This gluten free chocolate swirl bread (which is also dairy free) is incredibly easy to make. It has the texture and taste of brioche and the most delicious chocolate filling. I added tahini for a little extra twist.
Gluten free chocolate babka
Babka is a traditional Jewish recipe originating from Poland and Ukraine. It's a sweet braided brioche bread filled with chocolate or cinnamon. It can be made as a bread in a loaf form or as a wreath. This is gluten free chocolate babka recipe takes a twist on the traditional babka by adding tahini. You definitely don't want to miss this gluten free chocolate swirl bread on Easter this year (and yes it's my favorite chocolate Easter dessert and one of my favorite gluten free spring recipes). You can find all my favorite gluten free Easter brunch recipes here.
4 Tips to make gluten free yeast dough
Baking with yeast can be very intimidating (I've been there). One big fail can be so discouraging and hold you back from trying again. This is why I wanted to share the 4 tips that helped me enjoy making recipes that require gluten free yeast dough:
- Using a gluten free flour blend that I bought in the supermarket instead of experimenting with homemade flour mixes. Unfortunately, you can't replace conventional flour with one type of gluten free flour (e.g., rice flour, buckwheat flour, corn flour). As a consequence, making a homemade flour mix that will provide the right texture is difficult and expensive (as it requires many specific ingredients). This is why I now rely on store-bought mixes for my yeast doughs since they have been tested extensively by product developers to guarantee you the best results.
- Using fresh yeast: for every recipe I tried, fresh yeast provided better results. The dough was rising more easily and the final product was usually airier and less dense.
- Using a stand mixer with an attached bowl and dough hook will save you from kneading the dough for hours. Of course, this is an investment if you don't already have one at home. But if you love baking this might be worth it. Otherwise, ask your friends and family members if they have one and if you might borrow it for a day or grab the opportunity to bake at their place when you visit if they are okay with it. But if you don't have a stand mixer, a hand mixer and a little patience will do the work!
- Choosing easy recipes: before I started developing my own recipes (which by the way are really easy) I had the tendency to make things extra complicated. I chose recipes that required rising time, chilling time and had way too many steps. While according to the authors, the extra work is worth it, I feel more satisfied with time-saving and easy-to-follow recipes. As long the dough rising, fluffy and moist after baking, I'm happy. So chose recipes that only require mixing, rising and baking time to avoid giving up and never making gluten free yeast doughs again (because you'd be missing out).
Secret tip to help the dough rise
Preheat your oven at a little over 50°C for 10 minutes before you start making the dough. Then, turn off the oven and keep it closed. Once the dough is ready, place it in a bowl, cover it with a humid towel and place it in the preheated oven. The warm air will help the dough rise and make the most beautiful gluten free chocolate swirl bread!
Step-by-step with pictures
Add the ingredients one-by-one to the mixing bowl. Once you added the last ingredient, let it mix with the kneading hook for 15 minutes (I only had the whisk attachement at home that day, so that's why you can see it on the pictures, but it work just fine). Note that you could also use a hand mixer with 2 whisk attachements and mix for 10 to 15 minutes by hand.
Form a ball. The dough will be slightly sticky after mixing, but it should be easy to form a ball. You can humidify your hands to help form the ball if necessary. Sprinkle some flour into an oven-proof bowl and place the dough in it. Cover with a humid towel and let it rise for 1h (see tip above to help the dough rise). In the meantime, make the tahini chocolate filling.
Roll out the dough. The dough should have risen as seen on the picture. Sprinkle a large flat surface (such as a clean countertop, a cutting board will be too small) with a little flour. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin. You want to obtain a long rectangle.
Make the roll. Spread the tahini chocolate paste all over the rolled-out dough. Place a sheet of parchment paper right next to the end of the roll. Roll up the dough tightly starting with a long side. You want to obtain a long (and not large) roll.
Form the crown. Cut the roll lengthwise in half. Make a simple braid by crossing each half above each other as tightly as you can. When you're done, bring both ends together to form a crown. Pinch tightly with your finger to seal the edges.
Add the topping and bake. Sprinkle some caramelized nuts (known as "pralin") onto the braid. Bake the braid for 25 minutes until golden brown. It should rise a little more during the baking process.
- Substitute fresh yeast with gluten free dry yeast. I tested this recipe with both fresh and dried yeast and while both work, I had better results with fresh yeast. The dough rose more with fresh yeast (for the same amount of yeast) and the swirl bread was a little more airy and fluffy.
