austrian/ Christmas/ Dessert/ Easter/ polish/ yeast dough

Nut roll with chocolate (+ video)

16 December 2018 | Last Updated: 1 June 2020

Buttery and rich yeast dough with the most amazing nut and chocolate filling. The dough and the filling are so wonderfully moist and spiced, you will be thrilled. I literally can’t stop eating this sweet bread. I combined the nuts with chopped chocolate, grated orange zest, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, and grated apple (makes the filling more moist). This ingredients combination is really out of this world! The wreath is very large, it’s about 13-inch / 33 cm in diameter. It will be enough for 12-16 people. I shaped this nut roll in the form of a wreath, which makes it look very festive!

Nut roll with chocolate (babka wreath) on a wooden plate

This nut roll with chocolate is a hybrid that was inspired by a couple of baked goods. First, Central- and Eastern-European nut roll, which is popular in several countries like Poland (strucla orzechowa/rolada orzechowa) and Austria/Germany (Nuss Rolle/Nusskranz) and Jewish babka, which actually looks like Polish nut roll (don’t confuse Jewish babka with Polish babka, which is just a bundt cake – confusing, I know!).

Polish nut roll is either baked on a baking sheet or in a rectangular baking pan. It can be baked in a roll form, or just like I did, in a form of a Jewish babka (the roll is divided in half lengthwise and both parts are wrapped around each other.) I took the wreath shape from the Austrian Nusskranz.

There are many versions of the Polish nut roll. It can be filled with nuts, chocolate, sauteed apples or poppy seed filling. They are usually made for Christmas or Easter but also all year round.

Nut roll with chocolate (babka wreath) on a wooden plate

What kind of yeast to use with this recipe:

Yeast dough can be made with fresh yeast or dry instant yeast. Fresh yeast are sold in a block and dry yeast in a packet.

What is the difference between fresh and dry yeast:

Fresh yeast require proofing (you need to stir the yeast with warm milk and sugar and wait until foam forms at the top) and the instant yeast can be stirred directly with flour. From my personal experience, dry yeast is easier to work with but the dough doubles its volume quicker when using fresh yeast. When your yeast dough is not rich in eggs, butter, and sugar it doesn’t matter (like with this recipe: sweet steamed buns) but when the fat and sugar amount is bigger (like in this recipe) it can take longer for the dry yeast to work. For very rich yeast dough, like brioche, the dough needs to be even put in the fridge overnight, so that the yeast have enough time to work.

I tested this recipe with both types of yeast and in case of fresh yeast the dough rise was always unproblematic. I had also good results with instant dry yeast (fast-acting type), but the dough needed to be left in a very warm place (directly next to a well-heated radiator). Rising also took a little longer that with fresh yeast. If your apartment is not very well warmed-up you can leave your dough in an oven with the light on (I haven’t tried this yet, but I read this in this article).

To proof or not to proof:

Like I said above, dry yeast don’t need to be proofed, but I like to proof them anyway. There’s always a possibility that the yeast that you’ve bought are dead and you will learn this the hard way, after waiting a couple of hours for the dough to rise. The dough with bad yeast can only be thrown out. You can also stir the yeast with too hot milk and the yeast also will be dead. I think it’s better to proof, and then you can be sure that your dough will work. If you are an experienced baker, you can easily omit this step and just stir the yeast with the flour.

The temperature of the milk should be: 110°F to 115°F / 43°C – 46°C (source).

Ingredient substitutions:

  • Yeast dough – you can add less sugar and butter if you wish (but I really recommend adding the amount provided in the recipe, this dough is so rich and moist, in comparison to many dry yeast baked goods). You can not change the flour-yeast ratio. I added 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks for a more rich and moist dough, but you can add just 3 whole eggs instead.
  • Filling – you can experiment and adjust the filling ingredients to your liking. You can use different kinds of nuts – I like it most with walnuts and almonds like in the recipe) or just with hazelnuts. For better flavor, you can toast the whole nuts in a dry pan or in the oven, just until lightly browned and fragrant and then grind them yourself. You can omit the chocolate and add more nuts and sugar instead. Instead of grated orange zest, you can add candied orange zest. Honey, light brown sugar and grated apple add a lot of moisture to the filling, so if you replace them your filling can be a little dry.

How to make it step by step:

This is a complete recipe. Scroll down for printable recipe card.

ingredients for yeast dough, yeast dough in a metal bowl

STEP 1: Start with making the yeast dough:

If you’re using fresh yeast: crumble 1.4 oz fresh yeast (40g) into the mixing bowl, add 1 Tbsp of sugar (take it from the measured 1/2 cup of sugar), pour in 1/3 cup + 4 ts warm milk (100ml/100g/3.5oz). Its temperature should be about 110°F to 115°F / 43°C – 46°C (pleasantly warm to your finger). It can’t be too warm or it will kill the yeast or too cold because they won’t work. Stir everything together and set aside for 10-15 minutes. There should be foam on top of the mixture. If there is no foam, you need to start over (the yeast were dead).

