Baking Classics: Cinnamon Babka

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The Technique

Cinnamon Babka

There is much debate as to the history of babka. Polish versions of this yeast risen dough are baked in round, bundt-type pans accompanied with dried fruits & citrus flavors while traditional Jewish versions are made in loaf pans with a streusel topping over the surface. Although they are more prevalent around Easter, Classic Cinnamon Babka is the ideal baked good to serve on Christmas morning. Leave the loaves whole & slice them just before serving for the best texture. They may be placed in the microwave to warm a few seconds to refresh them a bit. Conversely, pop the slices in the toaster for an equally tasty morsel. Spread a little butter over the surface for an extra indulgent breakfast. Learn how to make a beautiful baking classic in your very own kitchen that’s ideal to serve when entertaining during the holidays & beyond.

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makes 2 loaves

The recipe yields approximately 36-ounces of dough. 

1/4 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup warm water {105 to 110 degrees} 
1 {1/4-oz} package active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
1 1/4 cups bread flour
2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup room temperature whole buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
A pinch of kosher salt 
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Microwave 1/4 cup cold butter in a glass bowl on High power 20 seconds or until melted. Cool 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together the water, the yeast & 1 teaspoon sugar. Let stand 5 minutes or until foamy. Whisk together the remaining sugar, the all purpose flour, the bread flour & the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter, the buttermilk, the egg & the yeast mixture. Mix on Low speed 1 minute with a dough hook. The dough will come together in a ball around the hook. Increase the speed to Medium. Blend 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball & place in a lightly greased bowl. Spray the dough surface with cooking spray & cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a draft-free spot for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. 

Cream the softened butter, the dark brown sugar, the 1/4 cup cinnamon & a pinch of salt with an electric hand mixer until blended. Set aside. Lightly grease 2 {9 x 5-inch} loaf pans & line them with parchment paper. Press the dough down & divide it in half. Cover one portion of the dough. Roll the remaining dough portion to a 14 x 10-inch rectangle. Spread half of the butter mixture over the dough surface to within 1/2-inch of the edge. Roll the dough lengthwise jelly roll fashion. Using a sharp chef knife, slice the dough lengthwise down the center. Twist the two pieces exposing the layers of dough outwards. Tuck the ends under & place the dough in the prepared pan. Repeat the procedure with the remaining dough & butter mixture. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a draft free spot 1 1/2 hours or until an increase by a half their original size has been achieved.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake 40 minutes. Loosely cover the tops with foil & bake an additional 25 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup water & 1/4 tsp cinnamon in a small saucepan. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat. Pour & brush the warm syrup over the babka loaves. Allow them to stand 5 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pans & place on a wire rack. Cool completely. 

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{testing notes}

How To Make Classic Cinnamon Babka

Handcrafted yeast breads are something to relish when special occasions are in order. A rich dough enhanced with eggs, butter & buttermilk produces a tender crumb while the simple spice scented glaze adds a lovely sheen & exceptional good taste. Twisting the dough before placing it into the pans is a simple technique that results in the signature look of this baking classic that everyone will love. 

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rebecca gordon buttermilk lipstick Southern Recipes & How To's Easy Tailgate Recipes RebeccaGordon ButtermilkLipstickThe Technique

Yeast doughs aren’t difficult to prepare from scratch but there are techniques you should be familiar with in order to make a successful batch. It does take patience to work with yeast as it needs adequate time to produce quality results. Here’s what you should know.

The Basics. Dry Active Yeast. How To Make Yeast Breads By Rebecca Gordon Buttermilk Lipstick Culinary & Entertaining Brand Baking Classics. Rustic Country Boule By Rebecca Gordon Editor-In-Chief Buttermilk Lipstick Culinary & Entertaining Brand How To Make A Boule Bread Loaf Editorial Director Cooking & Baking Tutorials Digital Culinary Photo Journalist TV Cooking Personality Food Stylist Writer Pastry Chef Modern Southern Socials Game Day EntertainingNo. 1

The Ingredients

The Yeast

Dry active yeast can be purchased in 1/4-ounce packets or in small jars. I use both when preparing bread recipes, generally based on what my store has in stock at the time. If purchasing a jar of yeast, store it in the refrigerator after opening. Just be mindful of the expiration date so you don’t find yourself in a jam. You’ll find that 2 1/4 teaspoons is the equivalent to 1 envelope of active dry yeast. 

The Proofing

It’s a good idea to dissolve dry yeast before using. Simply stir it into warm water with a little of the sugar & allow it to stand several minutes. Yeast feeds on sugar for fuel. If no bubbles are created during the proofing process, the yeast will not be able to do its’ job. Simply discard the batch & start again. At this point, you’ll only be five minutes into the procedure so don’t get discouraged. 

Baking Lessons: Brioche-Style Rolls By Rebecca Gordon Buttermilk Lipstick Southern Hostess Editor-In-Chief Southern Cooking & Tailgating Entertaining Brand Pastry Chef Author Writer Food Stylist Photographer Editorial Director Fox 6 Contributor The Flour & The Salt

Bread flour has more protein than all purpose flour. It provides dough strength & structure. The development of gluten is key in order to build the foundation of a quality bread loaf. This particular formula uses a combination of both which results in a lovely texture. Salt gives dough flavor. Without out it, expect a flat taste. However, salt can kill yeast so it should be evenly dispersed into the flour before the yeast mixture is added.

