I knew I was going to like babka the moment I laid eyes on it.
But I also knew that I was going to love the lesser babka. The cinnamon babka, over the chocolate.
“Lesser babka? I think not!”
anyways, I knew I was going to love the cinnamon babka over the chocolate because while I love chocolate, I don’t think I could eat a whole babka full of it. But cinnamon, well, I’ll have no problem scarfing that down alone. And if I want some chocolate, all I have to do is smear a bit of nutella on a slice. voila, chocolate babka.
also if my babka is full of chocolate, I can’t share little bits with Loki. which is really all that matters in a recipe. right?
anyways…my babka has a secret weapon. well maybe not so secret if you read the name of today’s post. which you more than likely did if you’re reading this.
I have a theory that browned butter makes everything it touches turn into golden unicorns of the baking world. or maybe its like king midas. use whatever metaphor you like, browned butter is freaking deeelish. so we’re going to use it in our babka. because it just seems right.
also, am I the only one who is crazy intimidated by shaping babkas? I scrolled deeper than I’d like to admit into Babka Pinterest Land and had NO IDEA how they got those gorgeous line, swirls and overall braided look that would make princess Leia jealous.
But then it clicked. And it was much simpler than those swirls presume to be.
so, I did what any sane person does. I whipped out my crayons and drew a how to babka diagram in a way that makes sense to me. This coloring project also doubles as my hand therapy, so please take that into consideration before you judge my art skills (HOLDING CRAYONS IS SO HARD). also, sorry my scanner cut off the #1 and the width length of the dough. It should be 10×12 inches.
Cinnamon Brown Butter Babka
what you’ll need
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (300g)
1/4 cup white sugar (55g) + 1 teaspoon for yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 dry active yeast packet (2 1/4 tsp)
2 eggs + 1 yolk
1/4 cup warm milk
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons white sugar
4 tablespoons browned butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
egg wash before baking (1 yolk + a splash of milk), optional
ahh browned butter. so delicious. but also slightly intimidating. If you’re new to browning butter, Joy has a super easy to follow post with everything you need to know. Read it here: Baking 101 How to Brown Butter
how to whip it up
Get your yeast going by gently stirring the yeast into the 1/4 cup warm milk plus 1 teaspoon of sugar. Let it activate for 5 minutes.
While the yeast is getting yeasty, in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, gently whirl the dry ingredients (flour, sugar and salt). Then add eggs and butter (don’t forget the extra egg yolk here!). Mix until mostly combined, then add yeast milk mixture. With your stand mixer set to a medium slow speed, let it knead the dough for 5 minutes. Your dough should be smooth, elastic and slightly sticky. Once dough has reached this point, wrap bowl in plastic and let rise until double (usually 1.5-2 hours) OR you can stick that bad boy right in the fridge to do a slow rise overnight and have fresh babka in the morning. Choose your own adventure.
To make the filling, brown that butter! I follow the stovetop method that I linked to in the baker’s notes above. Once butter has been browned, combine with both sugars, cinnamon and cloves. Try to resist eating it all right then and there.
Once dough has doubled in size, roll out into 10×12 inch rectangle on a floured surface. Sprinkle filling all over, leaving about 1/4 inch of an edge all the way round. At this point, you can follow my diagram above on how to roll and shape a babka! or if you’re not a visual leaner, continue reading.
Preheat oven to 350°
Roll up dough the long way, jelly roll style. Pinch along the seam to close. Then, using a sharp knife, cut the log in half the long way. Face halves cut side up, so you see all the gorgeous swirly filling. Pinch top ends together, then start folding the halves over and under each other until you reach the end. Pinch ends together. Congrats! You just shaped your babka!
Place loaf into a parchment line loaf pan (8×4 or 9×5 will work fine). Gloss with egg wash if desired. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350° or until golden brown on top, the sugar should look caramelized and a tooth pick comes out clean.
Eat as much as you possibly can while its still piping hot (without burning your mouth). Try schmearing a little nutella on it. Enjoy!