Cinnamon-Streusel Babka

Now that I’ve made chocolate babka, I want to make lots of other flavors. This cinnamon-streusel babka is just the beginning…I envision a poppy seed version, an almond version, an apricot version…the list goes on.

Babka really isn’t as difficult to make as it might seem, though it does involve several steps. I find it best to bake bread on the weekends, when I have plenty of time and can accomplish other things during the rising and resting periods. I baked this babka last weekend, and Mike and I liked it so much we kept it for ourselves. I stored it in a zip-top bag and it stayed fresh for about 4 days.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cut into slices
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk (or heavy cream)

For streusel topping

  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour

Preparation

Place 2 cups flour and yeast into the bowl of a mixer and stir together. Fit the dough hook onto your mixer.

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, sugar, salt, and butter, heating to 120 degrees (the butter will almost melt completely). Pour milk mixture into flour/yeast mixture along with egg and mix until combined, scraping the sides of your bowl to combine. Add remaining 1 cup flour and mix on low speed for 3 minutes, until dough becomes smooth – it will gather itself around the dough hook.

Turn dough onto a very lightly floured surface and knead it for 20-30 seconds by hand, then shape it into a ball.

Place dough in a large, greased bowl; turn the dough once to grease it. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Gently deflate your dough by pressing it to release some of the air; turn onto a very lightly floured surface and let rest for 10 minutes.

While the dough is resting, in a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom; set aside.

Lightly grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.

Roll dough into a 16 x 12 rectangle and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar/spice mixture. From the long side, roll dough into a log and cut in half to make two shorter logs.

Place one log on top of the other to form an X, then twist ends together. Place in the loaf pan, cover, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly beat egg and combine with milk (or heavy cream, if you have it); brush over top of loaf. Make the streusel by combining brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt, then stirring in the melted butter. Add flour and toss to combine until clumps form. Sprinkle over loaf.

Bake for 50 minutes, then cover with foil and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes, until loaf sounds hollow when tapped or the internal temperature reaches 180 to 190 degrees. Loosen loaf from pan; allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Store at room temperature for 3-4 days.

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Chocolate Babka

Bread adventures continue with this amazing chocolate babka, a sweet yeast dough swirled with chocolate. According to The Nosher, a food blog from My Jewish Learning, babka means “little grandmother” in Ukranian, Russian, and Eastern European Yiddish. It’s exactly the kind of thing I imagine grandmothers throughout Eastern Europe making.

Although it looks incredibly complicated, babka is actually easy to make, at least in terms of the mixing and assembling. It does require a good deal of rising time, but it’s worth it. Mike and his coworkers proclaimed it delicious, and now I have plans to make a cinnamon version. I’d also like to make a poppy seed version in honor of my own little Eastern European grandmother Zella, who passed away five years ago this month.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cut into slices
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preparation

Place 2 cups flour and yeast into the bowl of a mixer and stir together. Fit the dough hook onto your mixer.

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, sugar, salt, and butter, heating to 120 degrees (the butter will almost melt completely). Pour milk mixture into flour/yeast mixture along with egg and mix until combined, scraping the sides of your bowl to combine. Add remaining 1 cup flour and mix on low speed for 3 minutes, until dough becomes smooth – it will gather itself around the dough hook.

Turn dough onto a very lightly floured surface and knead it for 20-30 seconds by hand, then shape it into a ball.

Place dough in a large, greased bowl; turn the dough once to grease it. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Gently deflate your dough by pressing it to release some of the air; turn onto a very lightly floured surface and let rest for 10 minutes.

While the dough is resting, in a small bowl, combine sugar and cocoa powder; set aside.

Lightly grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.

Roll dough into a 16 x 12 rectangle and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar/cocoa mixture and miniature chocolate chips. From the long side, roll dough into a log and cut in half to make two shorter logs.

Place one log on top of the other to form an X, then twist ends together. Place in the loaf pan, cover, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly beat egg and combine with heavy cream; brush over top of loaf.

Bake for 50 minutes, then cover with foil and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes, until loaf sounds hollow when tapped or the internal temperature reaches 180 to 190 degrees. Loosen loaf from pan; allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Store at room temperature for 2-3 days.