cinnamon babka bread recipe

Cinnamon Babka Bread Fills the Kitchen with an Enticing Aroma While it Bakes!

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If you have been reading my blog, you will know that I have tried a few recipes from The Perfect Loaf recently. Each recipe has been a huge success! Last week, the author, Maurizio posted a picture of his Sourdough Cinnamon Babka Bread. It looked so wonderful, I had to try making it this weekend!

Since I had such great success transforming his sourdough focaccia into a yeast version, I wanted to see if I could do the same thing with the Babka. For the best flavour and texture, I wanted to do a long ferment and use a minimal amount of yeast. I started the bread by making a sponge of flour, water and a 1/4 tsp of yeast, the night before I wanted to start the bread, as I did with my Focaccia. The next morning I had a lovely bubbly sponge that I added to the rest of the dough ingredients along with another 1/4 tsp of yeast.

Maurizio does his recipe over a couple of days. After the dough has risen a bit, he puts it in the fridge overnight then continues with rolling and filling the dough and the second rise in the morning. Though I did extend the rising time quite a bit longer than most traditional yeast bread recipes (my first rise was about 4.5 hours and my second rise was a bit over 2), I wanted to bake the loaf the same day I started it. Instead of doing a long ferment in the fridge, I opted to put the dough in the fridge for a couple of hours after it had doubled in size. This was simply to make it easier to handle for rolling out. You only need to do one hour for the fridge rest, but a couple of hours fit with my schedule.

After spreading my filling and rolling the dough into a log, I froze the dough for 15 minutes as per Maurizio’s instructions, to make the cutting and braiding step easier. Then I put the braided dough in the loaf pan and let the dough rise until it filled the pan. All in all the loaf took me 9 1/2 hours from when I started mixing it to when I put it in the oven.

The aroma that filled the kitchen when the babka was baking was so enticing! After the loaf baked, I spread some simple syrup over the top of the loaf and let it cool completely. Then I sliced it and put it in the freezer so that it would be fresh for toasting the next morning. It took a lot of willpower not to try some that night, but since it was 10 pm when I sliced it, I figured I shouldn’t. It sure did make me look forward to the next morning’s breakfast … and I wasn’t disappointed!

cinnamon babka bread recipe
Yields: 12 Servings Difficulty: Medium Prep Time: 21 Hr Cook Time: 45 Mins Total Time: 21 Hr 45 Mins
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Cinnamon Babka Loaf

Get ready for the amazing aroma that will fill your kitchen when you bake this cinnamon flavoured Babka loaf! I have designed this recipe to use a minimal amount of yeast and a long rising time for the best flavour and structure.  The bread starts with a sponge put together the night before making the dough. The total time for this bread is quite long, but most of the time is rising the dough. This recipe is based on the Sourdough Babka recipe from The Perfect Loaf.


0/19 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
    For the Sponge
  • For the Dough
  • For the Cinnamon Sugar Filling
  • For the Egg Wash
  • For the Simple Syrup Glaze


0/17 Instructions
    For the Sponge
  • Stir together flour, water and yeast in a small bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 8-12 hours.
  • For the Dough
  • To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the sponge, flour, yeast, whole milk, large eggs, salt, and half of the sugar. Set the mixer to low and mix until everything is incorporated. Let the dough rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  • After the 10 minute rest, turn the mixer up to medium and mix for 5 minutes until the dough starts to pull from the sides of the mixing bowl. At this point, slowly stream in the remaining sugar while the mixer is running. Mix for another 1-2 minutes until the dough comes back together.
  • With the mixer still set to medium, add the room temperature butter, one pat at a time, waiting to add the next until the previous is absorbed into the dough. It might take around 5 minutes to mix all the butter into the dough. After all of the butter is added, continue mixing for another few minutes until the dough smooths out and once again begins to cling to the dough hook.
  • Transfer the dough to a clean bowl. Cover and let rise somewhere warm (ideally 24-25 C) until doubled in size. Because of the small amount of yeast, this should take somewhere around 3-4 hours or even longer. You can rise the dough in the oven with the light on if it is cold in your house.
  • Once the dough has doubled, place in the fridge to chill for 1 hour before rolling out.
  • Before rolling out your dough, prepare the cinnamon filling by stirring together all the ingredients in a bowl.
  • Place dough on a floured counter and flour the top of the dough as well. Roll to an approximate 10 x 12 inch/25 x 20 cm rectangle. Spread the filling over the dough leaving about 1″ clean on the short side farthest from you. Starting at the side closest to you, roll up the dough into a tight cylinder. It’s important for the dough to be rolled up rather tight, so pull the dough at each revolution of the cylinder. Place the rolled dough log on a baking sheet and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes before cutting.
  • Prepare your baking pan by inserting a piece of parchment so two “handles” stick up at the long sides of the pan. The parchment will drape down one long side, over the bottom, and up the other side. Once it fits, take it out and place it on the counter next to your pan.
  • After the 15-minute freezer rest, take the baking sheet out of the freezer and return the dough log to the counter. Using a sharp knife, cut the log to split open the log from one side to the other. Pinch the two top halves together and braid the dough one strand over the other. At the bottom, pinch the two halves together again.
  • After the dough is braided, pick up the braid and place it on the parchment right in the middle, then pick up the sides of the parchment and lift the dough up and drop it into the pan.
  • Cover and let rise until the dough fills the pan, about 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F/180 C.
  • When the oven is preheated and the babka dough is fully proofed, place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (to catch any sugar spilling over). In a small bowl, whisk together one whole egg and 1 Tbsp water and brush a thin layer of the egg wash on the top of the dough. Then, slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until the center of the babka reaches 200°F (93°C). Keep an eye on the babka in the last 10 minutes of the bake, if it’s colouring too quickly, loosely cover the top of the loaf with some aluminum foil.
  • While the babka is baking, make the simple syrup. In a small saucepan granulated sugar with water. Heat until the mixture bubbles a bit and stir occasionally until the sugar fully dissolves in the water. Transfer this simple syrup to a container to cool. If covered, it will keep indefinitely in the fridge
  • When the babka is fully baked, remove the pan to a cooling rack. Using a plastic spatula, free the short sides of the babka (the sides without parchment) from the sides and bottom of the pan by pressing the spatula down from top to bottom. Using a pastry brush, brush on a thin layer of the simple syrup. The amount you put on is up to you: the more you add the sweeter the crust will become. Let the babka rest for 10 minutes in the pan. Do not let the babka rest for longer than 10 minutes or it’ll be hard to remove from the pan.
  • After the rest, lift the babka out of the pan using the parchment paper sticking up as a set of handles. You might have to use a spatula and pry it out a bit, but be gentle. Remove from the parchment paper and let it rest on a wire rack until cool to the touch. It’s even better if it sits for an hour or so to let the crust fully harden. (Don't forget to remove the parchment or the hardened sugar will make it hard to remove later!)

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