Chocolate Hazelnut Babka with Sourdough Levain

We need to talk... it’s about that chocolate you’re stashing from Easter... I know you’ve been dipping into it every time you go into the kitchen, snacking on it, I know it’s constantly on your mind, knowing that it’s there, just waiting for you. It needs to go. Here’s something to help you get rid of it 😜 Chocolate hazelnut babka, naturally leavened with sourdough starter of course!


80g strong white flour*
20g unrefined raw or soft brown sugar
20g active sourdough starter
40g water 

250 g fine white flour (70%)
100g strong white bread flour (30%)
50g unrefined raw or soft brown brown sugar (10%)
160g pre-prepared sweet leaven (40%)
110-120g milk (30%)
1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
80g unsalted softened butter (20%)
10g salt (2%)

120g chocolate
60g hazelnuts
30g butter
20g fine white flour

*Manitoba “0” flour works really well in this recipe 😊



Prepare the leaven at least 4 hours before you want to mix your dough, this can be done up to 12 hours in advance. You could either mix this up the evening before you want to bake, or first thing in the morning on the day. Mix the flour, sugar and water with your active sourdough starter, cover and allow to double at room temperate.


When the leaven has doubled in size, mix the dough. This is much easier in a stand mixer as it will be quite wet and sticky initially. Put the wet ingredients in the bowl first, then add the dry ingredients and mix on a low speed for a few minutes until a rough shaggy ball of dough forms. Warm the milk with the vanilla pop to infuse until lukewarm. Add only 110g of milk initially, and then add the rest if the dough seems a bit dry after mixing. Cover and leave it to rest for 15-20mins.

Slowly mix in half the butter until fully incorporated, then mix in the rest and knead the dough for 5-6 mins until smooth and elastic. Check if the dough passes the window pane test, if not knead for 1-2 mins more.

Cover the dough and rest at room temperature for 3-4 hours bulk proof until there has been a 30-50% increase in size. Alternatively, let the dough rest at room temperature for 1 hour then pop it in the fridge overnight for the bulk proof.

Wazz up the filling in a food processor to a smooth paste.
Tip the dough out onto a well floured surface and roll out to a rectangle around 1cm thick. Spread over the filling and roll up from the short end of the rectangle for maximum layers.

Rest the dough for 10mins then cut lengthways around 2cm from the top all the way down to make two long strips.
Cross the one side over the other with the layers up and repeat all the way down.

Place in a greased and floured bread tin, cover and leave to prove at room temp for a few hours until almost doubled and poking the dough gently leaves a slight indent. This can take between 2-6 hours depending on temperature.
Pre-heat the oven to 200ﹾC when the dough has almost risen (give it at least 30 mins if you can).

Brush with milk or egg wash, then sprinkle over some extra hazelnuts (lightly crushed or chopped) and some sugar for crunch.
Bake for 10 mins at 200ﹾC then drop the temperature to 180ﹾC and bake for another 20-30 mins until golden brown.

Leave to cool slightly, slice, admire your handiwork and scoff.


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