Fall, layers, all the cinnamon-y spices: I am ready! This babka will make your house smell amazing, give you the perfect activity for a drizzly Sunday and you'll end up with a lovely slice of warm, sweet bread with your afternoon tea. Let's get baking.
You'll need (for 12 slices)
For the babka
125mL milk (I used oat milk) at room temperature
1 packet of dry yeast (7gr)
50 gr of granulated sugar
1 medium egg
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
260gr of flour + extra for dusting
100gr softened unsalted butter
20 gr of butter for greasing bowls and tins
For the filing
180 gr of dates
20mL neutral oil (I use a mild olive oil)
2 tsp of gingerbread spice mix (cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, clove, ginger, cardamom)
50gr of light brown sugar
For the soak
50 gr of brown sugar
50 mL of water
How to make it
Pour your milk in a 500mL measuring jug, add the yeast and 1/2 a tsp of your sugar. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, add your egg, the egg yolk and the sugar. Give a good whisk.
Fit your stand mixer with a dough hook and add your flour and salt. Put it on low speed and add your milk- egg mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
Add the butter and knead the dough for 8 minutes. In the meanwhile butter a large mixing bowl (note: this needs to go in the fridge later, so make sure it fits!)
Dust your kitchen countertop with flour and tip out your dough. Give it a quick knead through. The dough is VERY sticky, so work fast to prevent ir from sticking too much to your hands/ the kitchen.
Shape the dough into a ball and put into the buttered bowl. Cover it with clingfilm and let it rise until doubled in size (about 1.5h). Then put it in the fridge for about 45 mins. We do this to make the rolling a tad bit easier.
During the last 30min of the fridge rise you can start making the filling. Remove the pits from your dates (if necessary) and soak them for 15 minutes in hot water.
Drain the soaked dates and add them to a food processor together with the oil and the spice mix. Blitz until you have a smooth paste.
Butter a 12x20 cm loaf tin.
Dust your countertop with flour again. Remove the clingfilm, but don't throw it out, we use it later. Tip the chilled dough onto the surface and roll it out to a 30cm x 50cm rectangle (long end on your side).
Spread the date filling on top and scatter over the brown sugar. Roll the dough into a log, starting on the long side.
Time to show those beautiful layers! Split the roll lenghtwise using a knife. Turn both strands on their "back" with the layers to the top. Pick up the bottom strand and lay it over the top strand, you are kind of braiding with 2 strands. Repeat until you have a beautifully twisted dough. (Get someone to help if the dough is getting too soft).
Put the braided dough into the buttered tin. We did this by rolling the braid on it's side and (starting from the thin side) we made kind of a snail roll of it with the layerson the outside. We ended with the thicker, more beautiful side. Then put it in, with the beautiful side on top. If this doesn't make sense, DM me and I'll make you a gorgeous drawing.
Cover with the clingfilm you used earlier and let it rise for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 170C.
Bake the babka for 60 minutes. Check in regularly by peeking through the oven window. Is it getting too dark? Cover it with some aluminium foil and continue baking.
While it is baking we are making the final addition: the soak. Add the brown sugar and water to a small saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Take from the heat and keep it ready.
When the babka comes out of the oven, keep the babka in the tin and immediately brush over ALL of the soak. Just keep brushing, it will absorb everything. Then let the babka cool in the tin for 15 minutes, tip it out on a wire rack and let cool further.
Slice and dive in!