A rich, buttery and soft bread loaf with swirls of sweet cinnamon, topped off with a delicious streusel topping. Learn how to make the most amazing cinnamon babka with this step by step recipe!INTERMEDIATE- This recipe requires 3 or 4 components + time to assemble. Read the recipe well and plan accordingly. Each step is not difficult, but some familiarity with working with enriched dough is helpful.US based cup, teaspoon, tablespoon measurements. Common Measurement Conversions. Weight measurements are recommended for accurate results.Please note that there is an overnight inactive proofing step in this recipe.
575gAP flourabout 4 ⅔ cups (measured by spoon and level method)
10gsea saltfinely ground, about 1 ½ tsp
226gunsalted buttersoft and roughly divided into four portions, about 1 cup / 2 sticks
115gunsalted buttersoftened, ½ cup / 1 stick
200gbrown sugar1 cup, light or dark brown sugar
3tbspkorintje cinnamonor any ground cinnamon
¼tspsea saltI prefer to use ½ tsp for a salty, sweet filling
Streusel topping (optional)
50gwhite sugar¼ cup
50gbrown sugar¼ cup
30gAP flour¼ cup
40gunsalted buttercold and cut into cubes, 3 tbsp
Milkto brush the tops of the babka loaves
150gwhite sugar¾ cup
150mLwater ½ cup + 2 tbsp
Making the dough
This is a two day process. So make the dough the day before you want to serve your babka.
Measure out all the ingredients first.
Add the milk, yeast, and honey into the mixing bowl, and gently whisk to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to activate.
120 mL warm milk, 9 g active dry yeast, 10 mL honey
Add the eggs, vanilla, sugar, flour and sea salt, and mix to form a scraggly dough.
5 large eggs, 10 mL vanilla, 100 g granulated white sugar, 575 g AP flour, 10 g sea salt
With the dough hook attachment, knead the dough on speed 3 for about 5 minutes. The dough should start to look smooth.
Roughly divide the butter into 4 portions. Add the first portion of butter after the first 5 minutes of kneading. Each butter portion should be mixed in for at least 2 minutes at a time until it has incorporated well into the dough.
226 g unsalted butter
Repeat with the other 3 portions of butter, kneading the dough for about 2 -3 minutes after each addition. Make sure to stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl (and the bottom if needed) between kneading as well. You will have incorporated all the butter in about 12 – 15 minutes of kneading time.
226 g unsalted butter
Once all the butter is incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl (and bottom if needed), and knead the dough for a further 5 – 15 minutes on speed 5 or 6. If you lower the speed, this can take longer, so it’s best to knead until the dough has reached the correct consistency.
The dough will have been kneaded enough when it can be lifted fairly cleanly off the bottom of the bowl when picked up with the dough hook. Please note that the dough will still be very soft and tacky to the touch, but shouldn’t stick to your fingertips.
You can also do the window pane test with the dough to check if enough gluten has developed.
Flour your work surface lightly, and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Lightly flour your hands to prevent the dough from sticking to your palms.
Fold in the edges of the dough towards the middle, and gently press them into the dough to form a smooth ball. Flip the dough over, and then with the heel of your palms, shape the dough to form a tight ball.
Carefully pick up the dough ball and place it back in the mixer bowl (or another large bowl).
Let it rise until it has almost doubled in size, in a warm place (72°F), for about 1 hour. It can take longer in winter and/or if your kitchen is colder.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and press down gently with your hands to deflate the dough. Fold in the edges again as before towards the middle and press them in. Carefully flip the dough over (seam side down now), and tighten the ball of dough to get a smooth taut surface on top. Transfer the dough into the mixer bowl again.
Cover and let it chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours, or up to 24 hours. The dough WILL RISE in the fridge, so make sure the bowl is large enough to contain the dough properly.
The dough will be ready to be used the following day. You will be using the dough while it's chilled, so do not let it come to room temperature before working with it.
Place the softened butter in a bowl. Mix the butter with a spatula until it’s soft and creamy.
115 g unsalted butter
Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla. Stir to combine.
200 g brown sugar, 3 tbsp korintje cinnamon, ½ tsp ground nutmeg, ¼ tsp sea salt, 10 ml vanilla
Mix until the sugar and cinnamon have mixed evenly with the butter.
Set aside until needed.
Streusel topping (optional)
In a bowl, mix both types of sugar, salt, cinnamon and flour.
120 mL warm milk, 50 g white sugar, 50 g brown sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, Pinch of salt, 30 g AP flour
Add the butter cubes.
