Photo courtesy of Cook's Country magazine
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...There are no limits to my love for bread. I can walk away from any cookie, but bread, scones and biscotti all bring me to my knees. The cinnamon babka I'm featuring today is an especially nice bread and it is perfect for a holiday breakfast or late night snack. While it is wonderful when sliced and buttered, it makes stellar toast and it is hard to find a better base for bread pudding or French toast. It is not a beginner bread, but if you have had success with yeast breads in the past, this one will be easy enough for you to duplicate. The bread can sit for a couple of days before it becomes dry, but if you are not going to use it immediately, I think it is best to completely cool and then freeze it. Do give the recipe a try. It is enormously flavorful and it is a pretty loaf that looks more complicated than it actually is. Here is how it is made.
Cinnamon Babka...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Cook's Country magazine
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg white
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk, heated to 110 degrees
2 large egg yolks plus 1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and softened
1) To make filling: Combine all ingredients for filling in a medium bowl. Set aside 1 tablespoon of mixture.
2) To make dough: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off. Grease large bowl. Whisk milk, egg yolks, and vanilla together in 1-cup liquid measuring cup.
3) Using stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour, sugar, yeast, and salt on low speed until combined. Slowly add milk mixture and mix until dough comes together, about 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium-low and add butter, 1 piece at a time, until incorporated, about 1 minute. Continue to mix until dough is smooth and comes away from sides of bowl, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer dough to prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in turned-off oven until dough has risen slightly, about 1 hour. Place in refrigerator until dough is firm and has doubled in size, at least 1 hour.
4) Line 8-1/2 by 4-1/2-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, allowing excess to hang over edges. Punch down dough on lightly floured counter. Roll out dough to 20 by 14-inch rectangle. Spread all but 1 tablespoon reserved filling over dough, leaving 1/2-inchch border around edges. Working from short side, roll dough into cylinder and pinch along seam to seal. Position cylinder seam side up and roll back and forth until stretched to 18-inch length. Spread reserved filling over top of cylinder. Fold cylinder on top of itself and pinch ends to seal. Gently twist double cylinder twice to form double figure eight. Place shaped dough seam side down in prepared pan, cover loosely with plastic, and let rise in turned-off oven until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
5) Lightly beat whole egg in bowl. Remove loaf from oven and discard plastic. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush loaf with beaten egg. Bake until deep golden brown and loaf registers 190 degrees, about 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and cool completely, about 2 hours. Serve.
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