See how to form, twist, and braid this sweet loaf.
chocolate-cinnamon swirl bread sliced
Credit: Con Poulos

We're in love with this babka-inspired braided loaf. It's a rich, fluffy, and delicious marvel with an irresistible chocolate-cinnamon swirl in every bite. The dough borrows the technique used in Shokupan, the Japanese milk bread. It starts by cooking bread flour with milk and then adding that cooked milk-flour mixture to the bread flour, sugar, and yeast along with melted butter, egg, and more milk.

The dough is delightful but it's the technique and presentation that really seal the deal. While we explain how to form, twist, and braid the loaf in the recipe, the extra images shown here show reveal how easy it is and should inspire you to take time to make this gorgeous bread. Anyone you share it with is sure to be very grateful.

Follow the recipe through step five to make the dough, prepare the baking pan, and mix together the butter-brown-sugar-cocoa-cinnamon mixture for the filling.

bread dough rolled out
Credit: Con Poulos

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 12-by-16-inch rectangle.

spreading chocolate mixture on dough
Credit: Con Poulos

Use an offset spatula to spread the butter-brown-sugar-cocoa mixture evenly over top of dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border at edges. Take time to distribute the mixture evenly so it will be in every single bite when the loaf is finished.

Sprinkle the chopped chocolate evenly over the spread butter-brown-sugar-cocoa mixture.

rolling up dough for swirl bread
Credit: Con Poulos

To roll your swirl bread, start at one of the short ends of the dough and roll it upward into a tight log.

Pinching the seam on rolled swirl bread dough
Credit: Con Poulos

Pinch ends and seam to seal after rolling.

Swirl bread dough scored through
Credit: Con Poulos

Next, you'll need to score the dough. Position dough vertically on the work surface and starting about one inch in from the short end of the dough that is furthest from you, cut through dough vertically all the way through to the end nearest you (dough should now only be attached at the end furthest from you).

Then comes the twisting, the part you need to see step-by-step (and might need to refer to as you form the loaf).

Twisting swirl bread dough

Twist the two sections of dough outward five times.

Swirl bread dough twisted
Credit: Con Poulos

After twisting comes braiding: Starting at the connected end, plait the two lengths together into a simple braid.

swirl bread being braided
Credit: Con Poulos

This is what the braided loaf looks like:

swirl bread braided
Credit: Con Poulos

Starting at attached end, pinch the ends together to seal.

Swirl bread ready to bake
Credit: Con Poulos

Then compress the braid slightly with your hands so it is approximately nine inches long.

Transfer braided loaf to the prepared pan and leave to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Follow recipe for baking instructions.


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