Cinnamon Babka

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Babka freshfromtheoven

There’s an episode of Seinfeld called “The Dinner Party” in which Jerry and Elaine are on their way to a dinner party, and decide they need to take something with them for the hosts. They stop at a bakery wanting to buy a chocolate babka, but end up with a cinnamon one instead.  Elaine is unhappy because she considers a cinnamon babka “a lesser babka”.

There are different types of babka, which I believe originated in Poland, but it is traditionally baked on major holidays in a number of Eastern European countries.  Some make babka as a cake, and glaze it with chocolate or vanilla icing and decorate with nuts and dried fruit. For others it is a sweet bread braided and filled with sweet cinnamon or chocolate fillings with streusel toppings.  This latter version reminds me of the Bohemian sweet breads that I love so much, and which tend not to use chocolate.  So for me, cinnamon is definitely not the lesser babka!

Recipe

  • 125g cream cheese
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c caster sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 7g sachet dried yeast
  • 1 1/4 c warm milk
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 c flour
  • 2 T cream

Line 2 large loaf pans with baking paper.

Beat cream cheese, oil and caster sugar until light and creamy.  Beat in egg yolks.

Combine milk and vanilla. Stir in yeast and set aside for 2 minutes to activate the yeast, then fold yeast mixture into egg mixture.  Add flour and salt, and beat until the dough is soft and sticky.

On a well floured smooth surface, knead the dought until it is smooth. Place in a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a slightly damp cloth and leave in a warm spot to rise (about an hour).

Filling

While the dough is rising, the filling needs to be prepared.

  • 1 1/2 c caster sugar
  • 2 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 125 g butter
  • 1/2 c warm milk
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 egg

In a medium bowl, beat butter, sugar and cinnamon until light and creamy. Add flour, milk and egg and beat until well mixed.  Set aside until required.

Once the babka dough has doubled in size, remove from the bowl and divide into 4 pieces. Roll 2 pieces into braid-able lengths and set aside. Roll remaining 2 pieces into braidable lengths and then flatten them so they can be filled.

Divide filling into thirds. Using 1/3 of the cinnamon mixture each, place a line of filling along the length of both flattened lengths and gently wrap dough around the filling. Cover the remaining filling and leave in the refrigerator until needed.

Create the 4 lengths of dough together. Cut braid in half crossways and place each piece in a prepared pan. Cover with the cloth and leave to rise again until doubled in size.

Babka braided

Preheat oven to 180C. Brush each loaf with cream and then crumble the remaining filling mixture over the tops. Bake for about 30 minutes or until firm.  Allow to cool in their pans for 5-10 minutes before removing.

Babka sliced

 

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About baking bohemian

My name is Jen and I am the baking bohemian. My blog identity comes from the cultural background of my mother’s family, (Bohemian), and my mother’s more left wing lifestyle (bohemian). The big ‘B’ Bohemian refers to the rich cultural heritage of our family that emigrated from Bohemia when it was still its own country (it now comprises two thirds of the Czech Republic). Food featured prominently in the family and broader social life of that part of my family. No social interaction was without sustenance, and any celebration, large or small, was an invitation to cook up a storm. My own family emigrated from the United States to Australia when I was a child. For the most part we lived with our mother, and my dad eventually moved back to the US. The little ‘b’ bohemian relates to the semi-alternative lifestyle we led with our mother. I hesitate to refer to her as a hippy, for that conjures up so many misconceptions, but certainly she was on that side of the fence. She was probably more eccentric than radical at the end of the day, but she could really cook. We always set extra plates at the dinner table because inevitably people would visit at dinner time. I started cooking when I was about eight. Cookies. Obviously I was motivated by desire! I loved cooking, I loved that the kitchen was always, in every way, the heart of the house, so I was always part of anything else that was happening while I was cooking. I loved people loving my food. With all the different things that I have done in my life and am interested in, food has remained my most consistent and enduring passion.

2 responses »

  1. Hello Jen! I just found your beautiful blog via Carla Sue at eat sweet 🙂 You’re an amazing baker… so far I’ve read a few of your posts and this recipe is by far my favourite. The bread looks so gorgeously soft, moist and cinnamony. I love babka so the photographs caught my eye straight away 🙂 I’m definitely keen to give the process a go at home very soon! Thanks for the recipe! x

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