Triple Apple Babka
I was lucky enough to snag some delicious end of season apples from my parent's trees last time I was visiting and I knew exactly how I wanted to use them. First, I made this bread, which we'll discuss more in a moment, but I also made a huge batch of applesauce, yum. I made a really delicious twist on classic applesauce and I'll have the recipe you here in a couple weeks so stay tuned!
Ok, so this bread. What is a babka? It's an Eastern-European enriched dough akin to brioche or challah, filled with traditionally either a chocolate or cinnamon filling, then twisted and baked to golden brown perfection. My version is packed full of apples. It's stuffed with apple butter and cooked apple chunks and then it gets brushed with an apple cider glaze when it's fresh and warm from the oven. The edges get crisp and flaky from the butter and the inside stays a little squidgy with all the delicious filling. This is such a delicious treat to make for a cozy Fall morning to enjoy with a cup of coffee or even hot cider. Yum!
Triple Apple Babka
makes a 9x5 inch loaf
for the dough
1/2 c whole milk
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 t)
2 t organic cane sugar
2 c all purpose flour
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 t himalayan pink salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature (1 stick)
for the filling
1 c apples, chopped into 1/4 in cubes
1/2 c store-bought apple butter
2 T brown sugar
2 t cinnamon, divided
pinch of salt
for the glaze
3 T organic cane sugar
3 T fresh apple cider
Make the dough
In a saucepan over medium-low heat the milk to about 100 degrees, being careful not to let it boil. Remove from heat and add to the bowl of a stand mixer along with the yeast, sugar, and 1/2 cup of the flour. Allow to stand for about 5 minutes, until the yeast is slightly bubbly.
With the mixer fitted with the dough hook and the mixer on low, stir in the egg. Add in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour along with the salt and mix to combine. Add the butter, about a tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated. Let the dough knead on low for about 5 to 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and in one uniform ball. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a towel, and allow to rise in a warm and cozy place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Make the Filling
In a medium saucepan over low heat, cook the apples for about 10 to 15 minutes, until tender but still holding their shape. Turn off the heat and stir in a teaspoon of the cinnamon and allow to cool. While the apples are cooking, stir together the brown sugar and remaining teaspoon of cinnamon and set aside.
Assemble the Babka
Line a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving excess on the sides to easily pull the babka out later. Roll the dough out on a floured surface into about a 12 inch by 16 inch rectangle. Spread the apple butter in a thin layer all over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle over the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture followed by the apples, scattering them evenly over the surface. With the longer side facing towards you, begin rolling the dough on itself until you end up with a log, like you would if you were making cinnamon rolls. Place the log onto a parchment or wax paper-lined baking sheet and pop in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This will make it easier to slice. Remove the babka from the freezer and with a sharp knife, slice the log in half vertically, exposing the stripes of dough and filling. Twist the two halves of the log together, with the cut sides facing up. Carefully lift the dough into the loaf pan and reshape to fit. Cover with a towel and allow to rise another two hours or so, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until the babka is deeply golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. While the babka bakes, make the glaze by combining the sugar and apple cider in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Allow to cool and set aside. When the babka comes out of the oven and it's still warm, brush the glaze on all over the surface of the babka. Allow to cool then slice and enjoy!
*recipe for dough adapted from Amanda Frederickson