The Mixing

You’re now ready to add the ingredients that will enrich the dough as well as the yeast mixture. Place them into the work bowl, attach the dough hook & blend the ingredients as directed in the recipe. A heavy duty stand mixer fit with a dough hook is a bread makers friend. It will take care of all of the muscle work when it comes to kneading the dough. Bread doughs will give your mixer a good workout. Don’t leave it unattended as it will rock & shake a bit as the dough mixes.

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The Mixing

Microwave 1/4 cup cold butter in a glass bowl on High power 20 seconds or until melted. Cool 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together the water, the yeast & 1 teaspoon sugar. Let stand 5 minutes or until foamy. Whisk together the remaining sugar, the all purpose flour, the bread flour & the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. 

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Add the butter, the buttermilk, the egg & the yeast mixture.

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Mix on Low speed 1 minute with a dough hook. The dough will come together in a ball around the hook. 

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Increase the speed to Medium. Blend 5 minutes. Expect a very soft dough that clings to the bowl sides. When the dough is ready to be removed from the mixing bowl, push it away from the hook with well floured hands. 

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The Work Bowl Removal

This dough is particularly sticky, so sprinkle a bit of flour around the edges & over the dough into the work bowl. Shimmy some between the sides & the dough using a rubber spatula or a plastic dough scraper. 

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Allow it to tumble out onto a lightly floured surface. Expect a soft, supple mixture not a stiff ball of dough.

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Sprinkle a bit of additional flour over the surface. 

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The First Shaping

Press the dough into a flat circle using your hands. The imprints in the dough are from my fingertips indicating the dough texture. 

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Shape the dough into a ball by gathering the outside of the dough & pressing it into the center around the entire circumference until it all meets evenly in the middle. 

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Flip the dough over. A few quick spins between your hands will have it shaped into a ball. The dough is now ready to be placed into a large, lightly greased bowl.

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The First Rise

Allow the dough to rest & rise. Place the smooth surface in a lightly greased bowl & flip it over so that the greased side faces upwards. This will prevent any unwanted sticking. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap & place it in an area in your kitchen free from drafts.

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Allow the dough to double in bulk. This can take anywhere from 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen. If it’s slow going, turn on your oven & place the bowl of dough beside it to speed along the process. 

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The Portioning & The Second Shaping

Before removing the dough from the bowl, it’s a good idea to prepare the filling & pans. Cream the softened butter, the dark brown sugar, the 1/4 cup cinnamon & a pinch of salt with an electric hand mixer until blended. Set aside. Lightly grease 2 {9 x 5-inch} loaf pans & line them with parchment paper. 

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Gently slide the dough onto a lightly floured work surface & press it flat to push the air bubbles out. Use a bench scraper to divide it into two pieces. 

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Cover one portion of the dough. 

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The Second Rise

 Roll the remaining dough portion to a 14 x 10-inch rectangle. 

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Spread half of the butter mixture over the dough surface to within 1/2-inch of the edge. 

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A small offset spatula makes the task relatively quick.

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Roll the dough lengthwise jelly roll fashion. Using a sharp chef knife, slice the dough lengthwise down the center.

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Twist the two pieces exposing the layers of dough outwards.

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Lift the pieces during the process so the shape is as taut as possible for the prettiest look once the bread has baked.

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The dough will be relatively lengthy so allow yourself plenty of work space to complete the process.

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6g

Tuck the ends under & place the dough in the prepared pan. Repeat the procedure with the remaining dough & butter mixture. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. 

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The Baking

Let rise in a draft free spot 1 1/2 hours or until an increase by a half their original size has been achieved. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

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Bake 40 minutes. Loosely cover the tops with foil & bake an additional 25 minutes. 

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Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup water & 1/4 tsp cinnamon in a small saucepan. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat. Pour & brush the warm syrup over the babka loaves. Allow them to stand 5 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pans & place on a wire rack. Cool completely.  

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The Classic Cinnamon Babka

Classic Cinnamon Babka is a good alternative to the standard cinnamon roll. It’s a bit more sophisticated without the ultra sweet icing over the surface as the glaze provides just enough good taste without being overwhelming.

The Tune
“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” Ella Fitzgerald

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About Rebecca Gordon

* Southern Born * Southern Bred * Tailgate Queen * Southern College Football Fanatic * SEC Tailgate Strategist * Southern Recipe Writer & Sometimes Novelist * Half-Hour Hostess * Media Personality * Houndstooth Hound Owner * Small Town Dreamer * Big Idea Doer * 3rd Generation Pimiento Cheese Fixer * Casserole Maker * Budweiser Drinker * Bourbon Cocktail Sipper * Peanut Butter Love Affair * Cookie Monster * Calorie Burner * Retainer of Useless Pop Culture One Liners * Terrible Dancer * Even Worse Singer but doesn't care * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Rebecca Gordon shares over 20 years of cooking knowledge in the instructional filled original editorial content on Buttermilk Lipstick as well as the cooking class format videos that can be found on her YouTube channel through regular collaboration with numerous media outlets. Gordon draws from an extensive background in corporate publishing spanning over 13 years on both the business and editorial side focusing on women’s southern lifestyle. She is a classically trained pastry chef and draws from fine dining restaurant experience from a James Beard award winning chef as well as her southern roots upbringing to share cooking, entertaining & style content relevant to today’s modern woman.

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