An old fave revisited: Cinnamon Bun Babka

My Polish grandmother’s kitchen was always warm and aromatic. She churned out baked goods regularly and always had a chewy slice of babka with a little jelly spread on top ready for me.

Babkas come with various fillings. My grandmother’s were usually filled with golden raisins and other dried fruits. I couldn’t identify them then, and still can’t now. All I knew was that they were tasty.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering where my photograph is.

There is none.

I made SUCH a delicious Cinnamon Bun Babka a few days ago that it lasted less than 24 hours in the house. I came down to a cookie sheet covered with crumbs and glaze remnants. It’s that good.

Don’t be intimidated by the yeast and having to let the dough rise. This is another one of my favorite recipes because it includes downtime – almost two hours – during which you can do laundry or homework.

In fact, you SHOULD do something during the downtime to keep from hovering over your dough. It needs alone time! You want your bread to bake up nice and airy. Give the yeast room to work.

Here’s the recipe, and a picture I found on RecipeTips.com that looks similar to what I made. The site also has a good description of babka.

Mine had more height, and was drizzled with lots of homemade glaze. I miss it.

Mine had more height, and was drizzled with lots of homemade glaze. I miss it.

Cinnamon Bun Babka Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

Prep Time: 35 min
Inactive Prep Time: 1 hr 40 min
Cook Time: 1 hr

Dough:
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) melted margarine or butter, cooled, plus more for brushing
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Filling:
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup melted margarine or butter, cooled

*I omitted the raisins because we had none in the house and the nuts because one of my roommates is allergic. However, comments on the recipe’s page suggested to double the filling ingredients. I did that with the cinnamon, brown sugar, butter and orange zest. Perfect.*

Glaze:
1/4 cup water
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 orange, zest finely grated
1 large egg white

*I wound up with a bit too much glaze. I’m going to cut back by about half next time, lest it ooze onto the stove burner… again. I never said cooking wasn’t messy!*

To prepare the dough:

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of the warm water. Sprinkle in 1/4 teaspoon of the sugar and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

*You probably don’t have a stand mixer. Lord knows I don’t. They’re costly, heavy and hard to store. My mother has one that I love using but hate lugging around. Use a big plastic bowl and a hand mixer. When things get too tough for the hand mixer, dive in with your own hands. Again, I never said this wasn’t going to be messy. BUT it’ll be worth it.*

Turn the mixer on low speed and add the remaining water, sugar, melted margarine, eggs, and salt. Add 2 cups of the flour and turn the speed up to medium; continue to mix until incorporated. Gradually add the remaining flour, and continue to mix until the dough holds together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl; the dough will be very soft.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface…

*Keep it in the bowl if you want to minimize flour spillage. Just sprinkle some flour in the bowl.*

…until smooth and elastic. Rub the inside of a mixing bowl with the oil and put the dough in it, turning to coat. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.

To prepare the filling: Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Add the orange zest, raisins, walnuts, and melted margarine. Fold the ingredients together to combine.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and brush with melted margarine.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle, about 10 by 18-inches. Brush the surface of the dough with melted margarine and spread the filling evenly across. Roll the dough up, jelly roll-style, into a long cylinder, and twist it a few times like your wringing out a towel. Put the dough on the sheet pan and coil it around like a pinwheel, tuck the loose end of the dough under so it doesn’t unravel. Brush the top of the dough with more melted margarine. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until your kitchen smells like cinnamon, and the babka is golden brown. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack.

To prepare the orange glaze: Mix the all the ingredients together in a bowl, until the sugar dissolves. Whisk the glaze to smooth out any lumps; drizzle it over the top of the babka while it is still warm.

*Keep your babka fresh by covering it with foil. It also tastes exquisite if you heat up a slice in the microwave. Enjoy!*

P.S. — I plan to make another one this weekend, so a photo may be in the near future.

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One Response to An old fave revisited: Cinnamon Bun Babka

  1. […] By the way, the actual recipe I followed is in the previous post. […]

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