This cinnamon babka is pillowy soft, perfectly cinnamon-y, and topped with a delicious maple glaze. Babka is one of my favorite desserts of all time - cinnamon babka, chocolate babka, fruit babka, they are all phenomenal.
A babka is a sweet, braided bread/cake hybrid that typically has a sweet filling. It has Jewish roots, although Seinfeld made this dessert popular among its non-Jewish viewers.
Fillings can range from a sweet fruit filling, chocolate filling, nut seed filling, etc. The options are truly endless. I already have a recipe for Chocolate Babka, so now I needed to try cinnamon.
There are three main components of this cinnamon babka:
- Brioche dough: a babka is made from an enriched, brioche dough, which means it has a higher concentration of dairy/fats, as opposed to a leaner dough that is thin and chewy (like a pizza dough). This brioche dough gets its fat from the milk, eggs and butter. Because it is high in fat, the dough has a longer rise time than say my Soft and Fluffy Chocolate Rolls.
- Cinnamon filling: ahhhh a cinnamon filling. I feel like whenever someone tries something and says "this is AMAZING - what's in this?!" the answer is always cinnamon. The filling is made from brown sugar, cinnamon and butter that then swirls throughout the dough so you have a bit of scrumptious filling in every bite.
- Maple glaze: I love a glaze on all sweet breads. Maple flavor pairs so well with cinnamon, so I decided to make an optional maple glaze for this recipe!
- All purpose flour: all purpose flour is the flour of choice in this recipe, it provides the perfect crumb.
- Granulated sugar: granulated sugar is needed to sweeten up the brioche dough. A babka is a sweet bread so we need some sugar in the dough.
- Instant yeast: instant yeast is of course needed to help the dough rise. Make sure you are using instant yeast, not active!
- Salt & nutmeg: salt & nutmeg are added as flavor enhancers.
- Eggs: eggs are necessary in a brioche dough. Brioche dough is considered to be a "rich" dough that is cake-like.
- Whole milk: whole milk is added because this dough needs moisture and fat. The dough will be sticky but also smooth and stretchy. Whole milk is also used in the optional maple glaze to loosen it up a bit.
- Unsalted butter: unsalted butter is the fat that is needed in a brioche dough. As mentioned earlier, brioche dough is a rich dough, so it needs to have a high fat and protein content which we get from the butter, milk and eggs. We also use butter in the filling, so make sure to splurge on the good stuff!
- Brown sugar: brown sugar is used as the sweetener in the filling. It also adds a nice molasses flavor.
- Ground cinnamon: the star ingredient! Ground cinnamon is used in the filling.
- Powdered sugar: powdered sugar is the sweetener in the optional glaze and it is thin enough so the sugar granules absorb easier.
- Maple syrup: maple syrup is in the glaze to add that delicious maple flavor.
- Make the dough and knead for 10 minutes. Cover and let it rise in a warm environment for three hours.
- Prepare the filling when the dough has 10 minutes left to rise.
- Roll out the dough, spread on the filling and roll up the babka.
- Leave to rise in the pan for 35-40 minutes. It will puff up.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make the glaze and drizzle it on the bread when it is done baking. Enjoy!
Yeast tips for beginners
Don't get me wrong, working with yeast can be intimidating! Here are some tips that helped me a bunch as a novice yeast user:
- Make sure your yeast is fresh. This is a simple one, but yeast can be dead. I once tried making cinnamon rolls over and over and over again but the dough was just NOT rising. I thought I wasn't activating it correctly, but turns out the yeast was just dead.
- Allow the dough to rise for the entire instructed time. Don't rush the rise process! Interrupting the rise can cause your bread to be dense and just not good.
- Sometimes the gluten needs to relax. If you are rolling out the dough and it just keeps shrinking as you roll it, stop what you're doing, cover it lightly, and let it sit for 10 minutes to relax the gluten.
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- 2 ½ cups (313 grams) all purpose flour
- ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 standard instant yeast packet must be instant! 1 standard package of yeast is 2 ¼ teaspoons.
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 eggs room temperature
- ½ cup (120 mL) whole milk room temperature
- 5 tablespoons (71 grams) unsalted butter, divided room temperature
- 1 egg lightly beaten, for brushing
- ⅔ cup (133 grams) brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter melted
Maple Glaze (Optional)
- ½ cup (60 grams) powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ tablespoon whole milk
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and nutmeg. Add the eggs and milk. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low-medium speed until a dough forms, 1-2 minutes. You may need to scrap down the sides of the bowl occasionally as needed.
- On medium speed, add the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon, waiting until each tablespoon is incorporated before adding another one. Once all the butter is added and combined, bump up the speed to medium-high and knead for 10 minutes. The dough will be sticky but smooth and stretchy. It should be slightly sticking to the bottom of the bowl, but not the sides.
- Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for about 3 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Once the dough has about 10-15 minutes left to rise, make the filling. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and whisk to combine.
Rolling out the dough
- Prepare a 9x5 inch loaf pan by lining it with parchment paper.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12x16 inch rectangle.
- Spread the filling on the entirety of the rolled out dough.
- Starting on the short side, tightly roll up the dough so you have a 12 inch log.
- Then, cut the dough in half length wise.
- With the cut sides facing up, begin to weave the two pieces together over and under each other.
- Place the dough into the prepared loaf pan. Cover and let rise for an additional 30-40 minutes until it is puffy.
- When the dough has 10 minutes left to rise in the pan, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).
- Lightly beat an egg and brush the dough with the egg wash using a pastry brush or your finger. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the edges are golden brown and a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out with no resistance. If you notice the bread browning too quickly, loosely cover the pan with a piece of tin foil and continue baking. Let cool in the pan.
Maple Glaze (Optional)
- While the babka is baking, prepare the maple glaze. In a bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, maple syrup and milk until combined and smooth. Once the babka is cool enough, pour the glaze on and enjoy!
Tried this recipe? Make sure to rate and review and tag @sturbridgebakery on Instagram!