Fall flavors abound in this swirly apple cinnamon babka. A rich brioche dough is slathered in apple butter and cinnamon sugar and then is rolled, sliced and braided into this beautiful babka. Read on for in-depth steps on how to perfect a homemade babka!
Making your own homemade brioche for a babka can seem like an insurmountable task if you aren't used to making yeasted breads. Have no fear as I break down the steps needed to create this rich dough and then envelop it in apple butter and cinnamon sugar.
If you've been around here before, you know I love me some babka. In fact, one of the most popular recipes on my site is this blueberry cream cheese babka.
Apple and cinnamon are the perfect fall flavor combination and the use of store-bought apple butter not only makes this babka even easier but packs a punch of sweet apple flavor.
How to "proof" yeast
To start this recipe, you will begin to “proof” your yeast which simply means that you are making sure the yeast is alive before combining it with the other ingredients.
To do this, you’ll warm some milk in the microwave or on the stove until it reads 100-110 degrees. Then you’ll add this warmed milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the top.
Stir it into the milk and then let it stand for about 5 minutes until it is foamy at the top. This tells you that your yeast is good and you can proceed with the recipe.
If for some reason the yeast didn’t foam (milk too hot, old yeast, etc) then you would want to start over with new yeast.
Making the babka dough
From here, the rest is really simple. You will mix in your eggs, vanilla, flour, sugar and salt to the yeast mixture and then let the mixer do the magic.
Mix on low speed until combined and then on medium for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth. Add in the very room temperature butter and mix for another 4 minutes until the butter is incorporated.
Grease another bowl with baking spray and then transfer the sticky and wet dough into the new bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for an hour to an hour and a half until it’s doubled in size.
How to shape babka
Using one half of the dough at a time, roll it into a 12 x 16 inch rectangle and then spread it with half of the apple butter and sprinkle with half of the cinnamon sugar.
Starting with a long edge, tightly roll the dough into a long log, pinching the seam slightly to seal the edge. Using a sharp knife, slice in half lengthwise. Last, twist the 2 halves around each other creating your final babka dough.
Transfer each babka to a loaf pan lined with parchment paper squishing it at the ends to fit if needed. The dough will need another hour to do a second rise.
Can you make babka dough in advance?
If you would prefer to tackle the apple cinnamon babka over two days, here is the method for that.
Make the babka dough as described above. Instead of letting the dough rise for 1-1.5 hours in a warm place, transfer the covered bowl of dough to the refrigerator overnight.
It will rise overnight in the fridge and then you can proceed with the shaping and assembling steps. You will still let it do the second rise in the loaf pan before baking.
Can you freeze babka?
When the babka has cooled, wrap it in a layer of plastic wrap, a layer of foil and then place it in a zip-top bag and freeze it. It will last for 1-2 months in the freezer.
Place it in the refrigerator the night before you will want to serve it to allow it to defrost. The babka slices are delicious toasted in a toaster or warmed in a microwave.
The babka will last tightly wrapped for about 3 days on the counter or longer if refrigerated.
For more recipes with brioche dough, including other babkas, check out:
- Pumpkin Nutella Babka
- Raspberry Almond Babka
- Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- Strawberry Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
Tag me on Instagram @themarblekitchenblog if you make this and leave a star rating and comment below! Thank you and enjoy!
Apple Cinnamon Babka
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup sugar + 1 teaspoon sugar divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pkg active dry yeast about 2 ¼ tsp
- 1 cup whole milk warmed to about 100-110 degrees
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 10 tablespoon unsalted butter very soft and cubed
Cinnamon Sugar Filling
- 1 cup brown sugar tightly packed
- 2 tablespoon cinnamon
Apple Butter Filling
- 1 ½ cups purchased apple butter
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup water
Babka Dough and Assembly
- Whisk together flour, ⅓ cup of sugar and salt in a bowl. Warm milk in the microwave for about 45 seconds or until a thermometer reads 100 to 110 degrees.
- Add the milk and 1 teaspoon sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a dough hook. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and stir to combine. Let stand for about 5 minutes until the yeast starts to foam.
- Add eggs, vanilla, flour, sugar and salt to the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed until combined and then increase speed to medium and mix for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth.
- Add the softened butter gradually and mix on medium about 4 minutes until butter is incorporated and dough comes together but is sticky. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 ½ hours until the dough is about doubled (or let rise in the refrigerator overnight). Punch down the dough and scrape out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 halves and shape into a rectangle.
- Starting with one disc, roll the dough out on a floured surface to a 12 x 16 rectangle.
- Spread with half of the apple butter leaving a small border on one long edge. Then sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar on top, again leaving a border on a long edge.
- Starting with the long side without the border, roll the dough into a tight log. If the dough is very warm or sticky, you can refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes to make it easier to work with (if you didn't refrigerate overnight).
- Trim off about an inch from each side. Slice the dough down the middle lengthwise into 2 long halves with the layers exposed.
- Place the end of one of the halves over the top of the other half, pressing together lightly (see pictures above) and then braid the 2 pieces over one another to the bottom, again pressing together lightly.
- Repeat the last 2 steps with the other dough disc.
- Line two, 9 x 5 loaf pans with parchment paper leaving an overhang on the long sides. Carefully place the braided dough into each loaf pan, squeezing the ends slightly to fit if needed. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for an hour.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Immediately after taking it out of the oven, brush each loaf with half the sugar syrup, using it all.
- Cool a few minutes in the loaf pan and then transfer the babka using the parchment paper to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Combing the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix until combined.
- Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir, cooking on medium high until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
- After cooling the babka completely, wrap in plastic wrap or foil. It will keep for about 3 days on the counter or up to 5 refrigerated.
- Freeze the babka loaf by wrapping in a layer of plastic wrap, then foil and then placing in a zip-top bag. The babka will keep for 1-2 months in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- To make the dough over 2 days, instead of the first rise, place it into the refrigerator overnight and then proceed with the recipe.
Thank you for the recipe. What is the texture like? I tried making it and was expecting the babka to be soft like brioche but it is on the dry Side. Is this normal? Could I have done something wrong?
Tara Kringlen says
Hi Shelly! It shouldn't be dry unless it's a few days old. A couple of things could be the issue. One is that you measured too much flour. When measuring the flour, it's best to scoop the flour out of whatever container it is in and then spoon it into the measuring cup and then level with a knife. If you scoop into the flour container with the measuring cup instead of spooning it into the cup and leveling, you could end up with too much flour and that could cause dryness. If you have a kitchen scale, you could even just measure out the flour that way. 1 Cup of flour equals 120 grams. Did you use all of the sugar syrup at the end? The syrup helps keep the babka moist and seems like a lot when you are putting it on the babkas but really does help so that could be another issue. Hope this helps!