I have this problem where I want to eat everything I can get my hands on, but at the same time I really like my clothes and want to still fit into them. . .Ugh! The turmoil this causes in my life, you know?
I remember when I was 19 and could eat literally anything and not gain weight, or get a stomachache from too rich a meal, or a migraine from an overload of sugar.
Sadly, that time has passed. But I will never forget the time I was visiting my Aunt Cecilia and she brought home a cinnamon babka. This was the first time I’d ever heard of babka, let alone seen or eaten one.
In one day I ate half of it myself, each delicious piece smeared with butter. Lots and lots of butter. And my pants still fit the next day.
If I did that today I’d need someone with a crane to get me out of my apartment. It would be almost worth it though.
I’m lying. It would totally be worth it.
Babka is unbelievable. It’s a light and soft yeasted bread, sort of crossed with a coffee cake, made with eggs and plenty of butter. What’s more perfect than sweet bread with butter baked right into it?
This version of babka is full of cinnamon and almond flavor with just the right level of sweetness. The filling has almond paste in it, which creates these amazing little pockets of sweet almond-y flavor when it bakes.
Babka is one of those great baked goods you can have for breakfast or dessert or afternoon tea if you’re fancy. Let’s all be fancy and have tea! And wear white gloves while we drink it!
I’ll have to make another loaf though. I’m almost done with the first one. I’ll go pants shopping tomorrow. Whomp-whomp.
- 1/2 cup whole milk, heated to 110 degrees
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 large egg white
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 ounces almond paste
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk
- Whisk warm milk, egg yolks, and vanilla, and almond extract together in a liquid measuring cup or a small bowl.
- In a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together flour, sugar, yeast, and salt on low speed until combined. Slowly pour in milk mixture and mix until dough just comes together, about 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium-low and add butter 1 tablespoon at a time until incorporated, about 1 minute more. Continue to mix until dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Transfer dough to a large mixing bowl sprayed with cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour—dough will rise only slightly. Place bowl in refrigerator until dough is firm and has doubled in size, about 1 hour more.
- Combine all ingredients except almond paste in a small mixing bowl and stir to combine. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the mixture. Break almond paste into very small pieces and set aside in a small bowl.
- Line an 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, allowing excess paper to hang off the edges. Punch down dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out dough to a 20- by 14-inch rectangle.
- Spread filling over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Sprinkle almond paste evenly over filling.
- Starting with the short side, roll dough into a cylinder and pinch dough along the seam to seal. Roll cylinder back and forth until it is 18 inches long.
- Spread reserved tablespoon of filling over the top of the cylinder. Fold cylinder on top of itself and pinch the ends to seal. Gently twist cylinder twice to form a double figure 8. Place dough, seam side down, into prepared pan and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine egg wash ingredients in a small bowl and brush over the top of the babka. Bake until babka is a deep golden brown and loaf registers 190 degrees, about 45 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes before removing loaf and allowing to cool completely.