This cinnamon swirl babka boasts a beautiful, flaky, buttery, soft, laminated crumb and is made with just TWO ingredients: cinnamon swirl dough and a couple of spoonfuls of Nutella!
We always have a couple of tubes of cinnamon swirl dough in the refrigerator for an easy weekend treat, do you?
And we always have Nutella in the cupboard.
Recently, I discovered that if you unroll a couple of tubes of cinnamon swirl dough, spread on a little Nutella, roll them up, cut them in half lengthways, twist and bake, you can produce the most incredible cinnamon swirl babka loaf in no time!
The result is so delicious, I just had to share it with you.
Here's how to make this delicious loaf. It's so, so easy to do, but it looks so impressive.
- 2 x 270g rolls (19 oz) cinnamon swirl dough
- 2 tbsp Nutella
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F fan (200C/390F regular oven).
Unroll the two tubes of dough, laying them side by side.
The cinnamon butter filling tends to clump a little, so spread it across the dough evenly.
Spoon the Nutella on top and spread evenly over the dough.
Roll up along the long edge.
If your dough has gone a bit soft, wrap in baking paper and pop in the fridge to chill a little so that it firms up. Once firm, slice down the middle with a sharp knife.
Twist the two pieces together. I find it easiest to start from the middle, twisting out to one end and then to the other.
Drop into a lined loaf tin.
Bake for 30-40 mins until risen and cooked through.
Allow to cool a little before slicing.
Enjoy! This cinnamon swirl babka makes for the perfect breakfast treat.
Pointers, tricks and troubleshooting tips for the perfect cinnamon swirl babka
Is cinnamon swirl babka easy to make?
Yes, it’s super easy to make this cinnamon swirl babka. You’ll need just two ingredients: Nutella and chilled cinnamon swirl dough (the kind that comes in a can)
Prep is really simple too and takes just 10 minutes. I’ve included lots of step-by-step photos so that you can quickly master twisting and shaping the loaf. And once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to create all kinds of exciting fillings.
Will I need any special equipment to make cinnamon swirl babka?
You don’t need much kit to make this recipe, just a measuring tablespoon, loaf tin, sharp knife, baking paper and something to spread the filling with, such as a silicone spatula.
There is a full list of suggested equipment on the recipe card below.
What is babka?
Babka is a twisted, laminated yeast bread, which originated in the Jewish communities of Poland and the Ukraine. It can be filled with anything including cinnamon, chocolate, fruit or even cheese.
My cinnamon swirl babka recipe is decidedly not traditional as it uses cans of ready to use cinnamon swirl dough, which is more like croissant dough, meaning the finished crumb is a lot more laminated than in a traditional babka.
What is cinnamon roll / cinnamon swirl dough?
Cinnamon swirl dough is a pre-made, croissant-like bread dough, layered with a cinnamon sugar spread (similar to butter) and rolled into a long sausage shape. It comes in a chilled can and can be sliced and baked at home to produce cinnamon rolls.
Where can I buy cinnamon roll dough?
Most supermarkets will stock cinnamon roll dough. They’ll sometimes be labelled as cinnamon swirls.
Depending on where you live, Jus-Rol, Pilsbury and Cinnabon are the most common brands of cinnamon swirl dough. You should be able to find at least one of these in your local supermarket in the refrigerated section.
If I can’t get cinnamon roll dough, what else could I use?
If you can’t find cinnamon roll dough you could use croissant dough, but you’d need to then make your own cinnamon, sugar and butter mixture too.
Alternatively, you could use this chocolate cinnamon buns recipe and adapt the filling to use Nutella instead of cocoa and then shape as per the instructions in this recipe.
How can I tell if my cinnamon roll dough has gone off?
First, check that your cans of dough are fully sealed and have been stored properly in the fridge. Next, check the Use By date on the can - this shouldn’t be exceeded.
Provided these elements are in order, you can open the can and check the quality of the dough.
Fresh dough will be puffy, slightly sticky and bounce back when poked. Gone-off dough may be hard, stiff and dense or may seem slightly liquified. If it hasn’t been stored correctly, it may smell fermented or look mouldy.
If you don’t think you’ll get round to cooking your dough before the Use By date, check the label for advice as you may be able to pop it in the freezer for use in the future,
Is cinnamon swirl babka suitable for vegetarians?
Yes, this cinnamon swirl babka is suitable for vegetarians as it contains no meat, fish or poultry.
