Cinnamon Hazelnut Babka

Full of cinnamon (in the dough, the filling, and the streusel on top!) and chopped hazelnuts, this Cinnamon Hazelnut Babka is most definitely not a lesser babka.  Sprinkle extra hazelnuts on top for a delicious unexpected crunch — this is not your Bubbe’s babka.

a loaf of cinnamon hazelnut babka sliced on a wooden cutting board.

Earlier this month, I shared a recipe for the best chocolate babka, which was kicking off my 2019 Yeast Bread of the Month series.

At the end of the post, I joked that since babka is clearly the best yeast bread of them all, maybe I should just do Babka of the Month instead.

It was a joke… until people reached out and said “yes! babka of the month! do it!”

So I did what any undecided person does and polled the masses (i.e., my instagram followers).  I put up an Instagram Story poll asking if I should do babka of the month or yeast bread of the month.

And with 52% of the vote, the winner was, obviously, BABKA.

(I am thrilled about this.  Instagram followers, you get me.)

So get excited: we have an entire year of babka coming up.  Babka is having a big moment right now, and I’m excited to be a part of that. 

We’ll do sweet babkas (duh).  We’ll do savory babkas.  There will be seasonally appropriate and fun and festive babkas.  ALL BABKA ALL THE TIME.  (Okay fine.  One babka a month for the rest of the year.)

We covered the history of babka and what defines a babka in the chocolate babka recipe post, so let’s jump right on it to this cinnamon hazelnut babka. Cinnamon babka is everywhere – but what if we take it up a notch and add hazelnuts for great flavor and crunch? This is an updated twist on a classic – and it’s so good!

close up view of an unbaked cinnamon hazelnut babka highlighting the swirled dough and chopped hazelnuts.

Best Cinnamon Babka

Quick babka refresher: a babka is a sweet yeast bread with a swirled filling.  And for this particular babka, we’re using cinnamon and hazelnuts.

We’ve really amped up the cinnamon flavor here, with a triple punch: it’s in the dough, in the filling, and in the streusel topping.  (Too much cinnamon? No such thing!)

If you’ve made a lot of babkas before (or any of the other babka recipes on my site), you might notice something a little different about this recipe. It uses more yeast than any of my other recipes! Why do we need to do this? It’s time for my favorite subject… kitchen chemistry!

Kitchen Chemistry

Chemical compounds of cinnamon (cinnamaldehyde) have antifungal properties, which in turn inhibit yeast activity. As a result, a higher percentage of yeast is required to overcome this inhibition. If you are incorporating yeast directly into the dough, the cinnamon should be less than 15% of the weight of the yeast.

My typical babka recipe uses 1 tablespoon of yeast. To make this cinnamon-filled cinnamon babka, however, we’re adding half a teaspoon of cinnamon to the dough. One tablespoon is the equivalent of three teaspoons. Half a teaspoon of cinnamon to three teaspoons of yeast means the cinnamon is 33% the weight of the yeast — much too high! So instead, we’re going to double the yeast and start with 2 tablespoons of yeast. This gets us down to 16% weight of the yeast which still works, even if it requires a slightly longer rise time.

We’ll also include hazelnuts, in various states of chopped/ground, in the filling and the streusel.  Hazelnuts pair beautifully with cinnamon and are a little unexpected as far as nuts go.  We’ve got tons of baked goods with almonds, walnuts, and peanuts, but outside of Nutella, hazelnuts kind of take the back burner.

Not anymore, people.  You know the Seinfeld joke about cinnamon babka being the “lesser” babka?  This is not a lesser babka, thanks in part to the hazelnuts.  This is a damn good babka – every bit as good as chocolate.

baked loaf of cinnamon hazelnut babka in a loaf pan with chopped hazelnuts scattered on top.

How to Make Cinnamon Hazelnut Babka

Making babka takes time, but you can easily fit it into a long morning or afternoon.  The steps may look complicated, but I promise: it isn’t!

Here’s the babka game plan:

1) toast the hazelnuts
2) make the dough –> you can do this by hand or in a stand mixer to make it a little easier
3) let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 hour
4) let the dough rise in the refrigerator for another hour-ish
5) roll out the dough
6) cover dough with cinnamon hazelnut filling
7) twist the dough and place it in a loaf pan
8) let the dough rise again
9) top dough with streusel topping
10) bake
11) top freshly baked, still hot babka with simple syrup
12) cool babka
13) eat babka

Thirteen steps, but I assure you, the thirteenth step makes the first twelve 100% worth it.