40 g unsalted butter
Cut the butter with the dry ingredients to form a coarse, crumbly texture. You can use a pastry cutter or fork to do this. I sometimes use my fingers, but you need to make sure that the butter isn’t melting.
Keep the mixture in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Assembling the cinnamon babka
Butter and flour TWO 9 x 4 x 4 inch loaf pans. I prefer to butter and line them with parchment paper, but you can do whichever is easier for you. Set aside.
Remove the chilled dough from the fridge.
Flatten the dough gently to remove excess air in the dough.
Measure the weight of the dough. Evenly divide the dough into TWO portions by weight (to make 2 loaves).
Return one of the portions back into the bowl, cover, and let it chill in the fridge until you’ve assembled the first portion.
Place the first portion of the dough on a floured, smooth surface.
Roll out the dough until it’s a rectangle that is about 10 x 15 inches.
Spread a layer of the cinnamon butter (about ⅓ – ½ of the filling) over the surface of the dough. Make sure to leave a 1 inch border along one of the long edges.
Roll the dough along the 10 inch side, towards the 1 inch border (so that you end up with a 14+ inch long bread roll).
Once rolled up, pinch the end into the dough roll to create a seal.
At this stage, the dough can be very soft and sticky and hard to manage. So carefully place the bread roll on a parchment paper-lined baking tray and cover with plastic wrap and freeze for about 20 minutes until the dough is firm. While the dough is firming up in the freezer, you can repeat the whole process with the second dough portion.
When the dough is firm enough to handle again, remove it from the freezer.
Trim the two ends of the roll (optional), then slice the roll in half lengthwise.
Twist the two halves to form a twisted braid (see pictures in the post).
Carefully place the twisted loaf in the prepared loaf pan, making sure to tuck in the ends.
Cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap, and let it proof at room temperature for about 1 hour or until it’s about doubled in size. The time for proofing will depend on the ambient temperature in your kitchen. In a cooler place, it could take as long as 3 hours to proof.
Repeat the cutting and twisting of the babka loaf with the second portion of dough, and let it proof in the second loaf pan.
While the babka is proofing, preheat the oven to 325°F / 163°C (conventional oven).
OPTIONAL - When the cinnamon babka has proofed, brush the top of the babka with some milk and sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the loaf.
Bake the proofed cinnamon babka in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes. If the surface is caramelizing too fast, you can tent a piece of foil on the surface to prevent further browning.
The internal temperature of the dough should reach about 190 – 200°F when it's done baking.
Remove the pan from the oven, and carefully use a skewer to poke several holes through the loaf from the top.
While hot, generously brush the babka with the sugar syrup (recipe below) to glaze the top and to allow some of the syrup to be absorbed by the babka as well (optional).
Let the cinnamon babka cool down in the loaf pan. Once at room temperature, or only slightly warm, remove the babka loaf from the pan.
Slice and serve the babka while warm or at room temperature.
Make the sugar syrup either while proofing or baking the babka loaf. The syrup can be used warm or hot.
Add all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium high heat.
150 g white sugar, 150 mL water, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla
Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring it to a boil.
Lower the heat to simmer the sugar syrup for about 5 minutes. Set aside until you're ready to use it.
Note about yeast
I prefer to use active dry yeast, and this recipe is designed to use this type of yeast. I use Bob's Red Mill active dry yeast. You CAN substitute with instant yeast (1:1 substitution by weight), but keep in mind that instant yeast is more active and it can proof much faster. So keep an eye on the dough as it proofs. The bread may also have more oven spring, so the loaf can also be larger. You can also use instant yeast at 75% the amount of active dry yeast to lower the activity level, but you will still need to keep an eye on proofing times.
Baking in other loaf pans
If you're using a standard loaf pan that is 8 x 5 x 2.5 inches, you will need to divide the dough into FOUR portions. The loaves won’t be as tall due to the lack of height in this loaf pan. If you have 8 x 5 inch loaf pans with higher sides (at least 3 inches), then you could make THREE loaves, so divide the dough into three portions instead.
Storing the babka loaves
Always store the babka in an air-tight container. You can keep it in a cool, dry place for about 4 – 5 days (fridge is fine too). To store for longer, slice the babka (I prefer thicker slices), and freeze them in an air-tight container or ziploc bag for up to 3 or 4 weeks. To enjoy, allow the bread to thaw out to room temperature, or slightly warm the bread in the microwave.