 2 hours.
  6. Make the sugar syrup while the dough is rising: Combine the water, sugar, and vanilla in a small saucepan. Bring to a low boil until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside and cool. This syrup can be kept in the fridge for 2 to 3 months and makes enough for at least 2 batches of babka (6 medium babkas).
  7. Loaf pans: Prepare three 8 ½-by-4 ½-inch greased loaf pans. Note: you can also make two larger round babkas that can be baked on baking sheets.
  8. Roll out dough: Cut the dough into three equal parts (use a food scale for precision). Roll out one part into a rectangle. Spread one-third of the filling onto the rectangle and roll up along the shorter side (to create swirls inside).
  9. Bakbka Roll Dough
  10. Cut dough: Once the dough is formed into a swirled log, cut it straight down the middle so the filling is exposed.
  11.  babka roll cut down the middle
  12. Trim dough: Cut ½ inch off each end so they are even.
  13. babka dough trim ends
  14. Layer dough: Layer each cut piece on top of one another and twist. Place in a greased loaf pan.
  15. babka roll twist dough
  16. Rise: Repeat with the other two pieces of babka dough. Lightly drape a kitchen towel over the top of the pans. Allow to rise another 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 3500F while the dough rises.
  17. Bake: Bake for 20 minutes. Brush each babka with two layers of sugar syrup. Place back in the oven for approximately 15 minutes. The edges should be slightly brown and the middle should be slightly doughy.
  18. babka roll finished
  19. Brush the finished Babka: When the babkas come out of the oven, immediately brush each with another 3 light layers of sugar syrup. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Using a butter knife, loosen the sides of the babka from the pan and place on top of wire rack to cool.








modern jewish baker cookbook

Used with permission from Modern Jewish Baker: Challah, Babka, Bagels & More by Shannon Sarna, The Countryman Press 2017.


Keywords: sweet babka roll