If you’re using dry yeast: pour 1/3 cup + 4 ts (100ml/100g/3.5oz) warm milk into the mixing bowl. Its temperature should be about 110°F to 115°F / 43°C – 46°C (pleasantly warm to your finger). It can’t be too warm or it will kill the yeast or too cold because they won’t work. Sprinkle 2 packets of instant dry yeast (0.5oz/14g) over the milk and add 1 Tbsp of sugar (take it from the measured 1/2 cup sugar). Stir everything together and set aside for 5-10 minutes. There should be foam on top of the mixture. If there is no foam, you need to start over (the yeast were dead).

Next, add all the other ingredients to the bowl (4 cups flour (17.6oz/500g, spoon and leveled), 1/2 ts of salt, 2 large eggs, 2 large egg yolks, 1/2 cup granulated sugar (3.5oz/100g), 1 ts vanilla extract, and 1/2 cup of soft butter (4oz/115g)). Knead until a smooth dough forms, it should be elastic and not stick to your hands, but it will be rather loose. When using a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, it should take about 5 minutes, if you make it by hand it will definitely be longer.

STEP 2: Leave the dough for its first rise: Cover the bowl with a kitchen cloth and set aside in a warm place, until it doubles its volume. It can take about 2-3h.

ingredients for nut and chocolate filling, nut and chocolate filling in a white bowl

STEP 3: Prepare the filling: Melt 1/2 cup of butter (4oz/115g), peel, core and grate 1 sweet large apple (on the big holes of a box grater), chop 4 oz/115g milk chocolate. Mix these ingredients with all the other filling ingredients (1 cup ground almonds (3.5oz/100g), 2 cups ground walnuts (7oz/200g), 1/3 cup light brown sugar (2.1oz/60g), 1/4 cup honey (3oz/85g), 1 teaspoon cinnamon, zest grated from 2 large oranges, and pinch of salt) together until combined.

proofed yeast dough in a metal bowl, nut and chocolate filling spread on a dough

STEP 4: When the dough has doubled its volume, roll out the dough into a long rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with flour or use a silicone rolling mat – the dough won’t stick to it and additional flour won’t be necessary. Spread the filling over the dough.

yeast dough roll with nut filling cut in half lengthwise

STEP 5: Roll up the dough, starting from the long side that is closest to you, into a tube. Cut the roll in half lengthwise, all the way through.

making of a wreath out of dough, nut wreath on a baking sheet

STEP 6: Gently wrap each part over the other, like a two-strand braid, then form a wreath. Transfer into a baking tray lined with baking paper. The wreath should be as large as possible so that the dough with so much filling can properly bake on the inside. You can still stretch the wreath a little on the baking paper. It will increase its volume significantly during baking.

STEP 7: The second rise: Set aside for a second rise for 30 minutes (the dough will now only slightly increase its volume).

STEP 8: Egg brush: In a small bowl, beat an egg with a tablespoon of milk, brush the dough with the egg wash. Optionally, sprinkle the wreath with pearl sugar.

STEP 9: Bake the wreath: In the meantime, set the oven to 180°C / 350°F, Gas Mark 4, no fan. Bake for about 35 minutes. After about 20-25 minutes of baking time, check if the cake doesn’t brown too much, if so, cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack, allow to cool before cutting into portions!

Enjoy!

Storage:

Store the baked wreath in a tightly closed container or wrapped in plastic foil for up to 5 days. It tastes also very good the next day. Later the dough will become just a little dry.

How to make it ahead:

This nut roll can be easily made ahead. Christmas/Easter preparations are busy enough!

  • Making yeast wreath can be divided into two days. Make the dough and filling on the first day. The dough should be left to rise for about an hour in a warm place, then put in the fridge (it will continue to rise in the fridge and it will complete its rise there). On the next day, remove the dough from the fridge, leave for 30 minutes in a warm place, then roll out and proceed as described in the recipe. Yeast cake, that is allowed to rise for a longer period of time in the fridge, is a little tastier.
  • How to freeze the dough: The dough and the filling can be frozen (separately). Allow the dough to perform its first rise (leave it in a warm place, until doubled in volume), then wrap in plastic foil and put in the freezer. Make the filling and transfer to a container or wrap in plastic foil, freeze separately. When you want to bake the wreath: remove the dough and the filling from the freezer the evening before, put in the fridge. On the next day, take the dough and the filling out of the fridge and leave on a counter for about half an hour to warm up. Roll out the dough, spread the filling over and proceed as described in the recipe.
two slices of nut roll with chocolate (babka wreath) on a blue plate

Nut roll with chocolate

Very buttery and tender yeast cake with a lot of nut and chocolate filling.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
resting time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Calories 423kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

for the dough:

  • 1.4 oz fresh yeast (40g) or 2 packets instant dry yeast, fast acting (0.5oz/14g)
  • 1/3 cup + 4 ts warm milk (100ml/100g/3.5oz)
  • 4 cups flour 17.6oz/500g, spoon and leveled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks or 1 whole small egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 3.5oz/100g
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup soft butter 4oz/115g

for the filling:

  • 1 cup ground almonds 3.5oz/100g, or hazelnuts
  • 2 cups ground walnuts 7oz/200g, or hazelnuts
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar 2.1oz/60g
  • 1/4 cup honey 3oz/85g
  • 1/2 cup butter 4oz/115g
  • 1 large apple peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • zest grated from 2 large oranges preferably organic
  • 4 oz milk chocolate 115g, finely chopped
  • large pinch of salt

egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • pearl sugar optional, for sprinkling

Instructions

  • Make the dough:
    Fresh yeast: crumble the yeast in the mixing bowl, add 1 Tbsp of sugar (take it from the measured 1/2 cup sugar), pour in warm milk (temperature should be about 110°F to 115°F / 43°C – 46°C, it should be pleasantly warm, can’t be too warm or it will kill the yeast or too cold because they won’t work). Stir everything together and set aside for 10-15 minutes. There should be foam on top of the mixture. If there is no foam, you need to start over (the yeast were dead).
    Dry yeast: pour the warm milk into the mixing bowl (temperature should be about 104°F/40°C, it should be pleasantly warm, can’t be too warm or it will kill the yeast or too cold because they won’t work). Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and add 1 Tbsp of sugar (take it from the measured 1/2 cup sugar). Stir everything together and set aside for 5-10 minutes. There should be foam on top of the mixture. If there is no foam, you need to start over (the yeast were dead).
    Add all the other ingredients to the bowl (flour, salt, eggs, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract, very soft butter). Knead until a smooth dough forms, it should be elastic and not stick to your hands, but it will be rather loose. When using a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, it should take about 5 minutes, if you make it by hand it will definitely be longer.
  • The first rise: Cover the bowl with a kitchen cloth and set aside in a warm place, until it doubles its volume. It can take about 2-3h.
  • Prepare the filling: Melt the butter, peel, core and grate the apple (on the big holes of a box grater), chop the chocolate. Mix all the ingredients for the filling together until combined.
  • Shape the wreath: Roll out the dough into a long rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with flour or use a silicone rolling mat – the dough won’t stick to it and additional flour won't be necessary. Spread the filling over the dough. Roll up the dough, starting from the long side that is closest to you, into a tube. Cut the roll in half lengthwise, all the way through. Gently wrap each part over the other, like a two-strand braid, then form a wreath. Transfer into a baking tray lined with baking paper. The wreath should be as large as possible so that the dough with so much filling can properly bake on the inside. You can still stretch the wreath a little on the baking paper. It will increase its volume significantly during baking.
  • The second rise: Set aside for a second rise for 30 minutes (the dough will now only slightly increase its volume).
  • Egg brush: In a small bowl, beat an egg with a tablespoon of milk, brush the dough with the egg wash. Optionally, sprinkle the wreath with pearl sugar.
  • In the meantime, set the oven to 180°C / 350°F, Gas Mark 4, no fan. Bake for about 35 minutes. After about 20-25 minutes of baking time, check if the cake doesn’t brown too much, if so, cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack, allow to cool before cutting into portions!
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • How to make ahead: Making the yeast wreath can also be divided into two days. Make the dough and filling on the first day. The dough should be left to rise for about an hour in a warm place, then put it in the fridge. On the next day, remove the dough from the fridge, leave for 30 minutes in a warm place, then roll out and proceed as described in the recipe. Yeast cake, that is allowed to rise for a longer period of time in the fridge, is a little tastier.
  • How to freeze the dough: The dough and the filling can be frozen (separately). Allow the dough to perform its first rise (leave it in a warm place, until doubled in volume), then wrap in plastic foil and put in the freezer. Make the filling and transfer to a container or wrap in plastic foil, freeze separately. When you want to bake the babka: remove the dough and the filling from the freezer the evening before, put in the fridge. On the next day, take the dough and the filling out of the fridge and leave on a counter for about half an hour to warm up. Roll out the dough, spread the filling over and proceed as described in the recipe.
  • For better flavor, you can toast the whole nuts in a dry pan or in the oven, just until lightly browned and fragrant and the grind them yourself. You can use any nuts that you have on hand and in any ratio. It can be walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts.
  • Calories count = 1/16 of the recipe.
  • 1 cup flour (240ml) = 125g.
Course Dessert
Cuisine international
Keyword brioche babka wreath, chocolate babka wreath, walnut babka wreath

Did you make this recipe? Let me know how you liked it and give it a star rating in the comments below! You can also add a photo of your creation!

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