Yeast baked goods are a tradition for Christmas baking. In Slovenia, we usually bake the Walnut or Poppy Seed Potica. Babka has become known only in the last few years. It comes from eastern Europe and is actually very similar to potica. Babkas are made from yeast dough, filled with various fillings. Just browse Pinterest, you will find many ideas for babkas: chocolate babka, hazelnut babka, cinnamon babka … As always, this year I also wanted to bake something different so I designed a babka with three different fillings: poppy seed, walnut, and cranberry! Now there’s no dilemma whether you want poppy seed or walnut. All fillings can be found in only one piece of babka. I also added cranberry jam because they taste like Christmas, too.
The preparation of babka is not so difficult, compared to potica. Don’t worry if your filling runs out of dough or if your babka doesn’t have a nice shape. All babkas are pretty. The procedure will take you 2 hours and a half, from this you will need 20 minutes for dough preparation, 1 hour for rising the dough, half an hour for fillings preparation, 20 minutes for rolling out the dough and shaping the babka, and 45 minutes for baking.
Ingredients (for 1 babka)
- 450 g flour
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 15 g dry yeast powder
- 200 ml milk
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon of rum (optionally)
Poppy Seed Filling
- 50 g minced poppy seeds
- 80 ml full-fat milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- Half of egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons egg white (1 egg white together for poppy seed and walnut filling)
- 70 g minced walnuts
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons full-fat milk
- 1 tablespoon egg white
- Cinnamon and rum (optionally)
- 200 g cranberry jam with whole cranberries
Firstly, prepare the yeast dough because it needs time to rise. Mix flour, sugar, and dry yeast powder. Add warm milk and leave one minute. Then add vanilla essence, softened butter, egg, and egg yolk. Add some rum if you wish. Then knead the dough, cover it with dry clean kitchen towel and let rise for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, you can prepare the fillings. Take one whole egg and separate yolk and white. Beat the white until it becomes hard. For poppy seed filling, warm up poppy seeds, milk, and sugar. Slowly cook for 15 minutes. At the end of cooking mix with half an egg yolk, cook for 5 more minutes, and then mix with egg white. Set aside to cool.
For walnut filling, mix together minced walnuts, sugar, milk, and egg white, optionally also cinnamon and rum. Set aside.
Take the cranberry jam out of fridge so it will be easier to spread it on dough.
After the dough has risen, roll it out in rectangle shape, the longer side should be as long as the baking pan. Spread all the fillings evenly, one beside another. Roll together. Cut the roll in two long pieces and twist them. Put the babka in the long baking pan, thoroughly greased with butter and sprinkled with flour. Cover the babka with the remaining half of the egg yolk. Set in the cold oven and heat it on 180° C. When the oven is hot enough, bake for 20 minutes and then another 25 minutes on 170° C.
Enjoy the babka and Merry Christmas!
I suggest you make two babkas since there’s a lot of work with different fillings. You can also freeze one babka and unfreeze it when you want it. It tastes perfectly fresh!