Babka

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Make this popular eastern European "Easter Treat" in your own kitchen. By stacking the dough swirls the end result is a beautiful braided looking loaf.

Ingredients

  • Dough
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water, cold
  • 4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5 to 5-1/2 cups Hodgson Mill All Purpose White Flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 pkg.(2-1/2 tsp) Hodgson Mill Fast Rise Yeast
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, softened
  • Filling
  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted, coarse chopped
  • 1 cup raisins, (optional)
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • glaze
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp. water

Directions

Whisk first four dough ingredients together in a large liquid measuring cup.  Combine 5 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  With the mixer on low speed, add the sour cream mixture, mixing until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.

Increase mixer speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.  Dough will be quite sticky.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, slowly add butter, one piece at a time, waiting about 15 seconds between additions.  Scrape down sides of the bowl and continue to knead dough on medium-low until dough forms a very soft ball, about 15 minutes longer.  If after 6 minutes, more flour is needed, add remaining 1/2 cup flour 2 Tbsp. at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom.  Scrape dough into large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with greased plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 hours and up to 24 hours.  Dough will rise only slightly due to high butter content.  Dough requires long first rise in the refrigerator to avoid butter leaching out which would result in an oily texture and uneven crumb.

 Prepare filling by mixing filling ingredients together; set aside.  Grease two 9x5-inch loaf pans, then line with parchment paper long enough to hang over the pan sides and be used as handles to lift the finished bread from the pan.

Turn the cold dough onto lightly floured counter and roll into 24x18-inch rectangle, about 1/16-inch thick, long side facing you.  Sprinkle filling evenly over the dough leaving a clear 1/2-inch border at the far edge.  Loosen the dough from the counter using a dough scraper and roll into a tight cylinder, brush the border with water, and pinch the seam closed.  Gently stretch the cylinder to 24-inches in length, keeping diameter even all the way to ends.  With a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 3/4-inch thick slices (about 32 slices).

Stand slices on edge in two rows, from back to front in the prepared bread pans, alternating and  overlapping the sides of the rolls in the middle of the pan.  Resulting effect will appear braided.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. 

Let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size and dough springs back just slightly when poked with a knuckle, (about 2 hours).

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.  Prepare glaze by mixing sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.  In separate bowl, beat egg with water and brush tops of the unbaked loaves with the egg wash then sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Place both loaves on the lower-middle oven rack and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. as soon as you place pans in oven.

Bake until browned, about 50-60 minutes; rotating loaves halfway through baking.  If loaf tops begin to look too dark, tent them loosely with foil; tops should be brown but not burnt.

Cool bread in pans for 15 minutes; using the parchment paper ‘handles” lift the loaves out of the pans to cooling rack and continue cooling to room temperature, about 2 hours, before slicing.

 

 

NOTE: This is a very sticky, dense dough that cannot be kneaded by hand or food processor.  A stand mixer is required.  Dough needs to be chilled 10-24 hours before rolling it out.

 

 

 



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