Desserts & Baking
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon instant dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
2/3 cup warm water
3/4 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature or melted
Vegetable oil for greasing
1 stick unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons The Spice Hunter Cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Make the dough:
Place flour, sugar (if using honey add it later along with the eggs), yeast, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on until combined. Add eggs, water, and butter, and mix on low-medium speed for 10-12 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. It would look soft and won’t pull away from the bottom of the bowl – that’s ok. During mixing, scrape down the sides of the bowl using a spatula as needed.
With floured hands, transfer dough to a large bowl brushed with oil (the fat will keep the dough from drying out), cover with plastic wrap, and leave in the fridge for at least half a day or overnight (if placed a long time in the fridge the dough can become hard – that’s normal; leave it at room temperature to soften for 30-60 minutes or until it’s easy to work with). Alternately, place at room temperature for 1½-2 hours or until doubled in size.
Grease two loaf pans (I usually use 9×5 inch pans but a bit smaller or larger pans would work too) with oil and line the bottom and sides of each pan with parchment paper for easy release later on. Set aside.
Make the cinnamon filling:
In a medium bowl, whisk together butter, sugar and cinnamon until well combined. It should be a thick spreadable consistency.
Rolling and shaping
Divide dough in half. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface and shape into a rectangle measuring 16×12 inches (40×30 cm). Position dough so that the long side is closest to you. Using an offset spatula, spread half of the filling over the rectangle.
Use both hands to roll up the rectangle like a roulade, starting from the long side closest to you and ending at the other side. Press to seal the dampened end onto the roulade, then use both hands to even out the roll into a perfect thick cigar. Rest the cigar on its seam.
Using a serrated knife, gently cut the roll in half lengthwise, starting at the top and finishing at the seam. You should have two long, even halves with the layers of dough and filling visible along the length of both. With the cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of each half, then lift the right half over the left half. Repeat the process again, this time lifting the left half over the right to create a simple two-pronged plait. Gently squeeze together the other ends so that you are left with two intertwined halves showing the filling on top.
Carefully lift the cake into a loaf pan. Don’t worry if the cake doesn’t look great or if there are gaps in the pan since the cake will rise and look fine, even if it looks messy at this point. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and leave to rise at room temperature for 1 to 1½ hours until almost doubled in size. Repeat using the remaining dough and filling to create the second cake.
Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC, making sure to allow plenty of time for it to heat fully before the cakes have finished rising. Remove plastic wrap and place cakes on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for about 35-40 minutes until golden brown on top. If you have a thermometer, you are looking for an internal temperature of about 200ºF/93ºC degrees.
Make the syrup:
While the cakes are in the oven, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring water and sugar to a boil. As soon as the sugar dissolves, remove from heat and set aside. Once the cakes are out of the oven, brush the syrup gently over them. Use all of the syrup even if it looks a lot. Let cakes cool until they are warm, then remove from pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Babka will stay fresh for 24 hours in an airtight container at room temperature. Do not place it in the fridge. It also freezes well for up to 2 months. To thaw, leave at room temperature for 2 hours, or overnight in the fridge.
Recipe adapted from Pretty Simple Sweet