Tag Archives: sweet breads

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

 

Hot Cross Buns

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Hot Cross Buns

Happy Easter everyone!  I hope the day was filled with the joy of life, and perhaps some chocolate!

Most years I actually make chocolate for Easter.  While I am not averse to buying good chocolate I usually make something a bit special to maximise the indulgence factor.  This year I bought new chocolate moulds and a range of accoutrements in preparation but the inspiration didn’t come.

Instead, this has been the year for hot cross buns.  Wal has always loved them, and would buy them year round if he could, so it seemed about time to offer him some home made buns.  It took a bit of effort to fine tune my recipe to meet the collective family requirements (they are becoming quite the critics, these guys!), but these buns are delicious, if I do say so myself! And as with much of what I cook, they are very easy to make.

Recipe

  • 3/4 c scalded milk
  • 170 g butter
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 3/4 c sultanas
  • 4 c flour, sifted
  • 1 T milk, extra
  • 3 T pre-made almond cake icing

Heat milk to almost boiling. Add butter, sugar and salt and remove from heat.

Add water and leave to cool until lukewarm. Add the yeast and mix. Blend in the egg. Mix in the cinnamon and sultanas.

Gradually add the flour. Mix until well blended and soft.

Leave in oiled bowl in a warm area for 45 minutes to rise.

Preheat oven  to 220C. Place dough on floured board while you work with it. Shape into round balls (recipe will make about 20) and place closely together on lined baking tray. Lightly brush with milk and set aside for 3 minutes. Then, using a sharp knife, cut a cross into each bun.

Bake for 20 minutes. Towards the end of the baking time, knead the icing until it is pliable. Roll into a long thin strip.  Working quickly as soon as you take the buns out, fill the cross cuts with icing strips.

Enjoy them while they are still hot!

Hot Cross Bun plated