- Substitute the nut butter filling with the chocolate cream of your choice.
If this brioche braid lasts you longer than a day (which it never does at my house), store it in a large air-tight cake box. You can wrap it in plastic foil before storing it in the box. Only slice it before serving. It will keep fresh for 3 days. If it's a little dry after a day or two, try my tip below.
How to make it taste fresh after a few days
This is probably my best-kept secret! If the gluten free chocolate swirl bread starts to get a little dry after a day or two, place a slice on a plate and microwave it for 15 to 20 seconds. The slightly warm bread will be as soft and fluffy as the first day!
Frequently asked questions
Fresh yeast is naturally gluten free. If you buy it at a bakery, make sure to ask how it is stored to prevent any cross-contamination with gluten-containing flour. If you use active dry yeast, make sure it is labeled gluten free as some dry yeast can contain gluten.
I tried both fresh yeast and gluten free dry yeast for this specific recipe and I must say that the dough rises more with fresh yeast (for the same amount of yeast). The texture is also more airy and fluffy with fresh yeast. However, apart from these two points, it does work well with gluten free dried yeast as well.
More indulgent gluten free recipes
Find my favorite gluten free Easter brunch recipes here or try one these indulgent gluten free desserts.
- Upside down chocolate pear cake
- Gluten free apple cider cake
- Gluten free sandwich cookies with caramel filling
- Quick and easy molten chocolate cake
Tahini Chocolate Swirl Bread (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)
For the gluten free dough
- 250 g Schär gluten free bread mix
- ½ cube (10 g) fresh baker's yeast*
- 100 ml lukewarm plant-based milk alternative I used rice drink
- 70 g sugar
- 1 packet (7g) vanilla sugar optional
- 70 g half-melted margarine (plant butter)
- 1 egg at room temperature put it in lukewarm water for 10 minutes if it comes out of the fridge
- 1 pinch of salt
For the chocolate filling**
- 30 g tahini
- 70 g cashew butter
- 3 teaspoon cocoa butter
- 30 g sugar
For the topping
- 2 handfuls of praline nuts (see picture) crushed, caramelized nuts ("pralin" in French)
Make the dough
- To help the dough rise, you need a warm place. You can preheat your oven at a little over 50°C for 10 minutes. Turn off the oven and keep it closed while you make the dough.
- Attach the kneading hook to your stand mixer (the whisk attachement works as well) Add the flour to the mixing bowl of your stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl if you're using a hand mixer).
- Crumble the yeast over the flour. Heat the plant-based milk until lukewarm (30 seconds in the microwave or several minutes over the stove) and pour it over the yeast. Start kneading on low.
- Add the sugar and vanilla sugar while it's kneading. In the meantime, heat the margarine (30 seconds in the microwave or 1-2 minutes over the stove) until it's half melted. Add it to the mixing bowl as it continues kneading.
- Finally, add the egg and a pinch of salt. Let it knead for 15 minutes (I recommend setting a timer). If you're using a hand mixer, beat it for at least 10 minutes on low.
- Form a ball with the dough. It is slightly sticky but you should be able to easily form a ball (see step-by-step pictures in the post above). If not, try humidifying your hands or adding 1 tablespoon of flour.
- Sprinkle a little flour into a bowl and place the dough in it. Cover with a humid towel and let it rise in the preheated oven or in a warm place for 1 hour.
Form the swirl bread
- In the meantime, make the chocolate filling. Simply mix the tahini, cashew butter, cocoa powder and sugar in a small bowl.
- When to dough is done rising, preheat the oven at 180°C.
- Sprinkle a little flour over a large flat surface, such as your cleaned countertop (a cutting board will be too small). Knead the dough with your hands for one minute. Then, roll it out using a rolling pin. You want to form a long rectangle that is about 3 to 5 millimeters high.
- Carefully spread the tahini chocolate with a knife all over the rolled-out dough.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper right next to the roll. Roll up the dough very tightly starting with a long side and onto the parchment paper. Cut the roll lengthwise in half and cross each half above the other. Bring the edges together to form a wreath. Pinch with your fingers to seal the edges. Sprinkle with praline nuts.
- Bake for 25 minutes at 180°C until golden brown. The swirl bread should rise even more.
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