Whenever cooking for special dietary requirements, it’s important to double check the label on all of your ingredients to check that they do not contain animal products. Don't forget to also check the labels on anything extra you intend to serve the recipe with.
Is cinnamon swirl babka suitable for vegans?
The cinnamon swirl dough I used (Jus-Rol) does not list butter, milk or egg in the ingredients. However, it does carry a label warning that it ‘may contain’ any of these ingredients and, as such, may or may not be considered suitable for vegans, depending on their personal preferences.
Nutella is not suitable for vegans as it contains cow’s milk powder, but you could use something like Mr Organic Vegan Chocolate Spread instead.
Whenever cooking for special dietary requirements, always double check all of your ingredients labels to make sure that they are suitable. Don't forget to also check anything extra you intend to serve the recipe with.
Is cinnamon swirl babka gluten-free?
Store bought cinnamon roll dough is made with wheat flour and so is not suitable for a gluten-free diet. I don’t know of a gluten-free cinnamon swirl dough brand, but if you can source one, you could try that.
At the time of writing (November 2021), Nutella is considered gluten-free but it’s important to check the label as things can change over time and by country.
You should also carefully check the labels on all the ingredients you use, including anything extra you intend to serve the recipe with.
Is cinnamon swirl babka keto-friendly?
Due to its high carbohydrate content (from the flour and sugar), this recipe is not suitable for a keto diet, but if you are willing to make the dough and filling yourself, you could experiment with a sweetener and low-carb flour alternative of your choosing.
Is cinnamon swirl babka healthy?
This buttery, sugary, chocolatey babka is designed to be a one-off treat and wouldn’t come under the heading of healthy, however as part of a varied and balanced diet with fresh fruit and vegetables there should be no harm done.
Is cinnamon swirl babka safe to eat while pregnant?
This recipe should be safe to eat while pregnant. But to be on the safe side, double check the labels on the brand of cinnamon swirl dough that you choose to purchase.
Make sure all the ingredients are in good condition, stored properly and that this babka is prepared safely and hygienically.
A Mummy Too does not offer medical advice. Please seek help from a medical professional if you need further information or have any concerns.
What goes well with cinnamon swirl babka?
This cinnamon swirl babka goes well with almost anything! A tea, coffee or hot chocolate pairs beautifully, as does a glass of cold milk.
You might also like to try a warm chai tea to compliment the cinnamon. Alternatively, a scoop of cold ice cream on hot babka is a delicious combination.
Can I make this recipe with just the cinnamon roll dough?
If you want to leave out the Nutella and otherwise follow the recipe as instructed, it will absolutely work, so that’s definitely an option.
You could also swap the Nutella for something else, such as chocolate spread, peanut butter, or cream cheese.
I haven’t got Nutella, can I use chocolate spread or peanut butter?
You can easily swap the Nutella for your favourite nut butter, if you like. Chocolate spread would also work.
Can I add extra chocolate to this recipe?
I wouldn’t recommend adding any extra chocolate to the filling as this will make the babka quite difficult to work with. However, once your babka is cooked and hot from the oven, you could sprinkle some chocolate chips on top - a combination of dark, milk and white chips could look great - or you could drizzle some extra Nutella on top.
How should I store cinnamon swirl babka?
This babka is best enjoyed freshly baked. Like most croissant-type pastries, the crumb will go stale very quickly if left out unwrapped.
Wrap and cooled leftover loaf well and place it in a sealed container, out of direct sunlight, in a cool dry place.
How long does cinnamon swirl babka keep?
If stored correctly, wrapped and in a sealed container to prevent drying out, this cheat’s cinnamon chocolate babka will keep for up to three days in the cupboard.
There are also tips below on freezing your babka to keep it fresh for up to three months.
Can I leave cinnamon swirl babka out on the counter?
It’s best not to leave this babka out on the counter, other than for slicing and serving. Like most croissant-type pastries, the crumb will go stale very quickly if left out unwrapped.
Can I make cinnamon swirl babka ahead?
If you like, you can get the babka ready to bake the night before and then bake for breakfast.
To do this, fill and shape the babka dough as directed, pop it in your loaf tin, then cover well and place in the fridge.
In the morning, bake as directed and you’ll have freshly baked babka to enjoy for breakfast.
Can I keep cinnamon swirl babka in the refrigerator?