(Also, your kitchen will smell amaaaazing while this bakes.  What is it about cinnamon in the oven that just smells so absolutely wonderful?)

As for the filling, I added a little cocoa powder to the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.  If you’re not feeling chocolate at all, leave it out completely.  I find just a little cocoa powder really enhances the cinnamon taste, though – and isn’t at all overpowering enough to verge on chocolate babka territory.

loaf of uncut cinnamon hazelnut babka on a wooden board.

Toasting Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are an important part of this babka, and they’re even better when toasted.  Fortunately, this is a simple easy step you can do right at home!

Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake at 350 °F until toasty brown (10ish minutes).  When you pull them out of the oven, immediately cover and wrap in a clean kitchen dishtowel.  This will trap the steam and help to loosen the outer skins.

After a few minutes, rub the nuts inside the towel for a minute or two until most of the skins come off.  (Don’t worry about any that are still on — they’ll just add a little more color to the chopped hazelnuts!)

Toasted hazelnuts will last for about a month at room temperature, so I always make a big batch and use them in various cooking and baking dishes — or for snacking!

hazelnuts roasted and toasted in a home oven on a dishcloth after rubbing off the outer skin.

Shaping Cinnamon Babka

We tackled this last month with the chocolate babka recipe, but a refresher is always good. Photos below are from the chocolate babka post — just pretend it’s cinnamon hazelnut filling, instead!

Start by rolling your dough out into a big rectangle.  Spread on the cinnamon filling and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.

Next, take the long side and start to roll the babka into one long line.  Rather than squeezing the dough into a tight coil, lift the dough and roll loosely — if you try to roll too tight, you’ll squish out the hazelnuts.

Once the dough is fully rolled, grab a knife and cut it in half, the whole way through, vertically.  You’ll have two really long pieces of dough with chocolate running through them.

Twist these two pieces of dough around each other from start to finish.  Then take this long twist, fold it in half, and give it another twist.

Place this twisted dough into the prepared loaf pan.  It doesn’t matter which way you put it in — swirly side up or down — because we’re going to cover it with a streusel topping anyway.

step by step photo instructions on how to shape a babka into a swirled loaf.

Internal Temperature for Doneness

This involves my most favorite aspect of baking: science!  

Yeast breads are done when the temperature reaches 190 °F, which you can check with an instant read thermometer.  No need to try to take the babka out of the pan and ‘thump’ the bottom, or figure out if the goo on your knife is dough or melted cinnamon mixture.  

With a babka, which has so many layers and swirls, it’s hard to find the exact middle and ensure you’re in the dough and not the filling or an air pocket.  I generally take the temperature from 3 or 4 places in the dough and ensure that each is at least 190 °F before removing the loaf from the oven.

overhead view of a sliced loaf of cinnamon hazelnut babka showing the swirls of cinnamon and chopped hazelnuts.
  • SAF Gold Instant Yeast: Saf Gold is specifically designed for use in sweetened yeast bread, like this babka – your babka will rise faster and higher with SAF Gold.
  • Stand Mixer: My trusty stand mixer comes with a dough hook.
  • Rolling Pin: I love this rolling pin because it includes guides to ensure an even thickness across the dough.
  • Loaf Pan: Metal loaf pans are the best conductors of heat, meaning an evenly-baked babka.
  • Hazelnuts: I can’t always find fresh hazelnuts in my grocery store, so I order them online and store extras in the freezer.
  • Pastry Brush: Use a pastry brush to brush the simple syrup all over the freshly-baked babka.
one slice of cinnamon hazelnut babka on a decorative blue plate.

Tips and Tricks for the Best Cinnamon Hazelnut Babka

  1. Freshly Roasted Hazelnuts: Toast your hazelnuts before using them – the flavor so much better!
  2. SAF Gold Yeast: For sweet breads like babka, SAF Gold yeast is specifically formulated for higher-sugar dough and I use it for all my babka recipes. Because it is an instant yeast, it does not require proofing and can be mixed right in with the other ingredients.
  3. Dry Active Yeast: If you’re using dry active yeast instead of SAF Gold, proof the yeast first. Mix the yeast with warmed milk and set it aside for 5-10 minutes, until frothy and bubbly.
  4. Proper Dough Resting Time: Allow the dough to rise sufficiently during both the first and second proofing. This contributes to a light and airy texture in the finished babka.
  5. Check the Temperature: To ensure the babka is fully baked, use an instant-read thermometer and bake until the center of the babka reaches 190°F.
  6. Babka Storage: This recipe makes two loaves. If you’re not eating them immediately after baking, leftover babka can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4-5 days or frozen, wrapped in a layer of aluminum foil, and stored in an airtight freezer bag, for up to 3 months. If desired, place a slice of thawed babka in a 300°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes until toasty and warm.

