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Breakfasts, Desserts

Babka (Sour Cream Yeast Cake)

Over the years I have come to host a brunch for a group of my friends and their mothers for Mother's Day. It started with my mother and my mother-in-law (back when I had one). Then I invited a couple ... Read more

Total time: 2 1/2 hours plus 4 hours chilling and 45 minutes rising | Makes 2 babkas, 8 to 10 servings each

Babka dough

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 (1/4-ounce) packets dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 drops lemon oil
  • 2 drops orange oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Step 1Rub butter into flour until crumbly, using dough hook of electric mixer.

Step 2Combine yeast, sugar, salt, warm water, milk, sour cream, eggs, yolk, lemon juice, vanilla, lemon oil, orange oil and almond extract. Stir into flour mixture. Mix to form a soft dough, adding more flour if needed. Knead 5 to 6 minutes, then place in greased bowl and cover. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Step 3Punch down dough. Divide into 2 portions. Roll each portion out on floured work surface into 14x10-inch rectangles.

Babka filling and assembly

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened, cut into small pieces
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
  • Currants, raisins or dried cherries
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sugar
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Step 1Sprinkle each rectangle equally with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped nuts, currants, raisins or dried cherries. Roll long end up into a jellyroll.

Step 2Carefully place each in well-greased tube or angel food cake pans. Make slits in top of each cake, if desired.

Step 3Combine egg, yolk, dash granulated sugar and water. Brush dough with egg wash. Place cake pans in large plastic bag and seal. Let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Brush again with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Step 4Place cake pans on large baking sheets (this protects bottoms) and bake at 350 degrees until done, about 1 hour. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Note: No brunch is complete without a babka. I make the dough in my bread machine, but a dough hook on a mixer works fine. A combination of bread flour and all-purpose flour makes for the best texture. An overnight rise works well here and ensures that warm coffeecake is there when coffee is poured.
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