I think babka is one of the things that almost everybody tried to make during lockdown this year. Well, even though stores and restaurants in New York City are still open, it still feels a bit like a second lockdown. I have worked from home and continue to do so for the whole week and who knows if we reopen at all before Christmas break. While I mostly don’t mind this because it saves me my commute which is esp. ghastly when it so dark and cold in the morning, I tend to get headaches after too many hours in front of my computer. On top of this, the kittens have almost reached the terrible of puberty. When I start teaching in the morning via a video conference, the kittens suddenly start Manfred (our robot vacuum) – who knew they could do this? Or they climb onto the bookshelf right next to me and push down things. At least they then get full attention from me and my classes.
Anyway, to get back to the babka – which definitely is also on the to-do list for this almost second lockdown. By mid-afternoon I am craving coffee and cake (being always the good German there). Right now during Christmas season I enjoy a dense yeast babka with a sweat filling even more. As in a lovely Nutella cherry filling. I mean as an alternative to cookies, gingerbread and chocolates of course. The great thing is that I feel that babka is easy to make and you can even prepare it in the evening. Let the dough rise for an hour before putting it in the fridge overnight. It then needs to warm up in the morning and another hour to rise. That’s perfect to split up the tasks a little.
Yields 1 loaf of babka
30 minPrep Time
50 minCook Time
4 hr, 20 Total Time
- 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) milk
- 350 g (2 1/2 cups) flour
- 1 package (2 1/2 tsp) dry yeast
- 60 g (1/3 cup) sugar
- 1 egg
- 100 g butter
- 5 tbsp. Nutella
- 200 g (7/8 cup) cherries
- additional 50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
- 50 ml (1.7 fl oz) water
- Melt the butter and use it while it is still hot.
- In a big bowl mix the milk, flour, dry yeast, sugar, egg and butter.
- Knead until you get a dough.
- Cover the bowl, put it in a warm place, and prove the dough for at least two hours.
- Dust your work surface with flour.
- Roll the dough until you have a rectangle of ca. 25 x 40 cm (10 x 16 in.).
- Spread the Nutella evenly on the dough rectangle.
- Add the cherries, try to distribute them evenly.
- Roll up the dough.
- Cut across the roll so that you have two half rolls.
- Turn them so that the filling is facing up.
- Twirl the two half rolls while making sure that the filling is still always facing up.
- Grease a loaf pan (ca. 25 cm/10 in. long) or line it with baking paper.
- Put the twirled loaf into the pan.
- Prove it in a warm place for another ca. 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 190°C (or 375°F).
- Bake the loaf in the oven for ca. 45 to 55 minutes.
- Just before you take the babka out of the oven, make sugar syrup by boiling the water with the additional sugar.
- When you take the babka out of the oven, immediately coat it with the sugar syrup.
- Let it fully cool down in the pan.
By the way, feel free to sprinkle a bit of vodka over Nutella and the cherries when you do the filling. It adds an almost Black Forest cake flavor.
Also, frozen cherries are fine to use for this babka. I mean it is not really the season for fresh cherries anyways.
And no, I am not sharing any babka with my slightly naughty kittens. Then again, they aren’t interested in human food (yet). But they have their own kitten advent calendars. Yes, I can be annoyed at them for five minutes a day and still spoil them rotten.