Dessert, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

Chocolate Babka

Is it fair to claim my own triumphant return? I disappeared a month ago, swallowed by the impending holidays but fully intending to post recipes throughout my respite in Colorado. And then I got sick. What started out as a sore throat ballooned into what my doctor thought could be strep. When the test came back negative he said that there was a chance my disease was mono. Excuse me? Mono? And I’m not in college anymore?

To be fair, karmically I probably deserved mono. My suitemate in college contracted the virus during our freshman year and I was relentless in mocking her. I had never seen a bug that could reduce someone to such a pure zombie state. And it lasted so long! Would she ever recover? I know, I’m not making a strong case for sainthood. True blessing should be bestowed on Leslie, my suitemate who remains my friend today despite my freshman year cruelty. When I informed her of my potential diagnosis she emailed simply:
And then:
I mean, sorry to hear that.

I deserved nothing less. The good news is that I didn’t have mono. The much less pleasant news is that my doctor wasn’t sure what I had. The sore throat creeped into my ear where it mucked about until I had some ugly hybrid child/adult ear infection. I will end this story quickly by telling you that three antibiotics slayed the beast and I am now back to my (fairly) reasonable self.  Which means FOOD.

When I was sick I wanted nothing more than the strength to stand in the kitchen and play with new recipes. It wasn’t until the end of my antibiotic cycle that I started to feel human and I immediately picked up a recipe that has been nagging me for months. When I was little my mother used to make a glorious babka.

  • babka |ˈbäbkə| noun: a loaf-shaped coffee cake made with sweet yeast dough to which raisins, chocolate or nuts may be added. ORIGIN from Polish, diminutive of baba

Hers was baked, twisted, in a bundt pan and crowned with sugar, cinnamon and chocolate chips. When I first attempted to make it this past summer I attacked it from the bread angle, sweetening and lightening my bread dough. This did not work. Leslie can attest that the prototype I brought her during the World Cup was dense as a brick and just as ugly. A second attempt blitzed the dough from the opposite side, taking my favorite cake recipe and adding yeast and starch to breadify it. This was closer but still utterly unmanageable. The dough must have the pliability to be rolled out, then rolled up and twisted. In my waning sickness, pumped full of antibiotics and herbal tinctures I made one last attempt. 

And it worked. The dough had a decent rise from the yeast and rolled beautifully. I made an extra loaf for my mom to put in her freezer. After all, she spent our whole vacation taking care of me. The least I could do was leave her with some babka.

Free of Gluten, Dairy, Soy and Corn


  • 1 tablespoon Yeast
  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/2 cup White Rice Flour
  • 1/4 cup Sweet Rice Flour
  • 1/4 cup Tapioca Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Xanthan GUm
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Milk
  • 1/3 cup+1 tablespoon Water
  • 1/3 cup Sugar (palm or otherwise)
  • 1/4 cup Oil (Coconut, Rice Bran, etc…)
  • 1 Whole Egg
  • 1 Egg Yolk


  • 1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
  • 3 tablespoons Coconut Milk
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Toasted Pecans


  • 1/2 cup Chopped Toasted Pecans
  • 1/3 cup Chocolate Chips
  • 2 tablespoons Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon

Get Busy

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer add the yeast, brown rice flour, white rice flour, sweet rice flour, tapioca flour and xanthan gum. Whisk everything to combine.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat stir the coconut milk, water, sugar and oil together until they are mixed and hot to the touch (110-120 degrees).
  3. With your mixer on low pour the warm liquid mixture into the flour blend. Add the whole egg and egg yolk and mix on medium until the dough begins to pull away from the sides.
  4. Cover the bowl with a towel and place it in a warm spot to rise for 30-40 minutes.
  5. While the dough is rising start making the filling. Melt the chocolate chips with the coconut milk, sugar and cinnamon over low heat. Stir constantly to avoid burnt chocolate. When the chips are melted set the pan aside to cool slightly.
  6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a 9′x5′ loaf pan with parchment paper.
  7. After the dough has risen take it into your hands and knead it a bit. It will be sticky at first but after a minute or two it will take on a more manageable texture. Don’t be afraid to get physical with the dough, show it you’re in charge.
  8. Dust your counter with some rice flour and roll out the dough until it is roughly a 12′x18′ rectangle. If it starts to stick to your rolling pin just throw some more rice flour on the dough before continuing to roll.
  9. Spread the melted chocolate filling all over the rolled out dough and scatter the toasted pecans on top.
  10. Roll the dough from the long side making a lengthy log. If it is stuck to your counter in any places use a stiff spatula to scrape it up and carry on rolling.
  11. Fold the log in half and give it a twist or two. The log may crack, have no fear-it will taste the same.
  12. Place the twisted log into your loaf pan. Mix all the ingredients for the topping together and scatter it liberally over the babka.
  13. Bake the babka for 45-60 minutes, until it is brown on top and a knife inserted in its thickest portion comes out clean.
  14. Remove the babka from the loaf pan and let it cool on a rack before slicing and marveling at the spiral in front of you.

Prep. Time: 1 hour (including rising time)
Baking Time: 45-60 minutes
Yield: 1 9-inch loaf