Holidays Sweet Tooth

Nutella Challah Babka Bread! {Gluten Free!}

nutella babka for Hanukkah

I didn’t grow up Jewish, so none of the traditional high holiday recipes are familiar to me.  There’s no nostalgia for a noodle pie that tastes strangely sweet or a religious implication tied to apples and honey for me.  What I’m getting at is that (for the most part) Jewish food is pretty lame and only someone who had grown up eating it might genuinely look forward to it. (Gefilte fish, case in point.)  Well I’m looking to change that.  One tweaked recipe at a time.  Oh and I plan on cutting all that unnecessary sugar and bad fats out too!  And gluten… who needs it if it doesn’t make anything taste better?


I first made this Nutella Babka adapted from the recipe Chocolate Challah Babka on PopSugar. I was drawn to the gorgeous photos and pleased to see a recipe that called for hand kneading – a tradition that spans every religion, every region, every generation, and has sadly been replaced by the coveted countertop eyesore: The KitchenAid Mixer.  Now, I own one of these Louie’s of kitchen appliances and I actually had never kneaded bread before my first nutella babka attempt – but let me tell you, there’s something spiritual in working the delicate dough in your hands… pushing out your frustrations and folding over your stress. I highly recommend it. So much so that I’ve made 3 more Babka batches since my first success, last Friday. The recipe below is a lighter and gluten free version… and it is delicious. I also subbed the canola oil for coconut.


This recipe is perfect to bring to a Hanukkah party, Challah-day party, Rosh Hashanah, or any of the other Jewish celebration…. but also can be a Christmas all-star.  Especially to a brunch – yes.  So. Much. Yes.

I always say my recipes are good – because I perfect them until I am brimming with pride – but this one is something special.  It’s my golden child.. one I feel confident enough I would regularly sell out of if I ever get around to opening up that bakery.


Nutella Challah Bread Babka! 

Prep time: forever.  really, you need 7 hours… at least.   *Makes 2 loaves

I N G R E D I E N T S 

step one:

-1 Cup Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (I use King Arthurs)

-1 Packet Quick Rising Yeast

-1 Cup Hot Water


step two:

-2 large eggs

-1/4 cup raw local honey

-1/2 cup melted coconut oil

-1 tablespoon kosher salt

-2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

-zest of one orange

-3 cups gluten free all purpose flour



Jar of Nutella (OR Justins chocolate hazelnut spread would be better and healthier!)


syrup (optional):

-juice from one orange

-1/4 cup honey



1. Whisk 1 cup flour + yeast.  Add warm water and stir until combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel, set aside for 45 minutes (or until bubbling).


2. Mix eggs, honey, oil, salt and vanilla into the bowl of flour & yeast.  Add remaining flour, mix well until fully combined. Knead dough for 2 minutes on floured surface until smooth.  Transfer back into sticky bowl, cover with plastic and a dish towel and set aside for 2 hours (or until doubled in size).kneading bread and waiting for it to rise

3. Split dough in two equal halves. Transfer one half to a floured surface and use a rolling pin to press dough into a rectangle. Spread Nutella evenly using the back of a spoon across the dough, leaving 1/2 inch border. Use both hands to roll dough up in a spiral and wrap in wax paper.  Transfer to freezer for 15 minutes.  Repeat with other half.

jewish recipe for Hanukkah party

4.  Remove from freezer and lay on clean surface.  Remove wax paper and cut with a sharp knife lengthwise down the middle of the spiral.  Take both pieces side by side and press the tops into each other.  Take the left piece and put over the right. Take the right and put over left.  Continue until both pieces are wound together and transfer into a greased loaf pan lined with wax paper. trim excess wax paper, cover in plastic wrap and cover with dish towel for 2 hours. Repeat with other half.

gluten free babka recipe

5. Prepare syrup by squeezing the juice of one orange into a sauce pan with 1/4 cup honey (or sugar). Bring to a boil and stir until mixed. Turn off heat and set aside.

6. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and pour syrup evenly over two loaves.  Let cool in loaf pan.

jewish gluten free breads

Alternative Filling:  

For one of my attempts (on the left), I made my own ‘nutella’ filling by mixing in a food processor:

-1 cup hazelnuts

-1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

-1/2 cup coconut oil

-1/4 cup honey

-1 packet stevia

-1 tsp salt

I also added cranberries to the syrup to give it the festive red!



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