Hiii! I’ve written and re-written this little top bit a bunch of times now, and I can’t think of anything clever, or witty, or funny to say, or any context that goes along with this recipe other than it’s yum and I think that you should make it. It’s been a bit of a long week. I’ve seen on a few different places people complaining about having to scroll past this part of food blogs to get to the recipe, and how they think it’s bullshit. It keeps rolling round in my mind. That we have gotten to a place where we expect instant gratification. That everything should be served up on a platter for us. That all recipes should be free and available on the internet without having to spend an extra 2 seconds of precious life scrolling past the part where the person who puts hours into developing recipes gets to express themselves for a little bit I think it’s always interesting how people find literally ANYTHING to complain about, including having to do two extra finger scrolls to get down to the recipe they are getting for free. Anyway. That’s what is swimming round in my wee brain!
I’m coming at you today with a giant dose of autumn. Last year a friend shared her Mum’s Swedish cinnamon roll recipe with me. They are super cute little knots, loaded up with cardamom and cinnamon, and finished with pearl sugar. I’ve been meaning to turn them into a babka for a while now, so finally here we are.
I took my go-to brioche recipe, laced it with some warming spices, filled it with a similar filling to the Swedish rolls, but scattered some chopped apple over the filling before rolling it up nice and tight. I love how the apple and the spices play together, and I just can’t go past the swirls of a babka. When making babka I generally freeze the dough for an hour or so before rolling out to help the dough stay chilled and keep its shape better when cut, however this time I tried a slightly different method, and rolled out the dough, filled it and rolled it into a sausage, then chilled the rolled sausage for an hour or so to firm it up before cutting. This resulted in a super clean cut when it came to splitting the dough lengthwise, and made the shaping process much easier in my opinion. Definitely going to be my go-to babka method from now on!
A few wee tips:
This dough can be made the night before and proofed in the fridge for the first rise. If you do this you can skip the chilling step!
These would also make epic cinnamon rolls. After you have rolled the dough into a log, cut into 10-12 rolls, arrange in a greased baking pan, and follow the rising and baking directions - you may need to reduce baking time slightly so just keep a close eye!
The swedish sugar isn't necessary, but if you can get your hands on it, it's hugely worthwhile!
If you don’t have an apple on hand, you can omit it if you like!
Apple and Cardamom Babka
- Makes two loaves -
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
200g (3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp) whole milk, lukewarm
4 Tbsp (50g) sugar
565g (3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
115g (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
115g (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g (3/4 cup) dark brown sugar
3 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
One medium apple, peeled, cored and finely diced
Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
Swedish pearl sugar to finish (optional)
- PROCESS -
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, milk and 2 Tbsp of the sugar. Mix well, and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, and remaining 2 Tbsp sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the eggs, vanilla, and foamy yeast mixture to the bowl. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is starting to come together. It may look slightly dry but do not worry - it will mix together nicely in the next steps. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for another 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth.
Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next piece. This process should take 3-4 minutes. Once the butter is fully incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes, until the dough is very soft and smooth.
Transfer to an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot until doubled in size, approximately 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
FILLING AND ASSEMBLY
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place all of the filling ingredients except for the apple in a small bowl, and mix well to combine.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a rectangle 16” x 24”, squaring off with a bench scraper as you roll to make sure it is as even as possible. Using an offset spatula, spread the filling mixture over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle with the chopped apple.
Starting from the long side of the dough, roll up the dough into a tight spiral. Measure the length of the sausage of dough, then cut in half so it is in two sausages. Place these pieces side by side on the lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for an hour.
Line two loaf pans with a parchment paper ‘sling’. Remove the chilled dough sausages from the fridge. Working with one at a time, using a sharp knife, cut the first piece in half, lengthwise, and then cross the pieces over each other, and then cross over two more times to form a twist (this video also explains well). Place into the loaf pan, tucking the ends under slightly if needed. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
Lightly cover the loaf pans in plastic wrap, and place in a warm place to rise for an hour to 90 minutes, or until the dough springs back lightly when pressed. While the loaves are proofing, preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c.
Brush the loaves lightly with egg wash, and sprinkle with Swedish pearl sugar if desired. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and the internal temperature registers 200˚F / 90˚c. Remove from the oven and cool completely before slicing. Store leftovers in an airtight container, or wrap tightly before freezing.