This rich sweet dough recipe from nth Europe has become a firm fav in our house since my Australian Bake Off days! Even the mere mention of a Babka will have the kids dashing for the kitchen to get started. I have many versions so stay tuned!
For the Babka:
1 1/2 cups warm milk (38 degrees Celsius)
30g dried yeast
1 3/4 cups of caster sugar
2 large organic eggs at room temp
2 large organic egg yokes at room temp
6 cups of strong bread flour (high protein flour) plus a little extra to work with
1 teaspoon of fine salt
250g unsalted good quality butter at room temp and cut into 1cm cubes
For the inside filling:
1 jar of caramlised fig jam (I make my own and will be posting the recipe shortly) or any jam or spread you love
For the Glaze:
A couple of spoons of your jam or spread
1 nip of dark rum (approx 30ml)
1 Tsp (teaspoon) of gelatin powder
3 to 4 Tbs (Tablespoon) hot water
Pour 1 and ½ cups of warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle 30+ grams of yeast and pinch of sugar over milk, cover it and set it aside for about 10 minutes to start your yeast rave party!
In a mixing bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.
On your mixer, use your dough hook. Place 6 cups of bread flour and salt – start to mix – pour in egg mix slowly – when combined, add in bits of chopped up 250 grams of butter a few bits at a time. Leave the mixer on for a good 5 minutes of kneading. If your machine is labouring, either the machine hasn't got a strong enough motor or the mixture is too dense. If too dense, add in a small dash of room temp milk. Don't burn your motor out!!
In an oiled bowl, pour your dough in and cover in cling wrap (plastic wrap) and set aside in a nice and warm spot to prove for a good hour. Can I highly recommend your oven with the light on if you have no where else to prove it. The warmer the better (not hot though!) The dough will more than double in size.
Knock back the dough and give it a hand knead for a minute or 2. Roll it out as thin as you dare - this recipe makes heaps of dough, so you could easily make 2 good sized babka's, or one huge one, or 6 to 10 smaller ones. I find the thinner I can go it, the more layers of flavour I get and the yummier the end result is. Should be almost translucent but not tearing or holes if that makes sense. Roll out to a rectangle or square shape as best you can - doesn't need to be perfect.
With a spatula spread your jam or spread onto the rolled out dough, being careful not to tear the dough, or to make the filling too thick. The aim is a thin even layer of filling. Spread to the edges of 3 of your 4 sides, leaving a small 1 cm gap on the final side.
Roll up the dough to form one big round sausage - using the 1cm gap of no filling to seal the babka. Now for the fun bit. You can do what ever you like with the dough to form your own shape. To make the bunt shape in the photos in this post, I buttered a bunt pan, then sliced the babka sausage right down the middle, then twisted each side and then twisted them together before twirling them into the bunt pan. It makes for messy, sticky fun! You don't need to use a pan, they can easily be formed onto your baking tray for a loaf or braid style, the choice is entirely up to you!
Cover in cling wrap again and set aside in a warm place to prove again for another good hour.
Pre-heat your oven to 185 degrees Celsius and bake for 40 minutes or until cooked through. Try not to over bake as it will become dry.
To make the glaze, place water and gelatin in a microwave proof bowl and heat in 15 second bursts until the gelatin is melted and it's all liquid. Add in spread and dark rum, mix and set aside. If it's to thick add a little extra water or rum to your liking. There is no science here, just what you like
When the babka is out of the over and cooled enough to turn out of the bunt (or baking pan) brush over with your glaze. If the glaze is too think again, heat it for a for a few seconds to bring it back to liquid. I usually do a few coats to bring up the lovely shine.