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BABKA FOR A CROWD

BABKA FOR A CROWD

Makes 6 mediumish or 8 smallish babkas

Chocolate or cinnamon fillings (that said in a moment of madness, with one babka still in need of filling and no filling to hand, I grabbed a jar of dulce de leche and an Eastern European/Argentine babka was born!)

I have been struggling with Babka for years, the pastry chef part of me wants it to be tender and buttery, the community worker in me needs it to be accessible and quick and feed the masses. The recipe below is the later, still delicious, still moreish, but a far quicker recipe then our all-butter babka and with the added benefit that it makes loads in one go and freezes like a dream.

I had tested out this recipe several times in our old home, where I knew where everything was, and felt super comfortable. The day after Pesach in our new home when I was ready to film I found that my reliable rolling pin and baking mat were nowhere to be found and just like that I found a solution to not just how to roll out dough without a rolling pin, but also how to spread the filling evenly!

I found that I had a heavy roll of plastic wrap that made a perfect rolling pin and at the same time was perfect in rolling out the filling to cover the dough evenly, hurrah for moving and misplacing things!

A note or two on the fillings: I have offered two alternative fillings, chocolate and cinnamon. In long heated discussions with my extended family we have agreed to disagree. My sister in law Tamara, feels that to adequately fill all the babka with the chocolate filling you would need twice as much filling as I have suggested and I’m of the opinion that less is more in this case! That said make the amount suggested, the recipes below should each fill about 6 mediumish (8 small) babkas – but if you really like loads of filling be prepared to make double the amount!

For Dough:

  • 930g (7 ½ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour (and up to an additional 120g (1 cup) extra for kneading and rolling)
  • 15g (4 ¼ teaspoons) dried yeast
  • 150g (¾ cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 290g (1 ½ cups ) oil
  • 390g (1 ¾ cups) water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks

For Chocolate Filling (will fill 8 small babkas sparingly (see note above):

  • 195g (1 cup) oil
  • 1 box chocolate or vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 egg
  • 115g (½ cup) water
  • 400g (2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 120g (1 cup) cocoa powder
  • Cinnamon Filling (will fill 8 small babkas):
  • 800g (4 cups) dark or light brown sugar
  • 125g (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (1 teaspoon table salt)
  • 8 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs

For Topping:

  • 170g (¾ cup) margarine (or butter)
  • 250g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 300g (1 ½ cups) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (¼ teaspoon table salt)

Make dough:

  1. In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast, sugar, vanilla sugar (or extract), and salt. Make a well in the center of the ingredients and add the oil, water, eggs, and egg yolks. Mix well. Once you have a raggedy dough, start kneading, you may need to add flour as you go, you want a soft but not sticky dough.
  2. Knead for 5 minutes until smoothish, place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise, until doubled in bulk, about 1 and half hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.
  3. Once ready to roll out, divide the dough equally into 6 or 8, and let it rest for 5 minutes before rolling.
  4. Working with one portion at a time, on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a thin rectangle, over either fully or not so full (see note above) with your desired filling. I used and will continue to use a second rolling pin covered in plastic wrap to evenly distribute the filling, though you can use the back of a spoon on your hands just as effectively.
  5. Roll up the babka, from the short end, until you have a long coil, and then twist the bottom ends together, to get the twisted rope effect. Place the rolled-up babka in an oiled loaf tin to rise for a further 30 minutes.
  6. Repeat with remaining dough.
  7. Heat oven to 180℃ (350℉)
  8. Sprinkle each babka generously with crumb topping, bake 25-30 minutes until the babka is golden brown on the outside and just springs back when touched.
  9. Cool completely before serving, or wrapping up tightly to freeze.
  10. Will keep in the freezer for upto a month.

For fillings:

  1. In a medium bowl combine all ingredients until you have a smooth mixture, the fillings can be made up to a day ahead and stored in the fridge until ready to use.

For crumb topping:

  1. In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients, using your fingertips, work the margarine (or butter) into the dry ingredients until you have pea-sized crumbs. The topping can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.