More Cinnamon Recipes:

2019 Babka of the Month Series

Cinnamon Hazelnut Babka: with a triple dose of cinnamon (in the dough, the filling, and the streusel topping) and chopped hazelnuts, this is not a lesser babka! #bunsenburnerbakery #babka #cinnamonbabka #yeastbread #hazelnuts

Cinnamon Hazelnut Babka

Yield: 2 loaves
Prep Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

Full of cinnamon (in the dough, the filling, and the streusel on top!) and chopped hazelnuts, this cinnamon hazelnut babka is most definitely not a lesser babka.


For the Dough:

  • 1 cup (227 grams) whole milk, room temperature or slightly warmed
  • 2 tablespoons (18 grams) instant yeast, preferably SAF Gold
  • 1/2 cup (99 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups (540 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 12 pieces

For the Cinnamon Hazelnut Filling

  • 1 cup (213 grams) packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (or flour)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 8 tablespoons(113 grams) melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (150 grams) chopped roasted hazelnuts

For the Streusel Topping:

  • 1/4 cup (53 grams) brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons (57 grams) butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 cup (75 grams) halved or chopped roasted hazelnuts

For the Syrup

  • 2/3 cup (132 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (151 grams) water


  1. Prepare the dough. Whisk together the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or a large glass mixing bowl. On low speed, beat in the milk, eggs, and vanilla extract, mixing just until the dough comes together, 2-3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-low and add the butter one piece at a time, beating after each addition until all pieces have been added. Continue mixing with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, whisk together ingredients by hand until combined; knead by hand for 10 minutes until dough is soft and smooth.)
  2. Transfer the dough to a large lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Set aside to rise at room temperature for 1 hour. After 1 hour, transfer the bowl to the refrigerator, still covered, and set aside for 1 hour, until dough has doubled in size and is firm to the touch.
  3. Prepare the filling. While the babka is rising in the refrigerator, make the cinnamon hazelnut filliing. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and flour. Pour in the melted butter and vanilla and stir to combine. This mixture will look a little granulated from the sugar.
  4. Shape the babka. Grease two 8.5x4.5-inch loaf pans. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and gently punch it down. Cut the dough in half; remove half from the bowl and recover the other half and set aside.
  5. Roll the dough into a roughly 9-inch by 18-inch rectangle. Spread half the filling over the dough, leaving a slight border along the edges. Sprinkle half the chopped roasted hazelnuts over the top of the dough. Working from the long side of the dough, roll the dough into a long cylinder (see photos in post for more detail). Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in half long-ways down the length of the cylinder to expose the chocolate filling, creating two logs of dough. Twist these two logs together (pictured above in post). Fold in half one more time, twisting again, and place dough in the prepared loaf pan. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover both loaf pans with plastic wrap or a dish towel and set aside to rise again at room temperature, for another hour.
  6. Make the streusel topping. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in the cold butter using a pastry cutter or two knives until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture has a sandy texture. Stir in the chopped hazelnuts. After the dough finishes rising, sprinkle the streusel topping over both loaves.
  7. Make the syrup glaze. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
  9. Bake the babka. Bake the loaves at 350 °F for 45 to 55 minutes, until the top of the loaf is golden brown and the inside registers 190 °F using an instant read thermometer. As soon as the babkas are done baking and come out of the oven, use a long skewer or knife to poke holes all over the bread, pushing all the way down to the bottom. Brush the simple syrup on top, equally dividing between the two loaves. Allow the breads to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.


  1. For best results, use SAF Gold instant yeast, which is specifically designed for sweet breads.
  2. If you are using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, proof the yeast before starting. Combine the yeast, warm milk, and 1 tablespoon of sugar and set aside for 5-10 minutes until frothy. Proceed with the rest of the recipe, adding this to the other ingredients and mixing.
  3. Babka can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze, wrap the fully cooled loaf in aluminum foil and place it inside a plastic freezer bag.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 343Total Fat: 17.1gCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 5g

Did you make this recipe?

Don't forget to leave a rating or a comment and share your recipe photos on Instagram - tag @bunsenburnerbakery!

Cinnamon Hazelnut Babka: with a triple dose of cinnamon (in the dough, the filling, and the streusel topping) and chopped hazelnuts, this babka is packed full of flavor!