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a round babka sits on a wire cooling rack. an apple sits on the counter behind it.

apples and honey round babka

Rebecca
Just in time for Rosh Hashanah, this round, braided apples and honey babka is packed full of apple butter and drizzled with a honey icing. Warning: You will get messy making it. But I believe in you. Embrace the mess, because it will taste and look great in the end.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 1 hr 10 mins
Total Resting Time 4 hrs 10 mins
Total Time 6 hrs 20 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine Jewish, Polish
Servings 14 people

Ingredients
  

babka dough

  • 170-212 grams warm-hot milk (¾ to 1 cup)
  • 563 grams flour (4½ cups)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • TBSP instant yeast
  • 75 grams sugar (⅓ cup)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 12 grams kosher salt (2 tsp)
  • ¾ tsp vanilla
  • zest of one whole orange (optional)
  • 8 TBSP unsalted butter (room temp)

apple butter filling

  • cup apple butter (unsweetened preferred)
  • 3 TBSP honey
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • tsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup diced apples (2-3 small apples, ¼" dice)
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

honey icing drizzle

  • 1 TBSP unsalted butter (room temp)
  • cup honey
  • cup powdered sugar
  • ¾ tsp milk

Instructions

  • Combine all of the dough ingredients except for butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Start with the lesser amount of milk. If the dough seems dry, add more milk 1 TSBP at a time.
  • When the dough has just barely come together but there are still some visible dry patches, switch to the dough hook.
    Then, add the room temperature butter a tablespoon or two at a time, letting it fully incorporate between additions.
  • Let the dough rest in the bowl for 10 minutes.
  • Increase the speed of the dough hook to just below medium and knead the dough until it’s shiny, smooth, and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball and let it rise in the mixing bowl, covered, for 1½ to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
    NOTE: If you check the dough at 1 hour and it feels firm to the touch and has not visibly increased in size, move the bowl into an off oven, with the oven light turned on, to finish rising.
  • Gently deflate the dough and leave it in the bowl, covered, while you prep the filling.
  • Mix the apple butter, sugar, honey, cinnamon, and lemon juice together in a small bowl.
    Mince your apples and set them aside in another small bowl, tossed with a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning. If you’re planning on adding walnuts, chop them and set them aside in another bowl here too.
  • On a lightly floured surface, stretch your dough into a rectangle shape and use a rolling pin to roll it out to a 27x9″ rectangle that’s about ¼″ thick. The long side of the dough should face you. If the dough resists rolling at any point, let it rest for 10 minutes and then roll again.
  • Spread your apple butter filling across the surface of the dough leaving a ½″ border on the two short sides and the long side at the top.
    Evenly sprinkle your minced apples (and walnuts) across the apple butter.
  • Starting with the bottom corner of the long edge closest to you, roll the dough up. This is easiest if you start on one side and move across to the other, instead of trying to roll up the whole long edge at once.
    Repeat until the whole dough rectangle is rolled up like a log. Try to get the roll as tight as possible.
  • Use a metal bench scraper or a sharp knife to split the log of dough lengthwise, revealing the gooey inner layers.
  • Cross one strand over the other to form an X shape. Keep crossing the two sides over each other, then repeat with the other half of the X, to form a long twist of dough.
  • Prep a sheet tray with a silicone mat or grease it well. Pick up the twisted dough and quickly place one end in the center of the sheet tray.
    Coil the rest of the dough around it, keeping the open side of the twist facing up. Tuck the end of the twist under the dough to hold it in place, if you can.
  • Let the dough rest for another 1-2 hours. The dough layers should double in size, and the babka will be visibly puffy.
    If syrupy liquid drips out of the babka (and it will!), use paper towels or a dish cloth to absorb it off the sheet tray before baking.
  • Near the end of the rising time, pre-heat the oven to 300°F. Bake the babka for 30 minutes, uncovered, then loosely drape a sheet of aluminum foil over the top of it and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes.
    The babka will bake for 60-70 minutes total. To be absolutely sure it’s done, a thermometer inserted into the dough will read 190°F. But if you don’t have a thermometer, err on the side of the longer bake.
  • When the babka is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool on the sheet tray for 10-15 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack OR directly to the serving tray you plan to use. Let the babka cool completely before icing it.
    Note: Getting it from a cooling rack to a serving tray can be a little tricky, so if you know what you plan to serve it on, it’s best to just get it there right away.

honey icing drizzle

  • Whisk butter and honey in a slightly larger mixing bowl than you think you’ll need, beating vigorously until light in color.
  • Add ⅓ cup powdered sugar, and whisk vigorously until incorporated, then beat in 1 tsp milk. Add the other ⅓ cup powdered sugar and ½ tsp milk and continue beating vigorously with a whisk until no lumps remain.
  • When the babka is completely cool, use the whisk or a fork to drizzle the icing in a large zig-zag.

Notes

  • If you’d rather make two loaf-sized babkas, cut the long twisted babka rope in half so that you have two equal-sized lengths of twisted dough, then place them in greased 9×5" loaf pans, with the ends tucked underneath, and follow the rest of the recipe as instructed. 
  • The babka must be completely cool before you add the icing or the icing will slide right off.
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