Chocolate Babka Swirl Coffee Cake


Jordan: This is a coffee cake, which means you can eat it for breakfast. It also uses a pound of butter, so you probably shouldn’t, but that’s not going to stop us.

Kitra: I eat ice cream for breakfast about 40% of the time, so this seems perfectly reasonable.

That’s sad and we’re not going to comment on it.

I mean, that percentage is lower in the winter. I eat a lot of Girl Scout Cookies for breakfast instead.

So if you’re looking for a cake that is better for you than Kitra’s usual breakfast fare but still feels like a comforting plate of carbs and chocolate, you’ve come to the right place!

If there’s one thing we know, it’s how to provide you with healthy breakfast options.

This is supposed to be a coffee cake (that’s cake to have with coffee, not cake made with coffee) mashed up with a loaf of chocolate babka. Call it babka-inspired: It has chocolate filling and swirly layers, but no one is going to mistake it for the real thing.

And that’s fine, because it’s “breakfast” and mostly chocolate. This cake is moist and pretty, so what’s not to love.

We both brought leftovers to work (it’s a LOT of cake) and both sets of coworkers demolished it, which is the sign of a successful cake in our book.

So have your cake and eat it (for breakfast) too.

Chocolate Swirl Babka Coffee Cake

Adapted from Joy the Baker and Smitten Kitchen


We used the cake recipe from Joy the Baker but, not wanting to track down chocolate wafers, we swapped in the filling from Smitten Kitchen’s Better Chocolate Babka. We didn’t use streusel because the original doesn’t and Kitra, like a monster, doesn’t enjoy it but both coffee cakes and babka often include it. Should you want to add it, use whatever recipe you like best (it’s included in other recipes from both Joy and Deb) and sprinkle it generously on top of each chocolate layer and/or on top of the whole thing.

This recipe calls for 2 cups of sour cream; a 16-oz container of sour cream contains about 30 tablespoons, which will put you just shy. We used the entire container and didn’t find it lacking, but if you happen to have the extra 2 tablespoons accessible it will make the cake slightly more moist and delicious.


  • 9 oz dark chocolate, or approximately 1½ cups of chocolate chips
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (100g) powdered sugar
  • ⅔ cup (60g) cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups (500g) flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 (400g) cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups or 16 oz. sour cream (see note)


Preheat your oven to 350° and butter and flour a bundt or tube pan (or coat it with baking spray).

First, make the filling. In a medium bowl, microwave butter and chocolate until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir together until smooth, then mix in powdered sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon. Set the filling aside while you make the rest of the cake.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the softened butter and sugar to a separate large bowl and use an electric beater (or stand mixer) to beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until roughly combined between each, then add the vanilla.

Add half of the flour mixture and gently beat to combine. Repeat with all of the sour cream and then with the remaining half of the flour. Your batter will be quite thick, which is normal.

Scoop about 1½ cups of batter into the prepared pan and gently smooth it; no need to measure carefully here. Add several large dollops of chocolate (Joy says about ⅓ of a cup; Jordan says just eyeball it) and smooth that as well—we recommend using separate spoons for the chocolate and the batter so that you don’t mix them too much at this stage. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the batter and filling, ending with a layer of batter on top.

Bake for 70 to 80 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of batter. Let cool in the pan for at least half an hour before turning it out onto a cooling rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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