Making babka is a daunting process. This was truly “going into the lab” several times to try to perfect these recipes. They are adapted from Ottolenghi, Smitten Kitchen and Carine Goren. There are 2 methods, one easy bread machine recipe and one traditional “from scratch” using a stand mixer and dough hook. The final formation and shaping do not need to be exact so it’s okay to come up with a more rustic looking product. The taste will not disappoint. It is best to read through the full instruction choices in order to budget your time accordingly.
Method 1: Bread Machine Babka Dough
¾ cup water
5 tbsp. canola/olive/grapeseed/coconut oil
2 tbsp. honey
1 egg plus 2 egg whites
3 ¾ cups best for bread or unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. traditional active dry yeast
Place ingredients in the order above into container of bread machine. Follow machine instructions and remove when ready after 2 hours. Divide dough in half and knead gently and roll each out into a rectangle. I don’t usually measure the size of the rectangle but aim for about ¼-inch thickness which usually means approximately 12 x 16 inches.
Method 2: Babka Dough from Scratch
4 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus 6 tbsp. extra flour
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. traditional active dry yeast
Grated zest of 1 small lemon or half an orange
3 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup water plus 3 tbsp. extra water
¾ tsp. kosher salt
2/3 cup (10 2/3 tbsp.) unsalted pareve margarine, room temperature
To make 2 loaves, combine the flour, sugar, yeast and zest in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add eggs and water, mixing with the dough hook until it comes together.
Add extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough doesn’t come together.
With the mixer on low, add the salt, then the margarine, a spoonful at a time, mixing until it’s incorporated into the dough.
Then, mix on medium speed for 8-10 minutes until dough is completely smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
Flour can be added 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough does not pull away from the sides of the bowl. Coat a large bowl with oil, place dough inside and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Allow to rise for 3 hours at room temperature then refrigerate for 30 minutes to make the rolling easier.
Feel free to choose from either of the 2 fillings below but use the streusel topping to finish it off.
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate or 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips
3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted pareve margarine
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
¼ cup cocoa powder
6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted pareve margarine, melted
4 tbsp. cold unsalted pareve margarine, diced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 egg white for glaze
To make the Chocolate Filling, melt margarine and chocolate together in a double boiler over simmering water until smooth.
Remove from heat and stir in confectioners sugar, cocoa and cinnamon.
This will form a spreadable paste.
Spread half of the filling over one of the rolled out rectangles, leaving a ½-inch border all around.
Brush the end father away from you with water. Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, tight cigar. Seal the dampened end onto the log. Stretch the log a bit to approximately 16-20 inches long.
Cut off the ends of the log and transfer to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and freeze for 15-30 minutes.
To make the Cocoa Filling, combine the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and cocoa in a bowl. Brush the rolled out rectangle with half of the melted margarine. Sprinkle half of the cocoa filling over the dough and roll it up as in the previous paragraph and transfer to the freezer.
For both methods, remove the log from the freezer, and gently cut the log in half lengthwise and lay them next to each other on the counter, cut sides up.
Pinch the top ends gently together. Lift one side over the next, forming a twist.
Then fold again to fit into a 9-by-4-inch loaf pan lined with parchment paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Cover the loaves with a tea towel and allow to rest for 1 ½-2 hours. They will rise slightly. Preheat the oven to 375F. Brush each loaf with egg white and sprinkle half of the streusel over the loaf. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Check doneness with a toothpick and if they are not done but are browning, cover loosely with aluminum foil for another 5-10 minutes.
Allow to cool before removing from pans. Feel free to wrap well for the freezer.
One alternative is to slice each braided log into 9 mini babka muffins and place the 18 babka muffins in 2 muffin pans (occupying 18 of the 24 slots). Bake for 23 minutes at 375F.
A final alternative creates a festive round babka that is perfect for holidays and special occasions. After removing each of the logs from the freezer, slice the log into approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) slices and place in a 9- to 10-inch round springform pan sprayed with cooking spray. Place the slices in concentric circles until the pan is filled by the time the second log has been sliced. Cover with a towel in a warm environment for 2 hours. Then brush all of the slices with a lightly beaten egg white and cover with all of the streusel. Bake for 45 minutes at 375F, then loosely cover with foil for 15 additional minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing from the springform pan.