Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Baking Bible: Babka

A soft bread with a swirl of something sweet, this bread gets baked in a bundt pan so it's a breadcake? Cakebread. In our house, we call it Swirly Bread.

There's options for an almond-muscovado sugar swirl, a chocolate-almond swirl, or an apricot-cream cheese swirl. We chose chocolate, because chocolate. However, looking at the other Alpha Bakers breadcakes with almond-muscovado or apricot-cream cheese, now I wish we had tried one of those. Not that the chocolate isn't yummy, but it reminds me of the Monkey Dunkey Bread (that we haven't baked yet with the Alphas but did with the Betas as a test bake) and the Monkey Dunkey is a much better sweet bread with chocolate option. That's because the Monkey Dunkey is made with brioche bread, which is the undisputed king of sweet white bread. The babka is made with a bread that has less butter and eggs so it isn't quite as rich, but it is still soft and lovely.

The babka starts out with a sponge, which is some flour, yeast, milk powder and water mixed up and left to hang out while the rest of the flour, yeast, water, and sugar are mixed together and dusted over the top. This is left to ferment for a few hours. It can also be left to hang out overnight in the refrigerator and that's pretty nice too if you are busy and trying to squish this in.

After the sponge does its stuff the mixer kneads the dough for 7 minutes, which for a stand mixer and a toddler is an eternity. Then it gets to rise in peace and quiet.

After doubling, the dough is degassed, shaped into a ball and chilled for an hour up to overnight in the refrigerator. We did an overnight and the next day when I read to get back to it it had completely filled the 2 qt container.

Maybe it was the chilling, but the dough that was supposed to be really sticky wasn't that sticky when it was time to roll it out. Then the chocolate-almond spread is spread on. (Which is made by melting chocolate and whizzing it with cake crumbs, golden syrup, and egg, and almond paste.) I didn't have a whole egg so I used some egg whites I found frozen, which were probably about 1.5 egg whites.

The eggs are to fluff up the filling and to help prevent a gap between filling and breadcake, and I'm wondering if I had 2 egg whites if it would have done a better job.

After rolling the bread up it is coiled into a large bundt pan and left to rise once more. Then it is baked for an hour. Then when the bread is ready to pull from the oven, it is brushed with a bunch of melted butter to keep the crust soft. The hardest past of all comes next: waiting for the bread to cool.

The wait was worth it. This is a wonderful bread. Not too sweet but satisfying for a sweet breakfast or midday snack. We love this swirly bread.



  1. Perfectly gorgeous swirly bread! After reading Jenn's (Knitty Baker) it occurred to me I could have divided the dough and made small batches of the other fillings because they all sound so good. Now I understand the dilemma over the chocolate vs cinnamon babka Seinfeld episode.

  2. Great post! Beautiful swirl and finished product!

  3. agree 100% and Tony so was yours!!!