You can store this babka in the fridge (well wrapped and in a sealed container) if you wish, but it’s better to opt for a cool cupboard. This is because when cooked pastries like this cinnamon swirl babka are chilled, the starches crystallize more quickly, giving a stale consistency.
If your babka seems to have hardened in the fridge, you can wrap it in foil and refresh it in a 180C (160C fan) oven for about 10 minutes to improve the consistency.
Can I freeze cinnamon swirl babka?
Yes. If you have any leftover loaf, wrap it well as soon as possible after cooling and put it in an airtight container and into the freezer. The sooner you freeze the loaf once cooled, the better the texture will be. It will keep in the freezer for up to three months.
What is the best way to defrost cinnamon swirl babka?
To thaw frozen babka, remove it from the fridge and place the container in the refrigerator to defrost overnight.
Once thawed, you can wrap it in foil and refresh it in a 180C (160C fan) oven for about 10 minutes to improve the consistency.
How can I reheat a cinnamon swirl babka loaf?
To reheat your babka, simply wrap it in foil and refresh it in a 180C (160C fan) oven for about 10 minutes.
If your babka seems dry, you can try spraying it sparingly with water before wrapping in foil. The water will turn to steam whilst heating and help soften the crumb.
Can I toast slices of cinnamon swirl babka?
You can toast slices of this babka, yes! You might find it’s prone to falling apart in the toaster, though, due to the flaky pastry layers and twisted structure, so it’s best to toast either in a dry frying pan or on a tray under the grill (broiler).
Can I make cinnamon swirl babka in a different quantity?
This recipe makes a small loaf with around 8 slices.
If you scroll down to the recipe card towards the bottom of this post, you'll see the number of servings displayed near the top left. Hover over - or click on - the number and a little slider will pop up. You can move the slider up or down and all of the ingredient quantities will update automatically to keep everything in the right ratios.
Changing the number of servings will of course make the loaf bigger or smaller, so you’ll need to think about how you approach the folding and shaping, and be aware that you’ll need to use an appropriately-sized tin and also think about how the change in size might affect the cooking time.
Can I make cinnamon swirl babka in individual mini portions?
In theory, it should be possible to adapt this recipe to make mini babka loaves.
The best approach would be to follow the recipe as instructed to begin with - unroll, fill and sandwich the two sheets of cinnamon dough together - but when it comes time to slice the dough, instead of cutting it in half along the length, you could cut it into a series of thin strips width ways.
Twisting them together in pairs would produce mini loaves that could then be baked on a tray. As they’re small, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the cooking time as it will probably be shorter.
Can I make cinnamon swirl babka in a different tin/tray?
I recommend using a medium loaf tray where possible, as it will help the babka keep its shape.
However, if you don’t have a loaf tray, you can bake your babka on any tray that it will fit in or on.
How can I make sure my cinnamon swirl babka is perfectly cooked?
The single most valuable tip I can give in making this recipe is to use your fridge as often as you need to.
When the dough first pops out of the cans, it will be firm and easy to unroll, but in a hot kitchen, it may quickly become soft and difficult to work with. A few minutes in the fridge should firm it up again nicely and give a much neater, well-shaped babka.
When you come to bake your babka, make sure that the oven is fully preheated and place the tin on the middle shelf to allow the heat to circulate as evenly as possible.
When your babka is risen and evenly browned on top, it should be perfectly cooked. If it seems to be browning on top too fast, it might be that your oven is running a little hot. You can cover the top of the tin loosely with foil to protect the loaf from burning.
Allow your cooked loaf to cool before slicing to give neat slices. You can slice when it’s hot, if you want, but it will be gooey in the centre, just like a cinnamon roll!
Why didn’t my cinnamon swirl babka have clear swirls on top / inside?
To get those classic babka swirls, you need to pay attention to your shaping. Following the step-by-step pics in the recipe instructions above should really help with that.
Your fridge is also your friend, especially on hot days. Make sure that the dough is firm enough to unroll, fill, cut and twist without squishing or stretching.
Whenever your dough starts to feel too soft, and especially once you have your layers of cinnamon sugar and nutella sandwiched between two sheets of dough, pop it back in the fridge to stiffen up. This will give you more control over the roll and help you achieve those all important visible swirls.
Why did my cinnamon swirl dough get really soft and messy?
Cinnamon swirls are made from laminated dough, much like croissant dough. This type of dough is made by sandwiching a layer of fat between layers of bread dough and then folding and refolding until you have dozens and dozens of super thin layers of dough alternating with super thin layers of fat. When the dough is cooked, those fat layers melt and release moisture, causing the layers to separate and puff apart, giving that familiar flaky texture.
