Healthy Food

Babka recipe with cinnamon and raisin

Prep: 40 minutes, plus rising. Cooking: 40 minutes
Makes 3 loaves

A babka is a deliciously sweet braided bread that originated in the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. This fabulous babka recipe from The Jewish Cookbook is the perfect celebratory sweet bread. It’s the ideal treat to enjoy with friends and family alongside a steaming cup of coffee.

Babka recipes often feature a number of different fillings. From chocolate to cheese, the possibilites are endless when it comes to crafting a delicious bread.

We particularly like the addition of cinnamon here. This warming spice also has a number of wellbeing benefits. Cinnamon is a fantastic source of antioxidants. These helpful molecules work to remove damaging free radicals from our bodies. Cinnamon is also thought to have prebiotic properties. This means it helps to feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut, supporting our gut health.

For an extra sweet treat, a sugary syrup adds an additional glaze to this babka recipe. While not traditional, it is a lovely way to bring additional moisture to the bread.

Discover more delicious recipes from Liz Earle Wellbeing

The Jewish Cookbook by Leah Koenig is published by Phaidon.

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 2 1/4 tsps active dry yeast
  • 100g plus 1 tsp sugar
  • 240ml warm water
  • 700g plain flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 115g unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil

For the filling

  • 105g walnut halves
  • 115g unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
  • 200g sugar
  • 2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 140g golden raisins (sultanas)

For the syrup (optional)

  • 120ml water
  • 100g sugar

Method

To make the syrup
In a small saucepan, bring the water and the sugar to a boil over medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the syrup thickens slightly, 3–5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
To make the dough
1. In a large bowl, stir together the yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and the warm water. Let sit until foaming, 5–10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together 560g flour and the salt.
3. Stir the remaining 100g sugar and the eggs into the yeast mixture. Add the flour mixture and gently stir until a wet dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead well, adding the softened butter pieces a few at a time, and adding up to 140g additional flour as needed, until you have a supple, slightly tacky dough, about 10 minutes. You might not need all of the flour. (The kneading can also be done in a stand mixer with a dough hook, 5–7 minutes.)
4. Grease a large bowl with the oil, add the dough, and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (cling film) or a tea towel and let sit in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, for one to one and a half hours.
To make the filling 
1. In a food processor, combine the walnuts, butter, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and orange zest and pulse until a smooth paste forms.
2. Grease three 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.
3. Gently punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into three equal portions. Working with one piece at a time, roll out the dough into a large rectangle 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) thick.
4. Evenly spread about one-third of the filling onto dough, leaving a 1⁄4-inch border around the edges. Evenly sprinkle one-third of the golden raisins on top. Starting at one of the short sides, roll the dough up tightly like a Swiss roll. Using a sharp knife, trim 1⁄2 inch off each end of the roll and discard. Halve the roll lengthwise. You should now have two long strands of dough, with the layers of filling exposed.
5. Twist the strands together and pinch at the top and bottom to seal. Carefully place into one of the prepared loaf pans. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough and remaining filling and golden raisins. Loosely cover the pans with cling film or a tea towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/Gas Mark 4).
7. Bake the babkas, rotating the pans front to back halfway through, until golden brown and just cooked through, 30–35 minutes.
8. Remove the baked babkas from the oven and brush the top of each with 3 coats of sugar syrup (you may not use all of it). Let cool in their pans for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.