Have you ever baked babka before? The surprise is inside and revealed only once sliced open! This fruity cinnamon babka recipe is just right for Rosh Hashanah or anytime you want to make mornings extra special.
What is Babka
“Babka” means grandmother in Polish, named because the original fluted pan used for this dessert resembled a bubbie’s (Yiddish for grandmother) traditionally large skirt. Delicious and comforting, this baked good always has a bread-like dough with a swirled filling. As Rosh Hashanah sometimes comes early in the calendar, I added late summer and early fall berries to the filling in this cinnamon babka recipe.
The Roots behind this Cinnamon Babka Recipe
Back in the old country, bakers used their challah dough to make babka, and early versions were filled with cinnamon, jam and raisins. The crumb topping was a 20th century addition. Babka became popular in the 1950’s, but reached its pinnacle in 1994 when Seinfeld’s Elaine Benes exclaimed, “you can’t beat a babka.” I agree. It is pure comfort food, and the unique filling and texture of Fig and Berry Cinnamon Babka elevates this classic.
Full of Figgy Goodness
Jewish people like to eat sweet dried fruit such as Sun-Maid California Dried Figs at the New Year to symbolize our wish for a sweet year. The figs give this cinnamon babka recipe both great flavor and texture. Mission Figs give that familiar fig flavor to the babka filling and a natural with the raspberries and blueberries. Golden Figs offer a different kind of sweetness—equally good—just a bit more delicate and nutty in flavor. Both types of figs sparkle inside this cinnamon babka recipe.
Berry Fig Cinnamon Babka Recipe
- 1 (1/4-oz) envelope dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1/4 cup sugar plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour , plus extra for sprinkling while rolling
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter or margarine , at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg plus 1 yolk , reserve egg white for glazing
- 6 tablespoons butter or margarine at room temperature
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons sunflower or other mild oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup fresh raspberries
- 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 cup Orchard Choice® or Sun-Maid® California Mission Figs , stems cut off and discarded, figs chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup walnuts , chopped into 1/3-inch pieces*
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Make the Dough
- In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the yeast, 1 teaspoon of the sugar and water. Let sit for 10 minutes, or until thick.
- Meanwhile, place into a mixing bowl the remaining sugar, flour, salt, butter (dropped in clumps), vanilla and eggs. When the yeast mixture is bubbling, add it to the bowl. Use a dough hook on a stand mixer, a hand mixer on low speed or your hands to mix the ingredients together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.
- Continue to mix with the hook, or knead by hand, for 2 minutes. The dough can be a little sticky when you touch it, but no dough should stick to your hand. If there is dough on your hands, mix in another tablespoon of flour, or a little more, until no pieces of dough stick to your hands.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours. Prepare the fillings about 10 minutes before the dough is ready.
Make the Creamy Filling
- Place the butter into a medium bowl. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, oil, and vanilla and mix with a silicone spatula until creamy. In a separate bowl, place the blueberries and raspberries and mash to break down the berries just until only a few of them remain whole.
Make the Crumb Topping
- In a small bowl, use your fingers to mix together the flour, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, until you create clumps.
Bake the Bread
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place a piece of parchment paper on your counter and sprinkle with a little flour. Divide the dough into two pieces. Place one piece of dough on top of the parchment and sprinkle with a little more flour.
- Roll into a large, thin rectangle, about 10 X 14-15 inches. Spread 1/2 of the creamy filling on top. Use a spoon to drop clumps of 1/2 of the berry mixture and spread just a bit. Scatter half of the figs and half of the walnuts on top. Roll tightly the long way and place the roll off the parchment on your counter. Repeat for the remaining dough so you have two rolls.
- Place the two rolls next to each other on the parchment paper, seam side down. Twist the rolls together, keep the seam side down. Use your hands to press the ends of the loaf toward the middle, basically acordion the loaf, so that it will fit in an 8-inch loaf pan. Lift the loaf by lifting the parchment and drop into the pan with the parchment. Tear off any excess parchment that goes more than an inch above the rim of the pan.
- Brush the top of the loaf with the reserved egg white (beaten), and sprinkle the crumbs on top.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until browned on top and not very soft when the top is pressed. If the loaf starts to look very brown, drape some foil over the top of the loaf for the remaining baking time. Cool for 20 minutes and then lift the parchment to remove the babka from the pan onto a cooling rack. This babka is best served at room temperature. Slice and enjoy.