This ingenious lamination technique is also what makes the dough so prone to going soft and greasy if over-handled, since those fat layers can easily melt in a warm kitchen or when worked with warm hands.
The filling in your babka is also fat-based, so this too can get overly soft in a warm environment.
To keep your babka neat at every stage and avoid squishy dough and leaky fillings, use your fridge to cool your dough whenever needed, then just pick up where you left off.
Why did my cinnamon swirl babka turn out dry/hard/burned?
Overcooked babka is generally a result of having the oven too hot, baking the babka for too long, or both.
The filling of the babka is quite dark naturally, so that may look like it’s caught when it’s actually fine, but if the babka does burn, it will taste bitter, so keep an eye on it. If it seems to be browning on top too fast, you can cover the top of the tin loosely with foil to protect the loaf from burning.
Once your babka is cooked, it should have a crispy, flaky crust and soft but not wet centre. If your babka is cooked but dense, it may be that you over-handled the dough when shaping and allowed it to get too warm, meaning the fat layers melted and the lamination in the dough was lost.
Why did my cinnamon swirl babka turn out wet/soft/doughy?
If your babka is too wet or doughy, it is undercooked. This can happen if the oven wasn’t properly preheated before cooking, if the temperature is set too low, or the babka is not cooked for long enough.
It can also happen if the top of the babka browns too quickly due to a hot spot in the oven, as this can give you the impression that the loaf is cooked when it’s still raw inside. Stick to the recommended timings and if it seems to be browning on top too fast, you can cover the top of the tin loosely with foil to protect the loaf from burning.
If your loaf still seems undercooked at the end of the cooking time, there is no harm in giving it a few minutes in the oven, just be sure to keep an eye on it.
Why didn’t my cinnamon swirl babka rise?
If you didn’t preheat your oven or did not set the temperature high enough, you may find that the layers of your dough do not puff up like they should.
Alternatively, it may be that you over-handled the dough when shaping and allowed it to get too warm, meaning the fat layers melted and the lamination in the dough was lost.
How can I add/change the flavours in this cinnamon swirl babka recipe?
Just like the original babkas of old times, these cheat’s babka loaves can be filled with all kinds of scrumptious ingredients.
To compliment the cinnamon and chocolate hazelnut filling you might consider adding a scattering of orange zest or some finely chopped nuts. You could also swap out the Nutella for any chocolate or nut spread of your choice.
Once you have mastered the filling and shaping side of things, the babka world is your oyster. Get the kids involved and see what creations they come up with.
What is the origin of cinnamon swirls?
The cinnamon swirl (otherwise known as ‘cinnamon roll’, ‘cinnamon danish’, ‘cinnamon bun’ or ‘cinnamon snail’) was developed in Sweden, where it is known as a Kanelbulle and is typically flavoured with cardamom.
Cinnamon buns in Sweden aren’t as sweet and heavy as they are in the United States and elsewhere in Europe and they take their heritage pretty seriously, with October 4th celebrated as Cinnamon Bun Day since 1999.
Where does babka come from?
Bread is a big part of Jewish culinary traditions and babka is a staple at many Jewish celebrations.
Culinary historians credit Polish and Ukrainian cooks with the original creation of babka. In the late 19th Century when a wave of immigrants from central Europe moved to the United States, they brought with them babka where it became synonymous with Jewish bakeries.
The name babka derives from baba, meaning grandmother and is thought to have been chosen for the bread because its original design resembled the shape of a grandmother’s skirt.
Print this cinnamon swirl babka recipe
Cinnamon Swirl Babka
- 2 x 270g rolls (19 oz) cinnamon swirl dough
- 2 tbsp Nutella
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F fan (200C/390F regular oven).
- Unroll the two tubes of dough, laying them side by side.
- The cinnamon butter filling tends to clump a little, so spread it across the dough evenly.
- Spoon the Nutella on top and spread evenly over the dough.
- Roll up along the long edge.
- If your dough has gone a bit soft, wrap in baking paper and pop in the fridge to chill a little so that it firms up. Once firm, slice down the middle with a sharp knife.
- Twist the two pieces together. I find it easiest to start from the middle, twisting out to one end and then to the other.
- Drop into a lined loaf tin.
- Bake for 30-40 mins until risen and cooked through.
- Allow to cool a little before slicing.
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