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Valentine’s Swirl Babka

A tender brioche dough swirled with festive Valentine’s Day colors. A festive, fun, light Valentine’s Day treat. Makes a great Valentine’s gift too for a friend!

What is Babka?

Babka’s origins start from the early 1800’s in the Polish Jewish communities. The people would use leftover dough from their traditional Challah bread, and wrap it with flavors like jams or cinnamon. 

In recent years, we’ve taken a much sweeter take on the traditional babka bread and fill it with just about anything – sweet or savory! 

How is this babka different?

Babka is typically filled with something (Nutella, chocolate, jam, cinnamon sugar, etc.) but this time, I wanted to take a different twist on this soft brioche bread. Instead of putting in a filling, I decided to keep it plain and highlight the colored swirled effect. 

While the swirl may look intimidating, no fear! It’s actually incredibly easy! 

How to make Valentine's Swirl Babka

1. Divide dough into 4 even sections. Knead in desired coloring. 

2. Roll out each section onto parchment paper into about a 12×14″ rectangle.

3. Layer on top of each other. Gently roll with a rolling pin to seal together.

4. Roll up like a cinnamon roll from the longest edge, and then cut through the center vertically. 

5. Layer the dough on top of each other like an “X”, then twist the top and twist the bottom. Place in pan.

6. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle coarse sugar on top. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. 

More babka recipes:

Raspberry Swirl Babka with cream cheese glaze
Chocolate Babka
Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Babka

Valentine's Swirl Babka

Lori Vaughn
A tender brioche dough swirled with festive Valentine's Day colors. A festive, fun, light Valentine's Day treat. Makes a great Valentine's gift too!
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Rise Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hrs 10 mins
Servings 1 loaf

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup warm whole milk
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • About 4 cups bread flour *See note
  • gel food coloring

Egg wash

  • 1 tbsp water
  • coarse turbinado sugar (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Add warm milk, yeast, and sugar to a stand mixer with a dough hook. A large bowl will also work if making by hand.
  • Add 2 cups of flour, eggs, and salt. Let mix well. Then while mixer is running, slowly add the softened butter. Slowly add remaining flour. Depending on your moisture level, it may be slightly more or less flour.
    Dough should be soft and smooth, but not too wet or sticky. If it's tough and dense, you've added too much flour.
  • Add a couple drops of a light shade of pink gel food coloring. Remove 1/4 of the dough (you can weigh it to be precise). Add a little more coloring of a darker shade and mix together until combined. Remove another 1/4. Add another shade of color (darker pink, purple, red- whatever you prefer). Mix until combined. You will end up with 4 different colored doughs.
    Shape each into a ball and place it in its own bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size. You can also put in the fridge to rest overnight.
  • Spray a 9x5" loaf pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  • Roll out each section of dough onto parchment paper to be the same size, about 10x12". Layer them on top of each other. Trim any hanging edges as needed.
  • Starting with the LONGER end, roll it up like a cinnamon roll.
  • Using a sharp serrated knife, cut it open vertically down the middle. (Optional - you can chill the dough in the freezer before hand for about 15 minutes for a cleaner cut)
  • Make an X with the dough, crossing them on top of each other. Then twist the top and twist the bottom. You end up with a beautiful twisted dough. Place in the loaf pan. Tucking in the ends as needed. Cover and let it rise for about 45 minutes, or until almost doubled.
  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Whisk together just the whites of one egg (to keep it light in color) with 1 tbsp of water. Brush on the tops of the RISEN loaf with the egg wash. Generously top with coarse sugar.
  • Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until tops and bottoms are golden and the top of the bread seems set. If your oven browns the tops quickly, you can put a piece of foil on the top about 20 minutes in. It's done when the bottoms are a dark golden brown and twists look fully cooked.
  • Leave it in the pan to start cooling for about 15 minutes, then transfer it to a cooling rack. Let it finish cooling, then slice and enjoy! Be sure to slice it cooled to get the clean swirl look. Warm bread can squish together and become a bit more dense when cutting into.

Notes

Flour substitution: You can substitute bread flour for all purpose flour. I also loving doing a mix of 1/2 and 1/2 for a tender, yet sturdy loaf. 
Gel food coloring: I love using Americolor food gel. It holds color very well without changing consistencies and without having to use an excessive amount, unlike liquid food coloring. 
Keyword babka
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